Advertisement here

Confused About Best First Foods for blw ? Read This

Nutrition practice around introducing best first foods for blw has changed quite a bit in the last 5 – 10 years. The three major areas of baby led weeaning controversy have been around the timing of introduction, types of food to introduce, and how ‘solid’ the solid foods should be. This article is going to quickly break down each of those areas.


When Do I Start solid food?

If your head is spinning with all the changing recommendations around feeding your child you are not alone. When our parents were infants they were being introduced to solids foods at 4 months (in some cases even younger!)

By the time we were infants, those recommendations had changed to 6 months or older. Now they seem to be moving back to 4 months again – what is going on?

First off, most major health organizations still recommend exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age.

The reasons for this are;

The digestive system is not mature enough to handle the amounts and types of fat, protein and starch found in solid foods until roughly 6 months.

The immune system is not robust enough to take on the bacteria found in food AND the decrease in breastfeeding (which provides immune protection). The kidneys are not mature enough to take on the additional nutrients in foods.

Combined with gut immaturity this can cause excess waste elimination (diarrhoea) leading to a slow growth rate

Safety can also be an issue, where children under the age of 6 months often do not have the head or neck control to be able to swallow solid foods.

Baby’s choking reflex is often still quite active. This makes the tongue overly active at pushing food to the front of the mouth, meaning that they will tend to spit food out and not swallow anything.

It is becoming more common now to see these same organisations relax slightly in their wording. Now many health professionals and health organisations suggest starting solids ‘no earlier than 4 months, but no later than 6 months’.

So why is this?

Recent research suggests children who are delayed in their introduction to solids later than 6 months have a higher rate of allergies and intolerances.

It is hypothesized that due to the immune system starting to mature around 6 – 7 months of age, it is more readily able to fight what it believes are allergens. If allergens (such as wheat, nuts, dairy, soy) are fed prior to this maturing, it may allow the infant to get used to the food before the immune system can build up a response to it.

Some children display physical readiness cues before 6 months of age, and show both a willingness and a need to start solids earlier. Iron and Zinc deficiency can begin around 6 months of age – so starting solids just prior to the natural reserves running low is preferable.

Children who are delayed in their introduction to solids beyond 6 months, and their introduction to lumpy/textured food beyond 9-10 months, can have language and feeding issues during toddlerhood.

So what do we recommend for best first foods for blw ?

We recommend you do not go into this stage of your child’s development with any preconceived ideas. What worked for your friend, or your previous children, or your relatives, or someone on a blog post, may not be right for you and your child.

The Questions to ask before starting solids

Is my child older than 4 months?

Is my child showing signs of being physically ready for solids?

Is there a history of any allergies or intolerances in my family?

Introduce foods one at a time with a 3 day gap before starting a new food. This way you can check for reactions and know exactly which food the baby is reacting to.

Introduce high allergen foods in the morning or at lunchtime. This way you can better monitor for a reaction (some can be delayed by a few hours) and have better access to medical care if needed.

Is their growth and development still tracking well or have they dropped more than two percentiles?

If you find a child is dropping two or three percentiles – i.e. from the 50th to the 10th percentile on their height or weight chart – and this has been happening for more than one health visit, then it may be time to look at solids. If, and only if, your child also meets the first two criteria on this list.

Are there any foods you should avoid with infants?

There are very few foods you need to actively avoid with infants. This shortlist below highlights a few foods which should be restricted for safety reasons;

Honey should be avoided until an infant is around 12 months old.

This is because honey can contain bacteria which can cause infant botulism – a potentially deadly infection – in very young children.

Nuts, sausages with skin, popcorn, hard candy are all choking risks in children under 4 years of age.

Parents do relax around these foods as a child ages, however, choking remains one of the leading causes of death in young children and this is usually due to food. As a result it is quite important we only give food which is easy for a young child to break down in their mouth, we reinforce rules around sitting whilst we eat, and an adult is always present when children are eating.

Cow's milk (with the exception of the type found in formula) should also be avoided prior to 12 months old.

It does not contain all the necessary nutrients a young baby needs such as iron, Vitamin D and the appropriate type of fat and carbohydrate. As young children have such small stomachs feeding them cow’s milk too young may cause them to replace breast milk or formula with cow’s milk and lead to further deficiencies.

Cow’s milk is quite heavy in protein and other minerals. This can be quite tough for their young kidneys and gut to process. This can cause kidney and gut damage leading to anemia and bloody poos.

What about Baby led weaning?

The reality is that in the early months of food being introduced, as long as baby doesn’t choke and isn’t fed straight sugar, there is very little you can do wrong.

Being relaxed around meal times, letting baby get messy and have fun, and persevering with foods they do not like the first time are really the main things parents need to succeed. It is very normal for babies to screw up their faces in response to a new taste or texture – do not get this confused with disliking a food.

Whether you start out with pureed foods, mashed foods, or soft-figure foods is not going to make or break your child’s development. It really comes down to what works for your child and your family.

So what are the best first foods for blw?

The first thing is to make the food you give them as healthy and simple as possible.

Cook dinner as usual (without added salt) and then puree some of the main ingredients. Remembering not to introduce more than one new thing at a time. So start out pureeing the vegetable component, then meat. If you want, keep the puree’s separate so that baby can taste all the different flavours.

As the baby moves to 8 months old food should have more texture and be lumpy or chunky. By 10 months the food should be a soft whole version of your meal. By 1 year old your toddler should be able to eat most of the same meal as the rest of the family.

As you can see there is no need for separate meals, supermarket canned baby food, or a smorgasbord of options. Food can be easily adapted and allow young kids to experience a wide variety of tastes and textures.

Have fun with family meals, relax, and keep it 90% healthy.

Read also our article on realistic examples family goals


Next Post Previous Post
No Comment
Add Comment
comment url
Related Post