Introducing solid food: Let’s get to the facts

Geneviève Nadeau May, 2013
Introducing solid food: Let’s get to the facts

Many groups of experts recently changed their recommendations about the order to follow when introducing solid food. Happily, those are a lot simpler. You don’t have to worry about the order with which you introduce allergenic food items. Scientists don’t have any proof that it is better to push back their introduction to prevent food allergies. Let look at the latest reference when it comes to introducing solid food.
Mother’s milk only until the age of 6 months old.
This is the general recommendation: to give mother’s milk exclusively remains the most appropriate for your child until the age of 6 months. There doesn’t seem to be health issues if solid food is introduced between the ages of 4 and 6 months, but health care providers often suggest waiting until 6 months. As a matter of fact, before this age, the baby’s digestive tract is not always ready to accept solid food (for example, immature digestive tract). We also suggest beginning giving complementary food items as of 6 months because the iron in the body tends to fade quickly in the baby’s small body.
My opinion: Breastfeed as long as possible, exclusively until 6 months, and start complementary food items at 6 months.
Iron-rich food items first
To meet the baby’s iron requirements, it is recommended to start with food items that are rich in that specific mineral. Whole eggs, fish, tofu or legume puréed are among those. Mother Hen’s puréed beef, lamb, pork, chicken also contain a fair amount of iron. Baby cereals with iron added are indicated too. You don’t have to worry about allergenic food like eggs and seafood because, according to recent data, nothing seems to show that pushing allergenic food reduces the risks of developing food allergies.
My opinion: Children benefit from experiencing all kind of flavours. Even if you don’t like fish, tofu or lentils, don’t be afraid to offer them puréed, right from the beginning.
Fruits and vegetables; in no specific order
It is better to present one fruit or one vegetable at the time and to wait 3 to 5 days before introducing a new food item. This way, we develop a taste for the true flavour of each fruit or vegetable. Wait until 9 months of age before introducing puréed beets, turnips or spinach because they contain nitrates. As for carrots, drain the cooking water if you decide to make your own purée.
As for fruits, they are all welcomed! Puréed peach, pear, strawberry… Mother Hen also offers you more exotic puréed fruits that are sometime more difficult to make at home like with mango or pineapple. Always present one fruit at the time to develop the baby’s taste. Choose puréed fruits rather than fruit juices.
My opinion: Don’t be afraid to propose a variety of fruits and vegetables to your children. Remember that it’s not because a food item tastes a little bland in your mouth that your baby’s taste buds won’t appreciate it!
Dairy products: between 9 to 12 months
Because they are rich in protein and low in iron, we don’t recommend introducing dairy products before 9 months of age. However, nothing keeps you from adding a little cheese on pasta or yogurt in a muffin and give it to a baby who is ready to discover new textures, meaning around the age of 8 months. But before you offer a piece of cheese or a yogurt as a snack, wait until the little one’s meals are varied enough and that the baby has reached 9 months. Same thing goes for bovine milk. You can wait until the baby is 12 months, knowing that mother’s milk (or infant formula, if it applies) and a variety of other food can fill the baby’s requirements. Once you’ve introduced them, choose dairies with a normal amount of fat: 3.25% M.F., yogurt with 2% M.F., light cheese, etc.
My opinion: Variety is the key! Children usually like yogurt and cheese because of their sweet or salty taste and their creamy texture. There is no hurry: keep on offering vegetables, fruits, cereals and a variety of protein sources before you introduce dairy products at around 9 months of age.
Allergies: don’t take them lightly!
Suffering from food allergies is a serious thing. However, considering the many studies done on the subject, nothing has proven that it is better to wait before introducing allergenic food (nuts, whole eggs, fish, etc.) to prevent allergies at a later time. These food items can be introduced in your baby’s nutrition at the same time as other foods. It is possible to present puréed filet of sole at the age of 6 months or to add ground almond to homemade muffins served in pieces at the age of 9 months. That being said, it is important to recognize signs of food allergies. By waiting 3 to 5 days before introducing a new food item, it is easier to detect possible allergenic food. It remains important to discuss the current situation with your pediatrician. Sometimes children show risks of allergies or have specific needs that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Categories : Food

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