Follow on from the previous post about when to start, in this week I’ll talk about WHAT to introduce.
Years ago it was common to introduce baby cereals into baby’s bottle from around 3-4 months to help them “sleep longer”. After that you got stuck into a prescribed list of fruits in a pureed consistency the eventually moved onto vegetables/meats, increasing the lumpiness as you went.
This is still common practice, well the pureed foods part – not the cereal at 3 months, and is called conventional introduction of solids (there’s also baby led introducing to solids I’ll talk more on next week). There is nothing wrong with this except research is now suggesting to wait until 6months and start with vegetables and iron rich foods like red meats and liver (limit the weekly amount due to high vitamin A).
The Veggies First Study going on at Massey University at the moment is looking at how babies are so keen to try anything and everything when starting with solids so why not start with foods that aren’t so great tasting – veggies! They already have a strong love of sweet foods (breastmilk and formula are around 8% sugar in the form of lactose) so it’s unlikely they would reject fruits. But waiting too long for veggies can make them a struggle. Remember it can take 10+ tries before they accept a food so keep going, and don't forget to offer things you don't like.
Cereals are also difficult for young babies to digest (regardless of whether it has iron or not). Their gut takes a few years to fully mature and this means things like sealing up the holes we talked about and increasing digestive enzymes so foods can be broken down. Cereals also are fillers, they lack nutrients needed for growth and development. @drjulie.bhosale has written a great piece on this!
So get stuck into your veggies, no need to sweeten with fruits or add sugar/salt and don’t be surprised if sleep gets worse when you start – not better! Sleep is a biological development and not always related to inadequate calories.
Kekoa's owner Alexis is a midwife and nutritionist and loves to help new parents navigate all that comes with parenting. She regularly presents new topics to help inform you, and always aims for a balanced approach.