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If your baby is ‘not sleeping well’ or ‘seems hungry’ after breastfeeding or a bottle, you shouldn't necessarily take it to mean she is ready for solids. In fact, those are two common reasons given by mums who have introduced their babies to solid foods too early.
Part of the reason why mums may be moving to solid foods too soon is that they’re misinterpreting the cues about their baby's readiness for solids. For example, parents will often complain around three to four months that their baby is getting hungrier. However, this most likely due to a growth spurt that happens around three months (one that can be managed with an increase in the baby’s liquid diet).
New Zealand Paediatric Dietitian and Director of Kidz Nutrition in Tauranga, Rebecca Bruce (NZRD), says it is important to watch for cues like good head control, but it’s just as important to listen to what your baby’s behaviour tells you.
“Solids should be introduced around six months of age, depending on developmental cues but not before four months.
“Watch for clues like when your baby begins to show an interest in what others are eating, or starts putting his hand or other objects to his mouth.
“Once your baby is ready for solids it is important to get on to iron-rich foods, like meat and iron fortified cereals, fairly soon. Many parents start with fruit and vegetables but bear in mind that your baby’s iron stores from birth will be running out around six months and breastmilk isn’t going to provide enough alone.”
Forget about ‘Big Brother’ if you’re the mum or the dad of a toddler. What you can be sure of is that it’s your ‘toddler’ that’s watching your every move and, not only does he or she miss very little, they may take many of their food cues and preferences from what they observe.
Meal times are the one time when, as a parent, you may feel the most helpless because you can take a toddler to the food, but you know that getting him to eat is a whole different ball game, particularly if it seems that he is a fussy eater.
New Zealand registered dietitian, director of Nutrition Connection and expert in infant, child and adult nutrition, Anna Sloan, says that cultivating an awareness of your behaviour and your toddler’s behaviour can make healthy eating an enjoyable activity for the whole family.
Auckland mum Candice could only stomach non-caffeine fizzy drinks like ginger ale or raspberry. Her friend, Ursula, couldn't handle anything with a flavour or aroma - only bland snacks like crackers and dry bread would do - while Yvonne, an author and parenting journalist, says even the thought of something sweet had her reaching for a bucket.
Top Tips Once your Baby is on Solids:
“When you’re pregnant, you need to eat for two!” You’ve probably heard this old wives tale more times than you can count. Most likely, this was common advice in years gone by encouraging women to relax and eat freely when they were pregnant.
Unfortunately by ‘eating for two’ many pregnant women in NZ are gaining unhealthy amounts of weight, putting their baby and themselves at risk of health complications.
However you’re travelling from A to B, these tips can help you prepare for a more comfortable journey with littlies: