Ok, here is the second part of our food discussion...the "what" to feed your kids. As I mentioned before, let your child lead the way for when they are ready. When they seem interested in food, let them try a bit. Avacado, banana and sweet potato are great starts. A little plain hummus is fine too. Letting your child experiment with different tastes and textures will help build their palate.
Remember that solid food is new to their little digestive system, so a slow introduction is best. Try one new food at a time, and start with small amounts. Look for signs of allergies to new foods. After trying a new food for about a week and there are no problems, you are usually safe to try another. A small bowl of mashed banana or avacado mixed with the familiar taste of breastmilk/formula might ease the transition.
You can then move onto steamed apples, pears, carrots and beets. If you have a good blender, you can blend these fruits raw and add breastmilk/formula as needed to keep the consistency soft and easy to swallow. Try to prepare as many raw fruits and vegatables as possible. Unfortunately, when you cook food, it looses alot of nutrients.
As baby gets older, you can try egg yolk (we did around 9 months). When they start getting teeth, the food can become a little chunkier, so they can practice chewing.
In my opinion, you and your baby should avoid as much processed foods as possible. Canned, boxed and jarred foods contain preservatives and lots of sodium - how else then do they last a few YEARS without going bad?! Do you really want your baby ingesting preservatives and any other ingredients you may not know about? The same goes for highly salted or sugary foods - it may seem convenient to stop at a drive-through, or feed your baby food from your plate to stop them from crying when you are out at a restaurant, but you shouldn't. Although these foods are not good for us as adults, our bodies at least are larger and can process the sugars and salts better then a baby whose little organs are just learning what to do. So, please think first before you let your child try the cinnamon bun at breakfast or the french fries at lunch, and know that even though they are crying and want to grab that food, you are helping them in the long run make "a better choice in food".
What about the "rice cereal" that so many sources, including peditricians, recommend you start babies on? First of all, look at the ingredients on the box of rice cereal. There are alot more ingredients then there should be, many of which I can not even pronounce. Why would you want to give your child that? But you do want to add some more substance to the fruits and veggies. A great alternative is quinoa. Quinoa is a grain that has been a staple in South American food for over 6,000 years. It has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source. This is great for vegatarians, who usually do not get the all the amino acids they need since they do not eat meat. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and easy to digest, which makes it perfect for babies. It also has a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, a positive contrast to other grains which are higher in omega-6. You cook it like rice on the stove and will keep in the fridge for about a week. Perfect for mixing with blended fruits or veggies.
Allergenic or problematic foods for babies to avoid until 1 year old or more are: cow's milk, wheat, anything that contains gluten, strawberries, nuts, peanuts/peanut butter, egg whites, shellfish, soy, cabbage, beans, honey and chocolate (you can reasearch these foods more specifically on your own). For everyone: please note that cow's milk and wheat products cause a great deal of inflamation in the body. Too much of these products can result in the development of allergies, skin irritations, headaches and GI (gastro-intestional) problems. Sugar supresses the immune system, allowing bacteria and viruses to proliferate. Try to eliminate these foods as much as possible, and increase your fruit and veggie intake, as well as foods high in essential fatty acids (EFA) - avacados, EVOO, fish, almonds and walnuts.
Fresh, raw fruits and veggies are the most nutrient dense and therefore best for a growing and developing baby. That is why I thinking making your own baby food is best. You know exactly what is in it. My husband and I make alot of smoothies with a variety of fruits and veggies. Many times we will let Nolan have some or freeze what we don't use to feed him with later. In the next food blog "how" I will show you the quick and easy way to make your own baby food!
Of course, continue breastfeeding your baby as much as possible. This not only continues to be the perfect balanced food of protein, fat and carbs, but will protect the baby from colds and illnesses.