5 Tips For Starting Your Infant On Solid Foods

By Rachel Rothman, MS, RD, CLEC

At your baby’s four-month visit, your pediatrician may have talked to you about starting your baby on solid foods and probably recommended to start between 4-6 months. It’s usually recommended that baby can be started on solids when they are sitting up mainly on their own, seem interested in food and open mouth when food is offered. As a pediatric dietitian, I answer many questions about infant nutrition and starting baby on solid foods. Here are just a few of the things to keep in mind when your baby is ready for real food:

  1. At the beginning, it’s just for fun.Your baby will still be getting most of his nutrients from breast milk or formula, so your goal should be to help him learn these new behaviors. Eating should be a fun experience, and not stressful. If you begin feeding solid food and your baby has a hard time with it – she’s gagging or fussy – wait and try again. You will not do any damage by waiting a bit.
  2. Consider some key nutrients and focus on variety. Key nutrients for babies and toddlers include vitamins A, C, and D, iron, total fat and omega-3 fats, and calcium. Each of these nutrients serves a specific purpose within the body; around 6 months of age, babies require these in other forms, above what is in breast milk or formula. Don’t be afraid to be creative with the foods you are offering to meet baby’s needs for these nutrients. Infant rice cereal may be what your grandmother recommends, and it’s no slouch – its high iron content is helpful. However, variety is important for teaching your little one to appreciate different food tastes and textures, so try purees of spinach, beans or lentils.  To help baby intake additional omega 3 fatty acids, try adding chia seeds, ground flax or ground walnuts to purees.
  3. Some foods should be avoided at the beginning.A few foods you will want to avoid until baby is 12 months include honey (because of the risk of botulism), cow’s milk (it contains too much protein and some other nutrients), and small solids (small chunks of raw vegetables, grapes, sausages, whole nuts and seeds can all be choking hazards). Allergens are another consideration. Recommendations about the foods to avoid (in order to minimize risk from allergic reactions) have changed over the years. A 2008 review of research by the AAP concluded that the top 8 allergenic foods (cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat) need not be avoided unless you have a family history of food allergies. In that case, it is best to speak with your pediatrician before proceeding.
  4. Serving sizes are small. I hear a lot from parents that their baby is not eating enough. But how much is enough? A typical serving size when starting solids is 1-2 tablespoons of a puree or food, or a few bites of a soft piece of food – it’s a small amount.  And you will want to start by offering one to two meals per day. Remember, baby will still be getting a good portion of her nutrition from milk or formula until age one. As baby gets older the serving size will increase, after 12 months the amount of food per meal should be around ¾ to 1 cup.
  5. Division of Responsibility. Renowned feeding expert Ellyn Satter gives parents the helpful suggestion of division of responsibility. Parents are responsible for the “what, when,and where of feeding; children are responsible for the how much and whether of ”  Do not force your child to eat more or stop eating if you feel they have had too much. Babies have the amazing ability to self-regulate (many of us adults have long since lost this ability). Eating is a behavior that does need to be learned but does not need to be rewarded.

When feeding baby don’t forget about mom and dad. All too often I see mom and dad focused so much on baby’s health and wellness that the parent’s health and wellness falls by the way side. Remember to practice good nutrition for yourself, this will not only help you to feel better, but to set a good example for your child. Healthy and happy mom and dad lead toward a healthy and happy baby!

Want to learn more about starting baby on solids? Join me at Babies in Bloom on February 14th at 11:30am.  Registration and details are here.

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Taking Care of Tiny Teeth

Christmas may only feel like last week, but somehow we find ourselves hurtling towards February 2017.

February brings a lot to smile about however. Quite literally – it is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a month where thousands of dental professionals join together to educate and support both parents and teachers on oral health and hygiene.

The older children get, the more sugary temptations they face, and while there is nothing wrong with an occasional treat, this year’s campaign asks parents to be mindful of the impact regular fruit juices and sodas can have on little teeth. The 2017 slogan is: “Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile” – you can find lots of fun activities, coloring sheets and 2017 campaign posters for home or school here.

But enough of the bigger littles. Let’s talk about the little littles and how / when to start taking care of their tiny choppers.

While baby teeth aren’t forever teeth, their health, and the health of tiny gums, can impact future permanent teeth as they are important space holders for the ‘big’ teeth that are growing under the gums. A good set of teeth will also help an infant chew, speak and smile, so…..

START EARLY.

You can introduce oral hygiene practises even before the teeth come in. The American Dental Association suggests starting from as early as two days old. You can gently wipe the gums after feeding with a clean, moist gauze or washcloth.

When a tooth, or teeth, do eventually pop through (ouch!), start taking good care of them ASAP. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says that: “Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.”

ASK YOUR DENTIST ABOUT FLOURIDE.

The right amount of fluoride can strengthen tooth enamel as teeth are forming. Let your dentist evaluate the fluoride level of your drinking water – he may suggest fluoride supplements. Both the ADA and the AAPD recommends that Baby get his first dental exam at age 1, or when his first tooth appears.

