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First Foods for Baby

May 22, 2012 by Dean Simmons, Registered Dietitian

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As a food loving father I'm eager to introduce my son to his first foods. In about a month, he'll reach the six month mark, the age when starting to introduce solid foods is recommended. Already I see that he’s starting to pay attention to what his parents are eating and he’s starting to show other signs of readiness for solid foods.Signs of increased readiness:

  • Baby can sit up and lean forward
  • Baby has head control and can turn away to indicate when done with eating
  • Baby doesn’t push food out of the mouth with his or her tongue

He's making progress in all these developmental areas, so I'm starting to think about what those first foods will be. At around six months of age, the iron stores that babies are born with begin to decline and they need iron-rich foods to meet the nutrient needs of their rapidly growing bodies.

Iron-rich first foods:    How to prepare:
Heme
Iron Sources
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil, simmer lean meat or poultry until well-cooked, and then mince finely.
  • Remove bones from fish, cook through and then mash with a fork.
  • Moisten with a little water.
Non-Heme
Iron Sources
  •  Iron-fortified infant cereal (single grain)
  • Tofu, soybeans
  • Beans, peas, lentils
  • Egg yolk
  • Rinse canned beans well.
  • Use a fork to mash tofu, soybeans, beans, peas or lentils.
  • Moisten with a little water.
 

The iron from meat (heme iron) is better absorbed by the body than the iron in other foods (non-heme iron). For this reason it's recommended to include well-cooked plain meats, if your family eats meat, amongst baby's first foods.

In our family, beans, lentils, tofu, egg, fish and iron-fortified infant cereal will be the iron-rich first food choices. I'm looking forward to introducing him to these and other new foods. Judging by the way he reaches for my plate at dinner time I think he is looking forward to it too.

Key Points: 

  • Start Introducing solid foods to baby about 6 months of age
  • Focus on iron-rich foods
  • speaks with a HealthLinkBC Dietitian about feeding your baby by calling 8-1-1

What were the first foods for your child? Do you have any tips to share with a first time dad? If you're interested in homemade baby foods check out my next posting on food textures for babies.


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Comments (2)

Mark Milotay

Posted on Wednesday May 23, 2012 a 11:49am

Are you not concerned about the phytoestrogens in soy with your baby? There is significant research at this point that shows that while harmful to males at any age, for babies the risk and potential for damage are significantly higher. A starting point for looking at the risks can be found here on PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9492332

hurrell's picture

Healthy Families BC

Posted on Thursday May 24, 2012 a 4:13pm

Thanks for your comment Mark. The study you have referenced was published in 1998 and called for more research into the potential risks of phytoestrogens on infant development.  As you have inferred, much more research has occurred since that time.
 
Much of the research on infant intakes of phytoestrogens has focused on soy-based infant formula, which can be by far the highest potential source of phytoestrogens in an infant’s diet.  As a result, the Canadian Pediatric Society and American Academy of Pediatrics have both recently developed position statements on soy-based formulas, which review the issue of phytoestrogens.  If you are concerned about phytoestrogens and infant feeding you might wish to read their detailed reviews.  In their review of ‘Phytoestrogens in Soy-Based Formulas’ the American Academy of Pediatrics concludes with this summary:

“Although studied by numerous investigators in various species, there is no conclusive evidence from animal, adult human, or infant populations that dietary soy isoflavones may adversely affect human development, reproduction, or endocrine function.“

A mixed diet that includes soy foods contributes to a much lower daily intake of phytoestrogens (in terms of mg/kg of body weight) than a diet composed entirely of soy-based formula. In the blog post above, I included soy-based foods such as tofu and soybeans amongst examples of iron-rich foods that can be introduced to babies as they are learning to eat solid foods.    Soy-based foods, like tofu and soybeans, have a long history of safe use in Asian cultures. Based on this history of use, and the current body of research, I am not concerned about feeding my baby soy foods—or eating them myself—as part of a diet that includes a diversity of other nutritious foods.

If you have questions about phytoestrogens, soy foods, infant feeding or any other nutrition topic please feel free to call one of the Registered Dietitians at HealthLinkBC by dialing 8-1-1.

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