About Our Nutritionist
Heidi du Preez is a Professional Natural Scientist, who obtained her masters degree in Food Science. She is currently specialising in Nutritional Medicine. Heidi consults to both the food and health industry and started to specialise in Natural Health while living in the UK for 3 years. Heidi uses a holistic, naturopathic approach, incorporating diet, supplementation, detoxification and spiritual well-being into her treatment regimen. Her focus is on the prevention and cure of chronic, metabolic and degenerative diseases and she has a passion for pediatric nutrition. Heidi serves on the Council of The South African Association for Nutritional Therapy and she is also the co-author of the health recipe book Naturally Nutritious.
Breastfeeding is best for your baby. Ideally, you should exclusively breastfeed for the first six months, and then after introducing solids, continue until your baby is one to two years old. Breast-fed babies are considered healthier as breast milk contains antibodies and other substances that are not found in formula milk. These offer your baby protection against infections, inflammation and allergies. There are more nutrients in breast milk and they are more easily absorbed. Breast milk also contains the beneficial flora that will help to keep your babies’ digestive tract healthy, boost immunity and helps prevent colic and eczema.
Breastfeeding also has several advantages for mom too! It helps you to loose extra weight and breastfeeding reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease and also reduces the risk of developing breast cancer later in life. The longer you feed and the more children you have, the more the risk is reduced. Never mind the convenience of breastfeeding and all the money you save! But the most precious of all is the amazing bond you create between your baby and you.
Most babies start teething at around six months. This is thus the most sensible age to introduce solids, such as BabyBellies baby food. Also, at this stage, milk (formula) is not meeting all of your baby’s nutritional requirements and it is therefore important to start introducing nutrient dense solid food.
When precisely should I then introduce solids? It will differ from baby to baby, here are a few signs that shows baby are ready for that first mouthful; you’re your baby:
- suddenly demands more bottle or breast feeds,
- has doubled his birth weight,
- is teething,
- starts to wake frequently during the night and
- shows interest in your food.
Do not introduce solid food before your baby is 4 months. The digestive tract is still immature at this age and feeding solids will increase the risk of your baby developing various allergies. At the age of 4 months you can begin to give raw fruit and vegetable juices to develop babies’ taste for food and to boost babies’ immune system with extra nutrients. It must be freshly squeezed single fruit and vegetable juices (e.g. apple, carrot or beetroot) diluted with filtered water (1:1). Start feeding a teaspoon at a time, say twice daily and then later give from a feeding cup (start with 10 – 20ml and then work up to 20 – 30ml per tasting). Fresh raw fruit and vegetable juices are simple to digest, and contain a concentrated supply of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and beneficial enzymes, which are quickly and easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Include as many different varieties of fruits and vegetables as possible when weaning your baby. A varied and balanced diet will provide all the essential nutrients and your child will develop a taste for many different foods, and will thus be less likely to become a fussy eater.
Complement BabyBellies Stage 1 single fruit or veggie blocks with raw fruit e.g. pureed or mashed ripe banana, avocado, mango, paw paw and peaches. Raw food contains enzymes that are particularly important for health. Enzymes aids digestion. Your long-term aim should be to include as much raw fruit and vegetables in your baby or toddler’s diet as possible. Raw food is less acidic and will provide your baby with a greater quantity of these beneficial enzymes and other nutrients than cooked, processed and refined food ever will.
When weaning your baby onto solids, start with single fruits and vegetables. For example, first give apple, ¼ to ½ teaspoon at a time for the first 3 to 4 days. If no signs of allergy or sensitivity appear, then introduce another fruit or vegetable. Always introduce new foods one at a time and continue for 3 to 4 days before another new food is introduced into your baby’s diet. This will allow you to note whether your baby is sensitive or allergic to a particular food. Signs of possible sensitivity or allergy could be excess mucus (runny nose), skin rashes, yeast (Candida) infections, constipation, colic, hyperactivity, sleep disturbances, excessive wind, respiratory problems, dark circles under the eye, ear infections or eczema. If you notice any adverse symptoms after introducing a new food, stop giving that food and then introduce another new food once the reaction has died down. You can try to re-introduce the offending food six months later when the digestive system is more mature.
From around 7 months your baby can start to enjoy rice and maize cereal for breakfast. Don’t introduce cereals too early, it may lead to constipation, excess mucus, sleep disturbances and will increase the chances of sensitivities or allergies in the future to cereal. Cereals are the least favourable starting food, despite advice to the contrary. Rice and maize cereals are the least problematic and the best to start with after fruit and vegetables have been introduced. Don’t use flavoured boxed cereals laden with sugar and other detrimental additives. Rather mix a little rice cereal or maize meal with baby’s milk and sweeten with a portion of BabyBellies starter fruit for a great addition to any baby food diet.
Your infants’ digestive system, liver and kidneys are still immature and cannot handle and digest all foods well. Furthermore, your baby is still lacking teeth to properly masticate the food for optimal digestion. Unfortunately the food mom and dad are enjoying is usually highly processed and laden with additives. Processing depletes vital nutrients and the additives are detrimental to babies’ liver and kidneys and can lead to numerous future health problems, like hyperactivity, behavioural problems, mental impairment and even cancer. Sweet and savoury treats have no place in the diet of a baby under the age of three years and simply spoil the ability of the body to choose the tastes and textures that are most needed and provided by Mother Nature! Don’t add any salt, sugar or butter to your infants’ food. It is bad for their health and you spoil their natural instinct of appreciating the taste of unprocessed wholesome food.
From the age of 18 months your toddler could enjoy the family meal and generally eat what the rest of the family is having, permitted it is healthy unprocessed whole food like BabyBellies easy meals – nutritional enough for the whole family!
Microwave heating is not recommended. There are many concerns about the effects of microwave radiation on food and health: scientists warn that microwave ovens promote cancer and destroy vital nutrients. In general, microwaves degrade all foods, destroying its vitality – reheating food on the stove top is ideal. Simply put the Babybellies ice cubes or bigger frozen meals portions in a small saucepan with a little filtered water to prevent it from burning, and reheat on medium heat while stirring. Remember to test the temperature before feeding your baby!
Most babies are more than ready for textured food from about eight to ten months, while others might still prefer pureed foods. It is important not to wait too long before textured food is introduced, otherwise it will be difficult to introduce a more balanced and varied diet in the future and the result will be a fussy eater! Start to introduce mashed, minced and grated food at around eight months. It is also good to start with finger foods at around this time. Some babies prefer finger foods like cubes of ripe pear, cucumber, a lightly steamed carrot or a round of cooked sweet potato, rather than little pieces in a puree base. Eating finger foods are good for their hand-eye co-ordination and fine motor control. Chewing food will also promote speech development and help to relieve discomfort during teething. From around ten months, introduce more finger food options: fresh ripe fruit, dried fruit, roasted vegetables cut into chunky chips, rice or corn cakes, homemade fruit lollies, popcorn or a stick of biltong. Watch baby carefully while eating finger foods, to avoid the danger of choking.