Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Introducing foods

There is a lot of controversy on how and when to introduce foods to your baby.  My mother had an amazing doctor when I was an infant that taught her about how the digestive system works with a baby....which was unusual in the 1980's.  So she breastfed me until 6 months and then started to introduce foods in a particular fashion as told to her by her doctor.  What I find the most interesting is that this is the same method that my amazing pediatricians have told me to do with my children too!  So, after three kids, this is what I find worked the best for us.
It is completely up to you when you want to start introducing solids into your child's diet.  You are the parent and you know your child best.  Look for these signs to help you make your decision:
  • Shows interest in your food when you are eating.  Makes the mouth movements in the air while watching you eat.  Reaches for spoons or food.
  • Can sit up on their own or easily sit upright in a highchair.
  • Can hold their head up on their own.
With Sweet Pea, she wasn't ready until 6 months.  Little Man was more than ready at 4 months!  I had a really hard time giving into that, but that was what he needed.  Peanut was very ready at 6 months.

When introducing solids, it is completely up to you as to what you want to start with.  You don't have to start with a grain.  We started with rice cereal and found that it usually followed with some constipation.  But it is important to introduce grains at some point.  Some people dote on how they have 'no nutrition', but grains are essential to our diets as kids and adults, so it's important to introduce them to help ease into that transition.  Especially wheat, because there are so many people that have wheat allergies and intolerance.  So I believe that by introducing grains in those early solids months will help your baby's body to acclimate to them and lessen the chance of developing allergies to them.  We also chose to start with vegetables instead of fruits.  Kids are more likely to enjoy foods that are really sweet, really salty and really savory.  Those powerful flavors are found to be more enjoyable by all.  Starting with veggies will give your child a chance to prefer these simple (sometimes bland) foods over more robust flavors that they will get used to as they get older.

The most important thing that you can do is to take it slow when introducing foods.  Start with a single grain, fruit, veggie or meat.  Our favorites for first foods are rice cereal, avacado, peas, and bananas.  Make sure that you start with just one and let them eat it for 3-4 days before introducing another food.  This way, if your child has a reaction to something, you'll know exactly which food is causing the reaction!  It also gives your baby's sensitive digestive tract time to acclimate.  Variety is also key.  When you start to introduce something new, keep giving them something that they have already had too.  Teaching them how to eat a variety of foods and textures will help them to be less picky as they get older.  (Of course, sometimes you can do all of that and still get a picky eater, but that's another story.)

Here's a little fun video for you all of Peanut.  Since she got three teeth in the last 10 days, she has started to 'chew' her food.  It is so cute....and yes, it really is that loud!


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