We Asked a Nutritionist All Your Burning Feeding Questions
That’s why we sat down with YUMI’s Nutritionist, Kayla, to talk about tailored feeding plans for your baby.
Good Buy Gear and Yumi both tailor to your child’s developmental milestones. We aim to help parents find the right gear based on their needs or age, and similarly, Yumi works with their nutritional experts to build a tailored feeding plans for your baby. Convenience for parents is a priority for both our brands, since time is something we know parents do not have a lot of.
Let's dig into the burning questions that many parents have about feeding.
Q: Tell us about your background as a nutritionist.
I am a registered dietitian nutritionist, international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) with a bachelor of science degree in dietetics from the University of Northern Colorado. For most of my career, I have specialized in maternal and infant nutrition and breastfeeding, teaching new and expecting mothers to nourish themselves through the early stages of motherhood and nourish their growing babies. I have worked for federally funded nutrition programs, run my own private practice, and also serve as a member of the Yumi Guide Team to guide you through the journey of starting your baby on solid foods.
Q: Can you tell us when parents should consider switching their baby to pureed and solid foods? How do you know when your baby is ready?
Here at Yumi, we adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations which suggest starting solids around the time your baby is six months old.
There are a few developmental milestones that your baby must meet to have the most success when starting solids:
- They're able to hold their heads up without assistance.
- They're able to sit up comfortably in a high chair without support.
- They've shown interest in watching you and others eat their meal.
- They're able to show you hunger and fullness cues. Hunger cues include smacking lips, sticking out tongue, and showing excitement when they see food. Fullness cues may be turning away from the bottle, breast, or spoon, not opening their mouth, spitting out food, or no longer seems interested.
- They no longer thrust their tongue out when something foreign (like a spoon) enters their mouth.
Some babies meet these milestones sooner than six months, and some will meet them right at six months. When in doubt, we recommend speaking with your child’s pediatrician. If you've gotten the go-ahead from your baby's pediatrician, it's okay to begin sooner.
Babies can also start on more “solid” or finger foods as early as six months and when they can sit up in a highchair completely unassisted. This is often seen with parents following a Baby Led Weaning (BLW) approach to starting solid foods. Parents will generally offer their babies soft finger foods to self-feed but may also offer purees to self-feed as well. The general philosophy of BLW is that the baby leads the way!
While you can start BLW or offer finger foods as early as six months, some parents feel more comfortable starting it closer to 8 or 9 months. It depends on what you feel most comfortable with!
Q: What changes can parents expect after their babies start with solids? Should parents give their babies juice? Do babies need to drink water?
It's very normal to see digestive changes when starting on solids and trying new foods; you can see changes in the frequency, color, smell, and texture of a baby's stools. The key things to look out for are loose, watery stools (diarrhea) or hard, pellet-like stools, which would indicate constipation. All other changes are to be expected!
We advise against offering juice until your baby is at least 12 months, as recommended by the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Perhaps you were recommended to give your baby juice because they are struggling with constipation. While there are a number of things that can help with this, foods such as prunes, plums, peaches, and pears can be offered to help alleviate constipation. You can puree them and mix them into your jars or serve them alone.
While small sips of water can be helpful to alleviate constipation and to build healthy drinking habits, it's important to note that babies get all of their fluid needs from breastmilk or formula.
Q: Which foods should parents start their babies with? Are iron-rich foods as important as they say?
At Yumi, we're fans of offering veggies, fruits, and legumes from the beginning to expose your baby to various flavors, textures, and nutrition more often!
For the first six months of life, most healthy, full-term babies have adequate nutrient stores of iron, and breastmilk or iron-fortified formula is sufficient to meet their needs. The need for iron substantially increases as these iron stores have been used up by six months, and breastmilk or iron-fortified formulas are no longer sufficient to meet their nutrient needs alone. Iron plays a very important role in providing oxygen to the body and supporting your baby’s cognitive development. Because babies are ready to begin solid foods around six months, we recommend serving iron-rich foods to prevent iron deficiency anemia.
Iron-rich foods include beans, lentils, tofu, leafy greens such as spinach, iron-fortified infant cereals, quinoa, meat, and poultry. Many of our Yumi blends contain beans, lentils, leafy greens, and quinoa.
Another fun fact is that vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. Several of our blends with iron-rich foods contain foods with vitamin C as well. You can also offer iron-rich foods alongside foods with vitamin C at home. Foods such as bell peppers, citrus fruit, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, and kiwi are all high in vitamin C.
Q: How should parents time their baby’s meals around nursing sessions or bottles?
We recommend offering solids about one hour before or after a typical milk feed, depending on your baby’s typical feeding and sleeping patterns. When you offer solids, you want your baby to be hungry, but not SO hungry they're only in the mood for milk. Conversely, you don't want to offer solids right after a milk feed when your baby is already full from milk.
Q: Should parents be worried if their baby is not an enthusiastic eater?
It's normal for babies to dislike certain flavors at first, especially if it’s their first time trying solids. There is much to get used to - flavor, texture, mouthfeel - all of which make for a very new sensory experience! It can take 1 to 2 dozen tries for babies to warm up to certain foods. The important thing at this stage is that they consistently have the chance to try new flavors and textures.
Q: How do a child’s dietary needs evolve from baby to toddler?
Up until age 1, breastmilk or formula is going to be the primary source of nutrition. What’s important now is to allow your baby to have a consistent opportunity to try and explore new flavors and textures. This is an important time to help shape your babe's flavor preferences but also help them practice their skills to become proficient self-feeders.
After their 1st birthday, we want foods to meet the bulk of their nutrition needs, and breastmilk, cow’s milk, or a suitable milk alternative can be offered to provide additional nutrients and fluids (in addition to water).
Q: Are there any feeding accessories or gear that you’ve found to be useful for feeding?
Here is a list of our favorite baby gear products to use with your baby at mealtimes:
- For a sippy cup without a hard plastic spout: Munchkin 360 Cup
- For an open cup: Ezpz Cup
- For a cup with a straw and handles: OXO Transitions
- For a cup with a straw and no handles: Philips Avent Bendy Straw Cup