Starting solids can be very overwhelming for moms, and the endless information overload doesn’t make things any easier, with many babies losing out on important nutrients because of misconceptions. With the help of registered dietician Abby Courtenay, who has a special interest in maternal and infant nutrition, we’re setting the record straight.
3 misconceptions about starting solids
Myth 1: Food before one is just for fun
This is a trendy catchphrase that moms love to quote in forums and Facebook. The danger of it is that it’s being interpreted a little bit too literally – implying that solid foods play no nutritional role before 12 months of age. This is simply not true.
The addition of solid foods at approximately six months allows your baby to meet her increasing energy and nutrient requirements (specifically iron in a breastfed baby’s diet), reach neurodevelopmental milestones and develop feeding skills.
Take note though, solids mustn’t replace breast milk or formula, but you’d be doing your baby a disservice to not introduce complementary foods to their diets between six and 12 months. The keyword here is “complementary” where moms should follow a combined approach that enables baby to benefit from the strengths of both milk and nutritionally rich solids from around six months.
Click here to download #babyjake’s simple day-by-day meal plan.
Myth 2: When I introduce egg, I must first separate the yolk from the white
Eggs are a taboo food for babies, which is a pity as they are an easy protein to prepare, and they’re very healthy. But times are changing, especially in attitudes to allergenic foods.
Back in the day, foods such as nuts, eggs and fish were on the forbidden baby food list, however, the newest research encourages the introduction of all food, even allergenic ones from six months in no specific order. In fact, the evidence shows that introducing these allergenic foods from six months may actually decrease the risk of allergy, especially when given frequently (once tolerated) with continued breastfeeding where possible.
So unless you have a history of family allergies (in which case please consult a medical professional), your baby can happily eat eggs (both the yolk and white together), nuts (either ground or in butter form, thinly spread because of choking hazards), fish, milk and wheat.
Abby advises that consuming an average of one egg per day (or seven eggs per week) has no adverse effects on a healthy infant. They are a fantastic source of protein and fat, as well as choline and vitamin D.
The only food babies under one cannot consume is honey, because of the potential risk of a harmful bacteria toxin which can cause infant botulism.
Adding a beaten egg to your pot of breakfast oats is a great way to sneak in extra protein. For more breakfast ideas, try #babyjake’s Purple Oats. Click here for the recipe.
Myth 3: Babies cannot have cow’s milk before one
Moms are often confused by this statement. It’s commonly assumed that you must not give your baby cow’s milk before they are one, so why then are babies allowed to eat yoghurt, cheese and other dairy products?
The reason for this warning is because the medical community worries that if cow’s milk is introduced to an infant younger than one year old, that it would be given in amounts that would replace breast or formula milk. Cow’s milk has a much higher protein and lower iron content than either breast or formula milk and thus puts strain on a baby’s immature kidneys and can perpetuate iron deficiency.
Goat’s milk is also too high in protein, and too high in electrolytes and too low in folate, which may cause electrolyte imbalances, metabolic acidosis and megaloblastic anaemia.
So to be clear, cow or goat’s milk are not suitable alternatives to breast or formula milk before one. But that said, you can 100% safely use cow’s milk in cooking for baby. Using milk in a recipe will not risk weaning your baby to milk from formula and/or breast milk.
Dairy is an excellent source of fat, protein and calcium. So be sure to include lots of full fat (full cream) dairy in your baby’s diet with foods such as yoghurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese and grated cheese.
For more tips on how to sneak in super foods, visit www.babyjakesmom.com
Dani Silbermann is mom to Jake, and a mommy blogger.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.