Is your baby ready for food?

Is your baby ready for food?

When you are a new mum, every decision you need to make for you little bub can sometimes be so hard! With the Mom in Balance program we can prepare you physically and mentally for birth and after, but less on breastfeeding, when to start solid foods and what to choose? Luckily among our members we have Kathy, a Paediatric Dietitian.

Kathy Lowes-Switzer is a UK registered Specialist Paediatric Dietitian with over 10 years experience. She has worked at 3 London teaching hospitals and is specialised in Paediatric Gastroenterology and Allergy. She has had an active role in public health initiatives, working for a not for profit organisation in Australia, ‘Healthy Kids’, as well as work in South Africa with CHIVA Africa (children with HIV and Aids).

Kathy joined Mom in Balance a few months ago and was happy to share her TOP 10 NUTRITION TIPS for your baby at our MIB coffee morning on 29 November.

1. Is your baby ready? 

Government guidelines suggest introduction of foods at 6 months of age, however some babies may be ready before this. For the first 6 months of his or her life, breast milk or formula will meet all of your child's nutritional needs. Even when you start solids at the earlier end of that spectrum, these new foods are not meant to replace breast milk or formula in any way. The advice to not to start before 17 weeks and don’t delay after 6months. 

What are the ready signs?

  • Holding their heads alone, have good control of their movements, sitting up
  • Hungrier than usual, not satisfied with usual formula or breastmilk feeds
  • Interested in what you are eating

2. Start with 1 small meal

Start with 1 small meal a day, at a time when you are relaxed, and you can sit with your baby. Time this so it is not just after a milk feed and not just before they are due to have one.

3. Veggies, best first foods

Try and start with vegetables not fruit (savoury rather than sweet tastes) For example: cooked root vegetables such as carrot, pumpkin, swede, parsnip or sweet potato, then add in fruit and some meats/fish/lentils

4. 'Baby led' or 'spoon fed puree'?

‘Baby led’ is a term that has emerged over the last decade. The WHO (World Health Organisation) still recommends puree as a baby’s first food, as there is still insufficient evidence on baby led weaning for it to be universally recommended. However, the UK Department of Health guidelines do suggest, starting with purees but encourage finger foods from the start, so a combined approach. Please bear in mind if you do want to go ahead with baby led weaning or introduction of finger foods, your baby must be 6months. Here are some ideas for good first finger foods:

  • Note: lenght and width of a wide finger!
  • steamed carrots, pumpkin, parsnips, sweet potato

  • Sliced avocado (soft)

  • Steamed courgette strips

  • Banana or Papaya

5. Don't bother the mess!

Remember it is a sensory as well as nutritional milestone in your baby’s development, therefore let them explore the food, touch, smell, taste and let them make a MESS. 

6. No cow milk

Cow’s milk is not suitable as the baby’s main drink until they are over 1 year of age. Therefore, ensure they continue to have breastmilk or formula feeds, aim for 4-6 feeds or around 600ml/day alongside their foods.

7. Water, water!

Babies need water and need to develop skills drinking from a cup. Try not to use bottled water; cooled boiled water or filtered water is best for babies. Take an age appropriate water bottle or cup out and about with you.

8. Foods to AVOID:

  • Honey under the age of 1 year
  • Undercooked meats or eggs
  • Added salt or sugar (in your foods and commercial foods)
  • Fish with high mercury such as Swordfish, Marlin, Shark
  • Unpasteurised dairy, soft cheeses or mouldy cheeses
  • Uncooked shellfish
  • Whole nuts, grapes, cherry tomatoes (other similar shaped hard foods) as risk of choking

9. Know any family allergies

If there are allergies in the family, be cautious with allergenic foods. Introduce one of these foods at a time leaving a day or two between each new food.  If you are particularly worried or your baby has eczema, asthma (atopic) or a known allergy, talk to your doctor or dietitian before introducing these foods.

‘Allergenic’ foods:

  • MIlk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Shelfish
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Sesame 

10. ENJOY!

And MOST important…… Enjoy the time with your baby and watching him/her with the new tastes, textures and facial expressions, it is a wonderful time. If you relax and enjoy it they will!

By Kathy Lowes-Switzer - Paediatric Dietitian (BSc, MSc, RD UK)


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