After a few months of breastmilk or of bottle milk, it’s time to introduce new foods to your baby. The food diversification is an essential stage in the life of the infant. Indeed, this period is important in the development process of his body. It is a period made of discoveries and culinary experiences that sharpen its capacity for taste. You must therefore be vigilant, in order to know what to give him or not, because his digestive abilities are not as developed.
What is food diversification?
Dietary diversification indicates the introduction of solid foods, other than breast milk or bottle milk. Even if it is a moment that raises many questions, it is eagerly awaited by parents. The food diversification is a period during which the baby begins to alternate meals, in order to discover new flavors, textures, new recipes and new foods other than milk. This is an essential moment for his development in general.
The food diversification allows, according to some studies, not to develop allergies to certain foods. Introducing, for example, a food in your baby’s food diversification, makes it possible to avoid the allergy risk in the face of this food, in the long run. It also allows your child to develop your five senses and more particularly that of taste. His taste faculties will be stimulated during this stage of food discovery. For example, he will learn to discover the delicious taste of sweet potatoes, tomatoes or other foods.
At what age should we talk about food diversification?
Until the first 4 months, your baby should only receive than a milk supply : be the breastmilk or one infant milk called again first age milk. Milk is the main nutrient that his body needs for its development. Under no circumstances should you introduce solid foods before 4 months, at the risk of degrading your baby’s current and future state of health. Indeed, before 4 months the baby’s body does not yet have the capacity required to digest solid foods.
Between the 4th and 6th month, your baby’s body begins to require vitamins supplements, which are not in breast milk or infant formula. Hence the importance of combining milk with other foods. It is therefore only between 4 and 6 months that you should begin food diversification. It is important not to start food diversification before your baby’s first 4 months or after 6 months, to avoid increasing the risk of allergies.
The importance of breast and infant milk during food diversification
Milk is the best food your baby may have in his first few months. Indeed, it is made to measure for your baby and constitutes by extension, the very basis of his diet. Until he is 3 years old, milk will remain one of the main foods that your baby must consume. He participates in development of his body thanks to nutrients, vitamins and minerals that it contains. It must be recognized that apart from breast milk, there are also other milks that you can use for your baby.
However, at each stage of its growth, there is a suitable milk if you opt for mixed breastfeeding. Thus, until he is 6 months old, your baby will be able to use the first age milk. After his 6 months, he will go to follow-on milk called again 2nd milk age. It contains the nutrients your baby needs (minerals, carbohydrates, vitamins, trace elements, etc.). At 12 months or 1 year; the growth milk will take the place of follow-on milk. called again 3rd age milk, it features calcium, protein and other nutrients that will help your baby grow well. Until he was 3 years old, the growth milk will remain a complement to the diversified foods that you will offer your baby.
How to succeed in food diversification and what food to start with?
What food to start with?
One of the most important aspects of the food diversification remain the first foods. Given that your child’s digestive function is not yet 100% developed, you will have to start dietary diversification with fiber-free vegetables. These fiber-free vegetables (skinless and seedless zucchini, green beans, spinach, carrots, etc.) must be cooked without adding salt. Prepare them only with water, to allow your baby to digest them quickly.
How to achieve food diversification?
Do not think that your baby will devour with a smile the puree that you will present to him, from the first time. It’s all new to him. You should experiment with the foods to find out which ones he likes best and which ones he doesn’t like.
At first, do not offer him no more than one vegetable per day. Over time, you can combine several vegetables to make recipes. As mentioned above, food should not replace milk. Take the midday meal for your first attempts. Milk (feeding or bottle) should remain a moment of sharing between you and your baby.
You can serve him only the vegetables for two weeks. Then diversify and test the fruits. These fruits must be in the form of compote, so that the digestion be easier
How to behave if your child refuses to taste new foods?
It may happen that your baby refuses the foods that you present to him. Above all, don’t force it. However, you should not be discouraged. Persevere, and try again the next day with a new vegetable for example. To find out if your baby really doesn’t like a food, you have to introduce it to him 10 to 16 times, in different ways.
When should fish and meat be included in your baby’s food diversification?
If you start food diversification from the 4th month, you will find that at the age of 3, your baby’s food discoveries will be more varied. The introduction of different foods should be done gradually.
