There is a triumphant feeling that comes with being the parent of a baby who has graduated from bottle-feeding and pabulum to bottle-feeding and pureed foods. This is an exciting yet vital period for children and their parents. This is where healthy eating habits are born and positive attitudes towards trying new tastes and textures are formed. Although parents may be tempted to give their infants as many new foods as possible, there are definitely ground rules that must be followed. These ground rules will prevent children from suffering terrible stomach upsets, avoiding dangerous consequences of ingesting certain substances, and developing poor eating habits.
Parents should start off introducing foods to their babies by using baby food or making their own by pureeing cooked vegetables and fruits. The parents who opt to make baby food in their homes feel that this decision is a very safe and pure alternative to jarred foods. However, infant feeding specialist Cynthia Epps states, there are foods that still need to be avoided in order to keep a baby from becoming sick. Epps discourages parents from feeding their infants kale, spinach, and carrots, which are all high in nitrates. Nitrates can make a baby sick. The leafy green vegetables should be avoided altogether while carrots can be cooked, pureed, and diluted in order to make them safe.
Another issue with introducing solid foods is when a well-meaning parent decides to give the baby a treat. Refined sugars, foods and beverages containing caffeine and salty snacks should be avoided as well. This is crucial as caffeine dehydrates the body, causes diarrhea, and increases the body's acidity if given in excess. Refined sugars can cause spikes in blood sugar that a baby who is being introduced to solids isn't used to. This can cause jitters and upset stomachs. Finally, salty snacks contain high levels of sodium that can cause a baby to retain water, and too much sodium is known to lead to high blood pressure. It is advisable to limit, if not eradicate, the use of these foods when introducing solids.
Foods Hard on the Stomach
There are also foods that cause stomach upset and diarrhea in infants who are new to solids. Parents should avoid feeding a baby proteins like white meats, beans, and tofu until the baby has reached at least eight months of age. The digestive system simply isn't ready to handle these foods, which could mean an upset stomach and diarrhea. In addition, fruits can cause diarrhea if introduced too early. Diarrhea and stomach upset can be very painful for a baby and diarrhea can be dangerous as it dehydrates a baby and depletes their electrolyte balance fairly quickly.
Healthy Eating Habits
Solid foods outside of baby foods can be fun to introduce, but parents must be aware that they are instilling lifelong habits and food preferences when they present their babies with any new food. Sugary foods such as fruits, candy, baked goods, and chocolate are foods that should be used minimally, and in the case of chocolate, foregone until a child is older and has been introduced to more, if not all, of the basic foods. Epps also outlines why sugary foods including fruits establish poor eating habits in children. This is an important issue for all families, as future health depends on the examples that are set in addition to the foods we introduce during a child's infancy.
When parents follow the guidelines mentioned above for avoiding certain foods, the baby is learning to enjoy healthy foods and the benefits of supplementing breast milk or formula with additional nutrients. All the while, they are experiencing new things, strengthening their digestive systems, and enjoying exciting and delicious sensations on the palate. The main idea of avoiding feeding a baby specific foods is eliminating upset stomachs, keeping the baby's body safe from substances it isn't ready to process, as well as creating good eating habits. The most important priority for parents when feeding solids must be the nutritional and digestive needs of the child. This will ensure that the baby is satiated but also comfortable. These tips should make introducing new foods a more positive experience for both parent and child.