Nutrients and Your Baby. Part 1

Beginning at birth, nutrition is a primary concern. I am a believer that you feed your baby when he is hungry, but do not force it. Allow the baby to set the pace. As the infant grows, you will be able to develop more of a schedule.

Your pediatrician will be able to guide you as to when to introduce cereal and “real” food — this generally does not occur before three months of age. While it’s tempting to want to share “treats” with the baby, resist the urge. Some foods can actually result in long-term allergies (i.e., peanut butter shouldn’t be given to a child under three years of age). Also, it’s a good idea to stay away from the chocolate cake and other fun foods until after one year of age.

When the child starts teething, I have found that a small frozen bagel to gnaw on often provides soothing relief. But watch the baby carefully that the bagel doesn’t break apart and cause a choking risk. Avoid raw vegetables and fruit as these might also pose a choking risk.

The last bit of advice I would offer with regard to nutrition and infants is to NEVER give the child a bottle in bed. It’s a bad habit that can later cause dental problems as the infant gets teeth. By one year of age the baby should be weaned off the bottle. If this poses a problem, I suggest a bottle with water in it. Your child may resist at first, but if this is the only option, they will adjust.

As the child moves into the toddler years, try to set the stage for healthy food choices. I am all for six small meals a day as opposed to three main meals with lots of snacks in between. At this age, “no!” seems to be a favorite word. So rather than offering one selection offer two. For example, do not ask your toddler if they would like a banana, (to which they will promptly reply “NO!”) ask them if they would like a banana or an apple. They are more likely to pick one of the two and feel they have had some control over the situation.

Provide a lot of choices so your child will develop a taste for a wide range of food. And don’t rule out a food because you don’t like it. My kids will drink soy milk! I like yogurt for a snack (this is also good to use when a child is on antibiotics as the acidophilus found in yogurt cultures minimizes the risk of antibiotic induced diarrhea). My kids love to dip anything in yogurt. This is a fun way to introduce a lot of different vegetables. My kids also love applesauce — I am careful to look for the applesauce without sugars added. One common mistake with new parents is giving your child a lot of juice. Juices have tons of sugar, and the American Academy of Pediatrics links childhood obesity to high sugar intake, including juice! Giving juice as a treat is what I do. I also mix the juice with water to increase the fluid while cutting the sugar.

to be continued…

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