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Finger Licking Good: Babies and food

1 Feb. 2013 Posted by Hannah Mich
baby food, organic, baby led weaning, nitrate poisoning, infant food introduction

I have a six and half month old infant who about a month ago started eating pureed foods. Since then, I have come to realize many important factors about food introduction and infants. Unfortunately, there is a lack of quality research, and lack of consensus between organizations and professionals about when to introduce foods, what foods to introduce first and how to introduce those foods. Furthermore, there are continually "fads" about what to feed your infant and how. It is amazing the lack of "facts" that really exist on infants diet considering nutrition plays such a detrimental role in our overall health and well-being. Below are some points that I have uncovered while doing research on the topic of infants and food. This blog is a prelude to a more in-depth article where I will also supply references and resources.

* "If it doesn't taste good to you then it probably won't to your baby." I have read this over and over again in so many words that how something tastes to us - the parents - somehow plays a role in the infant's favorite foods. This is something that I find holds little validity. A parent's perception, or likes and dislikes in foods will not necessarily translate into baby's likes and dislikes - unless the parent is giving facial and verbal cues accordingly. An infants experience and memory on food and tastes [bitter, sweet, etc.] can not even compare to that of an adult. This therefore greatly changes an infants perception and what they may like and dislike.

* "Babies should first be introduced to single-grain cereal before other foods." This statement is quickly switching from what was once seen as a "fact" to a "myth," and, therefore, is simply out-of-date. However, I feel it is still important to mention because many professionals and parents out there are still under the belief that this statement is based on scientific evidence and is therefore a known fact. Grains, especially single-grains stripped of their natural nutrients, are in no way the best first food for infants. Additionally, infants' ability to digest starches, such as grains, is under great debate.

* "Baby led weaning is the best way to introduce solid foods." Although there appears to be some validity to this method, in no way is food introduction quite that simple. A great example is my daughter. She started sitting up unassisted at four and half months. She cut her first two teeth at five months. She showed a great deal of interest in food at around the same time, as well. She, however, lacked the necessary motor skills and hand-eye coordination to grab and get any significant food to her mouth. She was also not satisfied with just breast milk anymore, which made it especially important to get her additional food and nutrients. I allow her to play with her food, but spoon feeding was much more efficient and less frustrating for her when it came to getting her what she needed. Other situations where this method may not be appropriate are when a child has food allergies, a sensitive gag reflex or some sort disability. What this method does teach us - is parents need to pay attention to their infants' cues and have fun with food introduction.

* "Carrots should not be introduced until later because it may cause nitrate poisoning in your baby." There is zero evidence of this, but again statements such as this one are often taught like they are facts based on scientific evidence.

So far, I have given you some examples of misleading comments made about infants and food introduction. At this point you may be going, okay so what are some truths? Fresh, organic produce is always a good route to go because it will likely contain the greatest amount of nutrients and the least amount of chemicals for infants. Introduction of food should likely occur after 6 months for most babies breastfed and in no way should food introduction be forced because breast milk is the best source of nutrients for every infant. An excellent guideline to follow is to introduce food slowly so that if your little one has an adverse reaction you can quickly pinpoint what food caused the reaction. Otherwise, much of the information about infants, their digestive tract and food introduction are unfortunately still under great debate. This includes all of those food schedules you so often read about in books and on websites. I hope this blog has whet your appetite for the more in-depth article to come!

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