width= Food for Infants

By: Dr. Michelle MD
  Untitled Document

What should I do if my baby will not eat baby cereal and jars of baby food? I have been trying to introduce foods to him for weeks. He is 7 months old and my doctor feels that he needs more than just formula.

Calm down. Do not worry, and do not create a battle over food. He will be OK even if it takes him longer to start eating. You could try a different approach.

Although we keep breastfed infants on only breast milk as long as they are thriving, we usually recommend giving “solids” around 6 months of age to formula fed babies. By gradually increasing the foods, we slowly decrease the emphasis on formula in the diet so that by one year of age they are down to about 18-20 ounces of formula/ milk or milk products a day, and the solid foods form the basis for the daily nutrition.

Most people assume the baby needs commercial baby foods. Infant cereals and jars of fruit have traditionally been the first foods given. This means the infant is eating refined cereals that are low fiber and made of “white” starch and sweet fruit sauces that are primarily sugar in their nutritional composition.

Since we are seriously trying to limit the intake of “white” starches in everybody’s diet, and since we are trying to reduce the constant demand for sweet foods, it would make more sense to give the baby higher quality foods that we hope he will enjoy eating as an older child and as an adult.

I feel that the first foods should be chicken soup, chicken, and cooked vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnip, squash, etc ) from the soup. Each new food should be started one at a time, with a few days in between, watching for any adverse reactions. (If the baby’s skin starts looking orange, decrease the yellow vegetables to about twice a week.) Avocado, mashed when soft makes, an excellent baby food even for younger babies. It is rich in good fats, iron and other nutrients.

One meal a day is enough in the beginning, then advancing to two meals a day after about 8 months. The more the infant eats the less formula he will take, since the calorie intake remains the same.

To advance the diet, I suggest starting legumes, such as pea soup, blended lentil soup. Beans, barley, potatoes and meat make great baby food! I prefer using applesauce or other fruits for dessert and snacks. Non-sweetened dry breakfast cereals that melt in the mouth make safe snack foods. Cooked cereals are a traditional baby food. Whole grain oatmeal works fine but it should be blended smooth when the baby is young. Other cereals such as farina, corn meal, grits, etc can be cooked for the baby.

With this regimen most babies enjoy eating, since these foods taste good and everyone else is eating the same thing. As the child gets closer to 9 months we give him almost any table food that is soft enough to be eaten either by fingers or spoon. At 9 months we slowly add more allergenic foods such as fish, eggs, peanut butter and milk products.

Most kids are eating three meals a day by about a year.

Milk for Children
Which milk products are good for my children?
From the time milk products are introduced at around 9 months until about 2 years of age, whole milk products are recommended. Whole milk, 4% milk fat cottage cheese, deluxe yogurts, sour cream and cheese are all fine. After two it is better to start using low fat milk products such as low fat yogurt, 1% milk fat cottage cheese and 1% milk fat milk.

Cheeses are mostly made from whole milk and they are a good source of calcium, calories and protein. The problem is that American Cheese is not really cheese. If you look at the label it is called “processed cheese food.” It has a small amount of milk and a large amount of other ingredients including commercial fats added in the processing. It is basically a junk food. I advise parents to give Mazorella, Swiss and other real cheeses. They are much more nourishing for the kids.

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