The first year of feeding and weaning your baby is so important in setting up their immunity and development.
Breast milk offers your baby so much more than just comfort and a full tummy. As breast milk flows from you to your baby, It releases nutrients in an order of importance to keep your baby’s blood sugar balanced. The first to flow from breast milk is predigested protein in the form of amino acids. Then secondly fats are released to support brain and nerve development and lastly, sugars to support energy for the rapid growth your baby is experiencing.
Start weaning your baby around 4-6 months. A good indication of when a baby is ready for first food is when He/She is able to sit up on their own. Your baby’s intestines and pancreas need time to develop.
Before six months your baby’s intestines are still too permeable and the pancreas needs time to be able to produce digestive enzymes to help digest food. Weaning too late can also increase the risk of your baby having nutrient deficiencies and falling ill.
Start off with Avocado
Avocado is a great nutrient-dense food that is a full meal on its own. Avocado has the closest composition to breast milk. It is full of healthy fats and has 20 different vitamins and minerals that your baby needs to grow and be healthy.
Vegetables are more nutrient-dense than fruits so try to get them in before introducing cereals or grains. Start with single veggie purees like butternut, sweet potato, baby marrows, and carrots, then move onto combined vegetable purees after 2 weeks. When you think of veggies think of colour – something green, something orange or yellow, and something red or purple.
Introduce finger size amounts of protein e.g. white fish pureed with veggies after the first month.
Then chicken, and then lastly red meat.
Which foods can wait
In the first year of a baby’s life, their intestines are porous, so we want to limit typical food allergens like gluten and wheat because they can cause an immune reaction which may lead to allergies and eczema later on. Gluten-free grains include; millet, sorghum, chia, rice, and corn.
For the first year, a baby’s digestive system is still trying to develop so they may struggle to digest citrus fruits, and nightshade foods like tomatoes, eggplants, mushrooms, and peppers.
Pulses, dairy, and eggs can be introduced towards the end of the first year.
This is an exciting time for you and your baby, so don’t let this become stressful.
Don’t be too rigid about following these suggestions. Use them as a general guideline and adjust them according to how your baby is responding. Let your baby get used to one flavor at a time. Let him/her discover each food’s texture and smell. And let them be messy. Investigate for yourself what ‘baby-led weaning’ is all about and if you would like to give it a try. Teach your baby how to eat and enjoy food by eating with them. Meals are more enjoyable when we eat together.