Fun with Food: Part 1
It’s often easier said than done, but try not to let food introduction stress you out. Starting solids is simply a building block of familiarity with eating in general. Today we are teaming up with Dabney Poorter for a two part series focused on baby and toddler eating. Dabney is the RN and Certified Nutritionist of dabneypoorter.com, and we are thrilled to get an expert’s take on nutrition-dense food introduction. Newborn Nightingales will cover a few basics on the developmental side of food and sippy cup introduction while Dabney will get to the meat (pun intended) of the food scoop for your babes. Stay tuned for part 2 focused on toddler eating habits!
When Do We Introduce Food?
When baby girl or boy starts to show interest in what you are eating or drinking, they are ready to get in on the action! Some babies will start showing signs a bit earlier, but typically after 6 months, babe will likely let you know it’s time to start offering food. They may grab at your cup or watch you closely when you eat, and some babies might even smack their lips to mimic chewing as you chew.
To maximize fun and minimize mess and waste, start with a baby breakfast offered 30 minutes to an hour after the morning breast or formula feed. They will likely only eat one to two bites in the first few weeks, and you will work your way up to three meals per day once they get the hang of eating solids. This is a slow process, and that is ok!
What Foods Do We Introduce First?
Thanks to the blogger world, resources abound to help us navigate the “first foods” waters. I especially love The Paleo Mom and her compelling argument on what to introduce and what to skip. Our food philosophy revolves around eating the rainbow (and I don’t mean Skittles 😉 ) and avoiding inflammatory foods such as processed foods and sugars. Unfortunately, sooo many children’s foods are loaded with inflammatory ingredients, but the encouraging thing is YOU have control over what you introduce!
Adapted from The Paleo Mom: We recommend starting with mashed ripe avocado, banana, sweet potato, winter squash, pureed liver (pastured/grass-fed) and pastured, over-medium egg yolk. For babies 6 months old, very well-pureed, well-cooked meats and whole milk yogurt from grass-fed cows are a great place to start. Pro-tip: Puree any of the above with high-quality broth or breast milk to liquefy, and you will lessen the liquid as they get better with solids.
Follow this link and scroll down a bit for the chart adapted from Super Baby Foodby Ruth Yaron to provide a great visual of when and where to start.
What’s Up With Rice Cereal?
Babies need iron. Rice cereal is fortified with iron. Beyond this, there really aren’t any compelling arguments to start with a starchy, bland, carbohydrate-loaded food. There are many other ways for your child to receive the iron they need by way of iron-laden foods such as those listed in the above chart. These foods also contain high fiber and antioxidants they will NOT get from fortified cereals. If you’re still on the fence about how much iron is enough, we would be happy to guide you in choosing a quality iron supplement for your child. All of this said, if you cannot fathom deviating from what your Pediatrician recommends, then go for it! You’re the mom.
Is There Any Alternative to Making My Own Baby Food?
Thankfully, options overflow for healthful, whole-ingredient-based baby foods. Be sure to read the ingredient list and avoid additives such as “natural flavor” and any food dyes. As recommended with your own food choices, choose brands with organic, whole ingredients. We know this can get pricey, so here’s where a little effort on the front end to make your own food in bulk will end up saving you time and money on the back end.
Try not to overthink it! When you are cooking for the rest of the family, simply make a little extra. Store in a non-plastic container in your fridge for 3-5 days or in your freezer for several months. Thaw or reheat in the oven and add breast milk as needed to get the appropriate consistency for your child.We love this article for her rec’s on bulk preparation and food storage ideas.
What about a Sippy Cup?
When baby eats solids, offer a sippy cup of water to practice. Do not stress if they don’t take it, and certainly don’t force it. Continue to offer the cup with every meal, and they will eventually take it. Visit our recommendations page for the sippy cup we prefer with the main goal of picking a cup you like and sticking to it! Think of it as positive peer pressure and place baby near others who are drinking out of sippy cups to help them get the hang of it.
Breast milk or formula is the most important nutrient for baby’s first year and everything else is bonus. Try not to stress over amounts, offer something new every few days, and keep a food log to identify any sensitivities or allergies. Keep it fun and remember starting solids is simply a building block of familiarity with eating in general. Tune in for our next discussion of toddler eating habits with everything you want to know about which milk to choose, how to avoid picky-eater pitfalls and how to get veggies and fruit into their tummies on a regular basis!