All posts by Kinedu

Baby food: Homemade or store-bought?

Since you are new to the world of solid baby food, you might be wondering whether you should prepare the purees at home or get the ready-to-eat jars from the supermarket. The truth is that there is no right answer; you can do both and even combine these two options. To prepare food at home is a wonderful way to feed your baby, because it presents food in its freshest form. However, sometimes it seems like an impossible task.

If you have the opportunity to prepare your baby’s food at home, you’ll know exactly each ingredient that’s in it and you’ll begin to get your baby used to your family’s meals (but in its pureed version). Now, it is not always feasible to prepare pureed meals every day, so a good technique is to choose one “cooking” day and prepare lots of different recipes and freeze them. Therefore, you can only defrost one portion at a time and save the rest for later. This can be very time effective and cheaper than buying ready-to-eat jars from the supermarket, but it does require time, organization, and preparation. Preparing food at home requires absolute hygiene; make sure you keep all the utensils and equipment very clean. If you lack the time or culinary inspiration, there is no problem with buying baby food at the supermarket; you only need to ensure that:

• It is made with natural food.

• It doesn’t contain sugar or sugar substitutes.

• It has low or no sodium.

• It doesn’t contain preservatives.

Most baby food you’ll find in the supermarket is of excellent quality; just check that they meet the requirements stated above. Buying baby food in the supermarket offers a convenient and very practical way of storage. Likewise, it’s a huge help anytime you don’t have food and are traveling or out for a walk. With this in mind, pediatricians recommend that you feed your baby with ready-to-eat jars occasionally, to get him used to the taste, and to prevent him from rejecting it when it is the only option for food. On the other hand, if you always buy your baby food, every now and then try to give him homemade food in order to get your baby used to eating homemade food with your family.

As final advice, serve the portion of food your little one will eat in a separate dish to prevent contamination of the food that he did not eat. That way, you can store the remaining food in the refrigerator for 48 hours and use it for another meal.

Weaning: What foods should I start with?

Introducing solid foods to your baby’s diet can come with a lot of questions and concerns. The whole process can become a bit confusing after finding out different information from articles, books, friends and family. Therefore, we’d like to clarify a few of the myths surrounding the introduction of solids.

One of these myths is that it is necessary to introduce cereals first. Now, most people do start with single grain cereals, but there is no scientific evidence that suggests that introducing solids in a particular order is best for your baby. It is also very common to hear that if you give your little one fruit first he will refuse to eat vegetables later; but again, there is no scientific evidence supporting this. The truth is that you can start with almost any food you want! You can even start with meat puree, something that was unthinkable in the past. However, thanks to recent research, it is recommended that meat be one of the first solids your baby tries, as it provides the necessary iron intake that he requires at this stage. After around the 6-month mark, babies run short of the iron reserves which they were born with. Therefore, it is important to give them iron-rich food such as red meat and iron fortified cereals.

Likewise, it is important to introduce your baby to a wide variety of healthy food that’s rich in nutrients, provided that you give him one specific food for 3 consecutive days to rule out allergies. Keep in mind that your little one is learning to eat, and therefore the foods’ texture and flavors are brand new. Don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t want to eat something in particular, this is very normal. Just try again later! Sometimes, you need to offer your baby a food 10 to 15 different times before he accepts it. For this reason, it is important to continue offering a teaspoon at a time in a pureed and almost semi-liquid consistency. Your little one is starting to learn how to eat food, so lumps or thick solids will be difficult to swallow. As your baby gets used to solid foods, you can gradually change the consistency of the food.

Introducing healthy snacks

Who doesn’t like snacks? They’re delicious, very easy to prepare, and help balance the amount of nutrients required for your baby’s diet. If you think that your child doesn’t eat enough at breakfast, lunch or dinner, a healthy snack can serve as nutritional support. On the other hand, your little one might have a healthy appetite and eat very well but still get hungry between meals. Healthy snacks are a great way to keep your child happy and satisfied. Offer two to three snacks every day, establishing good eating habits. With a small portion, your baby will probably be satisfied, and it will prevent him from rejecting the whole snack and allow him to get to dinner time with enthusiasm.

How do I introduce healthy snacks?

It’s best to introduce snacks at the same time each day. That way, your child will learn to anticipate food at certain hours and will be prepared for them. Now, there will be days when your baby doesn’t finish his entire snack either because he isn’t hungry or doesn’t like it. However, try to continue offering the snacks at the same time, to avoid confusion in your child’s routine. Offer healthy snacks and give your baby the opportunity to choose one if he asks for it. Let him choose between two or three healthy choices.

