There are so many overwhelming moments as a mom, but starting to feed solid foods to my first child was one that definitely stands out.
What will I feed him? Will he choke? Will he have an allergic reaction? How much do I give him? The list goes on…
As a registered dietitian with years (yes, I said it) of nutrition under my belt, you would think I would feel comfortable and confident starting my children on solids. Barely. One food that eases my frustrations and fears is dairy. Why? It’s full of nutrition, kids love the taste (as this momma does), and the smooth consistency is easy to work and versatile.
From proud momma to proud momma (or papa), here are some tricks of the trade for introducing dairy during different stages of your babies eating journey:
Start with yogurt
The first foods for baby can come from any food group, including dairy, as long as baby is developmentally ready. Both of my children started plain whole milk yogurt. An excellent source of protein, and calcium, yogurt is full of nutrition and essential nutrients your baby needs. As baby gets older and explores more flavors, I add them to the yogurt including pureed fruits, vegetables and spices.
This is naturally a mixed consistency food and a great food to try after baby has been eating a range of smooth foods and is ready to progress to lumpier, thicker textured foods. Whole fat cottage cheese is recommended. Getting enough fat in your baby’s diet is essential for growth and development, particularly to help the brain and nervous system develop normally.
Convenient and portable, cheese is one of the easiest first finger foods. As soon as baby has the pincher grab, give them grated cheese. On top of helping practice fine motor skills, cheese contains many nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12.
Whole Fat Milk
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting whole milk after transitioning from breastmilk – usually at 12 months. According to experts, most toddlers need the extra fat calories coupled with the nine essential nutrients that enrich whole milk. My pediatrician has always told me if your one-year-old gets 2 cups of milk a day, they are getting all the nutrition that they need. What’s the old saying… “2 cups a day keeps the pediatrician away”?
These are just a few tips on using dairy to help transition kids to solid foods. Do you have anything to add? How did you use dairy to help move to solids?