From the moment our baby is born, we are faced with a wide range of opinions and decisions about how to feed, how often to feed, how we should settle baby, the best sleeping position, co-sleeping or not etc and it can be overwhelming.
Often what I say to new mums is to trust your instincts, and listen to your baby. The reason babies don't come with a manual is because each model is different, responds differently to its environment, and thrives on different fuel.
So introducing food to baby is no different. Over time there have been varying ideas on when to start to introduce foods, mostly varying from 4 - 6 months. I tend to recommend waiting until 6 months, purely because that is generally the time most babies become interested in food and have the co ordination and dexterity to match. They are mostly sitting up by now and capable of holding some food for themselves. It generally doesn't do any harm to let baby start to explore foods before the six months. If they're not ready, they will only play around with it a little or put small amounts into their mouth and to start with will actually eat very little.
This is the basic concept of a fast growing trend in baby feeding called "Baby Led Weaning". This suggests that by six months, most babies will be able to start to feed themselves and can be allowed to determine what and how much to eat. They can sit with the family and pick at the food that the family are eating. It also means that there is less need to spoon feed your baby. You are basically waiting for signs from the baby.
Introducing solid food should be a fairly gradual transition. In the early phases, particularly if you are starting solids before 6 months, their breast milk will be providing most of their nourishment. Some babies won't be interested until 8 months, so don't be stressed if they are not eating until then.
My general rules are:
• Make it nourishing and healthy and keep it simple. My preference is to start them on small amounts of avocado, pumpkin, sweet potato, banana, pear or other vegetables. Grains can be difficult for them to digest and cause constipation in the early stage.
• SLOW AND GRADUAL: Start one food at a time. Wait for 3 days before introducing the next food. This is particularly important if your baby has a sensitive stomach, for those getting constipated, colic, have a family history of allergies, eczema or food intolerances as it makes it easier to establish what foods are upsetting them.
• Avoid introducing sweets, biscuits, juices, processed, refined (white breads etc) and fast foods for as long as possible (or never) and you will have less chance of having a 'fussy eater'.
But importantly, allow mealtimes to be an enjoyable experience. It should be relaxed and a time to share with family.
Author: Kellie Ellington ND BHSc Thirroul Natural Healing Centre - Ph: 4268 3399