What is dietary diversification?
Dietary diversification means introducing solid and liquid foods other than breast milk into baby's diet. Dietary diversification begins at 4 months of age at the earliest, and continues until 6 months of age at the latest. After this age, breast milk no longer covers all your baby's nutritional needs.
What are the WHO's recommendations on dietary diversification? l
The WHO recommends starting food diversification at 6 months. Before 6 months, the WHO recommends feeding your child exclusively with breast milk. From 6 months onwards, baby's nutritional needs change, and the introduction of solid foods can begin.
Allergists recommend starting food diversification at 4 months. The later allergenic foods are introduced, the greater the risk of allergy. So, ideally, baby's dietary diversification should begin between the ages of 4 and 6 months. Introducing food too quickly or too late can be detrimental to the development of allergen tolerance.
With all these differing recommendations, it's hard to know when the ideal age is to begin food diversification. The best thing to do is listen to your pediatrician. He or she will be able to guide you so that your baby evolves in the best possible conditions.
No matter what you see on social networks, or what people around you tell you, listen to your paediatrician - he's the only one who can really guide you.
How do you start your baby's dietary diversification?
Growing-up milk or breast milk remains the baby's main food for up to 1 year.
The aim of diversifying baby's diet is to introduce him to new flavors, textures, smells and colors, and to pass on the pleasure of eating.
As parents, when you start to diversify your baby's diet, you need to listen to your child. Introducing food to a baby is an important step in the child's development process. It's a stage that can be experienced differently by parents and babies alike. A baby may be happier or more resistant to the introduction of vegetables or fruit into his diet. It's important never to force your child, but to be patient, listen carefully and observe his or her reactions in order to adapt to his or her tastes. You need to give your child time to discover new colors, flavors and textures to which he or she has never been exposed before.
Above all, don't force him! This would be counter-productive, and would lead to systematic opposition at mealtimes. SIf he doesn't show any interest in discovering new things, or if he refuses to eat a food, offer him the same food a few days later.
Tip: to get your child used to this new diet, you can give him a spoon to familiarize him with this new tool.
To start diversifying, we recommend starting with a single food, preferably a vegetable (only one food to detect a potential allergy), whether cooked, blended or pureed, it doesn't matter.
Continue with the same vegetable for 3 days, gradually increasing the number of spoonfuls.
After these 3 days, you can switch to another vegetable, following the same process. Then, 3 days after incorporating this new vegetable, you can start incorporating a new vegetable, again in the same way (cooked, blended or pureed and on its own). This frequency of food introduction should be maintained for 15 days.
Start with finely blended purées and compotes, then gradually thicken the textures to arrive at meals in small pieces and ground.
How do you know if your baby is ready to start diversifying?
Babies are considered ready to start diversifying when they show interest in their parents' food, when they look at it and want to touch it and put it in their mouths. If your baby cries, screams and refuses the spoon, it's simply because he's not ready, and that's okay. There's no point in forcing a child to eat. You can try again 10 or even 15 days later.
What should I do if my baby refuses to diversify?
We hear all kinds of rumors about food diversification: listen to yourself, trust yourself and trust your child.
If your baby initially refuses to diversify, you need to take his time s'getting used to these new tastes, colors and textures. Give him a small amount on a spoon. By small quantity, we mean the size of a grain of semolina. This will allow l s 'child to get used to the taste, and s'a few days later, you'll be able to offer him a larger quantity. His brain will already have memorized the taste of l.
It's all a question of adaptation time.
On average, it takes 10 attempts to find out if a baby really dislikes a food.
What difficulties can be encountered when diversifying?
Food diversification can cause a number of difficulties.
Introducing your child to solid foods can be a source of stress for parents, who are afraid of choking.
Yes, the risk of choking is present, as it is at any age in life.
Your baby must learn to chew solid food and swallow it. Your baby doesn't need teeth to learn to chew, and there's no more risk of choking on a morsel than on milk or purée. On the other hand, you should be wary of small cereals or small foods that are the size of the windpipe.
To make learning to diversify easier, place yourself in a quiet place, with no television or other distracting elements.
Child-led dietary diversification (CDD) (to be discussed shortly) tends to increase apprehension about choking risks in children.
The few existing studies have shown that there is no significant difference in the risk of choking compared with conventional diversification.
Nonetheless, it is essential that every parent applies the right gestures in the event of choking. You can train yourself in first-aid techniques, or watch videos: there are plenty on the subject. In addition to being useful at any age, it will reassure you.
How to prevent the risk of food allergy?
During dietary diversification, the risk of allergy is present, as the baby introduces its body to foods it has never been exposed to before. Food allergies can be hereditary, so you should inform your pediatrician if one of your parents has an allergy. Gradually accustoming your child's intestinal flora to solid foods helps to avoid the risk of allergies, as does integrating foods one by one.
What is child-led dietary diversification (CBDD)?
Child-led food diversification is different from traditional food diversification. It consists in letting the child completely manage his or her own food diversification. No teaspoons are used, and the child discovers foods on his or her own and with his or her hands.
Unlike traditional food diversification, which starts at 4 months, DME can only be started at 6 months: the child needs to be able to stand up straight to swallow the pieces.
To start DME, you can introduce a different fruit and vegetable each day.
Broccoli, for example, is an ideal food to start DME with: easy to hold by the foot of the bouquet, the broccoli floret crushes very easily against the gums.
Of course, children must remain under adult supervision while eating. A tip to avoid accidents: give a piece larger than the child's wrist.
The principle of DME, as the name suggests, is that it is child-led, so if your child asks you for help, if he prefers to eat with a spoon, if he prefers pureed foods etc., don't refuse him.
Here is a suggested menu for a baby who is beginning to diversify his diet:
In the first few weeks of food diversification, solid foods are only introduced at breakfast, in addition to breast milk, which remains the main food. For dinner and snacks, breast milk alone is sufficient.
Here are some ideas for dishes to get you started.
Carrot purée: simply peel the carrots, steam them for around 20 minutes, then blend them, adding the cooking water to make a smooth, slightly liquid purée.
Green bean purée: simply wash and de-stem the green beans, then steam them. Then blend them, adding a little cooking water to obtain a smooth, slightly liquid consistency.