Who would have thought something as innocuous as milk could be so controversial? Dairy is one of the most common foods I get asked about in my clinical practice. There is plenty of conflicting advice around, even amongst health practitioners! No wonder it’s confusing!
So let me start with when we introduce dairy for the first time - introducing solids.
Up until 12 months of age, the primary food for your baby is breast milk or formula. The introduction of solids at around 6 months is to supplement breast milk or formula and to increase key nutrients for growth and development like iron and zinc.
Because cow's milk and other dairy foods are a common cause of food allergy in babies, it is recommended to introduce these before the age of 12 months to reduce the risk of allergy.
I recommend the introduction of full-fat dairy including yoghurt, kefir and small amounts of cheese, from around 8 month of age. You can also use very small amounts of cow’s...
Are you finding meal times a battle? Simply feeding your children can become incredibly stressful and something that can feel like a full time job! We worry that our kids aren't eating enough or they're refusing the foods we know are good for them.
Maybe you’re at your wits end with pushing foods on your kids ("three more bites!"), bribing them to eat ("if your eat your dinner, you can have dessert"), or constantly pressuring them to consume "healthy foods," because you know it's good for them.
It can be very tempting to just give up and feed them something you know they'll actually eat (hello white bread, cheese and milk...). But this can very quickly lead to these being the ONLY foods they'll eat.
In my practice, I work with the Division or Responsibility in feeding (sDOR). This way of feeding encourages you, as the parent or caregiver, to select, prepare and serve different foods, so that you decide what,...
Your baby “may be” more likely to have a food allergy if you have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema. However having a family history does not guarantee they will be also allergic to foods.
So let me give you a little bit more information about what allergy is, the risk factors for allergies and some tips for when you’re introducing a potential allergen to your baby for the first time.
Allergy is defined as an immune reaction to an ingested food that results in clinical signs or symptoms.
The cause of food allergy is multifactorial and includes family history, environmental factors and the gut microbiome - there is no “one” cause. Australia has the highest rate of food allergy in the world, with one in 10 children in Australia diagnosed with a food allergy.
The link between food allergies and eczema is the strongest - with a child with eczema 11 times more likely to develop a peanut allergy that one...
Knowing what foods to feed your baby can be overwhelming.
Then there’s the supermarket shelves packed with products that tell you to buy their products because they’re “packed with iron” or “contains the goodness of real fruit”.
While shop bought or packaged foods can be convenient, and let's face it, life is not about trying to be perfect, there may be times where something out of a packet is going to be handy, so it's important to have an understanding of what is actually in the food you're feeding your baby so that you can make an informed choice if you do decide to feed them some packet foods.
So when considering whether or not to feed your baby packaged foods, consider my three principles;
No, there’s no reason to be worried just yet.
There are three parts to my answer here. The first is about meeting your baby’s nutritional requirements.
The second is about baby readiness - is your baby physically and developmentally ready to start solids foods?
And thirdly, it’s about building a positive relationship with nutritious whole foods.
At 7 month, your baby’s main source of nutrition is still breast milk or formula with solid foods being “complementary” to this. As long as they are still having plenty of breastmilk or formula, their main nutritional needs are still being met.
All babies are different and grow and develop at different rates, and while it’s hard not to compare your baby with everyone else’s, doing this, can create a whole lot of stress for yourself!
There are a few reasons your baby may not be keen on solids yet;
Gagging can be quite scary for parents to witness because it can be so dramatic, but it's actually a very common occurrence and is part of a baby's learning process.
As opposed to choking which is completely silent and happens when something is completely blocking the airway, gagging can be very noisy and quite dramatic.
Babies might gag and cough often when starting solids because the gag reflex in younger babies mouths is quite far forward and moves back as they age. This serves as a safety mechanism against choking while they're learning to eat, and helps them eject anything quickly if they need to - much like the tongue thrust reflex.
A baby’s gag reflex begins moving further back at around 6-8 months, and should be completely back to where an adults would be by around 12 months.
So when you see a six month old gagging, you are really seeing a reflex action that protects them, rather than a choking risk.
Let me answer this question by first addressing any misconceptions that might exist around what “breakfast” is and isn’t. Breakfast is just a meal for your baby.
Any food that you can feed them at any other time of the day, you can also feed them for breakfast. Now I know that for some people, that seems a little unusual - because they have grown up thinking that you only eat certain foods for breakfast. So let’s talk about this...
Traditionally, breakfast is the first meal of the day to “break the fast” of the previous night. Food manufacturers would have us believe that breakfast needs to be “breakfast foods” like cereal or toast, but this just isn’t true.
In fact, most “breakfast foods” lack the nutrients your child needs to thrive and they also often contain additives and added sugars that can have a negative impact on your child’s health.
Take for example rice cereal - No...
There are two factors to consider when deciding the right time to introduce solids to your baby.
In the first six months of life, your baby's digestive system will undergo enormous change as it develops the ability to digest solid foods.
During this time, their immune system is also maturing, allowing them to better fight any illnesses and bacteria they may come across.
Before 6 months of age, babies have a much lower stomach acid secretion than adults. This means that babies under the age of 6 months have lower defenses against bad bacteria entering the body because they don’t have the stomach acid to kill them off.
So this is a question about feeding techniques.
When you’re considering feeding techniques, I always recommend that you think about;
When it comes to introducing chunkier textures, every baby is different and will develop at different stages. Most babies are able to eat chunkier textures and finger foods from 6 months.
I recommend offering purees or mashes to begin the meal (like a first course), then offering them appropriate finger food to chew on or play with afterwards.
This might look like pureed or mashed sweet potato with beef mince, followed by a piece of steamed broccoli afterwards. This provides them with the nutrition they need at each meal, while still allowing them to explore different tastes and textures and learn what the whole food looks, ...
When you have a baby, there are many inevitable challenges from giving birth, to learning to breastfeed and establishing a sleep pattern - it’s perfectly normal to lack confidence or find these experiences challenging or to be overwhelmed by making choices about what to do. Introducing solids is no different. This is a time of learning for both you and your baby.
In this article, I’m going to show you how you can ensure you are giving your baby the nutrients they need to thrive when you start to introduce them to solids.
Up until 6 months, breastmilk or formula are the primary source of nutrition for your baby. But at around 6 months of age, there are two key nutrients that you need to start introducing through food, as your baby’s stores of these vital nutrients start to deplete at around 6 months. These are iron and zinc.
Babies are born with a reserve of iron, which comes from their mothers blood while they are in utero. For the first 6...
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