"Food Before One Is Just For Fun" - True or False?
Becoming a parent is wonderful but it doesn’t come without its anxieties. Weaning is often one of those anxiety-inducing milestones – we all want the best for our little ones and I think this phrase was coined with good intentions to ease pressure for struggling parents. But is it true? Well, the experts (baby nutritionists) would say no. Before, you disagree, hear me out…
Starting solids should be fun, 100%. Fun for parents who are introducing their baby to the world of flavours, textures and scents – food is after all, one of life’s greatest pleasure, and how wonderful to witness your baby on their journey of this discovery. Fun for the baby, anyone that’s experienced weaning before will have seen the mess a little one can create – what could be more fun than that for your little one! (See our wipeable accessories on how to make that more manageable for the parents!)
However, ultimately food is essential for nutrition and exposure to allergies. From the age of six months breast milk and formula no longer have enough of the nutrients needed for your baby’s rapid growth. Not only is food important for nutrition, but it aids their development – in coordinating their whole body so that they can learn to eat, in learning to interact socially with others, and in sensory exploration.
Charlotte Stirling-Reed, the Baby & Child Nutritionist prefers to use the phrase ‘Food before one SHOULD be fun’ because dismissing solids as not important limits your baby’s development. She agrees that food should be fun but it is also for
- Social interaction
- Learning flavours
- Enjoying a variety
- Exploring new tastes
- Teaching balance
- Exploring textures
- Building preferences
- Developing eating skills
Most people begin with a veg-led weaning, which is brilliant to help babies to accept more bitter tastes before moving on to sweeter fruits, but from about 6.5 months it’s great to also be offering protein rich foods like meat, fish, lentils, beans and dairy alongside energy enhancing carbs like pasta, grans, potato rice, bread etc.
Did you know that the critical nutrients that are most important in the second six months of your baby’s life are:
Iron is linked to brain growth, it aids sensory, cognitive and motor skills development. Red meat like beef or lamb, egg yolks, dark leafy greens, ground nuts like cashews, tofu, sardines, lentils, fortified cereals, brown bread, dried figs, porridge oats, are all great ways to get iron rich foods in to your little ones diet. Pairing it with foods rich in vitamin C will also help with absorption of the iron.
Zinc is important for babies growth and immune function. Luckily it’s found in lots of every day foods including, turkey breast, beef, eggs, cheddar, prawns, chicken, pork, seeds (like chia and pumpkin), nuts (brazil, almond, cashew), brown bread and green lentils.
This one is essential because it can only be obtained through food and it’s responsible for healthy development of your little one’s vision. Good sources of Omega-3 are oil fish like mackerel, tuna, canned sardines, walnuts, and enriched eggs.
Sarah Bushell, a registered Dietician and Child Nutrition states:
“Learning to eat is the most complex sensory task that your baby has to do in his first year of life and it’s all managed and organised by the brain.
There are eight (not five) different senses that coordinate with each other when your baby eats.
- Visual (sight)
- Tactile (touch, textures)
- Auditory (sound)
- Olfactory (smell)
- Gustatory (taste)
- Proprioception (location/orientation of self in space e.g movement)
- Vestibular (balance and orientation of self in relation to gravity)
- Interoception (the ability to read and interpret internal bodily signal e.g feeling hunger)
Babies who have lots of opportunities to use their eight senses have brains with a complex map of connections which improve their developmental skills, intellect and even influence behaviour!”
Sounds messy doesn’t it? And so it should be! Luckily, we have the perfect set of high chair accessories to help you on your way. Our silicone placemats are food safe and wipe clean – just peel off the mess, rinse it off and replace the mat.
Our adorable high chair cushion cover with ears is 100% wipeable and soft on baby’s skin, and using an insert in a high chair is proven to encourage better posture for your baby, and facilitate a safer swallow when learning to eat.
And lastly, did you know a high chair footrest can also improve your baby’s posture in their highchair, which helps them to be more comfortable, stable (see the point about balance above) and more able to concentrate on developing those fine motors skills. Comfort equals concentration.
That was a lot of information, hope it was helpful, and don’t forget the new phrase ‘Food before one SHOULD BE fun’!