We’ve spoken to Boob to Food founder Luka McCabe on how to get your baby started on solid foods on the latest episode of the Unprocessed podcast. The expert turns what can often be a time fraught with stress into a fun, exciting period of change. She reveals her top tips to get your little one loving food.
Mum of three Luka is not well-versed in the area of nutrition as a registered midwife nurse and a certified postpartum nutrition consultant – she’s also the author of the bestselling book, Milk to Meals. The Boob to Food founder is passionate about educating parents and caregivers to give their little ones the best start in life – here’s how she recommends getting the process of starting solids rolling.
When should you start your little ones on solids?
The current recommendation for starting your baby on solids is to wait until around six months of age – until that point, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommends solely feeding your child breastmilk or formula. The reason for this comes down to. The fact that breastmilk contains the adequate amount of nutrients for your little one, though they start to require some other essentials after around six months – iron, for instance, becomes a priority for your infant, and breastmilk doesn’t provide their required intake. But Luka says not all babies will be ready to start including solid foods into their diet at the same time – she says we need to look for the signs.
“We’re looking at developmental signs of readiness and, like all babies walk at different ages, talk at different ages, they’re also ready for solids at different ages,” she told Unprocessed. “But I’m yet to meet a baby under five and a half months that shows all of the signs.”
Signs of solid food readiness include:
- Seeking food
- When they’re in a high chair, they’re not slumping forward – Luka says this “can be a really big choking risk.”
- You don’t want any bobble heads
- Showing signs of interest
- They’ve lost the tongue-thrust reflex – this is where the baby pushes anything that touches their tongue back out.
- You want them to have neck and postural stability – “That shows their digestive muscles are ready to actually digest the food you’re offering them,” Luka says. “The food is moved through all of the intestines and out of the bowels so they don’t get blocked up and constipated.”
If you’re worried that your little one hasn’t started showing those readiness signs, Luka has some tips to get them on track.
“If it’s getting close to that six-month mark and your baby is not interested in food, then that’s when you might want to start ramping up eating in front of them, because as mother we can often sae lunchtime and mealtime for when they’re napping because it’s nice for us to eat in peace,” Luka says. “But the only way they’re going to learn how to eat is by watching us and mimicking us.”
What foods should you start with?
Iron, omega 3 and zinc are biggest needs for your infant that breastmilk doesn’t meet, so Luka says you’ll want to prioritise foods rich in these nutrients – and you don’t have to be afraid to experiment with foods like liver, you might be surprised at what your baby enjoys. Luka also recommends trying egg yolks, cod liver oil and bone broths to boost your little one’s nutritional needs, and from around eight months of age, foods like salmon and fatty fish can be added in.
While Luka advises offering your baby fermented foods, she says to watch out for alcohol content and caffeine.
“I wouldn’t offer kombucha to a baby because it’s quite high in caffeine.”
What fermented foods are safe to try? Luka says sauerkraut, kefir and picked veggies are all great places to start.
“They really don’t need much, you want to start with just the brine that it’s in and gradually work your way up.”
Luka’s got a few more tips to get your little on off to a good start:
- Feed your infant healthy fats
- Go for easy-to-digest foods – this can include using broths, soups and veggies cooked until they’re soft.
- Tread cautiously with allergens
Keen to learn more about how to get your baby started on solid foods? Luka shares all her top tips and tricks to make the process as smooth as possible on Unprocessed’s latest episode – brought to you by I Quit Sugar and No Ugly. The mum of three unpacks everything from safely introducing potential allergens to her favourite beginner foods for your little one.