How to manage the introduction of solids whilst maintaining your sleep routine
by Abbey O’Hearn from Sleep & Co Australia
So you’re about to start the exciting journey of first foods, or you’re about to introduce an additional meal but you’re wondering how to fit it all into the day and not disrupt your baby’s sleep?
You’re in luck: here are some practical tips to help you keep your baby’s tummy full, and their sleep on track;
Implement a ‘feed, play, sleep routine’ if you haven’t already.
The purpose of a feed, play, sleep routine is to have milk and solid feeds at the beginning of
your baby’s awake time, followed by play then back to sleep for their next nap. The benefits
here are two-fold: milk feeds happen when bub is alert and can take a full feed, and solid
feeds (usually about 20-30 mins after the milk feed) have time to digest before the next
sleep to prevent your baby from having a sore tummy.
Start with LUNCH
Whilst adults may be inclined to start with breakfast, as this is traditionally our first meal of the day, babies are better off starting with their solids at ‘lunch’ time. To make this happen, after their morning nap, offer a full milk feed then wait 20-30 mins before offering solids.
Once your baby is well established on lunch, the next meal to introduce is dinner, and breakfast comes last.
Hint: ‘Lunch’ for babies is often far earlier than what adults consider to be lunch time!
Starting solids should be fun! If your baby is resisting it, turning their head or clamping their mouth shut, take the pressure off and end the meal. Try again the next day, or a few days later. This is important as not only do we want your baby to have positive experiences with starting solids, we also don’t want the time it takes for them to have a milk feed and some solids to take up their entire awake period - play time is also important for sleep!
Choose your first foods wisely.
The world of first foods is exciting, but make sure that you’re choosing foods which are easy
on your baby’s tummy to start with. Foods such as: sweet potato, pumpkin, avocado, apples,
pears are all great first foods as they are less likely to contribute to unpleasant gas or
Note: babies love bananas, but these can cause gas in the early stages of starting solids, so
they are best offered after a few other foods have been tried and tested first.
Solids can be had ‘out and about’.
If you’re worried about managing to fit in solids, naps, and milk feeds all whilst not being house bound - don’t worry! The key here is being prepared. Have your bottles prepared if on
formula, your solids ready to go and then feed your baby whilst out and about. This is a great way to change your scenery, get some fresh air.
Tip: the morning nap is a great nap to have ‘on-the-go’ in the car, pram or carrier and this works especially well for parents with a toddler, or older kids who need to get out for drop offs, or morning activities.
Hello – I’m Abbey O’Hearn, a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and Registered Intensive Care Paramedic.
I’m also a Mum to two gorgeous little girls, and it was my love of helping others as well as my own journey into motherhood which led me down the path of sleep consulting.
I have a huge passion for maternal mental health, and ensuring that families are getting the sleep support that they need
For more information about me, or to enquire about a consultation, head to www.sleepandco.com.au. I would also love to offer a 10% discount on all my services if booked before August 17th 2021. Use the code GRABEASE.
It might surprise you to know that some speech language pathologists (SLPs) specialise in helping babies and toddlers progress through a tricky part of development called “feeding.” Whether parents choose to follow a baby-self feeding model or present the spoon to baby’s mouth, or prefer a blend of both feeding styles, safety is the #1 priority. Another important priority is supporting the development of crucial fine motor skills, so that we set baby up for success.
It’s so tempting to hand baby a “standard” spoon straight from our utensil drawer, but that’s asking a learning eater to eat with a shovel! It’s just not designed for beginner eaters or for little hand and mouths.
Fine motor skills aren’t just limited to hands and fingers, but include the tongue, lips and jaw too! Pick a spoon that is specifically designed for little mouths and to support fine motor development. Choose a spoon with four features, like the Grabease brand.
The size of the spoon matters in FOUR ways:
First, the “bowl” of the spoon, or the part that enters baby’s mouth needs to be just wide enough to hold the food without too much spilling in order to reduce frustration. It also must be that “just-right” size to be comfortable across the width of baby’s mouth from corner to corner of the adorable smile!
Second, the “bowl” also needs to be flat and third, not too long. Grabease utensils have a bonus feature. A specially designed lip-block prevents babies (or you) from putting the spoon too far back, causing gagging and/or depositing foods too close to the airway. The spoon can also be used as a teether, reaching the first half of baby’s tongue to help desensitise the gag reflex without causing discomfort.
Fourth, the handle needs to be short and squat, designed for little fists to grasp, even when slippery. Babies need to get very messy when exploring new foods & developing self-feeding skills. A vital part of learning to become an adventurous eater means exploring of new foods with all of the senses, including the tactile sense. That’s how baby’s learn and a little mess is a good thing! But for the days when need to clean up in jiffy, consider the Grabease Allover Bib.
Above all else, what matters most is the joy you bring to your family table! Raising a healthy, happy eater is a gradual journey that takes time and guidance. For more tips on how to help babies, toddlers and school-age kids learn to love a variety of foods, visit me at www.melaniepotock.com. I look forward to chatting!
Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, is an international speaker on the topic of feeding babies, toddlers and school age kids. She is the co-author of the award-winning Raising a Healthy Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating (2015)(available here) and Baby Self-Feeding: Solutions for Introducing Purees and Solids to Create Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits (2016). The tips in cookbook for parents & kids, Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes (2018) are based on the latest research and Melanie’s 20 years of success as a pediatric feeding therapist. Melanie’s children’s book You are Not an Otter takes preschoolers on a food adventure, exploring all the ways that various animals eat! Melanie’s advice has been shared in a variety of television and print media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal CNN.com and Parents Magazine.
P.S. If you want to learn more about picky eating solutions, identifying Feeding problems and Expanding your child’s diet. We now stock Melanie’s book – Raising a Healthy Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating.
Breakfast is often one of the best meals of the day to enjoy with your baby. They’ve (hopefully!) had a good amount of sleep overnight, and their appetite and alertness are at their peak. Take advantage of this time to offer a tasty, satisfying meal.
These are some of my favourite healthy breakfasts to share with my twin boys. Most of these can actually be made in advance, too, so you can have a few things ready to go in the morning and not be rushing around when your little one is hungry!
Pancakes can incorporate a variety of wholesome ingredients and are great for batch cooking and storing in the freezer.
Wholemeal, spelt, buckwheat or oat flour are all great for making pancakes. A basic recipe for pancakes is flour, baking powder, milk and an egg, plus I like to add some mashed banana or apple puree for sweetness. Create a thick batter and cook small, soft and delicious pancakes! Serve warm with a spread of butter, ricotta or nut butter.
Oats are simple, nourishing and also economical, which is an especially good thing with babies when you really have no idea how much they are going to eat.
Quick oats are the finest oat flake and quickly become very smooth and creamy when cooked. You can use breast milk, formula, cows or soy milk to make porridge. For additional healthy fats and protein, stir in a little peanut butter, tahini or another nut butter. If you prefer finger foods, you can also make baked oatmeal or “porridge fingers” so bub can feed themselves. I have an easy recipe for porridge fingers in my Friendly Finger Foods Recipe eBook.
Eggs are rich in protein, fats and also contain some iron, so they’re a great food to introduce early (and they should definitely be introduced before 12 months of age, as they’re one of the top allergens to work through).
Start with a plain omelette cut into strips and then add in some veggies! Grated zucchini, cauliflower rice, spinach and finely diced mushroom work well, they cook quickly and the small pieces are easy to eat
French toast is a quick and easy way to transform a piece of bread into a nutritious finger food for bub. Whisk an egg with a few tablespoons of milk, soak a piece of bread in the mixture and then cook in a frypan over a low-moderate heat until the egg has cooked through. Cut into fingers to serve.
Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to the egg mixture and serve with fruit for a sweet option. It’s also great as a savoury breakfast topped with mashed avocado.
