Your Baby: Solid Food Introduction

Today we have an article written on solid food introduction by guest blogger, new mom, and naturopathic doctor--Michelle Peris. Michelle began her studies in health by obtaining a Bachelors of Arts in Kinesiology with a minor in contemporary dance.  She completed the four year medical program in naturopathic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.  Michelle is currently a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors and the Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors.  Continue reading to find out more about introducing solid foods to your baby!
When it came time to introduce foods to my son it made me very emotional.  I was surprised at my strong reaction as I didn’t think this milestone would affect me so profoundly, but the fact of the matter is that it did.  For me, it was the first of many experiences where my son was becoming more independent and I enjoyed our time breastfeeding together.  Although I knew that nursing him would continue, our relationship was changing.  Going back to work didn’t even affect me as much, I’m odd I know!

When? At 6 months your baby’s nutritional requirements change significantly which is the major reason for food introduction.  Foods can be introduced as early as 4-5 months, although it may be best to wait till at least 5 months to ensure that they can digest food properly.
Does your baby watch while you eat? Your baby may be ready.  The ability to sit in a highchair and pick up food with thumb and forefinger are also signs of readiness.  A good rule of thumb is that if they are reaching for it they are probably ready.
What to eat? You want to select foods that are the least allergenic and easily digestible.  Contrary to popular belief I do not think that iron fortified grains (rice cereal) are a great introduction food.  It is advisable to begin with certain fruits and vegetables.  The need for iron substantially increases at the six month mark and therefore selecting foods that provide adequate iron is of utmost importance.
A growing concern is food sensitivities and you can introduce foods in such a way to ensure that they can be identified and avoided to prevent further discomfort for your baby.  Continue to nurse or formula feed your baby during this process.  Breast milk contains immune support which helps them establish healthy gut flora.
Food basics:
  • 6-9 months- Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and beets.  Fruits such as pear, apple, avocado and banana.
  • 9-12 months- oatmeal, quinoa, egg yolk, beans, pureed meats.
  • 12 months and beyond- wheat, nut butters, whole egg, goat’s milk before dairy milk (structurally more similar to breast milk)
  • DO NOT feed your baby honey, you must wait to over 12 months to introduce
General introduction instructions:
  • Select one food at a time every four days.  This way you can observe your baby to see if there is a sensitivity and you do not have to question which food it was that is causing problems.
  • Peel the skins as these are too fibrous and will be difficult for your baby to digest.
  • Lightly steam your vegetables to soften and save the water used to add to make your puree.
  • Make your purees very smooth for initial introduction, the consistency can become more thick and chunky as your child matures, preparing them for solid food.
  • Feed your baby small meals 2-3 teaspoons 1-2 times per day for the first 6- 9 months and increase in meal frequency and portion size as they grow.
  • Add herbs and spices to your purees such as dill, parsley, basil, cinnamon and cumin.  This develops a diverse palate, making them more open to different foods as they grow.
What symptoms to look for indicating food sensitivities:
  • Gas
  • Colic or crying
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Skin: look for hives, rash, redness, puffiness and bloating 
  • Behaviour changes
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Bowel movements- Constipation, diarrhea

Go into food introduction with an open mind.  They may love it, hate it or simply might not be ready.  Listen to their cues and respect what they are telling you, if they are not interested initially give it a week or so and try again.  They will let you know when they are ready!

Most of all take the time to introduce the foods properly and enjoy the process as you establish your child's healthy relationship with food!
In health & happiness,
Dr. Michelle Peris, BKin., ND 

If you would like to learn more, call Oakville Massage & Wellness Centre to book your 15 minute complimentary consult to find out how Dr. Peris and Naturopathic medicine can help you achieve optimal health and wellness!

Stay tuned for more by Dr. Peris!

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Nutritious said...

Yep, watching you eat is a sign

Kathryn Neilson said...

We should help our children's mental and health development. Every baby's need efficient food which would be included nutrition, all vitamins and calcium in every meal.

Patricia Jhonson said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful Blog

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