It’s easy to get a little panicked if your baby doesn’t seem thrilled about the solid foods you introduce. When they turn their head, bat away the spoon or spit your carefully selected purées right out, it’s not only discouraging, but very messy business.
The first thing to know is that it’s far too early to brand your baby as a picky eater. In fact, doing so could be the very thing that creates a difficult feeding relationship with your baby down the road.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you acquaint your little one with solid foods:
Baby doesn’t need very much at first
At six months, the recommended age for beginning to introduce solid foods, your baby is still getting most of their nutritional needs met through breast milk or formula. It’s not as if the clock strikes midnight on the day they turns half a year old and suddenly they need to consume a bowl of cereal or bananas to be well-nourished. Your objective in the early days is just to introduce the concept and feel of having something other than a liquid in their mouth. Some babies find that a bigger adjustment than others—so it’s important for you and your baby to find your own pace.
Baby does need a source of iron
Your child’s natural iron stores—those they get from mom in utero and then receive from breast milk—start to get depleted around six months. That means you’ll want to include an iron-rich protein source such as puréed meat or some mashed up egg as one of your baby’s first foods. (Make sure you wait three to five days between each new food to make it easier to note any digestive reactions). Iron-fortified infant cereal is an option, but unlike when you were a baby, it’s no longer considered the only choice. The bottom line is that you need to balance your concern about getting your little one to like a variety of fruits and vegetables with the biggest priority at the start—getting some iron into them.
Guidelines have changed around eggs
Until recently, it was thought that egg white shouldn’t be introduced until baby turned one. New infant feeding guidelines developed by Health Canada, The Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada now recommend offering whole eggs—yolk and white combined—beginning at six months. In fact, it’s now believed that introducing whole eggs early may help to lower the chance of developing an egg allergy. That’s good news, especially if your baby is a little choosy, because eggs pack a big nutritional punch. With six grams of the highest-quality protein and fourteen essential vitamins and nutrients, eggs are a practical way to add an iron-rich, wholesome food to your baby’s diet. They are a natural source of choline, which plays an important role in brain development.
This takes patience
Don’t be too quick to decide your baby doesn’t like a certain food. Take heart from the fact that research by top child feeding experts like Ellyn Satter shows that children may have to be exposed to a food an incredible 15 to 20 times—whether seeing others eat it or trying it themselves—before they’ll learn to eat and enjoy it themselves. So if baby spits out their sweet potatoes today, try it for a few more days, and if you don’t have luck, bring it back a few weeks down the road.
For more information on the new guidelines and ideas on how to incorporate eggs into your baby’s diet, please click here.