Starting Solids - The First 5 Weeks with Brianna Tekii
Our Nourished Team is very lucky to have the expertise of highly qualified, evidenced-based nutritionists & dietitians who also literally walk-the-talk in feeding their own little ones. Senior Wellington consultant Brianna Tekii, has recently gone through the very process many of you have or are about to in starting solids with her gorgeous girl Elosie. Brianna is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's in Nutrition and Dietetics and Post Grad in Public Health and Hauora Māori. In this blog she shares her experience of starting solids The Nourished Baby way over the first five weeks with Elosie.
******I had lots of advice about Eloise starting solids, even as a Senior Nutrition Consultant and a Registered Dietitian. This advice came from everywhere, friends, family, strangers and even my husband (sorry my love, but it's true!). Although this advice was all well-meaning, it was also contradictory both to each other as well as to the most up to date evidence of starting solids. I know I don't need to explain what the advice was, as you will all be in the same boat! Suggestions of everything to do with starting solids, the what, when, how and why. Being a scientist, I stuck with the latest research just as laid out in Dr Julie's book The Nourished Baby, instead of all the advice. Here is a run down of our first five weeks! Day 1: Eloise 6 months 5 days old When Eloise turned 6 months old we were in Rarotonga celebrating her christening with my parents in law, so I wanted to wait until we got back to New Zealand to start her on solids. With the time difference and travel, starting solids was just going to add another stress, and I loved the convenience of exclusively breastfeeding on holiday, no mess, no sterilising, no preparing! I had planned on waiting till we got home to the Wairarapa so I could use my Avent Baby Food Maker, but the excitement was too much. So out came the mouli my parents used 26 years ago when I started solids! After two days of using the mouli I was so thankful I had the baby food maker as it is so much faster and convenient! Week 1 Eloise's first meal was pumpkin. She enjoyed it...... Then… she gagged on the puree and it ALL came up. This is very normal for some babies! Turns out we have a baby with a strong gag reflex and has has gagged A LOT over the past month. The swallowing motion in eating is quite different to that of gulping breastmilk or formula so some babies, like Eloise, will take just a little bit of time to get used to this. Week 2 As per recent research, we quickly added in a source of iron to Eloise's new diet via the inclusion of some steak. I gave this to her both in a baby feeder, and also as a puree with the pumpkin. She seemed to really enjoy this, but only ate a few teaspoons at a time. She did however love the water we gave her with her solids, maybe more than the solids! It's important to give good sources of iron like steak, lamb, liver or plant based foods high in iron, right from the start, as babies iron stores are depleted from about 6 months. They need 11mg of iron per day even more than Dad, who needs 8mg! Week 3 The latest recommendations on the introduction of allergenic foods are to do so early. In keeping with this, the next food we introduced was peanuts, in the form of peanut butter (unsalted, purely just peanuts). After introducing peanut butter by itself the first time, as you should with all allergens, I then mixed it into her pumpkin - satay pumpkin anyone? This way Elosie would get repeated exposure. We also introduced some kumara and lamb this week, however she was still was not eating huge amounts at her meals. Week 4 At this stage we were trying to work out our timings especially given she was only having a couple of teaspoons at a time. We always gave food before a breastfeed but were figuring out the best time of day for what suited both Eloise and me. We were trying mornings, as I could give her solid feed and still easily make it out of the house for whatever activity we had on that day. We were back down in Wellington and my Dad, Grampa, had been fishing with his other Granddaughter. They had caught a tiny wee fish, perfect for the introduction of Eloise's next allergen. Super fresh from the water, Eloise LOVED it. I didn't strictly follow Dr Julie's week by week guide, I decided to go with what we had and what was in season (she will agree with this too!). So this week Eloise had some avocados as they were on sale. Week 5 After sticking with mostly purees, and having Eloise not eating much, we decided to try a baby led weaning approach with pumpkin. She was NOT keen. More gagging than usual and even less eaten, so back to puree it was. We still introduced eggs this week, her third allergen. It was really hard to get her to eat much of the egg at all. It’s important with allergens to make sure they do ingest the actual food. I started to think about why she wasn't eating much. I was particularly concerned with her iron levels, knowing that if her intake did not increase soon, she would be getting low in iron. So, we introduced liver! Liver is a very high source of iron, perfect for when she was not eating much. I would give liver with other foods like kumara, pumpkin, steak or lamb, as a puree. We have been quite sick this winter with colds, flu and gastro, and she was teething, so I kept putting down her lack of appetite to this. The first winter is hard! She was waking every hour or two and the quickest and easiest way to get her back to sleep was to breastfeed her. I realised, that she was having so much breastmilk overnight that she just wasn’t hungry enough in the day! I began to use other settling techniques, and we saw an almost instant change in her appetite. She went from eating a couple of teaspoons to a few tablespoons to sometimes ½ cup! Now... We now continue to offer a mix of baby led weaning and puree. She still mostly eats puree, but enjoys exploring the chunks of food as well, and will eat (and gag) on some. She absolutely loves feeding herself, the Kizingo spoons are great for this! I load the spoon, and she puts it in her mouth. Even though I knew all the theory, starting solids still didn’t go super easily for us. The gagging, lack of appetite, and unsolicited advice made our journey more difficult than anticipated. I have learnt to listen to my gut with what to do next, following the up to date evidence of what to start babies on, and not resorting to old wives tales about how to get her to eat more. I now have a nourished baby who eats meat, vegetables and fruit (as well random objects she picks up off the ground…). I also cannot reiterate enough to other mums struggling with solids is to reach out for help - don't stay stuck! Often, just like with Eloise, the journey does not go perfectly to plan and this is just why myself and the team at Dr Julie offer cost-effective consultations that you can book online - getting support, reassurance and evidence-based advice along the way is what we are here for.
******Brianna is available for starting solids coffee groups in the Wellington and Wairarapa region and will be presenting on starting solids at our Wellington cookbook tour next week on the 11th of September! You can book in with her for a 1:1 Skype consultation on a Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Bookings for coffee groups and consultations - just click here Info and tickets about the cookbook tour - just click here Other helpful products and books mentioned in this post including spoons and food feeders - just click here