by Jess Sherman, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
- Relying on purees
The most current infant feeding guidelines emphasize the need for textured foods right from the get-go. 6 month-olds typically have the muscle function they need to be able to negotiate chunks, even finger foods. But different babies have different preferences. Try purees, but also know that introducing texture is important to your baby’s learning process.
- Rice cereal
Powdered rice cereal out of a box is a processed food. It has been processed to the point that it neither tastes, smells nor looks like the grain it once was. This is not the best choice for babies. The suggestion of starting with this powder arose more out of convenience than anything – it’s a way to supplement iron. Iron needs increase during the 6-12 month age period and stores (in mom and baby) typically diminish.
If you are willing to get into the kitchen and prepare simple iron rich whole foods for your baby, there is no need to rely on processed cereal.
- Over feeding
Babies are in transition at this point. They are transitioning from liquid to solid food, they are learning about how to use their tongue, they are learning about tastes and textures. There’s a lot going on in that little body!
At this age babies are pretty honest about their needs. They know when they are hungry. They know when they are full. They know when a food doesn’t agree with them or when they don’t like the taste or texture. We want to preserve this “inner knowing” while also helping them learn to expand their boundaries. Forcing them to eat when their lips are pierced and they turn their head away is not helpful.
For the first six months or so, a baby is still getting most of their calories and nutrients from breastmilk or formula. In my Thriving Babies guidelines I suggest using this 6 month learning period to bolster your baby’s digestion, and foster your child’s pallet by offering a variety of tastes and textures. Don’t worry too much about the quantity of solid food that is going in.
- Ignoring rashes and constipation
Unfortunately this sort of reaction has become so common it is now considered normal. It might be common, but it is not healthy.
Rashes and constipation are two hallmark signs that digestive function is sluggish. If your child is reacting this way, rather than turn your back on this “red flag”, back up and bolster the digestive function. Then try again.
Go back to foods that are easy to digest and which offer the nutrients that the digestive tract needs like glutamine, vitamin A, zinc, essential fatty acids, and probiotic bacteria.
- Starting too soon
Typically a baby’s digestive tract is “ready” for solid foods at some point between 4 and 6 months old. Research has shown that prior to 4 months old, the system is typically not ready, but there is no definitive statement about when the system is ready. The 4-6 month guideline is a ballpark, but really, what parents should look for are signs of readiness in their own child.
Some signs of readiness are: ability to sit up unassisted, interest in the world around them, opening the mouth when food approaches. If a child gets constipated or has other reactions to their food, they are likely not ready for it. It’s time to back up, help the digestive system develop, and then try again later.
Starting too soon, before the digestive system is ready, can increase your baby’s risk of developing allergy.
For more details about how to start your baby on real, whole, homemade solid food, sign up for Jess’s FREE Starter Course here.
About the Author
Jess Sherman is a Board Certified Registered Holistic Nutritionist and mother of three. She teaches parents how to feed their kids… without losing their minds in the process.
She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Board Certified in Practical Holistic Nutrition (CAHN-pro). She teaches parents what they need to know about how food impacts behaviour, learning and development, and helps them feed their kids and themselves real food without losing their minds in the process. You can learn more about Jess and her work by visiting http://jesssherman.com/. You can also connect with Jess on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jessshermanRHN and Twitter:https://twitter.com/jessshermanRHN
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the International Maternity and Parenting Institute.