Introducing Solid Foods: When, What, and How - Part Three

Sep 2


Sally Michener

Sally Michener

  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Linkedin

This article provides information on making your own baby food, commercial baby foods, and bring out the cup.


Making Your Own Baby Food

Good nutrition,Introducing Solid Foods: When, What, and How - Part Three Articles or the lack of it, can affect the health and behavior of your child. It is worth spending a couple of hours each week to prepare your infant's food. You know what's in it, and you can customize the texture and taste to your baby's palate. Before your baby's impressionable taste buds get spoiled with sugared and salted packaged foods, get your infant used to the natural taste of freshly prepared foods. Besides, fresh foods taste better.


Healthy Cooking

Before serving or cooking, wash fruits and vegetables well. Scrub them with a vegetable brush. Tim stringy parts and tough ends. Pit, peel, seed, and remove anything that could cause choking. Trim excess fat off meat and poultry.


Steaming fruits and vegetables preserves more of the vitamins and minerals than boiling. Recapture some of the lost nutrients by adding a bit of the steaming liquid to the food, or save it for making soups and sauces. Also, try the following tips to make baby's food as healthful as you can:


                *Don't add salt or sugar -- there's no need to. You may add a bit of lemon juice as a preservative and a natural flavor enhancer.

                *Soften dried legumes (peas and beans) for cooking by boiling for two minutes, then allowing to stand for an hour, rather than the usual custom of soaking overnight, which depletes them of some nutrients.

                *Bake vegetables such as potatoes and squash in their skins.

                * Avoid frying and deep-frying, which adds unhealthy fats to foods.


Packaging and Storing Homemade Baby Food

Store your homemade food in the freezer. Allow the food to cool slightly before freezing in small portions.


                *An ice-cube tray stores ideal infant-sized portions. Pour the freshly cooked and pureed food into the tray, cover with cellophane wrap, and freeze.

                *After freezing, remove the frozen food cubes from the tray and store the cubes in airtight freezer bags. You can then remove one serving-sized cube at a time when needed.

                *An alternative to the handy cube-sized serving is the cookie-sized portion. On a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper, place heaping tablespoonfuls of the pureed baby food, or slices of cooked food, in rows, Freeze until solid. Peel off the food "cookies" or slice and freeze them in tightly sealed bags.

                *Once babies graduate from cookie- and cube-sized portions, store the food in recycled commercial baby-food jars, small jelly jars, or plastic one-serving containers. Be sure not to fill the jars to the brim, as food expands as it freezes.

                *Label all foods with the contents and date and put the most recently frozen foods behind the previously frozen foods, just like they do at the supermarket. Homemade baby foods can safely be kept frozen for three months.


What You Need To Make Your Own Baby Food

                * Food processor and/or blender.

                * Food mill

                * Hand-cranked baby-food grinder

                * Roasting pan

                * Vegetable steamer

                * Egg poacher

                * Saucepan with lid

                * Cutting board

                * Ovenproof glass cups

                * Fork and potato masher

                * Fine-meshed strainer

                * Vegetable brush and peeler

                * Measuring cups and spoons

                * Sharp paring knife

                * Ladle

                * Spatula

                * Grater

                * Colander


For Storing and Freezing

                * Ice-cube tray

                * Storage jars (4-ounce/120-milliliter)

                * Small freezer bags

                * Cookie sheet

                * Waxed paper

                * Freezer tape

                * Marking pen

                * Muffin tin


Thawing and Serving Baby Food

Frozen foods should not be defrosted at room temperature for long periods of time. When you're ready to use frozen baby food, try these tips:

                * For slow thawing, place one serving, or a whole day's worth, in the refrigerator to thaw for three to four hours.

                * For fast thawing, use an electric warming dish, or place the frozen cube or uncovered jar in a heatproof dish and place in a small saucepan. Fill the pan with water to a level a bit below the rim of the thawing dish. Thaw and warm over medium heat and stir food occasionally to promote even heating.

                * Before serving baby's food, be sure to stir it well and check to be certain no portion is too hot for the baby. You should touch the food to your upper lip each time you load another spoon. A bite of too-hot food can teach baby not to trust the material coming at him on the spoon. Your finger would know better.

                * Because microwave warming may leave hot pockets in the food and burn your baby's mouth, it is not recommended. If you choose microwave warming, use the low setting, be extra careful in stirring, and always sample for even heating before serving to baby.

                * To avoid wasting, only spoon-feed baby from the portion you think she will eat. Add more to her dish with a clean spoon if she wants more. You can refrigerate the unused portion for up to two days, but only if saliva has not been introduced.