Chia pudding has a lovely soft and thick texture so it’s perfect for babies. Yes, it can get a little messy with those seeds so make sure you’re using a wide, catch-all bib!
To make a basic chia pudding combine 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with ½ cup of milk (you can add a little more milk to thin the pudding out later if needed). Whisk the seeds into the milk, let it sit for 10 minutes, whisk again, then pop into the fridge for a few hours to set. It will last up to 5 days in the fridge so you can have it ready to go. Stir in fruit puree to add flavour, or add a little yoghurt to make the pudding more creamy.
Our Feeding Set-Up
Target ‘Snacka’ high chairs (almost identical to the very popular Ikea ‘Antilop’ high chairs but the seat belt includes a shoulder harness which stops them climbing up and out a bit better!)
Pimp My High Chair adjustable footrests for added stability in the high chair (lets baby place their feet on something while eating which makes them feel more secure and lets them concentrate more on eating, not balancing)
Silicone suction plates (I love the EZPZ brand, they wash well and are very durable)
Our Grabease cutlery sets! I’m currently loading up the spoon and fork and then handing it over to the bubs as they are only 13 months, however in a few months’ time I’ll be encouraging them to scoop up the food on their own.
TIP – You can also pre-load your grabease cutlery and leave them on the tray for Bubs to pick up independently.
Monique Cormack is an accredited Nutritionist, part-time lawyer and mother of identical twin boys, Leo & Max. When she’s not juggling work and her babies she’s creating recipes to share on her healthy recipe blog Nourish Every Day. Stay in touch with Monique on Instagram @moniquecormacknutrition for recipes and nutrition tips!
Monique has just launched her first e-book! Packed with great finger food ideas for babies, you can get it here.
An Interview with BLWing blogger Sarina from ‘Stop The Munchies’!
Thanks to social media, we are now able to meet people we wouldn’t ordinarily connect with from a business perspective. I met Sarina through instagram when she tagged @grabease.au in her posts and this started a lovely exchange between us about food, baby-led weaning and CJ’s (her son) development. I then had the pleasure of meeting her the One Fine Baby Fair in Sydney. When we met in person and spoke, I realised her story was a great one to share with other families in similar circumstances or those researching how they wanted to start solids.
So, here we are…..Enjoy!
Why did you choose Baby-Led Weaning with CJ?
As CJ was getting closer to being ready for solids I found a free online child nutrition course by FutureLearn which led me to the Baby-Led Weaning book by Gill Rapley. This book spoke on the many benefits of BLW including minimising fussiness. Growing up and even to this day I was your typical fussy eater! I hated my veggies. Being a fussy eater, I find is very restricting and often left me feeling anxious in social circles. I do not want this for CJ and as CJ has been exploring new foods I’ve also been trying to retrain myself. I want him to know how amazing Fruits and Veggies really can be!
How old was CJ when you started?
I started CJ at 6 months to the day! However, that doesn’t mean it would be the same for everyone.
For me, CJ showed all the signs he was ready; He could support his own head, he would bring toys to his mouth and he had lost his tongue thrust. Before 6 months CJ was showing a lot of these signs, for me waiting also was about making sure his gut was mature enough to handle solids, this is said to happen from 6 months onwards and is a recommendation by The World Health Organization.
What has been the biggest positive of BLW?
The biggest positive was seeing what an independent little boy CJ has become. He is willing to try anything! He doesn’t always like everything he tries but he will continue to explore, taste and feel a variety of foods. To me this is the essence of why I do this!
What has been the biggest negative of BLW?
When I read this question aloud my husband instantly said the MESS! Yes, there is a lot of Mess to deal with at the beginning! But I promise it gets better 😊 the mess is all part of learning, and weather you do BLW or traditional weaning there is always going to be a component of MESS.
What has been the biggest positive of BLW?
The biggest positive was seeing what an independent little boy CJ has become. He is willing to try anything! He doesn’t always like everything he tries but he will continue to explore, taste and feel a variety of foods. To me this is the essence of why I do this!
