Breastmilk is nature’s ideal food for your new born baby. It is the golden standard by which all formulas are designed. Up until 4-6 months old, breastmilk will meet all of your growing baby’s nutritional needs & in a healthy full-term baby, you will have no need to supplement any vitamins, minerals or any other nutrients.
Once your baby reaches the age of 6 months his iron stores would have been depleted and his protein and energy requirements are increased. Breastmilk, as wonderful as it is, can no longer meet all of his nutritional needs. By this stage your baby needs to be on a varied solid diet with complimentary foods. Foods high in protein, vitamin B12 and iron become essential. These include foods like egg, chicken, ﬁsh, red meats, beans; lentils and ground nuts or nut butters. Foods like full cream yogurt and full cream cheeses can also boost the protein intake but are not helpful when it comes to increasing iron intake. Iron intake is best when animal proteins are eaten.
Introducing foods high in proteins between the age of 4-7 months actually offers protection against allergy prevention. Introducing your 6 month old to whole egg is no longer seen as risky but rather as essential in decreasing risk of egg allergy according to a large multi-centre study done in Australia over ﬁve years. Solid foods also encourage texture acceptance and aid in development of both ﬁne motor coordination as well as willingness to try new foods ad ﬂavours. This willingness peaks between 6-12 months and then starts to level off during the toddler years-yet another great motivation to expose your baby to as many new tastes and ﬂavours of healthy unprocessed, natural foods as possible.
Eating complimentary foods are a natural part of life and so the move from a pure milk diet to a milk and solid diet is a gentle loving journey, by starting at the right time you can take it slow and at your child’s pace. This will allow you and your baby to enjoy the journey – it is not about quantity in the beginning, but rather about introducing a wide variety of tastes; ﬂavours and nutrients. It is about learning to eat and this will involve opportunities where your baby must watch you eat and then over time participate while you eat social eating forms a very important part of the solid journey. Not only does social eating make mealtimes fun, it also builds trust. Your baby is more likely to eat something new if they see you eating the food ﬁrst.
Introducing solids is more than just about nutrition – as we say it involves the social, emotional and sensory aspect of your baby. For a successful and enjoyable solid journey you want to encourage all these elements. Don’t delay, start solids today!
About 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 recently co-authored the book ‘Feeding sense’ and more recently authored ‘Real Food, Healthy Happy Children.’ Kath lives in the beautiful city of Cape Town with her husband and 3 beautiful children.
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