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Baby’s First 365 Days: Feeding

As a new parent, the overload of information can be overwhelming. At BEABA, we often get questions about feeding, whether it be about what solid to start with or what delicious recipes to try next. We’ve asked nutritionist Lisa Moskovitz to give us the low-down on her guide to Baby’s First 365 Days: Feeding. 

 

The first 365 days with your baby can feel like a blur. Not only is your head spinning from the all the changes and adjustments happening at once, but you’re also trying to do everything possible to set your little one up for life. One of the most important ways we do that is through food and nutrition! At first, it’s mostly bottles and boobs. Before you know it, you’re at the 4-6 month mark.  You scour the internet while bombarding your pediatrician and friends with questions about starting solids, “What should I give first? When should I start? Should it be homemade, or can it be jarred?” These are some of the MANY questions we worry about (like we don’t have enough on our plates already).

First, KNOW that you’re doing a great job! Second, don’t stress out about every little thing when it comes to feeding your baby. Just make sure you pay attention to the most important things.

 

Here are the basics:

  1. Breastmilk and/or formula is the main source of nourishment for your little one until age 1. After that, you can switch to whole milk if there are no known allergies.
  2. With the approval of your doctor, you can start solids anytime between 4-6 months. In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics published recommendations stating that solid foods should not be introduced before 4-6 months (to prevent serious allergic reactions, amongst other reasons), but there was no evidence that delaying it beyond that would protect against allergies. You also don’t want to wait too long or else baby might not be as open to real foods. On the contrary, starting too early can interfere with drinking enough milk or formula and baby may have a tough time eating when they’re too young.
    1. Look for signs that baby is ready, such as showing in interest in what you’re eating, sitting up with minimal support and holding their own head up.
  3. Start with bitter and then slowly introduce more sweets. A study conducted out of The University of Glasgow found that fruits and sweet vegetables were used more often in popular brand-name baby food products. The lead researcher, Dr. Ada Garcia, lectured that “taste learning requires parents to introduce their children to less palatable bitter tastes and (to) keep offering them.” Making your own baby food at home can ensure the incorporation of a wider variety of more bitter tasting vegetables first. This can help baby with overall food preferences and reducing pickiness. Another helpful tip is to give bitter, or less sweet, foods earlier in the day when infants tend to be hungrier, and thus more open to less pleasurable tastes.
    1. A few good options for first foods include avocado, canned or fresh organic pureed pumpkin and baby cereal mixed with milk or formula. Thin out the pumpkin or avocado before spoon feeding to make sure its thin enough to swallow.
    2. Then you can move on to pureed greens like broccoli, spinach, kale, and orange-colored foods such as carrots, squash and sweet potato.
  4. Always be on the lookout for allergies and sensitivities. New foods mean possible new reactions. They typically appear right away, but some don’t show for many hours or even days later. That’s why when you start with purees, it’s recommended to follow the “4 day wait rule.” Although some experts find it outdated when it comes to detecting allergies, it is still a recommendation of The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI.) How does it work? You introduce 1 single food at a time every day for at least 3-4 days until introducing something new. This method will give you time to notice any reactions or possible sensitivities.
  5. Around 7-8 months you can start introducing meats and common allergens such as whole milk yogurt, peanut butter, fish, and eggs. On the flip side, some research shows introducing allergens even earlier than this can have protective benefits. According to the AAAAI, “egg, dairy, peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish can be gradually introduced as early as 4-6 months after less allergenic foods have been tolerated. In fact, delaying introduction may increase baby’s risk of developing allergies.”
    1. You can start by giving a tiny bit of all-natural, organic peanut butter on your finger at first. Then work up to more a generous spoonful in baby’s cereal or yogurt. You can even combine it with veggies, fruits and chicken.
    2. Once you introduce an allergen try to keep it as a regular in the rotation. In 2016, the Enquiring About Tolerance Study published in New England Journal of Medicine showed the risk of any food allergy was reduced by two-thirds for infants CONSISTENTLY fed these allergens.
    3. When it comes to eggs, yolks are typically more tolerated than whites so you can start with just the yolks from a hard-boiled egg. It’s easy to mash and you can add some milk to thin it out. Once you’re in the clear, feel free to move on to the whites.
