Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Introducing Foods to Your Infant

Many parents of newborns struggle to figure out when the right time is to introduce foods to their baby.  Studies are beginning to show that the longer parents put off introducing foods, the lower the chances of allergic reactions can be-especially with dairy.  Also, starting baby foods too early may leave the infant lacking in nutrition and vitamins.

Most guidelines say to wait 6 months to a year before starting foods.  A popular saying is, “Foods before one are just for fun.”  Some children may show an interest in foods before the one year mark.
Many times interest is indicated by watching an adult eat, reaching for a spoon, or making “want” noises during mealtime.

Always ask your pediatrician before introducing foods-including cereal.

When beginning to introduce foods into your baby’s diet, always choose baby foods-either homemade or commercially available.  Start with vegetables and fruits.  While it may be tempting to give your baby a variety of foods, it’s important to give your child one food for 5-7 days so you can watch for allergic reactions.  An allergic reaction can include a rash, upset stomach, wheezing, diarrhea, or trouble breathing.

Many parents make their own baby foods.  Most vegetables and fruits must be cooked before feeding, except for bananas.  If you decide to make your own baby food, choose organic fruits and vegetables.  Use a reputable site to find baby food recipes.  Never add salt, sugar, or other seasonings to baby food.  Also, dispense the baby food into a container before feeding.  Never feed a baby directly from the jar (Unless the whole jar will be consumed), as germs and bacteria will begin to develop.

Always wait until the child is one year old before introducing the following foods: egg whites, peanut butter, other nut butters, oranges, grapefruit, other citrus fruits, shrimp, lobster, and other shellfish.  Also, never feed a child under one year old honey, as it can cause severe food poisoning.

Use common sense when it comes to feeding your baby.  Never give a child under three years old foods that can cause choking, including carrots, grapes, raisins, jelly beans, hot dogs, hard candies, or nuts.

When beginning foods, make it easy on yourself by putting a bib or food-catching bib on the child.  Also, putting a drop cloth down or high chair mat will also help ease the clean-up process.  Always have washcloths or burp-rags close by.

Try to make feeding fun.  Play games, tell stories, and make funny faces and sounds while the child eats.   Encourage eating by cheering when the child successfully eats a mouthful.  After eating, make sure to encourage the child and give plenty of hugs and kisses to communicate a job well done.  Having a stressful, difficult mealtime may lead to harder feeding times down the road.

Remember, before one year old, foods should be a fun time to include the child in mealtime.  It is a time for the child to experience different textures and tastes.

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