Thursday, April 19, 2012

Introducing Solids to your baby - Part II

Once you have started down the road of feeding solids to your little one and you are comfortable with the routine, there are a whole lot of things that you can experiment with. Many parents, myself included, start with the grain cereals available on the market. After a month or so after this stage, the pediatrician might recommend that you start feeding your child pureed vegetables and fruits. Apparently there are different views on whether its better to start first with vegetables and then fruits. The reasoning is that if you feed fruits first, then the baby might not accept the obviously different taste of pureed vegetables..Whatever you decide, do discuss it with your baby's pediatrician. I started with pureed apples and then generally alternated with veggies and fruits.

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Good choices for first fruits for babies include apples ,pears ,cantaloupes, peaches and apricots , blueberries
Choices for veggies include green beans , spinach, carrots , butternut squash , green peas.

For any fruit or vegetable that you choose, wash it well and peel it and remove the seeds.
Chop it into medium sized pieces and steam well until it is very tender.
I would recommend that you steam rather than boil so that you retain as many nutrients as possible.
Once the steamed produce cools down, you can mash it with a fork or even run through a blender for a finer puree.

Who wouldn't want to prepare fresh food for their child daily ? But with the hectic lives that we lead nowadays, it is sometimes just not possible. The alternative is to prepare a batch of fruit / veggie puree and then pour it into ice cube trays and stick the trays into the freezer. After a few hours , pop the frozen cubes and store in a zip lock bag. When you want to feed your baby, take out the number of cubes that you need and thaw them out.
Make sure that the food is at a proper temperature, neither too hot nor too cold. Preferably, it should be slightly warm. It will be more palatable to your baby and its also good for digestion.

Once you have tried individual fruits and vegetables, you can make fruit / veggie combinations for a different variety. Remember that you can try a variety of permutations and combinations. If on the first try, your baby doesn't seem to like your preparation, don't despair !! Experts suggest that it takes a minimum of 7 tries for your baby to accept any new taste or texture.

You can even combine vegetables and fruits to get the taste as well as the nutritional punch. For inspiration, you can check out the flavors available in the markets and then prepare the same at home !

I have often seen parents plop their kids in front of the television in the hope that they would get distracted by the programs which would allow the parents to feed them quickly. Although this might work in the beginning, I can only think that this habit will be harmful in the long run. It is entirely possible that even when the child gets older, he / she will not be willing to eat unless they are watching the idiot box.
Instead, have them sit comfortably in a bouncer or a high chair , keep their food in front of them and involve them in the process. Tell them stories, talk to them about your day, sing songs. They will be much more entertained by your face and will also eat if they are hungry.

Please don't force feed your child. If a spoon full or two is all your precious darling manages to eat in the first few sittings, then so be it. Slowly increase the amount of fruit or vegetable puree that you offer your baby.
As the baby grows, so will its appetite and your baby will start enjoying all of nature's bounty :)

Once you have started feeding solids, you might notice some changes in the baby's bowel movements. If it looks like your baby is constipated, don't worry...Increase the amount of liquid that your baby consumes, be it breast milk, formula or even plain water. It will take a little while for the tiny digestive systems to get accustomed to different textures of food.
My children's pediatrician that in order to keep their digestive systems working in order, we should ensure that we include the following food in their diets :
* Cantaloupe - Puree the fruit and feed at lunch or snack time
* Papaya - Make a smoothie with other fruits and offer it to your baby
* Prunes - Prunes are an excellent fruit to keep your baby regular. You can rehydrate prunes in warm water and then blend it in a blender for homemade prune puree ...or you could also chop it into small pieces and mix it while making oatmeal for your baby
* Raisins - Include these dried fruits in oatmeal, or other fruit purees for added sweetness

Stay tuned for a final post on this topic ! I will be including some recipes for home made food that you can try with your little ones !

Please note that I am not a healthcare professional. It is always advisable to consult your child's pediatrician and your own common sense while trying new things with your baby.


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