Feeding a baby can be a real puzzle for some parents. As a matter of fact, information varies, introducing a wide variety of food is important… and a baby could simply refuse to eat!
There are basically two approaches to introduce food in a baby’s diet; introducing food by gradually changing texture (ex.: pureed, then strained or mashed, then small pieces) or by baby-lead weaning (BLW). This approach promotes the baby’s autonomy (the baby grasps chunks of soft food as early as the first meal, while no puree or spoon-feeding are offered). Some parents choose to combine both approaches.
Regardless of the chosen approach, here are the main things to consider:
- Respect your baby’s pace as well as satiety signs, without forcing the baby to eat. Eating should be enjoyable!
- Start introducing food when the baby is ready, is showing interest in your food and is able to put his hands to his mouth (generally around 4-6 months).
- Introduce a new food every 2-3 days, while monitoring possible allergic or digestive reaction.
- Preference should be given to iron-rich food as early as 6 months old (ex.: meats, iron-rich cereals, green vegetables, etc.)
- Offer food every day, even if the baby eats very little at the beginning. The sensory experience is important!
- Choose food adapted to the child’s oral-motor skills; start with food easy to eat (ex.: pureed cereals) then increase texture (ex.: fork mashed banana/avocado).
- Give preference to chunks of soft food (when the baby is ready) easy to chew (piece of banana, Mum-mum cookies, well-cooked carrot, etc.)
Margo recommends that you seek advice if your child:
- Eats less than 30 different foods by the age of 10-12 months old
- Presents a break in his growth chart
- Chokes and/or spits out food constantly
- Does not seem able to progress to different textures (ex.: accepts smooth purees only)
- Presents atypical behaviour (ex.: tantrums, always wants to eat the same thing, etc.)
When in doubt, seek advice from a nutritionist and/or an ergotherapist, who will be able to help.