 

MAKE IT FUN.

Not all children will enjoy having their teeth cleaned. Some will despise it –especially if their gums are already sore from teething. Just be patient and be gentle! If old enough, try distracting them with a silly song, or just let them play with the brush to satisfy their curiosity. As they become more familiar with the tool, you might even find them sticking it in their mouths, all by themselves.

Like most things, if you start and support early enough, you will instil good dental habits for years to come!

We always stock a range of teething and dental hygiene products in our Boutique, so please, feel free to pop in for a visit and take a look around. Teething can be hard for both baby and parents – trust us, we’ve been there! We’re here to listen and help where we can.

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Say Cheese…PLEASE?

It’s official. Santa Claus is in town! In fact, he was spotted looking very jolly at Babies in Bloom on December 3rd.  This can only mean one thing – it’s Christmas family photo time.

When you’ve spent painstaking hours perfectly coordinating your family’s outfits – and matching festive accessories.  And when you’ve spent all that time finding the right location, the right photographer, or even waiting in line to finally meet old Saint Nick, it should be as simple as one, two, three, cheese…right?

Well, not always.  Your kids might have different ideas on the day. Cue the photo frowns. Sometimes, there’s simply not a smile to be found.

But don’t worry, if you’ve not had your festive photos done yet, we are arming you with five top tips from your friendly local photographer Kelsey Smith on how to get the best (and most authentic) smiles for your Christmas photos. Parents, take note:

  • Potty Humor – It’s crude and oh-so-effective. Asking who let the stinker out, whose feet are the smelliest, and making fart noises are the number one laugh inducers for most kids.
  • Movement – Tickling is one of my absolute favorite ways to get a family well on their way to a giggle fest. Putting everyone close together and telling them to tickle the person closest to them will get you winning smiles and laughs every single time. Have the kids have a dance off to loosen them up and get some pretty amazing smiles. Jump up and down and generally make a fool of yourself, the kids will love it.
  • Telling Kids Not to Smile – Honestly, this usually cracks even the most serious of kids. Especially the ones that aren’t happy to be there in the first place.
  • Singing – At the top of your lungs, usually the opening song from the Lion King, as off key as you can possibly muster.
  • Let it Go – Focusing on getting that perfect look-at-the-camera smile can cause you to miss the in-between moments. And those are the sweetest ones.

Wise words from a mom of three and a pro. The proof is in the pudding – take a moment to check out Kelsey’s website or Facebook page to see all the beaming little smiles she captures.  She runs family, maternity and lifestyle newborn sessions right here in San Diego, all year round.

Happy Holidays folks!

 

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Thankful Ever After

Amidst turkey gobbling and pie indulgence, we’ll all be taking a rare moment this week to just STOP! Alongside our nearest and dearest (and perhaps in some cases, the ones who test our patience the most! ????), we will be remembering just how lucky we are this Thanksgiving.

As parents or parents-to-be, we have so much extra to be grateful for – those kicks, those smiles, those cuddles, those tiny little hands in ours, as well as those bigger hands who might pretend they don’t need us so much anymore.

It feels good doesn’t it? Taking a moment to reflect on what we have. You’re rich! I bet, you promise yourself every year that you will do it more often…but c’mon, raise your hands, how many of us stick to it?

The truth is, life is busy. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in work deadlines, feeding schedules, school runs, meal plans, unexpected diaper explosions, laundry, tantrums, playtime….we’re exhausted just typing it! Parenting feels like a lot of giving, giving, giving. And sometimes, we seem to give everything BUT thanks when we are deep down in the parenting trenches.

If like us, you’re determined to try a little harder this year, you might enjoy this article we discovered on Aha! Parenting. It’s all about establishing family gratitude traditions, for Thanksgiving and beyond.

We LOVE the idea of starting a family gratitude jar (#3) on the list. Can you imagine sitting down at the end of the year, opening up the jar and reading aloud all the good things, feelings and thoughts (big and small) that you’ve each felt this year? All those forgotten smiles and blessings REVIVED! What a tonic for even the toughest of years.

#6 Appreciation photo is a favorite of ours too. And if you have a tiny budding photographer in your household, you could get them involved. Find out what’s beautiful and magical in your little one’s eyes when you set them loose with a camera. This will open your mind to all the hidden beauties of the world that us busy grown-ups can sometimes miss.

Our take out from this article is that it’s not enough to simply promise to remember to be more grateful. We need to change our habits, and ultimately, change our mind set. In regularly incorporating grateful ‘tasks’ like the gratitude jar in to our lives, we will gently reprogram our brains and find ourselves counting our blessings more often! And if we can trickle this mindset down to our children, and get them involved, what a wonderful, healthy and happy foundation to grow upon!

There’s no better time to begin than Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVNG EVERYONE! We hope it’s a special one to remember.

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