This question comes up all the time: When should we start solids for our babies? And the accompanying responses… “4 months? Baby is too young!” “6 months? Why didn’t you start earlier?” In short, we’re not sure anymore about the ideal age to start solid introduction!
When to start solids?
Baby has been drinking milk since birth, and now the time has come to introduce solid food. First of all, it’s good to think about it and feel ready, but it’s best to wait for validation from the pediatrician. The pediatrician adapts to baby’s development and can guide you correctly, ensuring that baby continues to grow properly and under the best conditions.
Many people say (oh… the “they say”…) that 4 months is too early to start food diversification and that the digestive system of very young babies is not ready.
Others say that baby keeps eyeing Mom and Dad’s forks, and clearly, 4 months is the right time to start because we can tell that baby wants it! But what if we refer to healthcare professionals?
At what age does the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend starting solids?
The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age (ideally breastfeeding or bottle feeding). This means excluding any solid food from babies’ diet before they reach 6 months. Starting at 6 months, the nutritional needs of infants change, and the introduction of solid foods and food diversification can take place. This does not exclude continued breastfeeding, as milk remains the main source of nutrition for babies.
At what age do allergists recommend starting food diversification?
Allergists are concerned about the increasing prevalence of food allergies. It used to be recommended to delay the introduction of potentially allergenic foods in babies’ diets for as long as possible. However, allergists have realized that the earlier these foods are introduced, the more allergies are eliminated! There is an optimal age window, according to allergists, to start this food diversification for babies, and it falls between 4 and 6 months.
Indeed, introducing foods too early or too late could be detrimental to acquiring tolerance to the allergen, and unfortunately, it could facilitate the development of food allergies.
How to know if baby will have food allergies, how to detect them?
Starting baby’s food diversification is not a decision to be taken lightly. You need to prepare for it, and baby also needs to be ready! As mentioned earlier, the agreement of the pediatrician is crucial for a good start.
Food allergies can be hereditary. It is essential to discuss this with the pediatrician in order to prevent them in baby.
Baby’s body must then gradually adapt to the introduction of foods. Consult the list of age-appropriate foods to smoothly incorporate them into their diet and gradually acclimate baby’s intestinal flora as you progress through this major milestone of food diversification.
It’s possible that baby may have mild to moderate reactions following the introduction of a new food. To prevent them, it is recommended to:
Introduce vegetables one by one (same goes for fruits) Introduce these vegetables at lunchtime to observe any potential allergies during the day Monitor baby: their face, body, behavior Record each introduced food along with baby’s reactions in a notebook Food allergies can manifest in various ways, such as:
- Small red patches on the body
- Stomach pain
If you notice any of these symptoms or other worrisome and abnormal symptoms in your baby, consult your pediatrician or the emergency department immediately.
Which vegetable to start baby’s food diversification with?
For your 4-month-old baby, we will prioritize cooked vegetables with low fiber content and those that are not too strong in taste for the baby (we’re starting gently, remember… :)). We start with one vegetable per puree: this will allow us to see if the baby has any food allergies.
We recommend steaming for cooking. Here are some vegetables you can feed your baby:
- Beetroot (sweet, babies love it!)
- Leek (white part)
- Potato (only to mix with vegetables in purees, not on its own)
- Artichoke Spinach…
Which fruit to start baby’s food diversification with?
For fruits, just like vegetables, they should be cooked. You can give your baby all fruits except for berries, which should be introduced at a minimum of 7 months and also cooked.
Here are the first fruits you can feed your baby:
- Plum (it’s a natural laxative, so give it in moderation)
Should I add salt to baby’s food?
Salt should not be added to the purees. The daily salt requirement for a baby (up to 1 year old) is around 1 gram, which is usually present in their milk. That’s why it should not be added to their meals.
Should I add sugar to baby’s food?
You can add sugar to baby’s fruit compotes, but in moderation. Fruits are naturally sweet. You might prefer to add a very small amount of sugar to plain yogurt rather than to the fruit compotes.
How much puree and compote should I give to the baby?
At the beginning, give only 2 or 3 tablespoons to the baby for both puree and compote. They will gradually get used to the taste. Space the meals 3 days apart (first puree test on Monday, the next one on Thursday…) and gradually bring them closer together.
After one month, the baby can eat around 4.5 ounces (130g) of puree for lunch every day and 2.3 ounces (65g) of fruit compote for a snack. So, we can start giving them 4.5 ounces (130g) of puree in the evening as well, along with 2.3 ounces (65g) of compote.
When and how much meat and fish should I give to the baby?
We can introduce meat and fish into the baby’s diet at 6 months. Do not add more than 0.35 ounces (10g) of meat or fish per 4.9 ounces (140g) baby jar.
For meat, we can choose from the following white meats for the baby:
We can also give them reduced-salt white ham without the rind, also 0.35 ounces (10g) per meal.
For fish, choose lean white fish with few bones for the baby:
Always check that there are no bones in the meat or fish, and remove any fatty parts from the pieces you give to the baby.
Can I give eggs to the baby?
Yes, babies can eat eggs, but only the boiled yolk, and a quarter of it per jar (not more than half a boiled egg yolk per week). The egg can replace meat or fish in their meals; do not give both at the same time.
You can also start giving them cooked egg white from 9 months onwards. Give them 1/3 of an egg per day or just the boiled egg yolk (whole), mashed.
No matter what advice you receive from your surroundings, social media, or the internet, ALWAYS consult your baby’s pediatrician FIRST to determine when to start food diversification.
Only they can give you their approval and guide you through this important stage of your baby’s life!
Once you have your pediatrician’s approval, feel free to consult the article: How to Start Food Diversification.
Wishing you a smooth food diversification journey with your babies 😉
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