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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First Foods Around the World

babies in bloom first foodsWhat did you give your little one for his / her first meal? Pureed fruits? Vegetables? Meat? Oats?

And WHEN did you give it to them? Was Daddy there, too? Grandma? Auntie?

It’s a big decision isn’t it? A huge parenting milestone. Not to mention adorable / hysterical when it comes to the faces babies will pull when they try new flavors and textures for the first time. Trust us, if you are about to start weaning, get the camera ready!

While here in the US, it’s widely encouraged to breastfeed up to six months before introducing food, it is not the case for other countries and different cultures. It varies so much around the world– and it’s FASCINATING!

Did you know for example that a Tibetan baby’s first interaction with food is at FOUR days old? A piece of zamba – a mix of barley, wheat, corn, and peas, stirred, fried, ground in to flour and mixed with yak butter – is stuck to the baby’s forehead in a purity ritual.

Japanese parents start ahead of our six month recommendation too. Usually on the 100th day of the child’s life. At this stage, babies will often be presented with a dish called okayu, a rice porridge topped with dried fish and vegetables or mashed pumpkin.

In China, babies at four months will typically have moved on from breast milk to rice dishes paired with fish, carrots, seaweed, and eggs as well as blends such as chicken soup, pumpkin, ground pork and smashed eggplant. Jamaican parents often start at the four month mark too. Before morning milk, babies are given indigenous fruit blends – custard apple, mango, banana, papaya, naseberry – with honey.

And what about spices? When would you introduce those in to your baby’s diet? In India, at six months old, babies are introduced to khichidi – a vegetarian dish of rice and high protein lentils loaded with herbs and spices like cumin, cilantro, mint and cinnamon. Mexican parents also commonly opt to introduce spice young, sprinkling chili powder and lime on to apples, oranges and pears for baby.

Thought provoking isn’t it? What a colorful variety of dishes for the littles of the world!

Feeling emotional about weaning?

While babies of the world all eat differently, it is important to remember that all parents react to weaning differently too. While for some it is fun and exciting, it’s not unusual for others to have sad or uneasy feelings about this chapter.

There’s the ‘my baby is growing up so fast’ tears and anxieties about choking or allergies. As well as a sense of loss for many mothers who have breastfed and enjoyed that special ‘oneness’ with their child.

Some breastfeeding mothers even experience mood changes, which many researchers believe is down to hormones, because weaning brings with it a drop in prolactin and oxytocin levels. Prolactin, as well as being the hormone required for milk production, also promotes well-being, calmness and relaxation. Oxytocin, the hormone in charge of milk ejection, is also known as the ‘love hormone.’ When feeding decreases, or stops, so does the ‘feel good’ oxytocin.

Thankfully more and more research is being done into post-weaning depression. Support and awareness is growing. So remember, if you or someone you know has symptoms for longer than a few weeks, it’s important you speak with a doctor.

If you are interested in reading more about weaning around the globe, you can find the source of this article here.

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Boutique Best Sellers: Re-Play

IMG_4357These colorful plates, bowls, cups and utensils from Re-Play are flying off of our shelves at the moment.

They tick so many boxes that it’s no surprise to us that they’re getting rave reviews from parents. Not only are they fun and funky to mix ‘n’ match, they are also incredibly affordable. Best of all, they are so eco-friendly. Made in the USA, Re-Play uses recycled HDPE plastic for their products – that means recycled milk jugs. To date, they’ve saved over 11,000,000 milk jugs from going in to the landfill. Wonderful!

The products are all toddler friendly sized for snacks and meals, and more importantly, are toddler tough to survive all those inevitable bangs, drops and tosses. Our customers have been really impressed with how durable they are for something so lightweight and so low cost. Re-Play claims you can even run over their divided plates with a car without causing damage! Now that’s impressive.

They make a great gift bundle too. All products meet FDA strict purity standards, are BPA free, PVC free, phthalate-free and melamine-free. And, when their time is eventually up in family homes, these products can simply be recycled again. It’s the eco-gift that keeps on giving.

Here’s a couple of facts to add some further perspective on these clever tools:

  • Recycling a 1-gallon milk jug saves enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for 11 hours
  • One pound of recycled plastic saves enough energy to charge a smartphone for 31 weeks

As well as using smart materials, each product has a smart design with tiny, over excited hands in mind. The deep walls on their divided plates help little ones get to grips with their chunky cutlery, while their deep fill spoon reduces spills. They also have the essential spill proof sippy cup and blunt tips on their forks to avoid nasty pokes. They are all about encouraging independent eating and keeping it simple for mom and dad- as well as keeping it safe.

Available in white, pink, orange, green, red, purple and yellow, these products will stack well at home and are completely dishwasher safe – another bonus.

We currently have in stock:

  • Divided Plates: $3 each
  • Bowls: $2.50 each
  • No Spill Cups $4 each
  • Tumbler Cup: $2.50
  • Utensil Set: $1.50

Kids love them. Parents love them. We love them. Why don’t you come and visit us at the Babies in Bloom Boutique to take a look for yourself.

Hope to see you soon!

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