Thursday, September 21, 2006

The truth about feeding your baby solids

As parents we are given much needed and sometimes unwanted advice not just from doctors, grandparents, friends, but also other moms. Who is right? When thing is for sure, with so much knowledge out there it is hard to know what is fact or what is fiction.

Here will discuss some basic truths about solid foods for those moms on the verge of starting the baby on them and those who have been working at this for a while.

It has been said that the sooner you start feeding your baby solid foods the sooner he'll start sleeping through the night. However, that is not true. Experts have found that there is no link to eating solid foods and sleeping through the night. Babies tend to start solids at the same time they are developmentally ready to sleep for longer stretches. This is just a coincidence; it has nothing to do with the solids you just started them on. In fact the American Dietetic Association (ADA) suggests for moms to hold off on the first meal unit around age 6 months or so to reduce the risk of allergies, obesity, and diabetes. Babies do get all the vitamins and nutrients they need form breast milk or formula and waiting will not harm the baby in any shape or form.

Furthermore it has been said that rice cereal should be the only choice for baby's first food, this too is in fact incorrect. Nearly 84% of moms do start their babies on rice cereal but only because it is great source of iron, is the blandest, least allergenic, and generally speaking the most unobjective food. If your baby is a formula feed baby, skipping over the rice cereal it is perfectly fine; the formula provides plenty of iron in it. Babies can go directly to pureed food likes bananas or avocado. To that end, people will tell you that once you do start the baby on solids, he/she won't need as much breast milk or formula. This too is an incorrect statement. Breast milk and formula alike will continue to be the baby's most important food until around the first birthday. Do not let the amount they drink dip until then! I repeat do not let the amount they drink dip until then! This is a very important statement to remember! You will always have those that suggest you to start weaning them off before their first birthday, my suggestion, and wait till the first year pediatrician visit and then seek their advice on what you should do for your particular child. Each child is different.

Should you give your child a bottle of water to help digest their food? No! Cups of water is great practice for drinking without a nipple, but remember that before 6 months old your baby's stomach is no bigger than his fist and too much water could start to take the place of formula or breast milk. In addition should you start fruits or veggies first? Many moms will suggest veggies to warn them away from only sweets. It's not the sweetness of the fruit that attracts the child, if you provide them with ample oppouruinty for veggies; they will learn to like veggies. Practice, practice, practice! Your child could love veggies when given the opportunity to!

Another controversial subject is when to introduce cow's milk products. Because cow's milk can curdle in the little ones stomach and cause stomachers hold off until the first year birthday, but cheese and yogurt are heated and treated so they do not curdle so feel free to introduce them into your baby's diet.

Providing a variety of foods can be somewhat scary, not knowing how the baby will react to the food. Listen to what your pediatrician suggests and follow their meal plans. After a while you baby will let you know exactly what he/she likes to eat. Rotate new tastes in with old favorites, mix and match and your little bundle of joy will love the new flavors. And you will feel good as well knowing that you are building a great foundation of a lifetime of good eating habits for him.

It is important to also try different textures, let your child "play" with their food. This teaches them what different textures food has and aids them in feeding themselves. Yes, I know it is very messy, but soon those messes will be past you and your child will be a pro at feeding himself. It just takes time and patience. And furthermore, encourage other caregivers to not be so pushy with the baby learning not to make a mess. That will come with age and experience.

Every milestone you embark on with your baby will be full of fun, adventure, messes, happiness, and yes, some much needed patience on your part. Learn to embrace each adventure and take it for just that an adventure. Introducing solids the correct way to your baby will ensure that you lay the foundation for a healthy eating lifestyle that lasts his entire life. What you do today does affect how he eats tomorrow!

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