Some babies never eat "baby foods," and all this preparation information can be bypassed if your baby tolerates a lot of texture, delays solids, hates spoon-feeding, or goes straight to eating finger foods. Some mothers really get into making baby food; other just go with family fare for baby's meal and use a fork to mash.


Commercial Baby Food


Commercial baby foods do have some advantages as a convenience item. They are relatively economical, sanitary, ready to serve, packaged in baby-portioned jars, reusable for refrigerator storage of leftovers, and are staged in graduated textures as baby's chewing and swallowing skills increase. If you choose to feed your baby a steady diet of commercial baby food, call the manufacturer at its '800' number and ask the following questions:

                * Does the food contain pesticides, and how do they police pesticide residues?

                * How fresh are the fruits and vegetables that are used?

                * How long a shelf life is allowed?

                * Does the food contain additives?


Consumer questioning increases the standard of commercial baby food Admittedly, we are purists. We believe parents should be advocates for their babies' nutrition.


Bring Out The Cup


"Introducing" the cup implies making the change from bottle or breast to cup gradually and smoothly. Going from sucking to sipping requires a completely different mouthing orientation and better coordination in swallowing.


Baby's Cup Runneth Over

Because baby's tongue-thrust reflex may not be completely gone at this stage, the protruding tongue may interfere with a tight lip seal, so that some of the liquid will flow over the tongue and dribble out the corners of the mouth. Most babies cannot master a good cup seal until after one year of age. Besides being dribbly, cup feeding is still a bit of a nuisance at this stage, as most babies have not yet mastered the art of gently putting the cup down. They are more likely to throw the cup on the table or floor or place it down sideways rather than gently set it down upright. Developmentally, baby will want to explore the joys of dumping. Here's how to minimize cup nuisances:

                * Hold the glass or cup for your baby until he learns how to handle a cup himself.

                * If baby dribbles too much out of a regular cup, then use a trainer cup with a tight lid and small spout.

                * Use a cup that is weighted on the bottom so it doesn't tip over easily.

                * Use a plastic two-handled cup that is easy to grab and hold.

                * Make sure the cup has a wide base for greater stability.

                * Protect baby's clothing with a large absorbent or waterproof bib.

                * Put a small amount of formula or juice in the cup at any one feeding.


When to Introduce the Cup

There is no magic age for introducing the cup. Even a newborn can be taught to lap out of a very bendable plastic cup. If introducing a cup early, around five or six months, it is necessary for you to hold the cup at first, gradually introducing a few drops of milk between baby's lips and stopping frequently to allow swallowing. Observe stop signs that baby has had enough or is uninterested. When babies are able to sit up by themselves without using their hands for support (usually between six and eight months), they often want to "do it myself" and hold the cup without your assistance. Then you will need to use a cup with a lid.


 Most breastfeeding mothers prefer to bypass the bottle stage completely and progress directly from breast to cup. If your breastfed baby still resists a cup by the end of the first year, and you want to encourage weaning, try the following get-to-love-the-cup tricks: To market the cup as fun, give your baby a plastic play cup as a toy. To overcome cup fear, encourage your baby to watch everyone around the table enjoy their own cup. Place baby's cup within grabbing distance on the table and notice that as you reach for yours, baby reaches for hers. Chalk up another dinner table win. Put diluted juice in the cup at first, instead of the suspicious white stuff.


What To Drink


Besides the right foods, babies need the right fluids. Here's how to begin.


Juicy Advice

When to begin? Introduce diluted juice when your infant is able to drink from a cup, which in most cases is close to nine months of age.


What juice? White grape juice is the most friendly to tiny intestines because its sugar profile makes it easier to be absorbed. Pear, apple, and grape are also favorite starter juices. Some infants develop abdominal pain and diarrhea after drinking too much juice such as prune, pear, and apple. In excess (more than 12 ounces a day), the sugar profile of these juices may have a laxative and irritating effect on the colon. Orange, grapefruit, and lemon juice are too acidic and are usually refused by or upset baby. Vegetable juices, while more nutritious than fruit juices, are usually not a baby's favorite beverage, except for carrot juice.


How much? Because juice is less filling than breast milk or formula, infants can consume a much larger quantity without feeling full. Recommended amounts of 100 percent fruit juice are:

                * 6 to 12 months: 4 ounces per day

                * 1 to 4 years: 6 ounces per day


Dilute juice with at least an equal amount of water. Consider juice as a delivery system for extra water, which your baby needs once she is eating solid foods.


