How to expand your baby's diet?
When to know that this is the moment? What first foods should I give my child? And what is the difference between expanding the diet for breastfeeding and extending the diet when giving artificial formula?
In 1994, the Ministry of Health in the UK changed the minimum recommended age for solid food from three months to four. At the same time, provisions were introduced that prevented baby food producers from informing them on packaging that their products could be served earlier, hence the minimum age limit for the child began to appear on the products: 4 months.
When in 2003 The World Health Organization has raised the minimum age for diet expansion in both breast-fed and 6 formula-fed babiesbut unfortunately this was not accompanied by a corresponding change in law. The result is that producers of food for the youngest continue to promote their products as suitable for babies from 4 months of age, and parents, who do not know that the recommendation has changed, trust the inscription on the packaging ... and continue to buy jars for babies who are far too small for that, instead of continuing to feed them only with breast milk or modified milk, which is so important for their health and proper development .
More or less until the end of 6 month of life. the child's digestive and immune system is not able to cope with anything other than mother's milk or modified milk. After this time (of course, every child develops differently, so it can be a difference of a week or two sooner or later) our child will start to be interested in other food, for example, watching the family during meals together.
At a baby fed with modified milk The expansion of the diet is a bit different - it may take longer for the child to become open to new tastes, as the child is used to one, constant taste. The serving of drinks is also different: from the very first days, breastfed babies get everything they need - not only food, but also drink. The composition of breast milk depends on how often and how much food a baby drinks. If it is hot, your baby drinks more, but milk is more a drink than food. Modified milk is more filling and nutritious - it does not quench your thirst very much. Its composition also does not change with the child's development or desire, so before we start expanding the diet, the child should be additionally given water. Consuming water will not only help him recognize when he is thirsty and when he is hungry, but it will also help to ensure that he does not gain weight by drinking high-calorie formula milk, being only thirsty, not hungry . Moreover, nutritionists recommend giving water to a formula-fed child even earlier if he has constipation problems.
The amount of artificial milk administered is also different in relation to breastfeeding - a child on an artificial mixture around 1 year of age will drink milk probably 1-2 times a day, the remaining meals will be solid foods. However, if you are breastfeeding, you probably won't notice a change in the number of feeds, they may only be shorter.
When to start extending your diet?
To sum up the above: it is stated that you must feed your baby only with breast or milk modified until 6, and then gradually introduce solid products. But also not drastically, not by force, without lying to the child (for example, that mother does not have milk), and certainly not when the child goes through separation fears or developmental jumps. Many sources even say that you should wait until the child begins to sit up alone.
So it is worth observing the Child - is he already sitting down by himself or with a little help, picking up objects with his hand and putting them in his mouth, biting toys and making movements similar to chewing with his jaw? If so, this might be the right time.
How to start expanding your diet?
Primarily not immediately. Precious mother's milk (or modified milk, also containing high calories and nutrients) should not be replaced by a fixed meal. We do not replace milk, but treat solids more like a "snack between meals" - for example, half an hour after breastfeeding or formula milk. The child is to meet new flavors, experiment with food, and don't eat too much. There is a reason why this is called diet extension rather than replacement. The products given to the infant are to be complementary products - supplementing what is beginning to be lacking in breast milk, i.e. products rich in iron, zinc and vitamins, especially A, D and E.
How many and what meals?
WHO gave the recommended number of complementary meals, depending on the child's age:
|Age||Minimum number of complementary meals / day|
|6 – 8 months. A breast-fed infant||2|
|9 – 23s. a breastfed child||3|
|6 – 23 months. Milk-fed child mod.||4 (formula milk may be included among these meals)|
Babies who want to expand their diet should be fed at least four out of seven product groups. What groups are they?
1 Group: Cereals, roots, tubers
2 Group: Fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin A (provitamin A can be found in those yellow and orange, e.g. peaches, red grapefruit, mango, carrot, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, but also in e.g. broccoli or spinach).
3 Group: Meat, poultry and fish.
In the first year of life, the recommended amount of meat is 10 g per day, in the second year it is 20 g per day.
4 Group: Legumes, nuts and seeds
5 Group: Eggs
6 Group: Other fruit and vegetables
7 Group: Dairy products
What to serve
If the child is not allergic, we can try to give more than one ingredient at a time - for example potatoes and carrots. If, on the other hand, we struggle with allergies, the products should be introduced one at a time, initially with a considerable time interval (even several days) in order to detect its source in the event of an allergy.
