Posts Tagged 'Baby food'

The Endless Eater

Although many parents are concerned about their children eating healthy foods, there are also some who need help with a child who seems to eat endlessly.  These parents have observed that if there is food available, their child will continue to eat.  So if the advice is to let your child decide when they have had enough to eat, what do we do with these children, let them eat endlessly?

That might not be a bad first step.  What would happen if you let the child eat until they decided that they had enough?  How long would they actually continue to eat, especially if you are choosing what foods to offer?  By demonstrating to your child that you are willing to let them make the decision to stop you are proving that you respect their ability to make this decision.  Sometimes allowing them to eat as long as they would like to, assures your child that they are truly in control of their food intake and that there will be enough food if they need it.  This may offer the child enough security to start to eat only what they need at the time.

There are other reasons why a child may seem to eat too much at a snack or meal.  Consider the timing of meals.  If meals are too far apart, then when a child is offered food they may eat as much as they can for as long as they are allowed.  They are protecting themselves from becoming over-hungry and/or because they don’t trust that the next offering of food will happen within a comfortable time for them.  Most children need to be offered a snack or meal every 2.5-3.5 hours.  If this is regularly not happening a child may eat for as long as possible when given the opportunity.

Some children have very high pleasure responses to foods.  These children are eating because it tastes good, eating gives them pleasure.  These children need to be reminded that we stop eating when our bodies feel full, or sated.  After a reasonable amount of food has been eaten ask this child, “Are you felling full, does your belly feel like you have had enough?” Keep helping your child to become sensitive to the feeling that food gives their body, not just their tongue/brain connection.  Guide them to feel a connection between food and reaching a comfortable fullness.  If a child appears to have eaten too much you might ask, “I know that food taste good, but how does your stomach feel?  Is it too full?” Remind them that they need to feel their bellies during eating to know when to stop.

Some children start a meal with gusto.  They can’t seem to get the food in fast enough.  Then you may notice that their pace starts to slow, they are becoming easily distracted, and they are engaging in more conversation or starting to play with others or their food.  As soon as that starts, ask this child if they have had enough food.  Let them know that they can have more later, but maybe now is a time to take a break.  Let them leave the table and find something else to do if the food will be too much of a distraction.

Keep in mind that children offered healthy foods at regular intervals over the course of their week will take in the nutrients and energy that they need.  Once you have done this your job is to only offer suggestions or observations when you feel that eating is becoming inappropriate. Connecting the inappropriate eating with an undesirable effect allows the child to realize that they need to make a change.

http://wizpert.com/beverly

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Food Choices Are Not Erratic

Today in class I noticed that a child whose mother thought no longer ate cheese was eating cheese.  I asked mom about this and she responded that since the child was offered cheese in class several weeks ago she is eating it again at home, but not orange cheese.  I explained that although this seemed erratic, it is typical and normal.  Our children eat not just what they know they enjoy due to taste, smell, appearance or texture, but what they are nutritionally drawn toward.

 So how do we, as mindful a parents, know what our children need nutritionally each meal or day?  We don’t, so our job is to offer a variety of healthy food over the course of the day.   Don’t fall into the trap of offering what you think your child will eat or not offering foods that they have previously refused.  This back fires in two ways.  One, even though a child ate a food once, or even if that food has been the favorite food for a few days, that doesn’t necessarily indicate the child will eat it at this time.  Two, if you only offer foods you believe your child will accept, you will slowly narrow food choices and eventually decide that you have a picky eater.

 When it is time for a snack or meal, think: what would I like my child to eat, what do I have, what is manageable at this time (do you want to cook or not, do you have a short or long time for eating, etc?).  Once you have made this choice put the food in front of your child.  They can eat or not.  Of course you can always choose to offer the current favorite food once or twice a day, as part of any meal or snack. But keep rotating in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, dairy products, beans, nuts, seeds, oils, and fish as every food has it’s own unique nutritional profile.  You have done your job.

An Unscientific Study

As mindful as we try to be, there are times when our child’s behavior seems to make no sense to us.  This is no rational pattern or reason nor is there any developmental theory to support what we observe.  However you are looking at only one child.  I have had the pleasure of observing children eat and talking to parents for the past 20 years, in a child care settings and in classes with parents present.  I have made a few unscientific, non-research based observations.

Some babies will prefer to drink their meals.  No matter how mindfully you set the stage for a meal your baby or child drinks but not eats or very little.  I have heard this more often from parents of boys than of girls.  Babies between the ages of 6 months and 12 months should be fed on demand.  If your baby is able to take solids, offer solid food before the breast, bottle or cup.  If you have a drinker over 12 months of age and able to take solids, you can and should limit milk to 16 ounces (2 cups) a day.  Your child will probably not like this and may put up quite a fuss.  But as a mindful parent you will tell your child that to be healthy he needs to try more than milk.  You don’t need to force solids, but by limiting milk your child will soon increase their desire for solids.