  6. Most pediatricians agree that by 8 months baby should be eating AT LEAST 3 times a day which means it’s time to drop 1 bottle, or 1 breastfeeding, if you can! It took me a few weeks to figure out how to adjust my boy’s schedule, but once you do it feels great to wash 1 (or in my case 2) less bottles a day. They should still be getting around 24-30 oz per day, however, you may notice that they are not drinking as much for milk as they used to now, they’re eating real food 3 times a day.
    1. Daily solid food feeding guidelines for a 7-8 month old published by Stanford Children’s Health Organization and Johns Hopkins Medicine are as follows:
      1. 5-8 tbsp. single grain cereal mixed with formula 1x/day
      2. 2-3 tbsp. strained or soft mashed fruits 2x/day
      3. 2-3 tbsp. strained or mashed veggies 2x/day
      4. 1-2 tbsp. strained meat or protein foods 2x/day
      5. Snacks can be toast, crackers, plain yogurt
  1. Finger foods can be given to your baby around the 8-9 month mark or when you see signs such as the “pincer grasp.” Once baby can put pointer finger and thumb together to pick up something, they are typically capable of moving solid foods to back of throat and swallowing. It’s also great practice to let them really hone this skill by scattering puffs or Cheerios in front of them. Another great skill to practice is using a spoon. Around this time, or perhaps closer to 10 months, let baby use spoon to guide some food into their mouth. Put some peanut butter on it and stick a cheerio on top so that it doesn’t move as much, and baby can get satisfaction from guiding it “home.”
  2. Get creative with food combinations and try to include a variety of veggies, fruits, grains, healthy fats, dairy and lean proteins. Add in seasonings and spices as well to give baby a chance to explore as many flavors as possible. Seasonings like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger have plenty extra health benefits to contribute. Honey is off limits until age 1 because of a potentially harmful lurking bacteria called clostridium botulinum.
    1. A few good combos include:
      1. Kale, Avocado, and Egg
      2. Spinach, Sweet Potato and Chicken with Nutmeg
      3. Organic oats, Cinnamon, Apples and Ground Flax Seeds
      4. Whole Milk Greek Yogurt, Banana, Almond Butter and Cinnamon
      5. Cod, Mango, Black Beans, Avocado and Ginger
      6. Turkey, Peas, and Carrots with Turmeric
      7. Edamame, Salmon, and Avocado
      8. Kiwi, Strawberry and Spinach with Ground Chia seeds
      9. Chicken, Peanut butter and Carrots
      10. Zucchini, Turkey, and Kidney Beans
  1. When it comes to how much to feed baby let your mini-me guide you on that. You determine what baby gets to eat, and they determine how much they want to eat. Do not force feed and if you see they are closing their mouth, turning their head away, or evening pushing the spoon away every time it gets close, it may be a sign that the “kitchen is closed.”
  2. By age 1, little babe might be ready to stop pureed foods altogether, but everyone is different so look for signs and clues. If you’re not sure, always consult with your pediatrician! At this point you may also be told to switch from formula to full fat cow’s milk. (Unless you continue to nurse or breastfeed). The U.S. has slightly different guidelines than other countries on when to switch to cow’s milk. Other countries state it’s okay to do it earlier than 1 year, but in the S. it’s still strongly advised to wait until 12 months of age, as it may lead to iron deficiency anemia.
  3. Baby can start to explore more textures and foods such as sandwiches, lentil and/or whole wheat pastas, and other finger foods. Keep in mind that a new food might be met with some resistance but don’t give up after the first try! A 2007 study conducted out of the University of Burgundy revealed that when kids were offered the disliked vegetable at eight meals on alternating days, eventually more than 70% of the infants ate it and like it. Nine months later, 63% of the original ground still did. Keep offering it at meal times and even try mixing it in with other foods or preparing it different ways.

 

Overall, the first 365 days of your children’s lives are precious. They are changing and growing daily. Enjoy it as much as you can and remember to focus on the basics. Always consult with your pediatrician before starting pureed foods and then switching to solid foods. If your child is thriving, and growing at a healthy rate, have some fun with meal times and try to make it a relaxing and enjoyable experience for the whole family.

 

Xx

 

Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, CEO

The NY Nutrition Group

 

Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, CEO is a Certified Registered Dietitian and the CEO of NY Nutrition Group, a nutrition counseling practice in New York with 10 Registered Dietitians on staff. She has been counseling clients for over a decade, helping them live healthier and happier lives. Lisa is regularly interviewed on Fox 5, and in popular publications such as SELF, Women’s Health, Yahoo Health and Men’s Fitness Magazine. When she’s not busy with her private practice and other related responsibilities she is spending time with her husband, shih-tzu and twin baby boys who just turned 8 months! As a new mother and a seasoned dietitian, Lisa has made it her mission to help other first-time moms balance taking care of their children and themselves at the same time.

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