And what to give first?
There are two schools:
- first give the child vegetables and later fruits, because the fruits are sweet and the child may get so used to the sugar contained in the fruit that later he will not want to eat such healthy and needed vegetables in the diet,
- it does not matter if we first serve fruit or vegetables, because the lactose from breast milk is already sweet - so the baby is used to the sweet taste.
Vegetables should be steamed, not raw, because they are better absorbed and digest better in a small tummy.
According to the latest guidelines both gluten and meat also we should give from 6 the month of the child's life.
If your child is not allergic to milk protein and tolerates lactose, you can enter dairy products: natural yogurt, cottage cheese, butter. We treat cow's milk only as a cooking additive, and only when the child is one year old can we give a small amount as a snack, for example to fruit and bread.
If we want to give up dairy products completely, first make sure that the child gets enough protein, calcium, vitamins A, B and D and fat in other foods.
By expanding your child's diet, let's not forget about getting him fluids - with our milk it got both fluids and food, so when introducing a solid meal, let's also have something to drink on hand. It can be water or plant-based milk.
What not to give
It is clear that, first of all, we cannot give food to the child in either too small or too large pieces - they must be such that the child can easily pick them up. Very hard products containing stones or cartilage should be avoided.
List of products to avoid. 
1. Salt - it just harms the baby. His kidneys are not yet developed enough to handle large amounts of this spice. Salt is a flavor enhancer, but also a preservative, so we should not give your child, for example, ready-made meals, jar sauces, ham or canned food. Children under 1 year of age should consume a maximum of 1 g of salt (0,4 g of sodium) per day.
2. Sugar - lack of nutritional value, empty calories. Destroys teeth before teething! However, you do not have to completely give up sugar - if your toddler occasionally tastes a sponge cake or a dessert, nothing will happen. However, you should avoid sweets and carbonated drinks. Note - sugar is also found in many baby foods, such as ready-made mousse jars. Pay special attention to it!
3. All preservatives, additives, sweeteners, all E's and other "enhancers". The smaller the ingredient list on the label, the better.
4. Once advised to avoid protein eggs, now it has changed, but you should always boil the egg properly.
5. Raw Honey - at least until the age of 1, because it can be a source of botulism, it is also a very strong allergen.
6. Raw bran or products containing them - they can irritate the child's sensitive digestive tract and adversely affect the absorption of important substances such as iron or calcium.
7. Coffee, tea, cola - they contain caffeine (we don't want our child to be hyperactive!) and tea has a negative effect on iron absorption.
8. Sweetened or carbonated drinks and undiluted fruit juices - they contain a lot of sugar and may be too acidic for babies and toddlers.
9. Milk - yes, milk! This animal is filling and can cause a lack of appetite. It should be avoided under 1 year of age. Why? Its composition is very different from that of human and modified milk - it contains too much mineral salts, protein and too little iron, and what's more - it hinders its absorption, contributing to the development of anemia. Sheep and goat milk also has the wrong proportions of nutrients for a baby. Small amounts of milk are allowed
List of dishes that in small quantities can be given to the child 1-2 times a week (remembering to give additional water or breast milk to help remove excess salt): hard cheeses (e.g. Parmesan), sausage (also pepperoni and salami), ham, bacon, beans in tomato sauce, yeast, pizza.
List of dishes that should absolutely be avoided: ready meals, some breakfast cereals, salty snacks, ready patties, ready pasta dishes and curry sauces, ready sauces and broths in cubes, canned and bagged soups, smoked meat and fish, anchovies, olives in brine, soy sauce.
In addition to these foods and drinks, the child can eat the same as we do. Of course, if you are not allergic.
What about products that can cause allergies or intolerances?
Many mothers are struggling with their child's allergies to nuts, wheat, citrus fruits, strawberries, seeds, tomatoes, fish, or, above all, to milk protein. In many children, the allergy passes around the age of 3, but this is not the rule.
One of the more problematic food ingredients is gluten (a mixture of vegetable proteins that are found in some cereal species, including wheat, oats, barley, rye, spelled). All foods that contain these cereals (bread, cakes, pasta) also contain gluten. Due to the fact that gluten is a protein, we may be allergic to it (this is one of the most common allergens - not to be confused with celiac disease, a disease).
