What should I feed my baby? Is he getting enough to eat? Why is she so picky?

Posted by | January 11, 2019 | LENS, Nutrition, Pregnancy Medicine | No Comments

Often questions such as these plague mothers as they try to decide on what to buy, prepare and feed their baby, particularly as their baby grows and his/her eating habits change.  Luckily for adults, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designed a Food Guide Pyramid as a recommendation for the portions and variety of foods that should be consumed to obtain a healthy diet.  In 2010, the Pyramid became My Plate, with the same categories, except a stronger emphasis was placed on having fruits and vegetables make up at least half of the plate.  Although similar recommendations are not specific for babies or children under the age of 2 years, the general recommendations of food groups and portion control are applicable for everyone.  Babies’ and young children’s diets should be made up of a variety of foods from the 4 major food groups, including breast milk &/or formula (in the first year) and cow’s milk (thereafter) from the dairy group; cereals & grains, vegetables, fruits, meats or proteins, and water.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing solid foods to babies at 4 to 6 months, when babies begin losing the “tongue thrust” reflex, important for breastfeeding, but often interfering with feeding.  Pureed vegetables are often babies first foods. In a few months babies transition from purees to chunkier foods.

By 7 to 11 months, babies generally begin reaching for foods indicating their interest in and desire for “table” foods.  Any healthy foods with a smooth surface are acceptable to feed your baby.  Small, bite-size pieces of pasta, fruits, cooked vegetables and/or pea-size meats are excellent finger food options.  At this age, babies enjoy “raking” their foods; then later they progress to using a “pincer grasp” to pick up food between the thumb and forefinger as they practice self feeding.

As babies mature and progress to using a spoon, usually after their first birthday, they will need considerable practice guiding their food to their mouths.  Foods with a thicker consistency such as mashed potatoes and yogurt are acceptable at this stage.  Given the hand-eye coordination needed to maneuver a spoon, babies are prone to have as much food as they eat also end up on the floor, so plan for messier meal times.

The overall advice for meal times is: make eating times fun; maintain a routine for snack and meal times; encourage independence, such as feeding oneself; be a role model; love variety; be patient and flexible to try foods several times before expecting a child to accept it; teach babies and young children to listen to their internal cues of fullness and avoid the tendency to demand a “clean plate.”

Remember the eating habits established as a baby and young child stick with us throughout our lives, so make a good impression.  By doing so, we create lifelong lovers of fresh, wholesome foods, enjoyable meal times and ultimately, healthy, fully functioning bodies.  Likewise, by adopting good eating habits, we prevent debilitating illnesses such as childhood obesity and adult onset diabetes.

References:

http://www.babyzone.com/baby/feeding-baby/feeding-by-food-groups_65355

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-food-nutrition-9/baby-food-milestones?page=2

http://www.parents.com/baby/feeding/nutrition/superfoods-9-12-months/

http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/corenutritionmessages/child_feeding_page.htm

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/growth.html

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/healthy-habits.html

Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”