Avoid giving junk food to your little one since they don’t add any healthy nutritional value to his diet. On the other hand, you don’t have to withhold these foods on special occasions like birthdays or parties. Just remember not to eat them in everyday life or offer them as a reward and your little one soon will understand that they are to be consumed only occasionally.

Little appetites: Children who are picky eaters

A lot of children are picky when it comes to eating. If you are going through this, we have good news – it is totally normal! As long as your baby continues to develop at a healthy rate and is happy, there is not much to worry about. In fact, after the first year growth slows and children don’t require as much food. Furthermore, the cognitive and physical development children experience makes them more interested in playing and exploring – and less interested in sitting down and eating.

One of the reasons why children get fussy and deny eating is because they seek independence, and refusing food gives them a sense of choice. Children want to choose what and how much they eat and they don’t always have an appetite, so sometimes they eat very well and other days they seem to eat nothing. Now, we must respect their choice to eat or not, but remember that only you have control over what food you offer and at what time.

It is important to offer healthy choices at mealtime and keep presenting new options often because it can take from 10 to 15 exposures of the same food to get a child to like it or even try it. Moreover, when it comes to offering new options remember to present them in small quantities along with familiar food that you know your little one likes.

Now, not all children are the same, there may be different reasons why they don’t want to eat or try new food. With this in mind, in this article we present different profiles of children who refuse to eat and tips on how to feed them.

If your child is sensitive to taste, smell, or texture:

• Present healthy food choices together with food that you already know he likes.

• Gradually offer your baby new food, keeping in mind that it can take from 10 to 15 exposures before he tastes the food.

• Pay attention to the food and textures that bother your little one and try to serve the same food with different preparation the next time.

If he has a strong temperament and doesn’t want to try or eat certain food:

• Serve new food along with the food that your child already likes. Encourage him to touch, smell, or try new food.

• Resist the urge to prepare special food for your little one, but make sure that in every meal there is something that he likes. Always try to give him what the rest of the family is eating but in small portions.

• Offer him healthy dips like natural yogurt, hummus, ketchup, peanut butter or dressing to motivate your child to eat fruits and vegetables.

• Get your child involved in the simple aspects of cooking so that food interests him and gets his attention.

• Remember to gradually expose him to new food and stay calm if your little one doesn’t want to taste it.

Your child may appear to be a picky eater, but what he really wants is to feed himself. In this case you can:

• Offer finger-food during mealtimes.

• Let your little one handle the cutlery even if he doesn’t have good hand-eye coordination yet.

• Ask your child how he wants food to be served in his plate.

Your little one is very active and doesn’t like to stop playing to sit and eat:

• Don’t sit your little one down until the meal is ready and his plate is set.

• Try to make each meal brief.

Including my baby at family meals

Your baby has grown a lot, now’s a great time to start including him in family meals! Despite not being ready to eat everything the family eats, your baby can begin to try many different textures, consistencies, and flavors. He can try small pieces of the same food others eat; but limit the amount of added salt and sugar. It’s also a very good time developmentally to introduce the spoon and sippy cup if you have not done so yet. Sitting around the table, your baby will be able to see you using utensils and drinking from cups, and there is nothing more exciting for a baby than being able to imitate their parents.

Including your baby in family meals may seem like more work, however, you can do it gradually as your baby is adapting to the routine. You can start by feeding your baby and when he acquires more dexterity and is able to feed himself, you can incorporate him and let him eat at the same time as the rest of the family does. You can also try this for one meal a day, and then gradually add more meals.

What are the benefits of including your baby in family meals?

• Learning from others. Your baby will observe how his brothers or you, his parents, eat. He will see as they use their utensils and their positive reactions towards the food during the meal.

• He will be able to taste new food and might even show more interest towards it.

• Finally, your little one will begin to learn good table manners. He’ll see that he has to wait his turn to talk; he can learn to say “please” and “thank you”, and even to chew politely. Gradually he will learn more and more things through observation and imitation.

How do I adjust my cooking so that it’s appropriate for my child?

• Prepare the recipe as you always do, but separate a small portion for your little one before seasoning the rest of the recipe.

