I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t wait to start solids with my preemie. Anything that brought normalcy, and a sense of another milestone being hit felt victorious! Starting solids with your preemie or NICU grad is an exciting step.
I read up on conventional foods for preemies, as well as alternative and natural routes. It wasn’t until I began feeding my daughter solids that her needs became clear to me.
Our family tries to do everything as natural as possible, so food is a big topic in our house. I greatly wanted to do baby-led weaning with our preemie, but we quickly found out that her coordination just wasn’t there yet. Despite not wanting to do purees, we believed that it was the best decision for her health. Conventional advice suggests babies being on rice cereal, but with lots of research, and professional support we knew that rice cereal had no nutritional value, and that it would probably cause more harm to her already leaky gut. Through a lot of research, reading, and many talks with our doctors we found an incredible resource the Weston A Price Foundation. This became a great resource for healing our preemie’s gut and beginning to feed our preemie solids.
Here are my top 5 tips for starting solids with your preemie or NICU baby:
Seriously, wait as long as you can! Their little guts are underdeveloped and need extra time to heal. Breast milk is a great healer for getting digestion and immunity on track, but if that isn’t an option, an organic formula will do great. I know it’s hard to wait, but in the long run, it will benefit them. We received a lot of pressure from our pediatrician to start solids at four months (two months adjusted), and that is when we decided to find a more holistic doctor. I am so thankful that we made this switch because her gut has mostly healed, and she is on a great track with her weight gain. The problem arises when only one aspect – like weight gain – is addressed, rather than the whole picture. The dangers of leaky gut syndrome are far reaching and don’t resolve themselves.
2. Use real food
When starting on solid foods, start with real foods like banana, avocado, apples etc. that have more nutrition than packaged foods. Feeding my daughter only enhanced my real food journey, I began to understand that foods that came in a package, even those that were organic, were limited on nutrition. I began making my own baby food for her, and I loved knowing that she was getting a great start to life.
3. Good fats!
Healthy fat is so important for babies, especially preemies. Did you know the human brain is made of almost 60% fat? This means that in order for our little ones to develop well, extra fats go a long way. Good fats like avocado, coconut oil, butter are a good way for your baby to get full and be healthy. We literally put fat in every meal that our kids eat, and have seen great results from this. We love knowing that good fats help them digest their meats and vegetables and give their brain an extra boost.
4. Be patient
Watch your baby for signs of readiness. Can they sit up un assisted? Are they curious about what’s on your plate? Do they seem hungry after nursing or a bottle? If yes, then give it a go. If baby pushes the food away or doesn’t take much, don’t worry. In time they will. Just enjoy the moment and remember that each baby has their own process.
5. Have fun!
Starting solids with your preemie or NICU baby and making your own baby food can be a ton of fun. I always loved finding healthy real food recipes for my preemie and finding her favorite flavors. There are so many options for making and storing baby food now that it is actually really easy!
It won’t be long before your little one will be a big one, eating burgers and fries and going to the mall with their friends. Enjoy this tiny season by savoring the moments and having a gentle beginning. Please consult your doctor or pediatrician with any of these issues, and feel free to find a pediatrician that you can agree with and take their insight and make it a reality.