Dr Sophie Niedermaier-Patramani, In-House Paediatrician and Co-Founder of Little Tummy
Introducing solids is an exciting time for parents and babies. Babies love to discover new textures and flavours and parents are curious to find out about their little one’s preferences. Unfortunately, parents are (willingly or not) confronted with a vast amount of confusing advice on what foods to start with. Luckily, the most recent research has a clear stand on this, as more and more studies in the past few years have been looking at the influence our first solids have on our eating habits later on in life.
Start with dark leafy vegetables
Dark leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach or broccoli, are a great way to start babies on solids because they are abundant in vitamins, micronutrients and fibre. A cup of kale, for example, has more calcium than a small glass of milk. More importantly, research has shown that the earlier and more often we give bitter-tasting vegetables to our babies, the more likely they are to eat them later on in life. Starting off with a healthy choice will make it a lot easier for babies to develop healthy eating habits later on.
Embrace the ‘veg face’
A lot of babies are hesitant to try bitter flavours in the beginning and will make a funny face. This is a natural reaction, just like we grimace when we eat a slice of lemon. The more often we expose our babies to these tastes, the more likely they will eventually accept them. It can take up to 15 trials until you are successful, so persistence is key!
Choose iron-rich foods
Babies slowly increase their iron requirements over the first year of life. Around the age of 6 months, breast milk doesn’t meet these requirements anymore but most babies still maintain normal levels of red cells, the main consumers of iron in our body. It is around this time that we should introduce iron-rich sources to complement the nutrients in breast milk (or formula). Great iron-rich first foods are, again, dark leafy vegetables, but also oats, sweet potato and eggs.
What to choose as alternative to baby rice and heat-treated products
Baby rice has been used for introducing solids for a long time. However, compared to dark leafy vegetables, baby rice is bland in flavour and poor in nutritional content. Recent analyses have also raised concerns about higher levels of arsenic. Oats, for example, have a higher content of iron and fibre and are a great alternative.
Ready-made pouches and jars from the supermarket are heavily heat-treated and lose the authentic taste of the ingredients. At Little Tummy, we introduce a new generation of cold-pressure-protected baby foods, preserving the authentic taste of the ingredients, as well as vitamins and micronutrients.
Having trained at University Hospitals in Munich, Harvard and Bern, Sophie has spent the last three years working in the NHS and at a private paediatric practice. Having helped lots of families on their weaning journey, she felt there should be more help and support on hand for these parents. Knowing what an immense impact first foods have on her little patients’ development, she became the Co-Founder of Little Tummy.