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Baby Nutrition with Nutritionist, Kelly

September 20, 2023

It’s such an exciting moment when your little baby is ready to start solids! We are sharing some tips from nutritionist, Kelly, to make the whole process smoother. Kelly is passionate about baby and mum nutrition—she’s down to earth and practical because she is a mum of two little ones herself. Let’s see what she has to say about baby nutrition!  

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What lead you to want to be a nutritionist?  

I was always interested in food and nutrition during school, which prompted me to commence my Bachelor of Science, majoring in Nutrition alongside my marketing degree. However, it wasn’t until I began thinking about starting a family many years later that I truly found my passion. The journey to motherhood was a rollercoaster, I was continually surprised and shocked by the changes pregnancy brought to my mental, emotional and physical state, and then there was the postpartum period. I knew this experience could be better and that I wanted to help make it better for other women too. So, I quit my corporate marketing job and spent some time doing further study before beginning my business. I love empowering and supporting women to nourish themselves and their babies, so they can spend less time worrying about their health, feel energised and spend more time enjoying the moments that matter. 

What are some signs that your baby is ready to start solids?  

You want to be looking for the following observable milestones, which give a good indication that bub’s intricate system is ready to start digesting solid food. This usually happens around 6 months, but it’s not a hard and fast date, some babies might be ready slightly earlier and some slightly later. 

 

These signs are good indicators that your little one is ready:  

1. Can sit up with little or no support.

They may topple over occasionally, but should generally be able to support themselves well in a seated position / high chair .

 2. Have good head and neck control.

This is important for stability, but also so that they can turn their heads to indicate when they have had enough. This allows active participation in mealtimes. 

 3. Have lost their tongue-thrust reflex.

This is a reflex that protects young babies from choking, helping them to expel objects from their mouth quickly and safely. It starts to disappear around 6 months which means that bub won’t automatically push food out of their mouth. 

 4. Are keen beans to put food in their mouth, chew and participate in mealtimes.

I recommend considering this one the final sign that your baby is ready, as highly likely that from 4/5 months of age they are grabbing all sorts of objects and trying to put them in their mouth, which is developmentally normal, so this can often be confused by parents as hunger. 

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What would be your top advice to mums starting the solids journey with their babies?  

Relax and enjoy the experience. Food gives to much meaning to life, from proper nutrition to allow our bodies to thrive and grow, to being the centre of many social experiences and relationships. It truly is a gift to be able to introduce food to your little one and watch their joy as they play and explore the different colours, flavours and textures. Go with what feels right for you – if you are too nervous to introduce finger food from the start, that is ok. It is best that you are relaxed and confident as bub will pick up on any anxiety that you have, which can be detrimental to their experience. Also don’t forget to get your partner involved! 

 

What would be your top five foods to start with for solids?  

I like a mix of puree and finger foods, so you can ensure bub is getting important nutrients with meals (such as iron and zinc), but also give them an opportunity to play around with finger foods which can be beneficial for hand-mouth coordination and building trust around food. 

 

My top 5 foods are: 

  • Avocado: full of lovely healthy fats that baby needs. Mash with lemon juice, or slice and roll in coconut flakes for grippy finger food.
  • Lamb cutlets: a great resistive food for baby to start to map their mouth and bonus because it is an iron-rich food. Remove any lose bits of meat or gristle and let baby suck away. 
  • Root veggies: great mashed into a puree or baked into soft finger food pieces. I also love that you can serve as part of your own meal so that you are not doubling up on work .
  • Egg: a nutrient-dense powerhouse for babies! Protein, iron, choline and packed with vitamins. Egg is a top allergen but can be introduced after a few low-allergenic foods around 6 months. Start with well-cooked egg: Mix a small amount into hot puree, or serve as strips of omelette.  
  • Chia seeds: I love these mainly for their versatility and ability to boost the nutrient density of any meal. They are packed with protein and healthy fats, plus soluble fibre which can support constipation and microbiome health. Chia seeds can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, so it is important to soak them in water for 10-15mins to plump before serving to baby. Add to porridge, smoothies, chia pudding, yoghurt, savoury dishes, the list goes on. 

