Introducing solid foods to your baby in a timely and appropriate manner is just as crucial as breastfeeding or formula feeding. Besides breast milk or formula, babies need to consume a variety of nutritious foods to meet their growth and development needs.
For example, when babies reach six months of age, their iron requirements increase significantly, and breast milk alone may not be sufficient to meet their needs. Additionally, introducing solid foods helps develop their chewing abilities, exposes them to different textures and flavors, and helps them gradually adapt to a more diverse adult diet. Early exposure to various foods also helps reduce the risk of picky eating by increasing their food experiences.
However, when searching for advice on introducing solid foods on different platforms, you may come across various conflicting opinions, and many of them may even be incorrect. Among them, there are three common mistakes in introducing solid foods that can mislead or have conceptual errors. New parents should be aware of these pitfalls.
Mistake 1: Delaying the introduction of meat despite starting solid foods
It is important to introduce meat as early as possible when starting solid foods. After six months, babies deplete their own iron stores, and breast milk alone may not meet their iron requirements. Delaying the introduction of meat puree can potentially lead to an increased risk of anemia, as babies have higher iron needs after six months. The Chinese Dietary Guidelines 2022 recommend starting with meat puree, liver puree, and iron-fortified infant cereal, which are rich in iron.
Consider starting with iron-fortified baby rice cereal or introducing meat puree and liver puree, among other options. Additionally, choose easily digestible and non-allergenic foods whenever possible.
Mistake 2: Mechanically following a specific order when introducing solid foods
In reality, apart from the need to introduce high-iron foods first, there is no fixed order for introducing other foods to babies.
Traditionally, it was recommended to start with cereals. However, there is no medical evidence to support the notion that introducing solid foods in a specific order has any special benefits for children. While many doctors suggest starting with vegetables before introducing fruits, there is also no medical evidence to suggest that if fruits are introduced first, children will develop a dislike for vegetables or experience allergies.
In 2013, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology jointly issued a statement stating that delaying the introduction of specific foods does not reduce the risk of allergies.
Furthermore, babies can start eating eggs at six months, rather than waiting until eight months – maintaining food diversity is more important.
Research suggests that the more varieties of food a baby tries before the age of one, the lower the probability of developing atopic dermatitis later on. However, it is important to note that if a baby shows signs of allergies, the food should be immediately stopped and completely avoided.
Mistake 3: Insisting on steaming fruits before serving
When it comes to introducing fruits as part of solid foods, the key point is to ensure they are “soft,” not necessarily “cooked”! In other words, as long as the fruits are soft, they can be served raw. The World Health Organization does not mention the issue of raw versus cooked fruits; instead, they emphasize transitioning from puree to small pieces or slices.
For making fruit puree, here are some recommendations:
Banana puree: Peel the banana and gently scrape or mash it with a stainless steel spoon until it becomes a puree.
Apple puree: Cut the apple in half, remove the core, and gently scrape it with a spoon until it becomes a puree.