Posts Tagged 'introducing solids'

10 Days or 10 Years

 

I have been advising parents and child care workers that a young child (ages 1-5) may need to see a new food 8-10 times before they may choose to eat it.  This
recommendation is based on peer reviewed studies from the best nutrition based
journals.  I guess none of these studies had enough time or money to study children over ten years.  Well I did. Granted my study population consists only of 1 child, my son.  However I have seen remarkable new food preferences and habits develop over the years, with a crescendo this year when he voluntarily started asking for and eating broccoli, eggs, and mixed green salad that includes raw spinach, carrots, jicama, red peppers and other vegetables.

My son’s case is even more poignant, as for 3 years he had not grown in height and he preferred fun foods to most healthy foods.  Last fall he was diagnosed with
Crohn’s, an autoimmune disease that strikes at the digestive tract.  Many children with Crohn’s have stunted growth.  Then my son started receiving treatment for Crohn’s.  He started to grow (3 inches in 9 months), and started to eat a wider variety of foods.  I believe that now that his body can absorb the nutrients it needed to support growth; it demands that he consume them.

So, keep eating what you want your child to eat.  Offer a variety of foods.  Give no food more or less distinction beyond being a healthy food or a food just for fun.
Then sit back and watch the show.  I have seen my daughter gravitate to dairy foods, which she had previously shunned, as she reached her pre-teen years.  This is a time when the body needs more calcium and without knowing this she asked for cheese, pizza, and yogurt.  My son has gone in and out of wanting raisinsin his lunch.  When he didn’t want them he told me that he hates raisins.  But then some months later he would ask for them.

Keep doing what you know you should do.  It may take 10 days or even 10 years for the message to sink in.  But once a child chooses to eat a food, they will eat it for a lifetime.  This cannot be said for foods a child is forced to eat.

 

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

 

 

 

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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.

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.

New Foods For New Babies

Food introduction for new parents can be daunting.  There are many books, charts and experts to tell you what to do and how to do it.  But by observing your child you will know more than the experts.  To get started, here are several simple reminders:

  • Make sure your child is ready for solids.  You will know when this happens as your child will, all of a sudden, intently focus on you when you eat.
  • Offer any food that is the proper consistency.  (Think applesauce, or a little thinner.)  You don’t have to start with rice cereal, or offer vegetables before fruits.  Meats or fish, if they are moist and the consistency of applesauce are as good as pureed carrots or blended bananas.  The only food NOT to offer is honey, either room temperature or cooked into a food.  Honey may contain a heat-resistant botulism that can be fatal to infants.
  • It is not your job to get your child to eat.  Just offer a small amount of food on a small spoon—if your child opens his or her mouth, put the food in.  If your child pushed is out with their tongue or gag after 2 tries, stop.  Decrease the thickness of the food. 
  • A grimace is not an indication that your child does not want the food again.  Watch what your child does when you offer the next spoonful.  Only top feeding when your child does not open his or her mouth when the spoon approaches, pushes the food away, or keeps looking away. 
  • Offer only one new food every 3rd day.  After each new food look for signs of allergy, including but not limited to vomiting, rash, swelling of lips or tongue, or diarrhea.  If there is any breathing difficulty, call 911 immediately.
  • Mindful parents don’t entertain at mealtimes and don’t distract the eating process with games, video or music.  Let your child set the pace of the feeding.  Let them decide when they have had enough to eat, whether they ate nothing or more than they have ever eaten before.
  • Your child knows best what they need.  Remember that children’s eating patterns are inconsistent.  Eating a certain amount one day does not mean that the child will usually eat this amount.  Eating or rejecting a food one day does not mean they will eat or reject the same food any other day.  Food acceptance and quantity will change day-to-day and meal to meal.