There are many achievements expected with introduction of solids. These include that the child will thrive nutritionally, that different aspects of food (tastes, scratchiness, lumpiness, temperatures) will be managed, that the child will not be a fussy eater, that the child will not fail to thrive nor will be obese, that allergic symptoms will be prevented, or managed if present, that the child will manage to eat in different social situations, that the child will be able to “get his tongue around” the food provided, and that colic or other food sensitivity symptoms, or any sensory supersensitivities, will not intrude on the progression. When these are thought about it is a credit to mothers that things go so well in most children, and we can understand why it might be difficult for some.
Doubtless some of what I have said sounds like common sense. However, much of it has not been said. There is a management component required for Introduction of Solids to go well. Parents do need to consider all the information in this book and continue to be aware of progress in their child. The book also shows that babies can vary on several dimensions and that what is needed for one can be quite different for others. Where any distress is present it should be attended to with support from nursing care, doctors and dietitians where relevant.
A friend teased me about analysing all aspects of eating – the nutrition, the taste, the overall eating experience (the gourmet aspects), any allergy or food sensitivity implications, the relationship between local food supply and lifestyle disorders, vegetarian choices, and muddles people get in about all of these. That is what dietitians do! The importance of attention to all facets of eating applies equally to the first introduction of food to babies. Eating development considers all the factors in the food, as well as all the factors the baby has to learn about to so that a variety of foods are eaten and enjoyed.
Why did I write the book Fussy Baby? How did the thinking come together?
Introduction of Solids
This book developed after thinking about all the information written about Introduction of Solids from various sources particularly as many gave the impression that what was natural would happen if a plan was followed. I was realizing it was anything but easy! I was seeing that after working with families with problem behaviours. I was thinking about the ideas of eating development, food sensitivity and supersensitivity.
Other books are oriented from the breastfeeding, nutrition, baby-led weaning or managing very fussy eaters, points of view. These are all important. However all discussions of introduction of solids need to include the concept of eating development. Without this orientation they miss a central concept that often affects their success.
Eating Problems to Eating Delay to Eating Development
The realisation of what goes right in infants who eat well was found by seeing the various problems that occur when things go wrong. This knowledge was gained in three steps. The first was while working with very fussy food sensitive infants and children, from my and other studies beginning in the 1970s. The eating problems reflected some problem with often only one aspect of eating development. This led to the realisation that each aspect of eating management was a developmental progression. So the second step was the realisation that the problem they had was “eating delay”. This in turn led to step three: that normal eating happens when many progressions in all paths in eating development occur, each at different rates in different children.
I began research into food sensitivity in 1975 when the Feingold Diet was first published. As a dietitian using a new diet I continued to ask the question “Is the diet right yet?” The story of the research is in my book Are You Food Sensitive? The more work I did and the more the families looked at diet changes in family members the more I realised that food sensitivity could show in babies. This was fairly obvious where the baby had a similar symptom to siblings, such as eczema or diarrhoea, or even sleep problems and hyperactivity (since ADHD was the condition I did most early work on). The surprise was when families reported improvement in conditions that I was not thinking about, such as reflux, colic, nappy rash, and constant irritability – all of which happen more in babies. Over many years I saw hundreds of families and learned how important it is to look for food sensitivity in unhappy babies and how wise it is to use the first year to begin work on diet investigation.
I have been in a unique position as a dietitian who has spent most of her career seeing food sensitive people, and in this way becoming more and more familiar with what food sensitive people are like, separate from the symptoms they present with, as these can change over time in one person and in different family members. The stories I have written are examples of findings that are common in this group but uncommon in the remainder of the population.
To read more about all of these topics see https://foodintolerancepro.com/fussy-baby-advice/