Dietary diversification: what do you need to do?
The time has come: your child will soon be able to start “eating”. Although you are pleased about it, you have a thousand and one questions. How are you going to manage it? What can you give them to eat? Will they like it? Will they have any allergies? How should you cook their food? How will you teach them what a spoon and a high chair are? When will they be able to eat like you? These questions are normal and all parents go through it.
Sitting at the table: slowly but surely!
Don’t panic, all (or almost all) children around the world grow up to become adults who like meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. The upheaval of diversifying your baby’s diet is a hurdle for you to overcome: they are growing up.
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until your baby is 6 months old, and then breastfeeding until they are 2 years old alongside a varied, balanced diet. In general, from 6 months, your paediatrician will tell you to start1. But slowly. It is not about feeding your baby steak when they have no teeth and a stomach not big enough to digest it.
By following 6 main steps between 6 and 36 months, your baby will learn to eat like you2!
With a lot of patience and spoonful by spoonful, you will have a child who, at around the age of 36 months, will be able to share the same foods as you, but with limited salt and sugar.
What do they eat? The main stages of baby’s meals
From 6 months, if baby can hold their head up and sit up with support, they can start to eat. To start with, it will be puréed vegetables, with one vegetable at a time so they can identify the taste. Everything is done slowly in the first 2 months. One or two spoonfuls at lunchtime and milk is still the basic foodstuff.
From the outset, you can introduce infant cereals both to cover new energy requirements and to introduce baby to the taste3.
Then, as you progress, the quantities will increase and you can introduce fruit compotes as well4.
Between 6 and 8 months, you can introduce animal protein, fats and a variety of textures2. The more baby grows, the less their food will need blending. You can leave pieces in and get them to explore recipes and mixtures.
There are “typical” menus but remember that each child is different: some have a large appetite, others eat very little, some will simply say “No!” and throw the spoon of food against a wall just to test their parents.
Eating should remain a moment of pleasure, for you and for them! Patience and following the steps will help.
1 WHO (April 2002), Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, document A55/15, paragraph 10
3 La première étape de diversification, mangerbouger.fr
4 Les céréales infantiles, Florence Arnold-Richez, 16/05/2017, Parents.fr