• Cut your baby’s food separately too, according to the desired texture. Remember that despite not having all his teeth, your little one’s gums are stronger than you think. As long as the food can be easily dissolved in his mouth, there is no reason to put off introducing more textures.

• Remember to offer a type of food that you know your child likes in case he is a picky eater.

• Talk to your baby and involve him in the conversation, although he may not speak yet, he’ll love to interact with you.

• Keep in mind that your little one won’t always want to finish all the food you offer him. Let him choose what he likes best among the options you give him and resist the urge to get up and prepare something special if he doesn’t want to eat anything.

• Make mealtime short or let your little one retire to play near you when he has finished eating. At this age he probably won’t want to sit for a long time in the same place.

How much food is enough for my child?

When introducing solids, it is important to find a balance between the energy needed by the body and its consumption. When you begin the weaning process, start with small amounts of food. One or two tablespoons are enough to begin to accustom your baby to this new way of eating. Since you begin with little amounts of food, it can be supplemented with milk. As your baby gets used to it, you can always increase the quantity of solid food you offer, eventually replacing the milk with it. Your baby will indicate whether he wants more or if he is already satisfied. If he asks for more food, give it to him, but if he pulls away don’t force him.

Remember that babies innately know when they are satisfied and therefore eat only what they need. This self-regulation can be affected when food is either limited or forced to be consumed. Your baby will indicate whether he’s still hungry or satisfied. At first, it’s likely that he will spit out most of the food you give him, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t like it, he’s simply learning to use his tongue to swallow food. When your baby wants more food he will open his mouth, or move forward towards the spoon. If your baby doesn’t want more food, he will turn his head away, close his mouth, or cry.

On the other hand, you can feel confident that your baby is receiving enough calories if he is energetic. This is also true if your baby is gaining weight; attend your regular appointments with your pediatrician to keep track of your baby’s growth and development.

Introduction to solid foods

If you believe that your baby is ready to begin eating solids, talk to your pediatrician about it. Introducing solids to your baby’s diet is extremely important because this way, he will acquire the nutrients needed for a proper development. You might be wondering what’s the right time to begin, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s around the 6-month mark; however, every child is different, and some are ready before that.

It’s important to introduce solid food when your baby is around 6 months because at this point breast milk no longer provides enough iron, calories, protein, DHA, zinc and fat-soluble vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin C. These requirements can be found in solid food.

How to introduce the first solid food?

To begin with this new stage, choose the time of day that’s more convenient for you. Preferably, select between breakfast, lunch or dinner time and alternate it as time passes so that your baby gets used to eating solid foods at different times of the day. You want your baby to be in a good mood and hungry enough, but not starving. To make eating solids for the first time smoother, give your baby a little breast milk or formula first. Then try giving him very small spoonfuls of food, and end with more milk. After several days, the process can be reversed to ensure that gradually the nutrients coming from the solid foods are increased until the point that you only provide solids at that specific mealtime.

When you are ready to start, sit your little one in a well supported position. Choose any food you want to begin with, just make sure that it is fully pureed, without any chunks, and it’s not seasoned. You can choose to prepare it at home or buy it. Take one of your baby’s spoons and just fill it halfway. Feed it to your baby and talk to him about it. How is he reacting? It is normal for your baby to show confusion, and he may even refuse the food because this is all completely new to him. Don’t worry about it! Start slowly, with a small spoonful or two. Soon your child will become used to this new way of eating and you can gradually increase the amount of food he receives.

If your baby cries or moves away, don’t forcefully feed him. Return to his previous diet of breast milk or formula for a few days and then try again. The transition to solids is a gradual process where your baby will still be getting most of his nutritional intake from breast milk or formula.

When you introduce solids, remember to try each new food for 3-5 consecutive days to verify that your little one shows no allergic reaction; it’s easier to identify it that way. Alternate food after a few days so your baby doesn’t get used to only one. For example, you can try offering meat for 3 days, cereal for 3 days, vegetable for 3 days, fruit for 3 days, then other kinds of meat for another 3 days and so on until your little one tries a variety of foods.

Recommended hours of sleep: 21 – 24 months old

A nice and well rested sleep is very important to restore our body and brain. Sleeping well is associated with a better mood, temperament, physical performance, and a positive attitude. Sleep is essential for our brain, during this time it consolidates and organizes everything that happened in the day. In our children’s case, sleeping allows them to continue growing and to wake up full of energy, eager to keep learning and exploring their surroundings. Sleeping is very important for both adults and children.