There are so many tools out there to help you with this journey and a lot of them developed or sold by some amazing Mums that have been through this experience themselves!
Here are my top 5:
Mumma’s Little Helpers Food Catcher! This saved my carpet
Suction Plate!! We use EZPZ Mats. Trust me a suction plate comes in handy for when they start throwing!!
Sippy Cups. When bub starts solids, they should also be offered water! Our favourite one to use is by Nuby
Smock/Bib we actually use a combo here! The smocks from IKEA are so easy to machine wash and we have a crumb catcher bib from Mummas Little Helpers
Last but not least, our Grabease cutlery set. CJ is such a pro with scooping up yogurt and is now working on his fork skills! I stumbled across Grabease after seeing another insta account recommend them and have not looked back since!
The 'Stop The Munchies' story
Sarina is a Sydney based Mum to 3 year old CJ and the Mummy behind @stopthemunchies. Stop the Munchies came about in the hopes of sharing Sarina and CJ’s BLW Journey. Sarina is passionate about educating parents on all things BLW. If Sarina isn’t cooking she’s usually thinking about what she’ll be cooking next!
Change of seasons always bring about runny noses, coughs and sore throats and it’s important to support your body as best you can BEFORE those things set in, especially if you are around people who are sick a lot. Increasing your daily vitamin C is a really good way to support your immune system and getting it from real food sources is perfect. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron so if you struggle with keeping your iron levels up, not having enough vitamin C in your diet could be the issue.
Gut issues are also a leading cause of sickness. If your gut isn’t happy, we usually see a snowball effect, which can be hard to come back from. Gelatin is a great healer of the gut. Adding it to your diet on a daily basis either in gummies or bone broths can be an easy way to help promote a health gut. The amino acids found in gelatin are anti-inflammatory which helps to heal any inflammation in your gut, helping increase digestive secretions and promote everything to function smoother. For more info, check out my original Turmeric, Mango and Coconut Gummies post.
Lucky for us all, gummies are particularly Insta-worthy so make sure you tag us in your creations and let’s get those immune systems on full alert.
Makes 10-15 depending on the size of your moulds
Paleo, GF, DF, RSF, High protein
Prep time + tidy up: 10 mins
Cook time: 4 hours fridge to set
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup plus 1/2 cup fresh or high quality bottled orange juice
4 tbsp grass fed gelatin powder (this may vary depending on your brand). We like this one and this one.
In a bowl add 1/2 cup orange juice and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Mix together a little and set aside to bloom*
In a saucepan over a medium heat, add the raspberries and the remainder of the orange juice and heat until just simmering, breaking up the raspberries. Remove from heat.
Taste and decide if you would like to add some sweetener. I like to keep these tangy.
Add your bloomed gelatin and whisk gently until it’s completely dissolved.
If you want to add essential oils, add them now, one drop at a time and taste them as you go. A little goes a long way. And please ensure they are suitable for internal use. If you’re unsure, please just send me an email!
Pour the liquid into moulds and place in the fridge to set. If you don’t have moulds (or don’t want to use them) just pour into a glass dish and once it’s set, remove and cut.
Tip: If you have fussy kids who don’t like pulp and seeds, you can run the liquid through a fine sieve before pouring into moulds to set in the fridge.
*To let gelatin bloom, means adding it to some water or whatever liquid you are using in the recipe. It will absorb the water and be easy to dissolve into the warm mixture without a grainy texture.
About the Author
Meet Jen Thomson. A former personal trainer, turned paleo convert, Jen, along with her husband Blake created the perfect paleo snacks with their brand, Naked Paleo. Naked Paleo was born from sweet cravings and the encouragement of family and friends to make her delicious recipes readily available. If you love this recipe, Jen has loads more on her blog and instagram. Make sure you jump over and check them out, you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t feel like cooking, you can order her delicious bars online.
If you love getting recipes straight to your inbox, make sure you scroll down and subscribe for more baby-friendly goodness like our Overnight Oats recipe.
