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So you may be wondering about when the time is right to consider diversifying food for your baby. Some paediatricians recommend starting as young as 4 months old, while others recommend waiting until baby is 6 months old. Before we dive into these general tips, we’d always suggest that you seek advice on your babies individual circumstances from your health professional. For example, a paediatrician may recommend introducing solid foods sooner than you’d think, especially if baby has severe reflux. There is no one size fits all when it comes to diversifying your babies food; it is all determined by your babies individual developments and needs.
How to start introducing food?
Food introduction consists of gradually introducing fruits, vegetables and the various sources of protein and fat into baby’s diet. Don’t forget that this does not mean that baby should stop drinking milk, on the contrary! At the age of 6 months, a child should still drink between 500 ml and 800 ml of milk, or 3 to 4 bottles of second-age milk per day. Diversification also marks an important stage in your child’s life, before you know it, they’ll be sitting alongside you at the dinner table, waving their plastic spoon and sharing the joys (and tantrums) of a family meal. It’s important to be calm, remain patient and trust your baby, even if the first few purees end up on the kitchen floor.
A good approach to starting this process is to first give baby their bottle or feed and then gently offer them a few spoons of mash. It’s important to remember that this is all unfamiliar to them; your child must become accustomed with new textures and tastes. We’d suggest trying this at lunchtime for a couple of weeks before moving on so that you can observe how well your baby will digest the food you are giving them. Once your little one gradually gains confidence, you can continue diversifying the food you give them further. You may wish to start giving them around 130 g of well-mixed vegetables for lunch and then supplement this with a bottle. We’d advise that you don’t disturb the evening routine, and keep giving baby that essential bottle of milk.
Diversification: foods to favour … and those to avoid
For several years, the recommendations surrounding food diversification have varied, however nowadays it is recommended to give baby a sample of all types of vegetables by offering them a new vegetable per day. Green beans, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, peas, artichokes, pumpkins, everything is on the menu! In terms of fruit, the apple is perfect for beginners but you can always look to switch over to pears, quinces, bananas, peaches, apricots, oranges or even clementine’s. Generally speaking, proteins (meat, fish, eggs) should be offered and integrated into purees only from 7 months old.
At first, it’s better to avoid vegetables with too much fibre such as chard; or those with an overly pronounced taste that could put off baby, like cabbage, turnips, onions, peppers and/or eggplant. Likewise, give carrots sparingly because they can constipate.
Life can get busy, and it isn’t always possible to prepare a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for every meal, do not feel guilty for giving baby a prepared jar if you do not have time to cook. These jars are carefully produced to ensure they deliver the nutritional needs of toddlers. If, on the other hand, you want to start making purees and compotes, why not choose seasonal organic vegetables, or even frozen foods.
Typical menus between 6 and 12 months
Between 6 and 12 months, baby’s menus will change and evolve, and you will see that, little by little, they will be able to eat almost like you.
Baby menus at 6 months
Morning: Bottle of 180 or 200 ml of milk + cereals with gluten
Noon: 130 g of vegetable / starch / protein puree (10 g of meat, fish or egg) + 130 g of mixed cooked fruit compote.
Snack: A bottle of milk + a compote
Evening: Bottle of 180 or 200 ml of milk + cereals with gluten, if possible, with vegetables.
Baby menus at 9 months
Morning: 210 ml bottle of milk + cereals with gluten
Noon: 200 to 250 g of vegetable / starch / protein puree (10 g of meat, fish or egg) with a spoonful of oil, butter or fresh cream + 130 g of mixed cooked fruit compote. You can then start to introduce the small pieces of food as opposed to all pureed.
Snack: A bottle of milk + a compote + a cookie
Evening: A 120 ml bottle of milk + half a 130 g jar of vegetable puree or homemade soup with a spoon of butter + A petit-suisse or cottage cheese.
Baby menus at 12 months
Morning: 210 to 240 ml bottle of milk
Noon: 200 to 250 g of vegetable / starch / protein puree (20 g of meat, fish or egg) with two teaspoons of oil, butter or fresh cream + 130 g of compote
Snack: A bottle with 210 to 240 ml of milk or a dairy product + a compote + a piece of bread.
Evening: A vegetable soup with starchy foods (potato, rice, pasta, semolina) + a dairy product of your choice + a compote or crushed fruit
Baby Led Weaning: food diversification led by the child
The principle of BLW is to introduce baby to solid foods without going through the mash stage (or in addition to it!). This is a method that stimulates autonomy, awakens taste, promotes the learning of chewing, develops fine motor skills and also reduces the risk of food blockages. Upon consultation with your medical professional, you may be able to start offering babies solid food from 6 months old – when they can sit up with your support. Such foods include a piece of ripe and well-cooked fruit or vegetable (the size of a child’s closed fist), toast, rice cake, minced meatballs, omelet strips etc. This gives your baby is autonomy; they’re deciding what they want to eat alone, making this process very different from a classic food introduction.
For parents concerned about the risk of suffocation, be rest assured! If baby tries to swallow a piece of food that is too large, the vomit reflex will move the food to the front of the mouth so that baby can chew it again. However, be careful not to give baby foods that are not suitable for BLW such as grapes, blueberries, seeds, lettuce or overly hard vegetables and fruits and always consult your medical professional to make sure BLW is right for your baby.
This article was adapted and translated from an article originally written in France for Laudavie. If you like this article, please share it with your friends.
Designed and produced in France, the Calmosine organic range is certified organic by the independent body Ecocert which approves the selection of raw materials, formulation, manufacturing process and labelling. Calmosine Digestion contains organic plant extracts from plants grown and harvested by farmers committed to using sustainable and environmentally friendly growing methods.