Parenting: Introducing baby to solid foods

Friday, July 16, 2010

Feeding our little man has become more of a handful. He's gone from being an easy going eater, downing all sorts of pureed fruit, vegetable and meat mixtures, to being very picky.

We've gotten him to eat little pieces of waffle and yogurt. But banana, watermelon, mango, chicken, and pastina have all gotten "the face," before being spit out. He can't say no, and I wish he could. It would be better than the left hand roundhouse he uses to knock the spoon away, splattering his high chair and mommy with strained squash.

Now we often have to use a multiplicity of methods to get food in his belly: giving him puffs in between bites, singing songs, or sneaking in bites on his play floor as he spins around playing with toys. I am actually looking forward to the teenage days when he inhales food by the bushel on his own from the fridge.

It is tempting to just load him up on cereal bars and puffs, things we know he'll eat. But that kind of behavior can lead to an imbalance between parent and child, letting the kid dictate what hits the plate. It can also lead to obesity, according to researchers, as parents allow kids to choose calorie-rich, nutrient poor foods loaded up with preservatives, sweeteners and fats.

In fact, a new study on food and infants in up on It comes from the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior and tracks efforts by the Center for Childhood Obesity at Penn State. Nurses went to homes of first time parents to help them learn the timing and methods for introducing healthy solids, like vegetables, to babies and how to identify infant hunger and fullness clues. It found mothers who got the year long intervention had babies were more likely to accept vegetables and new foods.

So, the message here is that if you have a crawler who is turning away from healthy foods and just wants the snacks and bread, it's a good idea to seek out help from local practitioners rather than assume your little one will grow into spinach and sweet peas.

What we've learned at home with new foods is that it's better to try them out at a mealtime about 15 minutes earlier than usual. Once our baby is truly hungry he wants the tried and true and has little tolerance to experiment. And a helpful nurse warned this is just a rite of passage; she says it usually takes five tries before a child starts to accept a food. And our doctor advises us to be firm: when the kitchen is closed, the kitchen is closed. No allowing the little guy to say no to what we want him to eat, knowing he'll get extra snacks or extra bottles in between feedings.

It's not fun to weather the tantrums or splattered food. But we know we have to keep trying. Here's to a little pastina and chicken today.

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