There is nothing better than getting up in the morning and knowing you’ve got breakfast sorted! No more ‘hangry’ baby, hanging off your leg whilst you prepare a cooked brekkie. With this fab overnight oats recipe from our resident Baby-Led Weaning Blogger, Bourke St Baby, you will have a power-packed and most importantly, EASY start to the morning!
Please make sure you’ve tried your toddler on nuts before adding the almonds to this recipes. If you’re not sure how to do that, read our Introducing High Allergen Foods post for guidelines.
(Makes approx 8 serves)
5 cups Whole Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Medjool Dates (Roughly Chopped)
1/3 cup Chia Seeds
1/2 cup Almond Flakes
1/2 cup Sultanas
1/4 cup Dried Cranberries
Pre-Mix together all of the ingredients in a large pot or mixing bowl until well combined. Transfer into an airtight container for the pantry. Store until needed.
When ready to use;
Add 2 cups of your muesli mix to a mixing bowl.
Add 1 cup of Almond milk (or milk drink of your choice. You can also do 1/2 cup tinned coconut milk and 1/2 cup almond milk for a creamier version)
Add 1/2 cup of coconut yoghurt.
1 Apple (grated)
Mix together until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl so all the Chia seeds are in the mix. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Serve with your choice of fresh fruit and berries. Top with milk if desired.
This recipe is Dairy-Free but it is easily adaptable.
Sub out the milk and yoghurt with your favourite dairy alternative to suit your family’s taste-buds!
There has always been a lot of hype and speculation around introducing allergenic foods to babies such as eggs and peanuts. Recently, the guidelines have changed significantly and understandably there is a lot of confusion amongst parents as to when is the right time, and how to do it.
I often get asked by parents what is best, and so I am delighted to have the chance to write a guest blog all about this topic for Grabease!
By Caroline Partridge
What did we use to do?
Until recently, parents were told to delay introducing their children to foods such as egg and peanuts. Some people even suggested not introducing nuts until after the age of 5. There were concerns around choking, and beliefs that waiting until the child was older would mean that they were less likely to develop an allergy.
So what changed?
Basically, new evidence came to light. A lot of time and money was put into studying why there was suddenly such a rise in the incidence of childhood allergy. In Australia, 1 in 10 kids under the age of 1 have a food allergy. That number is shocking.
In working to discover why the rate of allergies had risen so fast, questions were asked and researched about what had changed. As well as about the guidelines suggesting waiting to introduce allergenic foods.
The new studies show a decreased likelihood of allergy in children who tried egg and peanuts under the age of 1. Once this evidence was reported, further research was undertaken, and subsequently, the infant feeding guidelines were updated by ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy)
The new guidelines?
The guidelines now suggest giving foods such as egg, tree nuts and peanuts to children between 6 and 10 months of age. Whole nuts pose a risk of choking and so should not be given. Nut butters are a great alternative and remove this choking risk. Egg should be well cooked, not raw.
My favourite first foods to give to baby are meat and eggs. After 6 months of age, infants, particularly those that are still exclusively breastfed can become deficient in iron and zinc. These foods are great sources of these minerals. They can be pureed, or served in suitable sized chunks for baby-led weaning also.
A few tips!
Earlier in the day for trying new foods means less chance of a sleepless night
Just try one new food at a time, then if something happens you will know where to start
Give each new food at least 3 days before moving on to the next, a reaction may not happen on the first 1 or 2 tries
Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of allergic reactions, allergy.org.au is an amazing resource
Caroline Partridge is the Aussie Allergy Mum, a fun-loving mum of two girls, who lives the allergy life daily and wants to help make the journey as easy as possible for others.
Getting toddlers to eat at meal time can be no mean feat! They tend to be stubborn and often refuse to try new foods, which can be rather frustrating for their parents. We’ve all been there, so here are 7 simple tips to try for fuss-free mealtimes. Hopefully making dining more fun and encourage them to eat more (or a wider variety) in the process.
