Baby Steps to Healthy Eating
Babies grow at exponential speed, and sometimes it’s hard to know when to introduce new foods into their diet or how a mother’s diet can affect her breast milk. Below, beijingkids nutrition expert Nina Lenton answers questions about your baby food quandaries.
When should a baby begin to eat or drink food other than mother’s milk?
It is important that babies begin to include food in addition to their mother’s milk from 6 months onwards, because at this point the baby will have used up most of its iron reserves (present from birth) – breast and formula milk will not provide enough iron after this age. Some babies will start to signal that they want to try solids from 4-5 months, and it’s fine to start then, though ideally not before 4 months.
When can a baby begin eating meats?
Once you have started weaning your baby off breast milk or formula, meat can be introduced fairly soon, providing it is an appropriate consistency – anytime between 6 to 8 months is appropriate. Start off by pureeing meats and move on to soft minced meat; slowly build up towards more solid pieces.
If a mother drinks coffee, will this affect the mother’s milk (i.e. will the baby be awake longer)?
Caffeine enters the mother’s blood stream and certainly reaches the child via breast milk, but breast feeding women do not need to avoid caffeine altogether. No more than four cups of coffee is recommended, and you may notice your baby reacting by becoming agitated after one or two cups. If you do wish to drink moderate amounts of caffeine, ensure you drink plenty of water so that your breast milk becomes adequately diluted.
*Questions contributed by Wolfgang Cespedes, father of 7 month old Stephanie
Nina Lenton is a UK-registered dietitian living and working in Beijing and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.