The other common observation reported to me by parents is that a baby who once took semi soft solids is now refusing them.  When I suggest that the parent try crunchy and more textured foods the baby usually responds by eating once again.  It seems that for some babies, once they have experienced soft solids they are ready to move on.  This sometimes happens at the same time the baby is determined to feed themselves.  So go with it.  Your baby will come back to semi-solids eventually, but now they want to explore what is new.  Embrace this and let them try some Cheerios or especially made infant puffs.  Put a few in front of your baby and see what happens.

Sugar, Salt and Fat, Oh My

Is it bad for my child to have chocolate chip waffles? What about salt in their vegetables?  I get questions similar to these all the time and my answer is always the same no matter what high fat, high salt or high sugar food I am asked about.  Allowing your baby or child an occasional food with a high amount of fat, sugar or salt will not harm them today.  Just be careful that these foods are used mindfully; that you are fully aware that you are serving a fun food, not a nutritious one.

We don’t want to feed high (saturated) fat, sugar and salt foods to our babies on a regular basis of several reasons, all health related.  We know that too much fat and sugar lead to a number of chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.  Obesity can lead to the previous diseases and can also cause back pain, sleep apnea, and some cancers.  Too much salt can cause high blood pressure which can lead to vascular and kidney disease.  All of these medical conditions occur after a life-long pattern of too much salt, sugar and/or fat. 

The best defense is to not allow our babies and children to become accustomed to these tastes, flavors, and textures.  We don’t want them to have an excess of salt, fat and sugar in their diet because then they will expect it, it becomes normal.  Most processed foods and restaurant foods are too salty, sugary or fatty.  Beware of canned goods, frozen foods, boxed meals, even breakfast cereals.  A child fed mostly processed and restaurant foods will develop an expectation for too much salt, sugar and fat.  So a whole wheat waffle without chocolate chips butter and syrup, a baked potato without butter and salt, or strawberries not dipped in sugar become unacceptable.  To avoid taste dependence on salt, fat and sugar, serve mostly whole foods: grains, beans, seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, eggs, fish, and some dairy such as unflavored yogurt or milk.  Babies enjoy the tastes, textures and smells of real, fresh, unprocessed and wholesome foods.  Don’t take that gift away.

Moving on the Finger Foods

Babies usually let us know when they are ready for solids.  They keenly watch our every bite, lean towards our food, and point at it.  Most of us feel guilty for eating in front of them.  The mindful parent sees these cues, which are hard to ignore, and starts to feed their baby solids.  But how do you know when your baby is ready for finger foods and no longer needs purees and thick, liquid foods?  The signs are there, if you know where to look.

 Finger foods are foods that are solid, but soft or easily chewed, such as Cheerios, cooked beans, pieces of banana, skinned banana, canned peach or pear, steamed carrots, boneless salmon, shredded cheese, tofu, berries and slices of toast are but a few.  People foods are the foods you regularly feed your family, with the exception of choking foods such as (but not limited to) most raw vegetables, hard apples and fruit with the peel, hard small candies and nuts, whole hot dogs, and any thick goopy food like a dollop of peanut butter or cream cheese.

Keep in mind that physical development goes along with progression of foods, from purees to finger foods to people foods.  Be mindful and look for the signs of readiness.  Your baby started solids when they were able to push up on their arms with straight elbows while resting on their belly, had good head control and was a supported sitter.  When your child has progressed to being a very stable sitter, pulls up to stand, and can hold small objects between their thumb and first finger, they are usually ready for finger foods.  You will observe this, on average, between 8-10 months but age is not important. 

Don’t hold your child back by continuing with exclusively purred foods.  It’s more work for you and not the right work for them.  Your child needs to be able to explore developmentally appropriate foods just like they need developmentally appropriate play objects and environments.   Part of their work when they can pick up small objects is to pick up small objects.  Let your child learn to use their hands to get food into their mouths.  Let them learn that it is easier to pick up peas than applesauce.  Let them hold their own (open mouth) cup and learn to control the direction and flow of water.  Yes, this will be messy, but parents knows that practice makes perfect.  So you need to let them practice.

Beverly Pressey is a Registered Dietician with Master’s degrees in Education and Nutrition and specializes in working with care givers of babies and children.  Beverly has worked with individuals, presented at conferences, consulted with child care centers, taught continuing education and college classes, and presented at numerous parent groups.  As an experienced counselor, cook, teacher, speaker and a mother of 2, she has a realistic understanding of infant/child eating patterns plus the perspective of a busy parent.  Beverly lives in Seattle, Washington, find out more about her and her book at www.creatinghealthyeaters.com.