Involve them in Preparation/Cooking
From as young as toddlers, there are age-appropriate tasks you can get kids to do to help prepare meals. Younger kids especially like helping and like to be given jobs. This can often lead them to being more likely to eat the food if they ‘made’ it. Simply helping with washing vegetables or placing salad into a bowl gives them that sense of achievement.
make a food rainbow
Toddlers are very visual creatures. The more appealing the food presented to them looks, the more likely they will be to eat it! Mix fruit and veggies on a platter in the colour order/shape of a rainbow. This is also a fun activity to practice learning colours. Encourage them to try at least one thing from each colour.
Use a Fun Plate or Utensils
Toddlers are wired to play. Have you ever noticed how throwing food on the floor suddenly becomes a game for them? Try making food more fun by using a novel plate (like these bamboo Aussie animal plates) or with their own cutlery that encourages independent eating, such as grabease. This also gives them the autonomony they crave, while hopefully getting them to eat well!
Cut it into Fun Shapes
Using food cutters can entice even the fussiest eaters to try something new. Who can resist a dinosaur sandwich? Look for cutters that are in shapes of things they like and use that to cut up sandwiches with healthy fillings. Even simply cutting fruit. They’re also great to use for party food!
Make a Smoothie Instead
A lot of goodness can be packed (hidden) in a smoothie, so why not substitute a main meal for a smoothie from time to time? You can add veggies, protein powder or other powders (such as super greens powder) and include a couple of serves of fruit in a tasty drink. You could even get them to help you make it. Another tip for summer is to freeze smoothies in icy pole moulds and use the grabease utensils as handles for little hands. A great healthy, tasty treat!
Pack it into a Bento Box
Another novel way of serving a meal is in a bento lunch box. Kids love them! They can pick and choose what to eat. You can actually fit a lot into them (more than you might think). They are super handy for meals on the go, but you could incorporate it into a backyard picnic or even serve dinner in it for something different. We love the Yumbox lunchboxes as they’re leak-proof and can be cleaned in the dishwasher! Don’t forget to include your grabease in the yumbox as they fit perfectly in its compartments.
snacks and food
Sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to make toddler meal-time as fuss-free as possible! Making mini muffins or cookies that are packed with nutrients, but look like treats, can be one way to get them eating better. The Adventure Snacks range of baking mixes contain only wholesome ingredients, and some have hidden veggies in them, so you can make (with your toddler) healthy little snacks they will love to eat.
About the Author
Tracey is a mum and owner of Adventure Snacks – a business she started when her son was a toddler and she couldn’t find nutritious, convenient snacks on supermarket shelves. She created a range of organic baking mixes which are perfect for toddlers and school lunchboxes; with the added bonus of being able to freeze the snacks once made, so you always have healthy snacks on hand! You can find out more at the links below:
Thinking about Baby Led Weaning for your bub, but worried about them getting enough iron? Read on for a nutritionist’s view…
We know that iron is important, after all it helps with cognitive development and building a strong immune system. But one of the biggest concerns parents have when introducing solids is whether bubs will get enough iron. Especially when doing Baby Led Weaning (BLW). But can BLW provide enough iron? The short answer is ‘yes it can’. Here’s how…
Yes, it’s true that babies have an increased requirement for iron once they reach 6 months. Their own iron stores, built up during the late stages of pregnancy, have started to run low. This doesn’t happen overnight, but from around 6 months their needs do increase. Although there is iron in breastmilk, it is a smaller amount than that found in formula. However, it is much more highly absorbed – around 50% absorbed vs 10%. So, all babies still receive some iron from their breastmilk and formula, but from 6 months they need a little extra from the foods you introduce to them – which is why solids are also known as ‘complimentary foods’.
But how much do they need, and where should they get it from to ensure they get enough?
Not every baby is the same.