Most of the latest sources today state that 26 weeks of life is the age at which contact with gluten should occur and, moreover, can prevent its intolerance.
If our child proves to be allergic to gluten, fortunately, there are many other gluten-free foods - rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet.
Babies and toddlers need more fat than adults because they burn calories more easily. And they have to absorb fat, as some vitamins dissolve only in it. The best fats are those that are not of animal or dairy origin, such as vegetable oils, fatty fish, olive oil, and the oils found in nuts and seeds. Be careful with trans-fatty fats (hydrogenated acids), which are fats used in foods such as biscuits, chips, cakes, ready meals, and margarines - they can block the good effects of healthy fats.
roughage helps to maintain healthy digestive and excretory systems not only of adults but also of infants, but they need it in very small quantities. However, do not give raw bran and flakes with their high content, you should also limit the amount of whole grains.
Initially, choose white rice, not brown, give white flour, instead of wholemeal, white instead of wholemeal, although this does not mean that the child cannot try whole-grain products.
Excess fiber may hinder the absorption of vitamins and cause diarrhea.
1. Start getting your child accustomed to their meals - let them eat with you, with you. It will try to imitate you - not only what you eat, but also how you do it, how you behave at the table. And even better - if you eat what it does. Just remember to avoid the products from the list above (1-9), especially salt - maybe it's worth adding salt to the dishes only on the plate, so that the child eats healthier, secondly, so that he gets to know the real taste of the food eaten.
2. The products we want to give our child are best prepared by ourselves - bake, boil or serve fresh. Each ingredient that we want to give to our baby should be carefully selected. Primarily - let's read the labels! You may be surprised how many unnecessary ingredients baby products can have. Manufacturers hide salt under the name sodium, and sugar under sucrose, dextrose, fructose, glucose syrup i corn syrup. All this is unnecessary, small crunches do not need such "enhancers". I skip the issue of preservatives ...
3. Cut products (fruit, vegetables, meat, bread) so that the child will be able to grab them with the handle and mumble the protruding part over the fifth.
4. cooking e.g. vegetables, make sure that they were neither too soft - so that the child does not crush them to a pulp, grabbing them with the handle, or too hard - to be able to bite them.
5. If the cooked vegetables are too slippery and the child has difficulty keeping them in hand, wipe them in a paper towel.
6. There is no need for the food served to be mush - the baby is supposed to learn not only flavors, but also textures, chewing. Chewing (or attempting to chew it) is beneficial for the development of speech and proper assimilation of food. The actual form of the dish is also an advantage - while eating carrot pulp, the child will be wary of looking at the carrot in pieces, maybe it will not even want to eat it? It will also be easier to distinguish a carrot from an apple or parsley not only by its taste or color, but also by its appearance, if it is not simply mush. Eating crushed food is also less safe - the child sucks the food, it is not possible to grind, turn or chew it in the mouth. He has much more control over the food in pieces, which he can grab with a handle and put in his mouth piece by piece. Besides - these different textures and structures are so interesting!
However, let's not demonize the mash - I love cream soups myself and I also serve food in this form to the whole family. It is also the perfect way to smuggle your child into nutritious ingredients that he is prejudiced against - for example spinach in a fruit mousse or a smoothie.
7. A child who learns to eat alone will eat at his own pace - we do not feed him with a spoon, so he will not eat too quickly (which may make him feel full too quickly), nor will he be impatient with feeding him too late. He also has control over the size of his meal - he just stops eating when he feels full. Do not force him to eat, do not try to persuade him with praise, tricks, bribes, or threats to eat something.
8. We are often worried that our child will choke or chokeeating alone - it will happen sooner when someone puts food or drink in his mouth or when he is sitting tilted back. If it eats by itself, in the correct position, even if it chokes, it should be able to handle it on its own. But of course, NEVER leave him alone while he eats.
9. Initial meals will be learning, fun and experimenting - get ready for some mess 😉 When I don't have time for it, I just mix the meal and give it with a spoon, the golden mean is my favorite rule.
 Gill Rapley, Tracey Murkett - Babas likes a choice, Warsaw 2010.
Gill Rapley, Tracey Murkett - Simply Breastfeeding, Warsaw 2015.