Any first time mum starting solids with her baby generally feels excited, overwhelmed and a little confused. Any third time mum (like myself) wants to put it off for as long as possible because we know the amount of work, effort and mess that comes with it. Yes, I am aware of how that sounds… Horrible! That I am dreading feeding my baby food. But don’t call DOCS on me just yet, I’m getting my head around it all.
“I can’t really be bothered” doesn’t really work as an excuse so I consulted with dietician Monique Etkind and then hit the shops to get myself prepared for it.
I am going to address the most common questions I get asked and try to take some of the mystery (and complexity) of starting solids.
Q. When to start? Some paediatricians say 4 months and some say 6?
A. (From Monique) “Up until 6 months your baby needs only human milk or infant formula for growth and development. It is now suggested from the age of 4 months to try and introduce solid foods. Studies have shown that the introduction of foods at 4 months can reduce the risks of food allergies. However, mothers often make the mistake of force feeding them at this age, but if your child is not compliant or showing interest mums should rather wait and try again at different times up until 6 months where they will generally be ready to commence solids as their nutrient stores and requirements will no longer be met by their breast milk/formula intake”.
Q. My mum told me she started me on rice cereal, is that what I start my baby on?
A. It really is no crime to start your baby on rice cereal however it generally is not necessary. I found that it constipated my other babies and I have heard this complaint from other mums too. Most dieticians advise that you start with fruit and vegetables but check with your paediatrician and ask them what they prefer. Monique understands that some mums are very time poor (ahem ahem) so has given the OK to commercial baby food that have no additives. Winning!
Q. But how to actually start?
A. Monique advises starting with lunch and then building up to 3 meals and should always be given after the milk feed (until a few months later when they are onto meat, chicken, fish or cooked egg). We don’t want mothers milk to be effected or for babies to stop drinking their bottles. She advises starting with vegetables and fruits such as pumpkin, potato, carrot, zucchini, avocado, apple and pear and trying a new food every 2 days once you know they haven’t had any reaction to it.
I used the Wean Meister Freezer Pods to make big batches and then freeze. You can then take out what you need for each day and once you know they have no reactions to specific foods, you can combine them for new meals.
Q. When to you give water?
A. We don’t want to fill babies tummies with water but Monique suggests between 4-6 months you can start to give them a few sips of sterilised water with meals which often can help reduce the risk of constipation. Let them play around with different sippy cups and get use to drinking like that. It’s messy but fun for your bub too! b.box Sippy Cups are my pick of the bunch because it’s easier for your baby to learn to hold and is completely dishwasher safe which makes life a little easier.
Q. Which highchair should I get?
A. To start with, skip the high chair for the first few weeks and just use a bouncer. So much easier because your bub doesn’t have to worry about sitting and holding their neck up and eating too. The Babybjorn bouncer is the bouncer of all bouncers, it’s the crème de la crème. I have the older style (it has lasted through all my three kids) but the latest bouncer available is the Babybjorn Bouncer Bliss.
Q. What should we avoid?
A. Times have changed and now we don’t need to avoid foods like we used to. With my first child we had to avoid food like peanuts and eggs, but now the only food we have to avoid is honey, it is a big no-no till age one because of the risk of botulism. Monique also said “foods that can cause an allergic reaction are eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, tree nuts, fish and cows milk. If any of these allergies run in the family they should be introduced one at a time. However, mothers should not delay the introduction of them as studies are showing that this can increase the risk of the allergen. Also foods like strawberries and tomatoes can often cause irritation around the mouth but this is not an allergy and one should not be concerned”. So basically if you don’t have a family history of food allergies, then avoid honey and the rest is ok!
So go get shopping, starting solids take organisation and patience. It’s still a little while away until you can run into a café and order for them because you’ve run out at home! Good luck x
Thanks so much to Monique Etkind for sharing her knowledge!
Monique Etkind Bsc. Nutrition (HONS), APD, AN Monique.firstname.lastname@example.org 0405 224 694
You can find her on Facebook
Monique was the specialist gastroenterology dietitian at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead for two years, but now devotes all her time to her busy private practice in Rose Bay since becoming a mother. Monique has devised eating plans for her clients using both her analytical skills and experience in the nutrition field and prides herself on good results. She has also written articles for a number of publications and was the nutrition consultant for the Australian adapted version of Heidi Murkoff’s What To Expect books.