Be label savvy. Always serve juice that says "100 percent juice" on the label. Avoid juice "drinks," "cocktails," or "ades," which may contain as little as 10 to 20 percent juice with lots of added sweeteners, such as sugar and corn syrup.


Avoid nighttime juice bottles. Don't put your baby or toddler down to sleep sucking on a bottle of juice. When a baby falls asleep, saliva production and the natural rinsing action of saliva slows down, allowing the sugary juice to bathe the teeth all night and contribute to tooth decay, a condition called "juice bottle syndrome." If your baby is hooked on a nighttime juice bottle, remove the bottle promptly as soon as baby falls asleep and brush her teeth as soon as she awakens in the morning. Each night dilute the juice with more and more water until baby gets used to all water and no juice -- a trick called "watering down."


Don't Drink Your Milk (Yet)!

The Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breast milk or formula be continued for at least one year, and to avoid cow's milk as a beverage until at least one year (longer if your infant is allergic to dairy products). It is not wise to introduce a potentially allergenic drink at the same time that your baby's intestines are getting used to a variety of solid foods.


If you are no longer breastfeeding, use an iron-fortified formula until at least one year and longer if your infant is allergic to dairy products. Infant formulas are much better suited to infants' nutritional needs than is cow's milk. Formulas are much closer to the composition of human milk and contain all of the necessary vitamins. Most contain additional iron supplements that are so necessary at this age. Formulas are more expensive than cow's milk, but by the time you add the cost of additional vitamins and iron, the cost of formula is only slightly more. Perhaps thinking of formulas as "milk" will lessen your urge to switch to cow's milk.


A Note About the Compulsive Drinker

Toward the end of the first year most bottle fed babies consume around a quart (thirty-two ounces/one liter) of formula each day and get about half of their nutrition from solid foods. What about the baby who is a compulsive formula drinker, consuming forty to fifty ounces a day, and wanting more, but is not interested in solid foods and appears to be gaining excessive weight?


For the compulsive breast feeder and apparently obese baby who still wants to breastfeed all the time but refuses anything else, parents need not worry. Breast milk naturally becomes lower in fat by the second half of the first year. As your baby becomes an active toddler, he will most likely burn off the excess baby fat.


First Dairy Foods

Instead of introducing cow's milk, if you child does not have a family history of dairy allergies or is generally not an allergic baby, you may try dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese between nine months and a year. Yogurt give all the nutritional benefits of milk but with fewer problems. Yogurt is made by adding a bacterial culture to milk. This culture ferments the milk and breaks down the milk lactose into simple sugars, which are more easily absorbed -- good to know when baby is recovering from diarrhea. Milk proteins are also modified by the culturing process, making yogurt less allergenic than milk. Most infants enjoy yogurt around nine months. Sweeten plain yogurt using your own fresh fruit and no-sugar-added fruit spreads rather than using the heavily sweetened fruit-flavored yogurt. Don't use honey until baby is at least one year old.


There will be more articles on infants, breast or bottle feeding and other related topics to follow.  So please keep an eye out for more of my articles.

Also From This Author

The Second Six Months: Moving Up - Part Six

The Second Six Months: Moving Up - Part Six

This article includes the following items: Mastering the World of Words, Baby Words, Gestures and Body Language, Word and Voice Associations, , No-No-No,. Fun and Games with New Words and Gestures, Waving bye-bye, Imitating gestures, Peek-a-boo, More ball games, Keeping the Game going, Caring For your Baby's feet, When should I buy shoes for my baby?, Why does my baby need shoes?, Will shoes help my baby walk?, How can I tell if baby has outgrown her shoes? Toe room, throat room, The counter, What to look For In A Baby Shoe. This is the last part of this article. I hope you found the other five parts.
The Second Six Months: Moving Up - Part Five

The Second Six Months: Moving Up - Part Five

This article includes the following items: Hand Skills, Baby Accommodates Hands to Objects, Container Play, Getting Into Your Baby's Mind, Signs of Developing Memory, Games to Play, Mental Protections. There will be one more part to this article so be sure to keep an eye out for it.
The Second Six Months: Moving Up - Part Four

The Second Six Months: Moving Up - Part Four

This article includes the following items: Nine to Twelve Months: Big Moves, Loco motor Development, What About Safety Gates?, Bypassing the Crawling Stage, From Crawling to Scaling to Climbing, Standing Supported, Cruising Along, From Cruising to Freestanding to First Steps, Standing free., first steps, Helping the beginning walker, From Crawl to Squat to Stand, Early Walkers --Late Walkers. There will be two more parts to this article so be sure to keep an eye out for them.