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Starting Solids

In This Article:

Page 3

Don't force it. A baby's appetite varies, so stay tuned to your child's hunger cues. When an infant doesn't feel in tip-top shape because of teething, fever, nasal congestion, or an ear infection, she'll eat less. Once she's feeling better, her appetite should pick up. When a child turns his head away as you try to feed him, it probably means he's not interested in taking food from you. Children are not always hungry when their parents are, and they may not eat according to the clock. Whatever the case, stay calm. Caregivers who try to feed unwilling infants make children tense and more likely to refuse food the next time around. That can set off a vicious cycle where baby senses your anxiety and perhaps anger and continues to brush off food. As you relax about feeding him, he relaxes, too. Surely, every parent gets frustrated from time to time. But if you are having trouble at every meal, speak to your pediatrician to get help.

Don't be a clean freak. You child will dribble mashed fruit down her chin, plunge her tiny mitts into a bowl of cereal and smear it on her face, and methodically toss food to the floor, just to see it fall. Be prepared for a mess, but don't worry about it. Order is not your first priority as a parent trying to foster acceptance of a well-balanced diet. Wiping your child's face and hands after every bite can turn him into a fretful being who becomes too concerned with your reaction to his messiness to try out his eating skills.

For safety's sake. Never leave children unattended when eating. Don't allow older kids to feed the baby without you around, either. Older children can be overzealous when feeding little ones, causing choking.

Unless you intend to use the entire amount of baby food or throw away the remainder, don't feed an infant directly from a baby food jar. The bacteria from baby's mouth gets into the food, multiplies, and can cause illness when you feed the leftovers to her later on. Instead, spoon some food into a separate dish and refrigerate the rest. If you go back to get more food from the same jar, use a clean spoon, not the one you are using to feed baby during the meal.

In My Experience: Babies Don't Need Fruit Juice
Parents perceive juice as healthy, and, in general, it is. Depending on the brand, 100 percent fruit juice products can be rich in calcium, vitamin C, and disease-fighting phytochemicals, substances exclusive to plant foods. But is juice necessary for infants? The answer is no. In fact, juice can be quite detrimental, especially when it replaces milk in a baby's bottle. While juice provides calories, vitamins, and minerals, it should never pinch-hit for the more nutritious fortified infant formula or for breast milk, which contains the nutrients babies require to flourish. Substituting juice for milk may stunt a child's growth. And infants allowed to suck on a bottle full of any carbohydrate-rich fluid such as juice or milk for prolonged periods risk baby bottle tooth decay. That's because the bacteria in the baby's mouth uses the constant supply of carbohydrate coming out of the bottle as an energy source to produce acid that rots tooth enamel. Letting a baby repeatedly fall asleep with a baby bottle full of juice in his mouth is problematic for this reason. I have never filled up a baby bottle with juice and fed it to any of my girls, and I don't recommend you do, either. When children are ready to use a sippy cup, then they can have fruit juice, but no more than six ounces a day, and preferably less. It's OK, but not required, to mix fortified 100 percent fruit juice with infant cereals beginning at four months, as long as you don't serve baby orange, grapefruit, or tomato juice. And forget about special juices designed for babies. They are expensive, and they are no better for your child. In fact, "baby" juices can cost upwards of two and a half times more than regular juice.

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Copyright © 2002 by Elizabeth M. Ward. Excerpted from Healthy Foods, Healthy Kids with permission of its publisher, Adams Media Corporation.

To order this book visit Amazon.com.


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