Starting your little one on solids can be confusing and much of the information available is contradictory! Paediatric dietician, Kath Megaw of Nutripaeds unpacks the WHEN; WHAT and HOW of weaning your baby!
As important as it is to ensure your baby continues to grow adequately, it is equally important to ensure that your baby isn’t over fed.
New weaning guidelines recommend starting full term babies on solids at 4 – 6 months and,unless your doctor suggests introducing solids early for medical reasons – this is one situation where the advice ‘Watch your baby, not the calendar’ has particular significance.
The signs of readiness for solids include…
- Baby’s ability to hold up his head
- His ability to sit well with support
- Seeming dissatisfied after milk feeds
- Showing an increased interest in YOUR food at family mealtimes
- Absence of the ‘tongue thrust reflex’ – i.e. pushing everything that is put in his mouth back out!
Scientists tell us that genetic programming and nutritional habits are formed within the first 1000 days of life. That is from conception until two years of age. This period of life lays down many foundations and most importantly the blue print and map for your health. As parents there is so much we can do to assist our children in laying down a positive health blue print.
One aspect is monitoring the amount of sugars that go into our children’s diet. We can do this from before birth, and definitely when we wean onto a solid diet. Breastmilk is always the gold standard so if we just take a moment to look at breastmilk and what is actually in breastmilk. Mature milk is mostly water with fats (55%), carbohydrates (37%), proteins (8%), and various elements such as minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. So if this is the case why do we wean babies onto 78% carbohydrates and 12% fat and 10% protein – BABY CEREALs. We totally switch the bodies source of energy.
Lets consider weaning onto less processed man made foods like vegetables, fruit, healthy fats. Consider weaning using a food like avocado with mashed paw paw. Or consider gem squash and blended olives. Maybe some sweet potato and macadamia nut butter would be a better option. All these options present a nutritional profile more similar to breastmilk than a traditional weaning cereal.
Healthy unprocessed grains like millet, spelt, oats, rice and quinoa can definitely be included in your babies diet down the line but no need to rush these introductions in the first few weeks of weaning.
Thanks to the latest allergy research, feeding protein foods or high risk allergen foods early on into solid introduction is not only safe but may also be protective against the child developing an allergy to a specific protein food. Protein foods include fish, egg, nut butters, chicken, fish, beef and lamb.
When introducing proteins
- Do one new protein every 3-4 days
- Always introduce at lunch time
- When protein has been tried and tested it can become a supper protein
ABOUT the author, KATH MEGAW
Kath is a paediatric dietitian who has been in private practice for the past 15 years. After qualifying as a dietitian, Kath studied further and gained specialist experience in paediatric and special needs dietetics.
However what qualifies Kath more than all her years of study is her 3 children who constantly challenge her theoretical paradigms and help her put her theory into practice. Kath is passionate about helping families navigate through a wealth of nutritional information that is available to them. Kath’s private practice is not only built on assisting her little patients with their nutritional needs but also offering support to moms and dads.
Kath speaks at various baby and toddler seminars around the country and runs workshops on infant and childhood nutrition. She is a regular guest on the Etv Great Expectations show and a variety of other media. Kath has written articles for many leading magazines and co-authored the book ‘FEEDING SENSE” (Metz Publishers 2010). Kath lives in the beautiful city of Cape Town with her husband and 3 beautiful children.