5 common myths for introducing solids

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As a dietitian, I find that many parents delay starting their little ones on solids as they are confused about what they should do and scared of making a mistake.  Doing anything for the first time can be daunting, and I understand that when it comes to introducing solids, you want to get it right.   To make things worse, there’s a lot of non-evidence based opinions out there, and they can add to confusion and overwhelm.  However, research shows that delaying the introduction of solids can increase your little one’s risk of allergies, so look for credible, evidence-based information, and get started!  To make it easier for you, I’m going to debunk a couple of common myths below….

Myth 1: You should wait until your baby is 6 months old before starting solids – Research shows that starting solids when your baby is developmentally ready (AROUND 6 months) is the best time to start solids.  This can be any time from 4 months of age.  Your baby is developmentally ready when he or she is watching you eat, holding their head up and able to sit unassisted.  

Myth 2: Introducing solids is hard work – Introducing solids can actually be really fun!  It’s another milestone for your little one.  Don’t feel that you have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing hundreds of pureed pots….your little one will be onto solids before you know it, then they’ll just be taking up room in your freezer.  Instead, once your little one is confidently managing pureed foods, progress to simply mashing foods with a fork.  This way they can consume whatever you are eating (provided it is nutritious!), then simply have some good quality baby food pouches on hand for those times when sharing your meal isn’t possible. 

Myth 3: All baby food pouches are equal – I wish they were!  Although there are regulations around heavy metals in baby food products, recent testing commissioned by Healthy Babies, Bright Futures on one hundred and sixty eight baby foods, found toxic heavy metals (including mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium) in ninety five per cent of products tested.  High heavy metal exposure in babies and children can impact on their health and development, building up over time and potentially causing health conditions later in life. Behavioural issues such as Attention Deficit Disorder, neurological damage and/or autism, anaemia and gastrointestinal disfunction are a few examples of how high heavy metal exposure may affect the development of your baby. With this in mind, I’d recommend looking for baby food pouches that have been tested for heavy metals. 

Myth 4: If they don’t finish their meal, they’ll be missing out on nutrition – When you start introducing solids, start by offering solids straight after a milk feed.  This way, they will be getting all of their nutrition from their milk feed, so the portion size of food they consume doesn’t matter and they will still be getting the benefits of starting solids.  When your little one starts eating competently (around 9 or 10 months old), you can swap the order so that they consume their food first, then provide a milk top up.  However, even then, don’t worry if your little one doesn’t finish their meal; infants are very good at regulating the portion sizes that they need. 

Myth 5: If a baby spits out a food, he/she obviously doesn’t like it – this is a really common myth!  Babies are still learning about texture and how to swallow, so they will commonly spit out foods, even if they love it!  If they really don’t like a food, they will rebel much more forcefully by turning their head, refusing to open their mouth and/or crying.  

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