From the 7th month you can already add to his food, fish and meat (chicken, salmon, turkey, lamb…). Being rich in nutrients (lipids, proteins, etc.), these foods will ensure the proper development of your baby. Also, they will confer on him the full of energy. But beware ! You should avoid breaded fish and fatty meats. Also, you will have to crush or mix them. Eggs can also be introduced into its diet, but hard boiled eggs (bird’s egg sufficiently cooked so that the white and the yolk are solid).
Starches also can track eggs, fish and meat. Potato is the most recommended starch. It can be easily crushed. It can be mixed with vegetable soup. Other starches like the quinoa, semolina or bulgur can also be associated. Your baby will definitely love them.
Then add the vegetable fats such as olive oil or rapeseed oil.
How much protein to give your baby during diversification?
Excess protein is very bad for your baby’s health, especially in the long term. Between 7 and 8 months, try to get your baby used to meat, eggs and fish every day. It takes a daily amount of 10g (2 tsp of meat or fish). As for the egg, you can give him a quarter of a hard-boiled egg a day.
On his first birthday, that is to say at his 12 months, the recommended quantity for meat and fish is 20g per day, or four teaspoons. At two years old, the amount of meat and fish will increase to 30 g per day, that is to say six teaspoons.
Health and Safety
When diversifying food, it is important to take certain precautions so as not to put your baby’s life in danger. Here are some top food safety and hygiene tips:
- Wash hands properly before preparing food;
- Keep surfaces clean;
- Avoid hard foods like carrots, raw apples or whole nuts;
- Properly wash and peel fruits and vegetables;
- Cool hot foods and test them before giving them to the baby;
- Remove the pips and pits from the fruit each time;
- Remove fish and meat bones;
- Always watch your baby when you feed him, as he can choke.
Some mistakes to avoid during your baby’s food diversification stage
Between the habits developed over the years, the information found here and there, you are not immune to errors. Here are some tips and rules that will never be called into question when diversifying your baby’s diet:
- Do not force your child to finish his plate: Forcing your baby to finish his plate can lead to overweight, or even obesity over time. The two most important factors for your baby are his daily milk intake and his growth progress. If your baby has already eaten well and refuses to open his mouth for yet another spoonful, just understand that he is no longer hungry. Don’t force it. However, if on the contrary your baby feeds little, you must inform his pediatrician ;
- Do not salt your baby’s dishes : Let’s face it, we absorb too much salt, which creates complications and more specifically heart problems. Even if your baby’s dish seems bland to you, just tell yourself that he doesn’t have the point of comparison yet. So he can’t blame you;
- Do not give your baby the same meals as you : Your baby’s digestive system is still immature. In other words, his system is not yet well developed. Thus, heavy dishes, canned goods and prepared meals from the supermarket are necessarily to be avoided. Too sweet, too salty, too rich in fat: all this is not suitable for your baby;
- Do not start diversification too early or too late : The ideal time to start food diversification is between 4 and 6 months. However, you must obtain the agreement of his pediatrician. If you start food diversification too early or too late, this could increase the risk of allergy;
- Do not snack between meals and do not eat in front of the tablet or the television : Snacking between meals can cause obesity. Don’t encourage your baby to do this because he will try to replicate your behaviors. Also, having meals in front of the television or tablet is very bad. In front of the screens, we quickly forget the quantity ingested. This can lead to obesity issues in the long run.
What foods should be avoided at all costs during food diversification?
Certain foods are absolutely to be avoided for your baby. Here is the list of these foods that can be harmful and cause long-term health problems:
- foods that are too high in sugar or fat (chips, biscuits, cold meats, etc.);
- dried and raw vegetables;
- protein-rich foods (Other dairy products apart from infant milk);
- prepared fish or meat;
- other beverages besides natural water;
Summary of food diversification in 10 essential points
- Have the approval of your baby’s pediatrician before food diversification;
- Milk should be the main staple of your baby’s diet for the very first 6 months;
- Start food diversification with vegetables;
- Then add the fruit;
- Do not mix flavors;
- Persevere despite your baby’s refusals;
- Vegetable fat: an important food in your baby’s brain development;
- Integrate low-quantity protein foods into dietary diversification;
- Leave the mixed feed stage at the chunked feed stage;
- Always set an example by tasting in front of him what you present to him.