The Exploration of Eating

 Have you already noticed how your child experiences almost everything new by mouthing it?   They will pick up any object, look at it, move it from hand to hand, examine it, and then put it in their mouth.  It is normal and instinctual for your new eater to want to experience the food before it enters his or her mouth.  After all, food presents new colors, smells, and textures.  As self preservation, a little experimentation is natural. 

 Beginning eaters are usually willing to be fed by spoon, but a parent mindful of their child’s cues may quickly notice that their new eater wants more involvement in the eating process.  Let your child touch, smear, spread, lick, tap, pat and finger the food.  If the amount available to them is small, (about a teaspoon, or 2 peas) the mess will be minimal.  Also allow the tiniest tastes and the rejecting of food, via pushing it out with their tongue or just refusing it.  At first babies may want to do this every time they are offered food.  However, allowing this experience creates a child willing to accept and eat a wider variety of foods.  Remember, many babies need to have a food offered 10-12 times before they are willing to accept it and eat it on a regular basis with little muss or fuss.

 If you just cannot allow your baby to physically touch the food, you can offer similar experimenting opportunities.  Put just the littlest amount of a new food on the spoon and bring it to the child’s lips.  Let your child touch the food, or not, with their tongue.  This will also give your child the opportunity to taste and smell the food.  Young children have a much better sense of smell than adults.  Many babies feel a part of the process by trying to feed themselves.  Let your child have their own spoon while you continue to feed with a spoon.  Whatever experiences you can allow them will make feeding time easier and more enjoyable for both of you.

 As always, offer food to your baby, let them eat it or not.  If they reject the foods offered, you have done your job.  It is time to move on, not to other foods, but to another activity.  Keep meals enjoyable by following your baby’s pace and interest.  They will receive the nutrients they need if you offer a variety of healthy foods over the course of the day and allow them to eat to satiety.

 Beverly Pressey is a Registered Dietician with Master’s degrees in Education and Nutrition and specializes in working with care givers of babies and children.  Beverly has worked with individuals, presented at conferences, consulted with child care centers, taught continuing education and college classes, and presented at numerous parent groups.  As an experienced counselor, cook, teacher, speaker and a mother of 2, she has a realistic understanding of infant/child eating patterns plus the perspective of a busy parent.  Beverly lives in Seattle, Washington, find out more about her and her book at www.creatinghealthyeaters.com

The Newest Baby Gadget on the Block

In the past several weeks several new moms asked me what I thought of the Beaba Babycook.  I didn’t know what it was, and I have still not seen one or used one.  However, I did watch the video supplied by the distributer, Williams Sonoma. I can definitely see the appeal, this machine has a pleasing curved design and is a very happy white with lime green highlights.  Out of the over 200 customer comments, the average score was 4.75 out of 5, so most customers are happy with it as well.

This machine steams and purees small amounts of food, all in the same bowl.  That’s all it does, and it costs $150.00.   I have news for people; with a steaming basket ($8.00) and any pot with a lid, you can steam food just as fast.  If you want the food smoother, place it in a small serving bowl and smash it with a fork, or really purree it with an emersion blender ($20.00-$50.00).  Or use the food processor or blender that you already own.  How hard is that?

Keep in mind, there are many foods that are appropriate for a baby that don’t need steaming.  Try smashing a ripe banana or avocado.  Pour off the juice from (organic if you like) canned fruit (works great with pears, peaches,  and apricots) and blend.  Don’t want canned food, buy a bag of frozen (organic) fruit, remove the appropriate amount and let it defrost for a few minutes. Then blend this or mash with a fork.  This works great with mango, berries and peaches. A baked potato, squash, yam or sweet potato is a great food for a new eater.  Low or no sodium canned, drained beans such as garbanzo, black, navy, red, or white are all great for babies once they have been pureed with an immersion blender, a food processor or a blender.  No blender, thin some refried beans with water and serve.  None of these foods need any heating or reheating.

What many new parents don’t realize is the short amount of time a baby needs purred foods.  A baby who starts to eat solids at 6 months is usually on to semi solids, like over-cooked noodles and carrots, by the time they are 8 months old. By one year most babies are eating finger foods, like dry cereal, grated cheese, fish sticks, tofu, peas and saltines. Additionally, new babies don’t eat too much at any one meal, usually around 1/4 cup of food.  A parent’s enthusiasm for making baby food usually is greater than the amount of purred food a baby will consume in 2 months of eating purees. One medium  squash can easily make 3-4 cups of puree, that’s 12-16 meals.

I applaud parents who want fresh, pure, unadulterated foods for their babies.  These parents are usually concerned not just about their child, but the environment as well.  One way to protect the environment is to not buy a plastic,  made in China kitchen gadget  to make food for a baby for 2 months.