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Feeding Solids To Children

Many mothers wait excitedly for the day their babies will be able to have meals with the family, but when the day comes, it's not uncommon to see jars of baby food piled up in supermarket trolleys. While these foods are convenient, they cannot compare to freshly prepared home food. Home food is not processed and thus, healthier.

Besides, health authorities recommend whole food as it is likely to prevent obesity in the future. There is a simple and systematic way to go about this joyful task of preparing solids for your baby. Using this simple approach will help you detect any food allergies and intolerances quickly. It will shorten your baby's discomfort if any problems should arise as you won't have to grapple with what caused the problem in the first place.

Signs Of Readiness

Before beginning to cook, check to see if baby is really ready for this big step. There are a number of signs of readiness to look out for:

  • Increased nursing for more than a few days, which is unrelated to illness or teething.
  • Ability to sit up unsupported.
  • Absence of the tongue-thrust reflex. This life-saving reflex causes babies to push foreign objects out of their mouths to avoid choking. If you baby is still doing this he will push solids out of his mouth too.
  • Ability to pick foods up and place in mouth independently, - known as the pincer grasp.
  • Expresses interest when you or other family members eat.

These traits show that your baby's digestive system is sufficiently developed to start on solids. Introducing solids too early can lead to an increased likelihood of food intolerances and food allergies.

One At A Time

When it comes to introducing new foods to your baby, experts recommend that this be done one at a time. You should continue with one type of food for at least three days or even up to five before introducing another food. This does not mean your baby will get tired of having the same food a few days in a row. Solids are something new to a baby and they do not get bored of it easily. Besides, this is the best way to help identify food allergies and intolerances.

Some Common Signs Of Food Allergy And Intolerance

Food allergies and intolerances can take a few forms.

Watch Out For These Common Signs

  • Increased bloating and gassiness, painful discomfort. This may also mean your baby will be crying more often and usually so half an hour after intake of solids.
  • Sandpaper-like raised rash on face, often where the offending food made contact with skin.
  • Runny nose and watery eyes.
  • Diarrhoa or mucous in the stools. In more severe cases there could also be blood in the stools.
  • Red rash around the anus or an unusual diaper rash.
  • Vomiting or increased spit up with discomfort.

Some Foods You Could Begin With That Are Less Likely To Produce Allergic Reactions Include

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Barley brown rice

From Nine To 12 Months You Could Introduce The Following Foods

  • Wheat Yogurt
  • Cheese Soy products like tofu
  • Egg yolk Peas and other legumes (except peanuts)
  • From 12 to 18 months you could add this to the repertoire:
  • Tomatoes White and red meat
  • Citrus fruits Cow's milk and its products (cheese, yogurt, butter)

Foods To Avoid

Foods like seafood should only be introduced after 24 months, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Its research has shown that six foods account for 90 per cent of children's food allergies cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy and tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc.).

  • Honey should never be offered to a baby under one - there is a risk of botulism, which is severe food poisoning due to a potent bacterial toxin contained in honey.
  • Citrus or berry fruits and juices should not be offered until your baby is one year old.
  • Sugar, artificial sweeteners, salt or spices are unnecessary and should not be added to your baby's food.
  • Deep fried foods

Highly allergenic foods should not be offered until your baby is over one year old, or even older if there is a family history of allergies, asthma or skin conditions, such as eczema. Highly allergenic foods include:

  • Berries
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Corn
  • Cow's milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Juices
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Pork
  • Shellfish
  • Spices
  • Soy
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat

Foods That Pose A Choking Risk

Wait Until Your Child Is Three Years Old

  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Whole grapes
  • Large pieces of hot dog
  • Large amounts of peanut butter
  • Hard foods that could break off in large chunks

Preparing First Foods

Preparing baby food is simple and affordable. Being equipped with some simple tools will make your task even more convenient. A steamer and something to blend food in (like a food processor, handheld blender, or baby-food mill) are all you really need. Baby's first foods need to be soft. Some paediatricians recommend iron-fortified infant rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula as a first solid food because rice is less likely than other grains to cause allergic reactions.

For a no-cook first food, consider the banana. Its creamy consistency is similar to mother's milk and the sweetness is a winner for sure. Cut half a banana into chunks and mash with a fork. Continue adding fruits and vegetables after serving her this for several days. Apples and pears can also prepared quickly and easily. All you need to do is peel and cut the fruit into chunks before steaming.

When tender, either mash it - thoroughly with a fork or run it through a food mill or blender. Add cool, boiled water to make a runny consistency. Carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes and pumpkin can be prepared the same way. Once you have given baby a single type of food for a three- to five-day period, you can start combining foods. This is especially easy when you have introduced some form of cereal. Rice for instance is easy to serve together with carrots or even fruits.

To prepare rice, begin by grinding it in a mill first. Clean the rice grains, grind it (tip: Grind a cup and store away in a jar) and when you want to cook it, wash, then boil till soft. Grinding it first reduces the cooking time and you won't need to mash it or put in into a blender after it is cooked. By seven months, baby should be ready for finger foods. This encourages self-feeding. Expect a mess and minimise cleanup by placing newspapers or a plastic sheet below her high chair.

Give her food that she hold and enjoy slowly without the hazard of choking. You could hand her a small piece of toast or pieces of cooked vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. These become particularly useful too as your baby begins to teeth as these foods could even help ease the discomfort in her gums. Never leave your child unattended during mealtimes.

These foods when not mashed up, can be a choking hazard and one can never be too careful. With extra care this stage will be a tasteful one for your child and a joyful one for you. Enjoy this fun stage in baby's development, and rest assured that baby is getting superior nutrition and developing good eating habits which will last a lifetime!

Breast milk should be your baby's primary nutrition source in the first year. Solids should not replace any milk feeds, but complement them. Through solids, baby can experience new textures and tastes and and develop hand-eye coordination through finger feeding.


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