Sleep is essential for children. It helps them restore their energy for the upcoming day and it fosters physical and cognitive growth. When they sleep children save energy, allowing them to gain weight and grow. Their vital organs also mature. Likewise, sleeping helps them wake up with enough energy to move, walk, learn, talk, and explore the world around them.

Around this age, children normally need only one nap during the day, sleeping for about an hour. This gives them more time to explore their surroundings and play during the day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleeping range for children that are 21-24 months old is between 11-14 hours a day. Some kids sleep more or less, however, experts don’t recommend that your little one sleeps above or below a 9-16 hour range at this age. If you think your child is sleeping more than needed, you can try shortening his naps and doing a lot of activities to ensure that he receives enough stimulation in the day. On the other hand, if your little one sleeps less, try to strengthen his sleep routines and remember to have a nap before 4 pm. Sleeping well allows your little one to keep learning and stay active. Your baby will receive so much stimulation and affection during the day, and while sleeping, his brain will consolidate the moments and new findings.

Remember not to worry too much about the precision of sleeping hours. It’s important to keep in mind the recommendations regarding hours of sleep, but remember that every child is different. The best way to know if your little one is sleeping well is by noticing if he is happy and well rested, or if he is tired and irritable during the day.

Fostering my little one’s autonomy at bedtime

You’ve probably noticed that your little one seeks more independence now. He is entering a stage in which he begins to define what he likes and doesn’t like, and wants to exercise his autonomy. If your little one is at this stage, and you notice that he resists bedtime, a good piece of advice is to allow him to participate in the routine. Here are different ideas that you can try at home to encourage your child’s independence and help him enjoy bedtime.

• Continue implementing your regular bedtime routine but give him the opportunity to express his opinion and to make his own choices.

• Give him pajamas options, let him choose the story you’ll read together, which stuffed animal to sleep with or even how many of them! Letting him participate will make your little one feel that he is in control of his own decisions.

• Decorate his room with his favorite stuffed animals, so he feels comfortable and enjoys it.

• Let your child choose his favorite night light.

• When providing options, the trick is to only give two or three options among which to choose from. Make sure that options are something that you would approve.

• Don’t ask your little one if he wants to go to sleep or not, because he can answer “NO!” Instead, ask “Do you want to go to bed before or after listening to the goodnight story?”

Remember that in spite of being open to giving your child options to choose from, you are in charge of his sleep. You have the final say, not your little one, so feel confident to establish the necessary rules for your child to sleep well. Sympathize with and listen to your child, you can say: “I know you want to stay up, but it’s bedtime. Let’s choose your pajamas and the goodnight book.” You can also ask: “Do you want to brush your teeth before or after putting on your pajamas?” Providing options allows you to reach your goal and fulfill your purpose as a parent: peacefully helping your child do what’s best for his well-being.

Recommended hours of sleep: 17 – 20 months old

A nice and well rested sleep is very important to restore our body and brain. Sleeping well is associated with a better mood, temperament, physical performance, and a positive attitude. Sleep is essential for our brain, during this time it consolidates and organizes the day’s events. In our children’s case, sleeping allows them to continue growing and to wake up full of energy, eager to keep learning and exploring their surroundings. Sleeping is very important for both adults and children.

Sleep is essential for children. It helps them restore their energy for the upcoming day and it fosters physical and cognitive growth. When they sleep children save energy, allowing them to gain weight and grow. Their vital organs also mature. Likewise, sleeping helps them wake up with enough energy to move, walk, learn, talk, and explore the world around them.

Around this age, children normally need only one nap during the day, sleeping for about an hour. This gives them more time to explore their surroundings and play during the day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleeping range for children that are 17-20 months old is between 11-14 hours a day. Some kids sleep more or less, however, experts don’t recommend that your little one sleeps above or below a 9-16 hour range at this age. If you think your child is sleeping more than needed, you can try shortening his naps to ensure that he receives enough stimulation in the day. On the other hand, if your little one sleeps less, try to strengthen his sleep routines. Sleeping is essential, as it helps strengthen your child’s immune system. Plus, he will be in a better mood during the day and more receptive to learning language, movement, and cognitive skills. You’ll probably be chasing your little one all over your house throughout the day; this is good because it means he has a lot of energy and will hopefully be tired for bedtime. Then, while sleeping, your little one will be reinforcing what he learned during the day, because the brain uses sleep to organize the day’s events.