 

Ohhhh the snacks! Toddler snack ideas?  

It really is all about the snack at this age isn’t it. Sometimes it feels like they just don’t stop eating! 

 

My fav snacks are:  

  • Smoothies: I love the Subo Bottle for a great on-to-go option.  
  • Mini quiches: you can throw anything in these, from salmon, veggies, cheese. 
  • Mini pikelets: sweet or savoury options. Also great for batch cooking and freezing. 
  • Mini muffins: my kids love blueberry and banana with some hidden zucchini. 
  • Boiled egg. 
  • Veg sticks or rice crackers and hummus. 
  • Rice cake and avocado or almond butter, topped with hemp seeds. 

 

Do you have any mum hacks to make mealtimes smoother?  

 Eat together as a family as much as you can. These are the times when your little one learns the most – from watching your behaviour, cutlery use and the foods you are eating. It is also a great ritual to start from the beginning and an opportunity to ask questions and talk about your day. 

 

Make one meal for the family. You don’t want to get into the habit of creating different meals, as this will just get complicated as more children come along. Plus, life is busy enough! Get into the habit of planning meals early on and thinking about what elements of these meals can be made age appropriate for your child. For example: for a 6-9 month old, a great family meal is roast chicken, root veggies and steamed broccoli. You can cut the root veg into finger shaped sticks and bake until soft and leave their portion of broccoli in to steam a little longer. Chicken can be given in thin strips, or a leg bone for sucking with lose gristle removed. Likewise if you make a spaghetti bolognaise, remove a portion of the meat / veg sauce and puree up and serve (don’t forget to freeze some extra portions for a quick meal down the track). 

 

Can you share a favourite baby food recipe?  

I love a simple green smoothie. This one will grow with your family and it perfect for you too. In the early days, serve as a puree via spoon, but as baby gets the hang of things, you can offer in a smoothie bottle or cup. 

 

Green Smoothie  

Handful spinach / kale (roughly 1 cup) 

½ cup coconut yoghurt 

1 cup frozen mango 

2-3 celery stalks 

½ banana 

1 cup coconut water 

Handful of fresh mint 

2-3 tbsp chia seeds (pre-soaked) 

 

Optional: 1cm cube fresh ginger and 2 tbsp LSA (once almonds have been safely introduced as this is an allergen) 

 

As a mum, nourishing yourself is so important too. Do you have any easy breastfeeding snack ideas to share?  

Firstly, set yourself up right for the day. By this I mean, start with a nutrient-dense breakfast filled with adequate protein and healthy fats, which can sustain you throughout the morning before you are on your own and things start to get hectic. For example, 2-3 scrambled eggs, sauteed spinach and or mushrooms and bacon / sausages, served with a slice of sourdough and ½ an avocado.  

 

If you can, prepare some postpartum snacks in the final weeks or pregnancy, or ask a family member / close friend to do it for you and store these in the freezer. 

 

My go-to snacks prepped in around 60 seconds are: 

  • Seed crackers with ricotta and strawberries 
  • Greek yoghurt with frozen berries, nuts and seeds 
  • Rice cakes with avocado and hemp seeds 
  • Veggie sticks with hummus or nut butter (carrot and celery can be pre-chopped and stored in jars in the fridge for around a week. Immerse the carrot sticks in water to keep fresh) 
  • Medjool dates halved and stuffed with almond butter 

 

Kelly Benton is a nutritionist specialising in maternal and paediatric nutrition. She is a mother of two little ones (3.5yrs and 20 months), so is right there in the thick of it with you. After experiencing maternal nutrient depletion through her first pregnancy and postpartum period, Kelly saw a need to educate and empower other women to proactively take health into their hands so they can have a more positive experience.  

 

Kelly is available for 1:1 consults, and also offers group sessions for parents about to begin their little ones journey from milk to solids. To book please visit her website or Instagram page. 

*Offer refers to 15% off 1 x initial 1:1 private consultation, using the code LUVME15, booked before the 31st October 2023.  

Only one discount code can be used per person and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Terms and conditions apply.

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