9 common mistakes made when starting a baby on additional food are compiled by Kaia Sink – creator of BabyCool and mother of 3 children. These 9 most common mistakes are worth avoiding in order to establish healthy eating habits and routine for the child at an early stage that will support the child’s development.
Starting with sweet fruit purees.
A child quickly gets used to the sweet taste of the food and after that may not agree to eat any other food. The best food to start your child on is a vegetable puree, such as pumpkin puree. Fruit purees should not be given until the baby has been eating vegetable purees for a few weeks.
Starting giving additional food too soon.
This can leave the child with a bad experience and emotion associated with eating, and it can later become a challenge to provide extra food to them. A baby receiving breast milk could start eating extra food when they’re about half a year old and start showing interest in solid foods. You also must take care to ensure that the texture of the food is appropriate to the baby’s teeth – if the baby doesn’t have front teeth yet, they won’t be able to bite food. The child needs molars to be able to grind up the food.
Irregular feeding times for the baby.
Routine is vital for children, so meal times should be in place. This is how the digestive system gets used to regular meals and food is digested better. If the child is already a little bigger, then the child will be hungry by the meal time, and a better appetite will develop. Don’t give snacks or juice in the meantime, it will spoil their appetite for the next meal and will also have a bad effect on their teeth. If you don’t have time to cook, give your child a vegetable to chew on, rather than snacks.
The child and parent eat with the same spoon.
The spoon you use to feed your baby should only go through the baby’s mouth. Some parents have a habit of putting the same spoon with which they feed the baby through their own mouths as well. Doing that will pass on all the bacteria and viruses that live in the parents’ mouth to the baby as well. This way, a child can get dental caries from their parent very early on.
The child’s diet is not diverse enough.
It is important for a child to get all the necessary nutrients from food, including enough vitamins and minerals. Food should be varied, and no sugar or salt should be added to it in the first year of life. Vegetables and fruits, which also contain necessary fibres, are very important for the child’s digestion. However, young children tend to not like salads very much, so it is useful to offer them each vegetable separately instead. Their menu should also include meat and fish.
The child is forced to eat.
Eating should not be a forced activity, it can make the child reluctant to eat. Forcing a child to eat could also cause a child to get overweight. A child won’t leave themselves hungry, but will also recognize how big of an appetite they currently have. Children have different periods of wanting to eat more or less. Sometimes a sick child may not want to eat at all and this is also completely normal. A food that the child doesn’t like in the beginning has to be introduced again after a while – it’s said that you need to taste a new thing 21 times before you can say that you don’t like it at all. Good appetite is aroused by an empty stomach and going outside before a meal.
Juice is offered next to meals.
Juices generally contain a lot of sugar and make the child feel full, and therefore significantly less is eaten during meal times. The best drink for a child is water and it should be served as soon as you start giving additional food. This way the child gets used to drinking enough water and won’t even know to wish for anything else. If a child drinks too little, for example, constipation may occur and their skin may become dry. Juice also creates a good environment in the child’s mouth for malicious bacteria that would attack the child’s teeth. So, if you give your child juice after eating, you could have them drink water afterwards so that there is no sugar left in your mouth.
Table manners are not paid attention to.
The base for a child’s eating habits and table manners is laid from a very early age. So let your baby eat at the same time as the whole family, and give them your spoon so they can start developing motor skills at an early age. A baby should only be placed in a high chair if they can sit independently without a backrest. The dinner table should have a nice and calm atmosphere, it’s not a place for solving problems or watching TV.
The child is given semi-finished and ready meals.
These generally contain many different additives, sugars, salt, flavour enhancers, and preservatives. They put a strain on the child’s body. Therefore, sausages, curd snacks, pastries, etc. should be kept from the child’s diet for at least the first year of life.
Honey should definitely not be given to children in the first year of life as it may contain botulism bacteria. Your baby won’t be able to digest these bacteria until they are about one year old. Nuts and seeds should also not be given to a child under one, as the child could inhale them. However, from the age of six months, nuts could be gradually added either completely crushed or in the form of peanut butter to porridge, for example, so that your child is less likely to develop allergies. In the first year of life, pieces of fruit and vegetables could be placed in a special fruit bowl where the child can eat them safely. In the first year of life, fruit and vegetable pieces could be placed in a special fruit pacifier, from which the child can eat them safely. During teething or hot weather, frozen puree cubes can be placed in the pacifier. You should also wait a year before letting your child drink cow’s milk. Before that, you can put a little bit of milk in porridge. Dental care should start from the moment the first tooth starts poking out from the gums.
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Also watch the video on the same topic:
9 common mistakes made when starting a baby on additional food
To find out more about peanut/nut allergy: