Food diversification is a crucial stage in your baby's life. It allows your child to explore new flavors, textures and smells. It's also a special time for parents, who can share moments of complicity and tenderness with their child. To ensure the success of this stage, it's essential to follow a few simple rules.
What are the advantages of diversifying your baby's diet?
The main aim of dietary diversification is to gradually introduce your baby to a wide variety of foods, enabling him or her to become accustomed to the tastes and flavors of different products. This process promotes your baby's development and ensures better nutrition thanks to a more diversified intake of essential nutrients. It also helps your baby learn to chew and swallow, which is crucial for his future teeth. For dietary diversification to be a success, it's important to follow a few simple rules:
- Present each new dish to your baby at least twice.
- Check that your baby reacts to eating the dish.
- Eat just one food a day (for example, a single fruit or vegetable).
- Don't give your baby more than three new dishes a week.
When is the best time to start diversifying?
In recent years, food diversification has become very popular and is considered a priority for babies. More and more parents are starting to diversify their children's diet from an early age.
When your baby reaches six months of age, you can start introducing new foods at every meal. The first foods are usually purées or baby cereals. Then you can introduce pieces of food commonly eaten by adults, such as a banana, bread, apple or cheese.
Your child may initially react to sensory changes (texture and temperature), but will quickly become accustomed to the different flavors he discovers.
How do you introduce new foods to your baby?
To diversify your baby's diet, you need to be patient. It's crucial to introduce new foods gradually, giving your baby time to get used to the new flavors. Start by introducing a new food every two days or so, to give him time to assimilate the flavor, but also to be able to easily identify any food that could cause digestive problems. This also helps to gradually accustom his digestive system to the different tastes that will be added to his diet.
Introduce different foods gradually, so that your baby can recognize the flavors he's discovering. Start with foods he already likes, such as potatoes or carrots, to ease the transition to new products. It's important to remember that every child has his or her own taste sensitivity: some prefer sweet or salty dishes, while others like milder flavors. However, you can influence this preference by diversifying your baby's diet to introduce him to different gustatory pleasures. Start with plain and flavored yogurts (vanilla, chocolate, etc.). Next, offer fresh fruit (banana, pear, etc.) and compotes with no added sugar to vary the texture (smooth or crunchy).
It's important to remember that every child has his or her own taste sensitivities: some may enjoy sweet or salty dishes, while others prefer milder tastes. However, it is possible to do something about this by diversifying your baby's diet and introducing him to different tastes. Start with plain and flavored yogurts (vanilla, chocolate, etc.). Then offer fresh fruit (bananas, pears, etc.) and compotes with no added sugar, to vary the texture (smooth or crunchy).
Finally, be patient and don't force your baby to eat a new food if he or she doesn't seem interested. Give him or her time to adapt at his or her own pace and explore different flavors in his or her own way.
What are the mistakes to avoid when diversifying?
It's important to avoid certain mistakes when diversifying your baby's diet, to ensure a pleasant and positive experience.
First of all, it's important not to rush food diversification. Take the time to introduce new foods gradually, respecting your child's rhythm. Avoid introducing too many new foods at once, to avoid confusing your child.
If your baby refuses a new food, don't force it. Offer it regularly and gradually, combining it with familiar ingredients. Be attentive to your child's reactions and adapt to his or her tastes. Think about potential allergies, too, by gradually introducing allergens and observing your child's reactions. When preparing food, avoid adding sugar or salt, and give preference to fresh, natural ingredients.
What foods should be avoided at the start of diversification?
When you start to diversify your baby's diet, it's essential to know which foods to avoid at first. These foods may present health risks for your baby, and should be introduced with caution.
Start by avoiding allergenic foods such as cow's milk, eggs, soy, nuts, nuts, fish and shellfish. Talk to your paediatrician before introducing them.
Secondly, certain foods can cause intestinal blockages, such as carrots, prunes, raisins, apples, pears and plums. Introduce them gradually into your baby's diet.
Similarly, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, beans, lentils and peas can cause digestive problems. Introduce them gradually to your baby's diet.
Foods that can cause gastroesophageal reflux, such as milk, orange juice, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, spicy foods and fried foods, should be avoided and introduced slowly.
Finally, bananas, apples, plums, raisins, carrots and broccoli can cause constipation. Introduce them gradually.
How do you know if your baby is ready to start diversifying?
To determine your baby's readiness to diversify, it's crucial to take into account his or her age and ability to eat without difficulty. Don't delay too long to avoid behavioral problems, but be aware that diversification can be a lengthy process.
An unprepared baby may be less receptive to this change, and refuse meals more easily. It's important that your child shows an interest in the food on offer, which will help him to develop his sense of taste and self-confidence.
If your child doesn't seem ready yet, start by offering a small amount of food, such as a teaspoon, every day, until he's ready to try a full meal.
What are the signs that baby has not digested a new food?
During dietary diversification, your baby may have difficulty digesting certain new foods. Here are some signs that your baby may not have properly digested a new food:
- Regurgitation : It's normal for babies to regurgitate a little after meals, but if you notice an increase in the frequency or quantity of regurgitation after the introduction of a new food, it may mean that he's having trouble digesting it.
- Vomiting : If your baby vomits shortly after eating a new food, this may be a sign of difficulty digesting the food.
- Colic: Babies suffering from colic may cry for long periods, be restless and have abdominal pain. If these symptoms appear after the introduction of a new food, it may indicate poor digestion.
- Loose stools or diarrhea: A change in the consistency or frequency of your baby's stools after trying a new food may be a sign of difficult digestion.
- Flatulence or gas : If your baby produces more gas than usual after eating a new food, it may be due to incomplete digestion.
These symptoms may be temporary, as your baby's digestive system adapts to a variety of foods. Nevertheless, if these signs persist or worsen, it's important to consult a paediatrician or healthcare professional for personalized advice.
Is it necessary to monitor the consumption of certain foods during dietary diversification?
When your child starts to eat different foods, you'll need to keep a close eye on certain foods to prevent the risk of allergies or allergic reactions. Find out which foods are likely to cause allergic reactions before introducing them into your child's diet. Cereals such as wheat and oats generally pose few problems, but some children may be intolerant to gluten. Consult a professional before introducing a new food into your child's diet.
Dietary diversification should be gradual and spread out over a period up to the age of 3 for babies and 6 for children. Introduce starch-based foods first, followed by cooked and blended fruits and vegetables (with the exception of potatoes and carrots, which are too high in starch). Bread and rusks are possible, but avoid rice. Dairy products, such as yoghurts and cheeses, can be given in small quantities.