Feb 06 2014
I’m a registered dietitian and learned about introducing complementary foods to babies while I was in school. I was told to start with pureed foods then experiment with chunks as they get older.
After a lot of research and giving birth to my own child, I decided to ditch the purees and start with finger foods right off the bat. It just made sense to offer her the same
foods that we ate. So, the way I actually introduced foods to my daughter is totally different from what I learned in school:
She never had purees
Why? I wanted her to see what real food looked like. Instead of pureed bananas for example, she ate a piece of banana. She enjoyed exploring the different textures, colours and tastes and had so much fun playing with her food.
Her first food was not rice cereal
My daughter’s first food was a flour tortilla. It so happened that she was sitting on my sister’s lap when she reached out and grabbed it. She didn’t really eat any of it but it just made sense to let her experiment with the same foods that we were eating.
She never had boxed baby cereal
Boxed baby cereal is marketed as an appropriate first food because there is a low risk of allergy and it is high in iron. For example, rice cereal is white rice that has been pulverized into a powder with a ton of vitamins and minerals added. Did you ever look at the long list of ingredients on the box of baby cereal? I wanted my daughter to eat real food. Instead of baby cereal, her diet was as varied as ours. She ate real whole grains like brown rice, buckwheat and oats along with whole grain pancakes, muffins and breads. This allowed her to be more autonomous because she handled the food herself.
What’s more, we didn’t have to feed her so it made it much easier. To make sure that she had enough iron, I offered her real iron-rich foods like meats, tofu, eggs and legumes like chick peas and lentils.
The quantities that she ate were not calculated
I remember learning about specific quantities that a baby needs to eat per meal. “1
tablespoon of this, 60 ml of that.” Instead, I let my daughter decide how much she
wants to eat at each meal. Some days she barely eats anything and other days she eats so much that I wonder how it actually fits in her belly. When I think about what
she ate in the past week, it always evens out. This way, the atmosphere is positive
and she seems to eat just enough to satisfy her appetite.
I did not wait until she was one year old to feed her eggs, fish and nuts
At school, I was told to wait until the baby was a year old before introducing those foods because they may cause an allergy. Now, we recommend to not delay the introduction of any specific solid food beyond six months of age because it might even increase the risk of developing an allergy. Eggs, fish and nuts are nutritious foods that are so nutritious so why miss out?
Jessica Coll is a registered dietitian and lactation consultant. She hosts the popular “Baby at the Table” workshops all over the island of Montreal where she shares real food samples, pictures and videos. Don’t miss her next one on at Cafe Kali in Verdun on Tuesday February 11 from 10:30-noon (Bilingual). For more information and to register, visit http://www.jessicacoll.com/en/Workshops/styled/index.html