Time to start solids? Get the low-down with Paediatric Dietitian Dr Kyla!
Starting solids is a fun, yet slightly daunting journey to begin with your babe.
I have three kids and each time, as a Mum I struggle to calmly watch my child eat. I’m constantly poised to jump in should my child begin to gag or choke .
I know it’s a skill for them to learn – but heck it can make your heart race! Oh and not to mention the big questions like “are they eating enough?” or “are they getting the right nutrients?!”
Why not check in with an expert and give our Mums some more helpful resources to support them on this wild ride of starting solids?
I recently sat down with Dr Kyla, Paediatric Dietitian from Baby and Toddler Mealtimes and we chatted all things starting solids! She has personally helped me and my third bub River on our journey of solids - we love Dr Kyla!
Dr Kyla works to support families around the world as they begin the journey of introducing solids to their babies - to give them confidence, and helps families with toddlers navigate the fussy eating phases.
She holds a PhD in Childhood Obesity and teaches introduction to Nutrition and Dietetics at a Perth University. Her passion is helping families feed their children well, with confidence and without stress – what we all want, right?!
Dr Kyla, why did you become a paediatric dietitian?
I wanted to work with children at the start of their eating experiences because we can create such positive relationships with food from the very first bite. It’s a lot easier to start off with enjoyable mealtimes than try to solve eating difficulties later on in life. I also love how committed parents are to doing the best by their little ones.
So, obviously, my next question is how do you know when to start solids?
When your baby shows you they’re ready to start eating, which is usually around the 6 month mark. This means being able to sit with some support, strong head and neck control (no wobbly heads!) and an interest in what you’re eating!
When we see these signs, I guess the next step is actually starting! What are your top three tips for introducing food?
1) It’s all about the experience and not about the volume. Think of starting solids as a way for your baby to learn about food, rather than just about eating it.
2) Include iron rich foods from the start of your baby’s eating adventure. This includes foods like meat, chicken, fish, lentils, legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds and iron fortified cereals. Choose versions of these foods that are pureed or soft enough for your baby at the start.
3) Sit and eat with your baby whenever you can. Shared meals are the best way for young children to learn about food and eating.
I have shared before the challenges I have had with my youngest, when it comes to fussy eating and you have been a great support to me in tackling this. I think fussy eating can be in the back of every parents mind when a child starts to refuse to eat certain foods.
You obviously have extensive experience in tackling fussy eating - can you take us through what it is and give us some advice or strategies we can use?
Fussy eating can mean a whole variety of things, but in short it’s when your little one is bothered by new food, has very specific likes and dislike or consistently doesn’t want to eat what the family eats.
It’s very normal for toddlers to go through phases of fussy eating, with the trickiest time usually peaking about 18 months of age. It can feel stressful, but remember this is an entirely normal phase. The best thing you can do is sit down and eat at the same time as your toddler, have a reasonably predictable meal and snack schedule and trust them to eat as much as their body needs.
You can find lots of help and a clear plan to navigate these fussy years on my website Toddler Mealtimes.
And knowing me, we can probably all do with additional support on this journey – so where can we go to get more help from you?
You can check out my Instagram page @dr_kyla or my Baby Mealtimes online membership. Baby Mealtimes is a practical guide to starting solids and includes a members-only website, a supportive Facebook community and weekly emails to deliver regular meal inspiration and feeding tips.
I know I’ve had plenty of brain-fog moments recently, to wrap up our time together can you share with our Mums something funny that has happened to you recently?
I was about to leave for school pickup when I realised I was wearing two completely different shoes! I had two pairs under my desk (as you do!) and slipped on one brown sandal and one white Birkenstock. I only realised when I walked out the door and wondered why one foot felt so much comfier than the other!
Why? They stick! The suction part means that while the food is flying everywhere.....the bowl is not.
Dr Kyla, thanks so much for taking the time to share with our Mums – we so appreciate your advice! And to our Mums-
I hope this conversation has given you some additional confidence in starting solids. I know I have greatly appreciated the work of Dr Kyla and I encourage you to check out her Baby mealtimes program.