Category Archives: Solid Foods

Fruit juice: New guidelines

Fruit juice is a popular drink among kids, and parents love them since they provide hydration and fruit servings (especially for picky eaters who reject whole fruits). But even though juice is natural and made from fruits, is it a drink that should be given freely without limits?

Fruit juice was allowed in moderation starting at 6 months of age, but the American Academy of Pediatrics has just recently published a change in recommendations, suggesting new guidelines for juice consumption starting until after a year of age.

Juice consumption is notorious for filling children’s bellies and therefore replacing other solid foods or breastmilk/formula which babies need the most. Although 100% fruit juice with no added sugar provides nutrients, it’s very high in sugar and low in fiber, putting children at risk for high-calorie consumption and tooth decay.

Whole fruit is always better than juice, and if kids consume fruit, there is no need for fruit juice in their diets. Before age one, 100% fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit for babies. Once children turn one they can consume some juice to complement a balanced diet, but it should be limited according to their age. If you want to feed your baby fruit juice make sure to follow the recommendations below.

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Introduction to solids: Baby-led weaning

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is becoming a very popular way to feed solids to babies. It offers an alternative method to the traditional introduction to complementary foods in a baby’s diet. With this method, infants use their hands to explore food and to feed themselves, instead of being spoon-fed purees or baby food.

If you and your pediatrician decide this is the method you’d like to try, your baby can begin once he is six months old, sits upright, and can bring objects to his mouth. Once your baby is ready, place graspable stick-shaped family foods (foods you eat at home without added salt or sugar) in the tray of his high chair, and let him pick it up and put it in his mouth freely. As a parent, you decide what to offer to your baby, but he will decide what to eat (which should also be true for traditional spoon feeding). Always remember that food should not be forced and milk remains an essential part of your baby’s diet.

In theory, with BLW you expose your baby to a wide variety of healthy foods, teach him to eat food that the family enjoys, and allow him to control his own intake. No grams or teaspoons are counted when preparing your baby’s food, nor is it necessary for your baby to finish it all. Eating should be a pleasurable experience. Continue reading

Help, my baby is a picky eater!

If you have a child older than 12 months of age, you may notice that his appetite has decreased, his food choices have become selective, and he gets fussy when eating. This is very common and usually occurs when little ones begin to acquire and desire independence. Also, the mayor growth spurt little ones go through during their first year of life is beginning to decelerate. For this reason, some days you might notice your baby eats well and others, it seems as if he doesn’t eat anything at all. You may believe that your little one is very fussy; however, most of the time it’s just that his interest lies in playing and exploring, rather that on food.

His decrease in the rhythm of growth and his interest in play are not the only factors that cause children to be picky. Researchers in psychology and nutrition have identified that genes may also play a role in food rejection. The fear of trying new foods may be due to the temperament of your child; however, this doesn’t mean that the behavior can’t be modified. So what should you do? First of all, take a deep breath and follow the next 11 tips to ensure that mealtime doesn’t become a battleground. Continue reading

Fueling the wonderful energy of my little one

At this stage of development, children have an amazing amount of energy; so much that it seems they never get tired! Sure, every child is different and some are more active than others, but all children require a healthy diet to keep growing and to continue their active exploration of the world that surrounds them.

Since your baby learned to crawl and walk, access to his surroundings has increased, making it much easier to move to areas that catch his attention. With this in mind, we know little ones don’t want to sit still. That’s why it is very important to keep their tummies full, even though sometimes they might seem to forget they have to eat.

How should I feed my child at this stage?

It is important to emphasize that, despite the fact that your child is still growing, it’s not at the same rate as it was during his first year of life. With this in mind, remember that it is normal for him to lose interest in food or to prefer to play instead of eating. Likewise, it might seem that some days he has a great appetite, while others it might seem nonexistent. This is completely normal. As long as your little one continues to grow and is happy, then there’s no problem. However, if you notice that your child is not gaining weight or seems to lack energy, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician.

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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 either or even combine these two options. 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 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, you can buy baby food at the supermarket. Only make sure 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.

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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 each day at the same time. 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. That way your little one will soon 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 foods. With this in mind, in this article we present different profiles of children who refuse to eat and tips on how to feed them. Continue reading

Including my baby at family meals

Your baby has grown a lot and 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. By 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 his 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.

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

  • Learning from others. Your baby will observe how his siblings or his parents eat. He will see how 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.
  • 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.

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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, you should supplemented it with milk. As your baby gets used to it, you can always increase the quantity of solid food you offer, eventually replacing the milk. Your baby will indicate whether she wants more or if she is already satisfied. If she asks for more food, give it to her, but if she pulls away don’t force her to eat.

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 she’s still hungry or satisfied. At first, it’s likely that she will spit out most of the food you give her, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t like it, she’s simply learning to use her tongue to swallow the food. When your baby wants more food she will open her mouth or move forward towards the spoon. If your baby doesn’t want more food, she will turn her head away, close her mouth, or cry.

On the other hand, you can feel confident that your baby is receiving enough calories if she 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.