Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mamas & Muffins: Baby Food

Last Monday was the Mamas & Muffins group, so I got to snuggle some sweet little babies and we all talked about baby food. If you couldn't make it, here's some of the information we discussed:

… there’s no rush …

Frank Greer, M.D., FAAP, member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) Committee on Nutrition, says breastmilk is the optimal choice of nutrition for your baby for the first 12 months.

“The AAP Section on Breastfeeding, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Family Physicians, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, WHO, United Nations Children's Fund, and many other health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life.”


… it’s a go …

Signs baby may be ready for solid food include:

  • baby sits upright
  • baby has lost tongue-thrust reflex
  • baby watches people eating & imitates
  • baby can pinch-grasp smaller objects
  • baby may have doubled(ish) birth weight
  • baby may be teething

    There is no definitive sign, I don't think. I used the examples of my children. I started them both with solid food at about 5.5 months, when they could both sit up, they seemed interested, and could swallow tiny spoonfuls of food. Madelyn was still a few pounds off from doubling her birth weight, but she was teething. Owen was still months from getting teeth, but had long since doubled his birth weight.

    In my opinion, the best way is to be guided by baby. If baby likes the food you offer, has no trouble swallowing it, and is happy at mealtimes, than it sounds like she's ready!


    … first foods …

    first: bananas, pears, unsweetened applesauce, avocado, sweet potatoes, rice cereal, peaches

    and then: yogurt, egg yolk, oatmeal, finely chopped chicken, beans, cheese, cheerios, baby biscuits

    I love the list of food suggestions in the Sears' Baby Book

    I also mentioned to the Mamas about the BRAT & anti-BRAT foods, because I learned this the hard way. Madelyn wouldn't take rice cereal, so this wasn't a problem for her, but after I'd been feeding Owen solids for a month or so (applesauce, bananas, a bit of rice cereal), he became wicked constipated. Poor bubby. I hadn't heard of the BRAT diet, that people sometimes eat if they're recovering from a stomach bug or something else that may have caused diarrhea. Basically, it's Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast - which all have binding-up properties. Turns out I was feeding a lot of those foods to Owen. Then someone (thankfully!) told me that P fruits tend to have the opposite effect, loosening things up: pears, peaches, plums, prunes. All of these are good first foods for babies too, so it became a matter of simply adjusting amounts depending on the desired effect. I'd mix pears and applesauce, or peaches and banana, for example.


    ... make your own…

    Making your own baby food can be easy. Roast vegetables like sweet potatoes or winter squash. Peel and use fruits like bananas, pears, and avocados. Mash with a fork, or food process. Scrape into ice cube trays; freeze; remove from the trays and store in freezer bags. Thaw the cubes in the refrigerator, or warm in the microwave. Check temperature and texture and feed to baby. Or if you want some real excitement, hand baby the spoon!

    It really is that simple.

    Once the baby was just a bit bigger, I'd spend an hour every few weeks - roast a few sweet potatoes; poach some skinless chicken breast; briefly cook a few peaches in a pot of boiling water (X the skin before you put them on so it slips off easily) and then puree it to the texture I wanted in the food processor. Put in the ice cube trays and I had baby meals for several weeks. Add to that the things I fork-mashed (banana, pear, avocado) or made to order (egg yolk) and some plain yogurt, and we were pretty much all set.

    One of the other nice things about making your own baby food (beyond knowing exactly what's in it!) is that you can feed your baby more local foods, and foods that are in season. When Owen was a baby I got a huge box of peaches, in season, and pureed/froze them until he was ready for them. When we picked apples, I froze plain applesauce for him. I know that isn't a huge motivator for some people (and he had plenty of non-local bananas and avocados!), but it was something I felt good about.


    … resources …

    The Z Recs Guide publishes information about harmful chemicals in common baby products.

    Also, a post I wrote about toxins in children's toys and products.

    All about Baby-Led Solids

    Foods to avoid, and why

    KidSafe Seafood

    Baby Safe feeder

    The Baby Book by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN

    Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron

    Feel free to leave any of your favorite baby feeding tips, recipes, links, cookbooks etc. in the comments!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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