Your little one is growing up and it’s time to introduce solids, what an exciting time. While ensuring your bub receives great nutrition is essential, there are a few other safety concerns that need to be followed to ensure solids are introduced safely. These 4 tips will help you along the way:
1. Reduce risk of choking
When starting out, it’s safest to provide them with pureed foods, or foods cut up to a size smaller than a pea to reduce the risk of choking.
Dietitian tips to reduce choking risk:
Make sure that baby sits upright and concentrates on their food. Avoid having baby lying down when feeding.
Hard foods such as carrots and apples should be cooked, mashed or grated until your baby can chew them.
Cut round foods like grapes and cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters so that your baby doesn’t choke on the skin.
Completing a First Aid and CPR course prior to commencing solids can help you to know what to do in the event your baby does choke.
2. Reduce exposure to heavy metals
Heavy metals occur naturally as trace elements in the environment and certain fruits and vegetables absorb more than others, either through soil or water. High heavy metal exposure that builds up over time can impact the health and development of babies, potentially causing health conditions later in life. Some examples of how high heavy metal exposure may affect the development of your child include developmental delays, decreased IQ scores and behavioral changes [1-3].
Dietitian tips to reduce heavy metal exposure:
Replace rice cereal with infant porridge.
Only give your little one breast milk or infant formula (or cow’s milk if over the age of one) and water and avoid giving fruit juice.
Swap teething biscuits for cucumber or chilled banana,
Look for products that have undergone independent heavy metal testing like Little Étoile Organic baby food pouches.
3. Be food allergen savvy
Introducing allergens to your baby needs to be done in a controlled way, one allergen at a time so that you can monitor your baby for allergic reactions. Recent research suggests that it is important to introduce your baby to common allergens early to build up their immune tolerance. Symptoms of allergic reaction may include colic, eczema, skin irritation, vomiting and/or reflux. Common dietary allergens include fish, seafood, eggs, peanuts, other nuts, milk, soy products, and wheat.
Dietitian tips for allergy safety:
Allow baby to suck a pea—sized amount of an allergen-based food i.e. peanut paste from a spoon or your finger. If there is a family history of food allergy, you may like to serve peanut paste to your little one for the first time close by to a children’s hospital so that you don’t have far to travel if bub experiences an anaphylactic reaction.
Look for baby food products which have been rigorously tested for allergens to ensure that your baby is only exposed to allergens in a safe and controlled environment.
Low sugar custards are a great way to expose your toddler to both milk and eggs before they are ready for finger foods such as frittata.
Ensure that fish and seafood are well cooked to reduce listeria risk. You may like to start with a liquid baby fish oil supplement added to your baby’s puree until they are ready to try fish or seafood.
If you suspect your baby has a food allergy, make an appointment with your pediatrician, who can refer you onto an Allergy or Immunology Medical Specialist.
4. Be familiar with food labels
Although cooking everything from scratch is ideal, even the most organised parents appreciate the convenience of pouches for their bubba occasionally. There are so many pouches available on supermarket shelves these days and not all amount to the same quality, so it’s important to read the labels to see which will be most suited to your infant.
Dietitian tips when shopping for baby food:
Read the ingredients list carefully if your baby has food allergies. Unfortunately, 'allergen free’ and ‘allergen friendly’ claims are regulated in Australia so look for brands that test for allergens such as Little Étoile Organic.
Keep an eye out for additives and preservatives. Many foods contain additives and preservatives and some children can be sensitive to certain compounds. Try to limit your baby’s intake of these where possible.
Check for salt. High intakes of salt can be harmful to baby’s immature kidneys. Look for salt less than 120 milligrams of sodium in the per 100 grams column.
If you are looking for a baby food that considers all of these extra safety and quality measures, consider the Little Étoile Organic range, and if you have any concerns or questions about introducing solids to your little one, make an appointment to see an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.
Article supplied by Little Étoile.
Grandjean, P et al. Mt. Sinai. J Med. 2011; 78(1): 107–118.
Sanders A, et al. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2015, 2(3): 284–294.
Tolins P, et al. Annals of Global Health 2014, 80:303-314.