Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Around Six Months - the experience of avoiding premature introduction of solids

The NEW ABA info sheets - See below to order!
(Who is that gorgeous baby bottom left? ) 

My last post Around Six Months, which discussed why premature introduction of solids, was almost four months ago and, since then, my granddaughter Charlie has made the transition to eating foods alongside her ongoing breastfeeding. So I thought it only fair to update on our family's experience of starting solids in a new generation.

Charlie had her first experience of eating food on the day she turned six months. She was thriving on breastmilk alone and - despite warnings to the contrary - "delaying" solids had not led to her seeking extra feeds during the day or night.

It is frequently suggested that babies need to start solids because they are "too hungry" on breastmilk alone - this really makes no sense, as solid foods are not introduced to supplement the breastmilk diet, rather they are educational only. Breastmilk remains the primary food until at least 12 months: to use the popular rhyme "Food Before One Is Just For Fun!"

Whilst babies iron stores begin to be depleted from around six months, this is a slow process and the iron in breastmilk is the most easily absorbed. Rather than feeding babies the paste-like rice cereal that is fortified with iron, simply including iron-rich foods in their diet will support that which they get from breastmilk.

Who needs rice cereal? Charlie took to beef only days after starting solids!
We were encouraged to offer Charlie a full range of foods right from the start. Indeed, a dietician explained, when I asked, that it is important to expose babies to as many foods as possible by around seven months, including nuts (not whole), fish, wheat, dairy, eggs and other foods.
Unless the baby is already known to be allergic to a food, then all major allergens, including eggs, nuts and seafood (and dairy, wheat and soy) be introduced as soon as possible from when solids begin. This is regardless of family history  even if the baby has a sibling who is food-allergic.

There is no need to separate them by long periods of time - 2-3 days in between each should be fine unless there are suspicions about any of them. Then once introduced, give them to the baby regularly.

Obviously nuts should be in the form of pastes/butters or cooked into sate, crushed nuts in biscuits, etc and not whole. Nuts includes both peanuts and tree nuts.

Fish is particularly good for babies, possibly due to the omega-3s acting to calm the immune system from overreacting (anti-inflammatory). One study on timing of fish introduction found that babies introduced to fish before 8 months (they only had before and after 8 months in their study groups), had lower rates of allergy several years later, and this was *any* allergy, not just to fish.

Wheat is also important to introduce ASAP to minimise the development of coeliac disease. 
Joy Anderson AM B.Sc.(Nutrition) Postgrad.Dip.Diet APD IBCLC

Specialist Dietetics and Lactation Services

1A/5 Pensioner Guard Rd, North Fremantle, WA
Also phone and Skype consultations

Well, Charlie embraced that guidance with enthusiasm and experienced a wide variety of foods within those first four weeks. Quality over quantity, she was able to taste the best of the new seasons fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, nut butters, breads, yoghurt, cheese, red meats, chicken and more! At Farmers markets, we would delight stall-holders by offering the baby in the carrier taste tests of hummus, berries, breads and more. In cafes and food courts, she would sit up alongside us and taste whatever we had to offer, from salads to soups - the only things not offered were junk foods and sweet treats. In the early days, she didn't realise when we ate something without sharing but as she has become more experienced, it is hard to eat an icecream with her staring into your eyes asking for a taste!

Baby-Led is as much about learning how to eat as it is about eating!
At almost nine months, Charlie mostly feeds herself, having the occasional "fast food" option of organic pouches when something quick and easy isn't available. Spoons are used for things like yoghurt but mostly she controls what she eats and shows very clearly when she has had enough. She eats three meals a day, plus snacks, as well as her normal breastfeeds, which have not diminished. Water from a sippy caup was introduced around the same time, which she quickly learned to drink and she now uses a straw cup for both water and expressed breastmilk when she is away from mum.

Baby-Led Weaning (UK terminology, referring to introduction of solids, not weaning from milk feeds) wasn't formally around when I had my babies, although my third child tried to practice it!!! I pureed and mashed and spooned and prepared special meals from special cookbooks ... I did it all! 20-30 years later - I LOVE this approach so much! Charlie isn't a separate entity who needs to be fed, she is a person who eats with us, who shares meals with her family and friends and who has control over what she eats. Her foods aren't anonymous mixes but separate foods with different tastes and textures. Fine motor skills are honed by eating. Food is quite obviously that stuff  displayed in the market or store, where she eagerly looks over what is arrayed and enjoys touching and smelling what is on offer - and tasting it then and there if she can!

The second six months is a time of learning about food and indulging in its variety, tastes and textures. Ahead lie the battles of toddlers and food but this stage is just delight in watching them discover a whole world of wonderful things they can eat!



The Australian Breastfeeding Association South Eastern Suburbs group has a fabulous new group project fundraiser!

Introducing Solids Sheets — A4 pad of tear-off colour gloss sheets on introducing solids, including visual images of signs of readiness (consistent with latest NHMRC recommendations). The reverse side has detailed information on introducing solids, including signs of readiness, how to begin, allergies, risk of early solids introduction and ideas for first foods.

A fabulous resource for breastfeeding counsellors, breastfeeding educators, lactation consultants and health professionals.

Price: Pad of 50 $15 each plus postage

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