It’s important to remember this, and it is as relevant for iron levels as it is for hitting milestones. Just like the variations from baby to baby in how many teeth they have at 6 months and what age they start sitting unassisted, their needs for iron vary too. This depends on things like their mother’s iron status before and especially during pregnancy (and afterwards if breastfed); if they have been formula fed (as formula is fortified to varying degrees); if they were born prematurely; and if they had a low birth weight.
Is your baby getting enough iron?
Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is a concern for parents, as iron is a critical nutrient for brain development and IDA could lead to poor neurodevelopment . But did you know that excess iron may have an adverse effect on growth? So, it is important to be like Goldilocks and find the amount that is ‘just right’ – don’t feel you need to jump straight to supplementation.
The babies at risk of IDA are those who were born prematurely (since babies’ iron stores build in the last few months of pregnancy), those with a low birth weight even if born full-term, and those whose mothers had very low iron or poor nutritional status during pregnancy. For these babies, I would recommend parents speak to their GP/paediatrician for advice specific to their circumstances.
So, how much iron does a full-term, healthy-weight baby need?
The average iron intake from age 0-6 months is 0.2 mg/day (based on breastmilk consumption). The estimated average requirement from age 7-12 months is 7 mg/day, whilst the recommended daily intake is 11 mg/day , which equates to 500g of lean beef mince! Whilst their requirement doesn’t make this huge jump overnight, it is a big increase to work up to as quickly as possible. Which is why it is important to include as many iron-rich foods throughout the day as possible, and BLW is a great way to do this.
The best sources of iron for BLW.
If you’ve decided to skip the iron-fortified baby cereal (which has low absorption rates anyway), you may be wondering where their iron is going to come from now. The top sources of iron [4, 5] are:
Meats: beef, lamb, pork, veal, liver (including pate), chicken, turkey – strips that they can hold and suck on are a great place to start, as well as softly cooked mince and slow cooked meats. Fish is also a good option – tuna, sardines, salmon etc.
Eggs: egg yolk is high in iron, but serve whole so baby receives the whole nutrition from the egg – serve scrambled, medium-boiled and sliced lengthways, or omelette strips.
Nuts & seeds: almonds and cashews (as nut butters, not whole due to their choking risk!), sesame seeds (in the form of tahini – try baking veggies in a coating of tahini mixed with a little water).
Legumes: kidney beans, black beans, butter/lima beans, baked beans, lentils, chickpeas – cooked until softened so easier to digest; a great tool to practice that pincer grip! Natural peanut butter is another good source.
Other: hummus, blackstrap molasses, quinoa, tofu – great sources of iron.
*Spinach is high in oxalic acid so, to err on the side of caution, wait until 8-10 months before introducing spinach to your baby. Oxalic acid reduces the absorption of iron, but can be reduced by cooking, so serve spinach cooked not raw. It is unclear whether baby spinach has lower oxalic acid levels than mature spinach, so again, best to serve it cooked, and in small quantities, until baby is older (8 months plus).
What does 7mg of Iron per day look like?
Whilst I don’t believe in stressing about numbers, it’s useful to know that we are aiming for at least 7 mg per day and what this might look like in food terms: one egg, two tablespoons of beef mince, one tablespoon of kidney beans, one tablespoon of almond butter, one tablespoon of hummus, half a cup of potato, half a cup of broccoli, and one tablespoon of tahini. It’s a lot of food, but remember this is an average requirement for ages 7-12-month olds – 12-month olds will need more iron and food than 7-month olds so you will work up to this amount gradually. The great news is that babies progress very quickly to consuming a fair amount of food with BLW.
My 4 simple tips on getting enough iron into your bubs (6-12 months).
Continue providing adequate breastmilk or formula as baby’s main source of nutrients. At this age, solids are complimentary foods used to boost baby’s nutrient intake, and to gradually get their digestive system ready to transition completely to solids.
Ensure every meal includes some iron-rich foods right from the start – including meat, egg, legumes or nuts ensures a good source of protein too.
Combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods, as this vitamin enhances the absorption of non-haem iron (especially in legumes) into the body. Breastmilk provides vitamin C, but so too do capsicums, tomatoes, broccoli, citrus fruit and berries, as well as other fruits. Beef mince in a tomato-based sauce is a perfect combo.
Avoid calcium-rich foods at the same time as iron-rich foods, as this inhibits the uptake of iron. A sprinkle of grated cheese is probably not going to have a significant impact, but a glass of milk with dinner is not a good idea (not to mention it will fill them up too much to eat their dinner!). Same goes for adults – ditch the cup of tea or coffee with your meal, as the polyphenols inhibit the iron uptake.
For more tips on introducing solids, as well as other early childhood nutrition, check out more of my blog posts where I’ll be adding more over the coming months!
Who am I and what do I know? I’m The Real Nutritionist (aka Lucy), a qualified nutritionist, with a special interest in early childhood nutrition – from introducing solids, through to the preschool age. And I’ve had some hands-on experience too. With a 2-and-a-half-year-old who baby-led weaned, and an 8-month-old who is currently baby-led weaning, I’ve cleaned up my fair share of food-splattered floors!
At the beginning, as a new Mum I wasn’t sure what weaning would bring. I was recommended a popular weaning book by a friend. So, I went online to order it. Whilst browsing I noticed a book called “Baby-Led Weaning”. ‘Interesting!’, I thought. So, I ordered it, out of curiosity.
In the meantime, I’d started on baby cereal and my son seemed ok with it but kept pushing the spoon out with his tongue which seemed counter-intuitive to me. I kept at it, thinking he just had to get used to it. Then my books arrived or so I thought. Actually only one arrived. The baby-led weaning book was delivered. I never did receive the original one I wanted….maybe it was fate?
As I read, it all made sense, now I understood why he kept pushing the spoon out. I was also sold on the practicality of the approach…no puree´s, EVER! So, I sold my Babychef and from that day on I was determined to try a baby-led approach and we never looked back!
WHAT IS BABY-LED WEANING (BLW)?
Baby-Led weaning is the introduction of solids ‘by encouraging a baby’s confidence and independence by following her cues.’* At first she will sit with you at mealtimes, either on your lap or your partner’s lap, she will watch the way you eat and start to mimic this behaviour by reaching for your plate and then gradually your food. This is a sign of readiness for baby, also look for when she starts putting food in her mouth. Initially she won’t swallow much. Don’t get too concerned if she’s not ingesting a whole lot. As long as she is getting all her milk feeds, she is getting all her nutrients. In the early stages of BLW its more about developing baby’s chewing, dexterity and hand-eye coordination as well as further down the line helping with speech development.
As her hand-eye coordination develops, so too does her fine motor skills, which means introducing utensils. At first, load her spoon for her and leave it on the table or tray. You can also hand it to her but don’t spoon feed her as this will go over her gag reflex and increase the choking hazard. It will also hinder her natural chewing mechanism.
The reaching for food and bringing it to her mouth, are the first signs of readiness. Also make sure Bubs is sitting by herself and she has also reached her 6 month milestone. Once Bub has these four signs, then she is ready! Offer foods in french fry sized portions for easy handling from plate to mouth. It gets messy, I promise you, but it is hilarious to watch! There is nothing my son wouldn’t try. He even ate a wedge of lemon once and loved it!
What about Choking I hear you ask?
What I find most fascinating about BLW is the unlikelihood of choking. Did you know a baby’s gag reflex is a lot further down the tongue than an adults? This means that the food has no way of getting too close to the back of the throat because the gag reflex will kick in and bubs will push the food back to the front of the mouth or at worst, vomit, which let’s face it, babies do all the time! My son is now 4 and he never once choked or vomited whilst he was weaning because he was in total control. To read about the difference between Gagging and Choking, click here.
I love everything about BLW and am enjoying the start of my daughter’s weaning adventures. So, watch this space as there will be a lot more posts to come on this topic.
Let the Bolognese fly!
*Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett
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