June 21, 2020
If only weaning was as easy as learning your ABC’s. It could be, actually it should be. Weaning your baby was never meant to be a scientifically controlled process. Weaning was not supposed to be the property of the health care profession. Weaning your little munchkin was never intended to be commercially driven.
Weaning your baby onto solid foods belongs to you and your baby. It is the start of a life time of enjoying food and eating. An introduction to the culinary culture of your world. The flavours, tastes and food traditions that form part of your family.
So how do you go about this when there is so much noise from all over? Firstly keep it simple and it really can be like learning your ABC’s.
A - Age
B - Baby and Parent Led
C - Culturally Appropriate Food
Age: You will notice that up to about 4 months old your baby is satisfied on an exclusive milk diet. From about three months, you will notice that your baby’s digestive system is starting to settle down. He passes wind more easily. He feeds in a nice rhythm and you and him are reading and responding to each other’s cues. You did it. You survived the fourth trimester - the one outside the womb.
As you approach four months, you notice your baby waking up to the world around him. He is starting to take an interest beyond just you and him. He is getting stronger physically. He is keeping his head steadier each day all on his own. He can sit supported. He starts to follow you as you move around and starts to take notice of foods you are eating. Something inside of you wonders whether he is getting ready to start the solid journey.
Then one day you are eating a pear and he looks at the fruit longingly and you can’t resist giving him a lick.
Well you are spot on and starting to introduce complimentary foods from 4-6 months is a natural instinct driven process. So trust your intuition and your baby’s interest knowing that any time after 4 months it’s totally appropriate to start the solid journey.
B: Baby and Parent Led
Remember this is your and your little ones individual journey. It’s unique to the both of you. The closer to four months you start, you would naturally introduce solids slower as your baby will take a little longer to learn the skill of solid eating at 4 months verse a baby of 5 or 6 months. So initially start with one ‘meal’ preferably in the morning and then increase to two meals then three meals over a period of 1 to 4 weeks depending on your baby’s age. Keep in mind that milk is still the primary food source so in the beginning your baby shouldn’t reduce the amount of milk she drinks. Food should really be given for exposure and experience to practice the art and skill of eating.
Let your baby touch and feel the foods. Smell the aroma and see the food. This will make the food seem safe before she eats it.
If your baby ‘spits’ out the food it may be that the tongue thrust is still very strong. This will disappear over time with practice.
If your baby becomes distressed. STOP. Remember this needs to be a pleasant fun journey so maybe wait a day or two then try again. Sometimes just little tastes of foods off your plate are a great way to kick off the solid journey in the beginning.
By six months your only goal should be to have 2 - 3 opportunities in the day where your little one can taste some complimentary foods and enjoy them. Anything from 15-30 ml per opportunity is totally fine.
Culturally Appropriate Food:
We all belong to a culture and our own households have a culture. Culture determines many things and especially when it comes to food preferences. It might be the way food is chosen and prepared. The way food is eaten and what foods are avoided all have an influence from culture. Food preference also plays a role. So introducing your baby to solids is a delicate dance between cultural norms, personal choices and good nutrition.
Remember your baby is growing up in your home, not mine, not your pediatricians or best friend’s house - yours! So allow the cultural influences to infiltrate the weaning journey.
Nutrition is important so keep these three principles in mind:
#1. Choose foods as close to nature as possible - so minimal processing, additives or added ingredients. Pretend you are living off the land - what would you have access to and use these as starter foods.
#2. Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains as unrefined as possible
#3. Don’t be afraid of protein foods like eggs, ground nuts, fish and other animal meats. Early exposure (between 5-7 months) to these protein rich foods can actually decrease risk of allergy to these foods.
It really is as easy as ABC and should be as fun as going to your favourite restaurant and ordering your most delicious dish with your best people around you.
Enjoy this journey.
Ref: Weaning Sense, Kath Megaw & Meg Faure, Quivertree Publications
About Nutripaeds Founder, Kath Megaw
Kath Megaw (BSc Dietetics Hons, Diploma Paediatric Dietetics) holds four medical qualifications including a paediatric dietetic qualification from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Balitmore, USA. She has been published in the Epilepsia journal on the use of the paediatric ketogenic diet in third-world settings and frequently speaks to groups of both professionals and parents on infant and childhood nutrition. Kath is the author of Real Food, Healthy, Happy Children (Quivertree Publications), the co-author of Feeding Sense (Metz press), The Low Carb Solution for Diabetics (Quivertree Publications),as well as co-author of Weaning Sense and Allergy Sense (Quivertree Publications). Kath has been in private practice for over 18 years and is the founder of Nutripaeds, a paediatric dietetic practice
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