Introduction of solid foods is both an exciting and daunting time for many parents. This period can be particularly challenging for parents of children with cow’s milk allergy. Thankfully there is support available from your health care professional. With this help you can successfully guide your child through a whole new world of foods, flavours and textures.
Learning to eat solid food is an important step in your child’s development. These early experiences with food can help your child develop new skills and shape their eating behaviours later in life1. Australian guidelines recommend that solids should be introduced around 6 months of age, but not before 4 months2,3. Each child is different and when solid foods should be introduced within this timeframe depends on when your child is developmentally ready. Your healthcare professional can help you determine the right time to introduce solids to your baby.
It is important to expose your baby to a wide range of textures and flavours early on. This can help prevent ‘fussy’ eating and may assist in a wider range of food choices later in life2. As your child develops, the types of food textures they are able to manage will change. The points below show the typical developmental stages for infants and some examples of appropriate foods2.
- From around 4-6 months, babies should commence on pureed texture foods. The first foods that are introduced should be iron rich, like iron fortified baby rice cereal, pureed meats, poultry, fish and legumes. Pureed vegetables and fruits can then be included.
- Following this, babies will progress to minced foods and then chopped foods. Any soft foods that are minced or can be mashed with a fork are appropriate at this stage. Examples include minced meat, pasta, soft cereals (i.e. oats or weetbix), mashed fruits and vegetables.
- By around 8 months, children should be able to manage finger foods, such as baby rusks, bread, pieces of soft fruits and vegetables, hard boiled eggs
- At around 12 months of age, children should be including a wide variety of different foods and eating the same meals as the rest of the family
New foods can be introduced in any order, as long as iron rich foods are introduced first3. For children diagnosed with cow’s milk allergy there is no need to delay the introduction of other common food allergens, like cooked egg, nuts and fish3. These foods should be introduced when your child is developmentally ready. Parents of children with food allergies may choose to introduce new foods more slowly, every 2-3 days. This will allow you to more easily identify the problem food if a reaction does occur.
As your baby develops, take care to prevent choking on foods. Grate, cook or mash all hard fruits or vegetables. Also, avoid giving your infant foods that have small hard pieces such as raw apple, carrot or whole nuts.
For allergy free recipes go to the recipes section for great ideas
Introduction of solid foods is both an exciting and daunting time for many parents. With the help from your healthcare professional you can successfully guide your child through a whole new world of foods, flavours and textures
- Australian Department of Health, 2011, Introducing Solids, Australian Government, viewed 6 June 2016, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/gug-director-toc~gug-solids
- 2012. Australian Infant feeding guidelines: Information for health workers. Australian Government. Viewed 6 June 2016. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n56
- 2016. ASCIA Information for health professionals. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Viewed 6 June 2016. http://www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/hp-information/asthma-and-allergy/food-allergy