From birth to six months both Health Canada and The World Health Organization agree that exclusively breastfeeding your baby is optimum. Breast milk is nutrient dense and will provide everything your baby needs for growth, development, health and wellness. If you have chosen to formula feed, your baby should only be feed formula during the first six months. At six months you can begin to introduce your baby to the wonderful world of food. This is a very exciting time but it is also a time filled with questions, concerns and lots of conflicting advice. So before your begin tickling those tiny taste buds let me help you decipher all the information you have read and heard and make the process a little less overwhelming.
What Foods First?
There are many schools of thought on which foods to begin introducing your baby too, I believe the best first foods are real foods, foods that have not been processed, foods that have not been packaged – food that your grandmother would recognize and food that helps support the growth, development, health and well being of your baby. This real food is of course fruits and vegetables!
Fruits and vegetables offer your baby a wide variety of nutrients including minerals, vitamins, fibre, carbohydrates, fats, protein and phytochemicals to support the amazing amounts of growth occurring at this time, and to support the overall health and well being of your baby.
Here are the foods I considered to be great first foods:
Bananas (easy to digest and sweet like breast milk – tastes particularly wonderful roasted then pureed)
Pears (choose organic, pesticide residues are extremely high)
Apples (choose organic, pesticide residues are extremely high)
Avocado (no need to cook first, just peel and mash well)
Apricots (choose sulfite free dried fruits)
Prunes (choose sulfite free dried fruits)
Figs (choose sulfite free dried fruits)
Raisins (choose sulfite free dried fruits)
Blueberries (organic best, pesticide residues are extremely high)
Broccoli (organic best, pesticide residues are extremely high)
Cauliflower (organic best, pesticide residues are extremely high)
All of the above foods should be washed well, peeled, cored and steam or roasted until fork tender and then pureed to desired consistency for your baby. At first the consistency should be very runny, but as your baby gets used to the food you can begin to thicken it up.
Introduce one food at a time waiting 3 to 4 days before adding another food. This will allow you to see if there are any sensitivities or allergies to the food being introduced. It can take up to 72 hours for a reaction to a food to show up. The most common signs are rashes, changes in bowel movement, increased gas and spitting up. If you suspect a problem with a food wait a few weeks and try introducing it again. If you experience a negative reaction again, wait three months before reintroducing.
Once you know that a food is okay, you can begin to use that food to create wonderful combinations of food. For example if you have introduce apples and all is okay, when it comes time to introduce beets you can create a tasty apple and beet puree; or if raisins were a big hit with your little one how about a carrot and raisin puree, and pear and parsnip works well too! This makes introducing foods with a stronger taste a little easier and also opens your baby’s taste buds to many different tastes.
Keep in mind food introduction is not meant to meet your baby’s nutritional demands – breast milk or formula will do this until your baby’s first birthday. Food introduction at this time is a chance for your baby to get used to eating, to develop a taste for different foods and to gain acceptance of different textures. This is not the time to force feed your baby, follow your baby’s lead, when they have had enough stop. Don’t stress or panic if they don’t want to eat, it just might not be a good day, put it away and try again later or tomorrow.
Kim Corrigan-Oliver is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and a Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner. Her practice Your Green Baby specializes in nutrition for mom, baby and toddler – preconception to preschool. For more information please check out her website at www.yourgreenbaby.ca