The introduction of solid foods in children: Perseverance and success
It can be a worrying time for new moms - and new dads - to introduce solids into the diet of a tiny newborn and sometimes it's pretty hard to navigate all of the recommendations! Moreover, these recommendations have evolved enormously in recent years and new information has emerged: There is not only ONE good way to introduce solids to children. However, when Baby Gourmet asked me to speak about this subject, I chose one of the most studied approaches at this time which is the Baby-Led Weaning approach. Learn more about this intuitive and guilt-free method.
WHAT IS THE BLW APPROACH?
The basic principles of this approach are simple enough: we allow children to discover the flavors, textures and smells of food themselves. They are permitted to eat the same foods as the entire family during the same meal. This often encourages children to mimic the behaviors of other people at the table. What I love about this method is that it promotes respect for signs of hunger and satiety. Surely, the child eats at his own pace and stops when he is no longer hungry (because no adult offers him another spoon of food!). The BLW approach can begin when the child has the capacity to hold his head and remain seated, which is a little earlier for some (approximately 4 months) and later for others (approximately 6 months).
MUST I WORRY SINCE MY BABY DOES NOT EAT MUCH?
It is not uncommon to watch children play with food and eat only one or two bites per meal when starting the BLW approach. This is the exploration and discovery phase and the latter will fade over time. During this time, solid foods are only complementary to breast milk or infant formula, which remains the mainstay in the child's first year of life. The more solid foods children eat, the less milk they will drink however, this transition can take some time!
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY BABY IS READY?
In general, by the age of 6 months, babies are ready for the BLW approach. On the other hand, before starting, we suggest waiting for the baby to sit up without any help. He must also turn his head easily from left to right and from top to bottom. Finally, he must have the capacity to bring food to his mouth on his own. The motor skills of the child must therefore be sufficiently developed, otherwise baby may not be capable to meet his energy needs and may therefore be underweight.
WHAT MUST I PREPARE FOR?
More housework and cleaning up! Granted, the exploration phase is also a period of play, eating with tiny fingers can however be very messy. Be patient, laugh and always stay positive. One must also expect much longer meal times since the child is not yet quite skilled at eating and it will therefore probably take longer. In addition, it is possible that at the beginning of this stage, you will be wasting more food with this method. However, over time, you will better measure your child's appetite. A little trick: start with small portions and increase the amount if baby seems to still be hungry!
EXAMPLES OF TYPES OF FOOD TO OFFER
👶🏻 Pureed legumes
👶🏻 Scrambled eggs
👶🏻 Tender meats
👶🏻 Tofu (large cubes or shredded)
👶🏻 Baby foods, such as Baby Gourmet products
👶🏻 Tender or cooked vegetables
👶🏻 Soft fruits
👶🏻 Cooked pasta
👶🏻 Cheese (large cubes or shredded)
Avoid foods that are too hard such as raw vegetables, foods that are round or sticky such as bread, muffins and cakes since the texture becomes very sticky in their mouths when mixed with saliva.
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1. Cameron, S. L., Heath, A. L. M., & Taylor, R. W. (2012). How feasible is baby-led weaning as an approach to infant feeding? A review of the evidence. Nutrients, 4(11), 1575-1609.