Wondering which foods to introduce to your little one and when? Luckily, introducing solids to your baby can be a very fun, relaxed experience. If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen that I have used the Baby Led Weaning method of introducing solids to Rory. The theory behind BLW is that babies aren’t able to easily digest food until they are 6 months old, nor do they need it. Breastmilk is exactly what they need to meet their nutritional needs for the first year. At 6 months, they are also past the point of only being able to consume purees, so using this method, you skip the puree phase and you simply give your baby what you are eating (or a baby-friendly version)! Baby Led Weaning is said to help the development of motor skills and the diversification of the child’s palate, producing less picky eaters.
While I have loved Baby Led Weaning as a guideline for how to feed my baby, it doesn’t go too far into detail on the best way to feed your baby nutritionally.
Here are some guidelines to help you choose which foods to introduce to your little one:
Fat- This is SO important for growing babies. Healthy sources of fats are essential for brain development. Try coconut oil, grass fed butter or ghee, avocado, egg yolks. You can cook vegetables in fat or spread it on top of a veggie or other food.
Protein - Baby’s iron stores start to decrease at around six months, so introducing meat can help them get sufficient iron. Give them a tough piece of meat to chew on to start. Offering slow-cooked, shredded or ground meat or chicken are also good ways to introduce meat, especially when they start to bite and swallow. Flaky fish is soft enough for them to eat as well.
Vegetables - When first introducing vegetables, cut them into sticks before or after cooking so they can easily pick up and bring to their mouth. You can steam or roast them so that they are soft. When they get a little older and develop the “pincer grip” you can cut the vegetables into smaller pieces. Try carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, you name it! I also blend spinach into “pancakes” made out of egg yolk and banana or will chop it really tiny and mix it into a scrambled egg yolk.
Fruit - Fruit can also be cut up into sticks or wedges and cooked until soft. I steam or pan fry apples and pears in coconut oil and cinnamon. Bananas are also an easy fruit to grab and chew on. Fruit can be very easy to give to babies because there is a high chance they will enjoy it and actually eat it, so I always try to prioritize other foods over fruit when putting together a meal, especially because I deem fat, protein and vegetables more important.
Bone broth -aka nutrient power house! Bone broth is also great for digestion. Put it in a little cup for your baby to drink or mash up egg yolk or avocado with a little broth. Cooking vegetables in broth can give them a nutritional boost while also providing a good flavor.
Breastmilk - Continue to breastfeed as you normally would when first introducing solid foods to your baby. If you do choose to use Baby Led Weaning, babies aren’t actually swallowing much food for at least the first few weeks. The beginning stages are mostly about play and learning about different tastes and textures. During this time, breastmilk (or formula, if that’s what you choose) still provides 100% of a baby’s nutritional needs. As the baby slowly starts consuming more food over time, they will slowly start to consume less milk.
Allergens - Studies have shown that introducing allergens at an early age can help avoid the development of an allergy. This includes nuts, peanuts (give these in butter form so they don’t choke), eggs, dairy, soy (though I see no benefit in introducing soy anyway), and shellfish. Make sure to introduce one allergen at a time, only with foods that baby has already consumed.
Grains - Babies don’t have the enzymes needed to digest grains right away, so it’s best to hold off for at least a year, but longer is better. It drives me mad that it is still recommended that parents introduce oats and rice cereal to their babies as a first food (not to mention at 4 months old). This is exactly the opposite of what new eaters should be fed. Sure, it fills them up, but offers little nutritional value and may cause digestive issues.
Salt - Babies kidneys aren’t fully developed yet at six months, so salt should be avoided for about the first year.
Sugar - Even though it’s cute to see their smile when you give them ice cream, please avoid sugar. Their bodies just can’t handle it (and neither can yours for that matter ). Hold off for as long as possible.
This is just scraping the surface of all the information out there on feeding babies. I hope to go into more detail in future posts. Please comment and let me know what you would like to know more about when it comes to feeding babies and baby led weaning!
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