When it comes to starting solid foods there is no shortage of information available to parents. But often times parents will find themselves reading advice that contradicts something they else they had just read. To help us determine what to actually believe, we reach out to Lara Field, founder and owner of Feed Nutrition Consulting to give us some expert advice and to bust the top myths for starting solid foods.
Myth #1: It’s not important to have a plan when I start feeding my baby.
Quite the contrary! Starting solid foods is a wonderful time for both parent and baby, and one of the first magical experiences you will enjoy with your little one. Feeding your baby should be one of the many bonding times with your child, a time full of positive energy, and lack of stress between parent and baby. It is important to remember that babies will eat for the rest of their lives. Thus, it is crucial for parents not to rush into feeding their infant. To get your baby started on the right path, try starting with a meal schedule right from the start. Rather than giving your baby tastes here and there throughout the day, aim to offer tastes of food at a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner time. This helps get parents into the routine of enjoying meals with their baby.
Myth #2: Delay foods that could cause an allergic reaction.
Historically, it was suggested to wait on highly allergic foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, fish, strawberries, citrus foods. However, new research suggests earlier introduction may actually prevent future allergies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing babies to solid foods when they’re about six months old. Further, introducing solids during the right time window may decrease the risk of food allergies in the future.
Myth #3: Baby food should be bland.
Baby’s first foods are a wild ride into new beginnings. A dramatic difference from formula, especially, that provides one single taste day after day, and from breastmilk which may have some variation depending on mom’s daily diet. Solid foods may be surprising for babies when they first start, thus it takes some time for them to acquire a taste for any food other than the daily beverage. Baby food need not be seasoned with salt, considering these new tastes are enough change for your little one. That said, the first year of life should be a period of exploration. Babies learn from these new experiences with food to develop a healthy foundation for their future. Once your baby masters the art of accepting a spoon, parents should be encouraged to experiment with a wide variety of flavors to expand their child’s palate.
Myth #4: Rice cereal is the first food you must start with.
Rice cereal has been promoted as baby’s first food due to the low potential of allergic response, and the importance of iron fortification for this stage of life. After about 5 months, babies lose their iron stores they acquired in utero, thus it is important replenish them through foods. Though cereals can be fortified to provide sufficient iron, natural sources of iron should also be considered – legumes, meat, and poultry are also fantastic sources of this important mineral.
Myth #5: Feeding my baby before bed will help them sleep through the night.
Hunger is something that does in fact wake babies up during the night, considering new babies do need to eat every 2-3 hours, so in the early stages, this is true. However, as babies grow, their stomach capacity increases, as does their ability to manage without food for longer lengths of time. A baby’s ability to sleep through the night typically is due to other factors, not eating before bedtime. It is generally a good practice, as babies age, to NOT feed prior to sleeping. As your baby starts developing good potty training habits, large amounts of liquid before bed is not something we want to encourage!
Have other feeding questions? Check out Lara’s website, and family-friendly recipes at www.feedkids.com, follow her on Facebook – @FormingEarlyEatingDecisions and on Instagram @FeedNutrition.