Answers to 6 Common Questions About Baby Food
When it comes to babies, parents have plenty to consider when it comes to their child’s health — food is particularly important. Some parents may find themselves asking, are there certain types baby foods that are healthier than others? When do I start giving my child baby food? What are the benefits of using canned or jarred foods? If I use jarred baby food what brands should I consider? If I decide to make my own baby food, what fruits or vegetables should I use and avoid?
In this article, we’ll take a look at some answers to popular questions regarding baby food and feeding babies.
1. What to Eat During Pregnancy?
That’s right, the first baby food your child receives — it’s what a mother consumes when she is pregnant. Everything a mother eats and drinks during the first nine months impacts the baby’s physical and cognitive development.
In an article entitled, Feed Your Babies Brain During Pregnancy, Dr. Sally Kuzemchak recommended the following daily vitamins for pregnant women:
- B12 for red blood cells
- Vitamin C for collagen
- Vitamin D for bone building
- Zinc and Omega-3s to develop the child’s brain.
Eating fruits and vegetables are beneficial because they have antioxidants to protect the baby’s brain tissue. Eating protein, with help your baby build their necessary cells.
Pregnancy Diet: Eating for Two
This video features Heidi Murkoff, the author of the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. She provides dietary advice for mothers
“opt for quality over quantity, choosing foods that are dense in nutrients and skipping foods that fill your tummy, but don’t offer your baby anything to grow on… try to combine
protein and complex carbs in each meal or snack.”
2. Breast Feeding or Formula?
What about after the baby is born? In an article called Breastfeeding or Formula: Are We Still Debating This? on our sister site, CanadianNanny.ca, we took a look at the debate over breastfeeding and baby formula. The article highlighted the pros and cons and pointed out that while the health benefits of breastfeeding are well documented there are several unsung lifestyle-related benefits of formula feeding. In addition, there are many instances where mothers are not able to breastfeed or it just isn’t practical.
The article concluded that when it comes to formula vs breastfeeding a fed baby is the only options that matters. Mothers should have the freedom to choose which option best fits their lifestyle (without judgment).
3. When and How to Introduce Solid Foods?
Consider introducing solids while your baby is still breastfeeding, somewhere around the six-month mark.
How to Introduce a Baby to Solid Foods
The video features timely advice from parenting coach, Tammy Gold, a mother of three who advised
“It is shown that there are less allergies present in children if they are exposed to foods and solids at six months of age… traditionally, the thing that is introduced first is rice cereal.”
In this video Dr. Jennifer Barham-Floreani, author of the book “Well Adjusted Babies” expounds on the types of foods to introduce to babies and a physical sign you should look for.
“Some of the key signs would be, that your baby sits up well” Dr. Barham-Floreani also spoke on the type of rice cereal that parents should consider giving their children “Parents typically like to give their baby rice cereal, the best rice cereal you can make is at home, from fermented brown rice… the fermenting allows the baby to absorb all of the vitamins and minerals.”
However, parents should exercise caution with rice cereals as well, and guard against a diets composed entirely of rice cereal. In fact, many recent reports indicate that rice contains high levels of arsenic which can contribute to disease.
Pediatrician Tanya Altman encourages parents to avoid rice cereals and use oats, barley, wheat and quinoa instead and if parents do use rice cereal, try to use brown rice.
4. Homemade or Jarred Baby Food?
Once you’ve moved past rice or grain cereals, do you go with homemade or jarred food?
In a Clevland Clinic article, Dr. Mona Rifka identified some of the cons of both jarred and homemade baby food.
Cons of Jarred Baby Food
- Higher cost than to make yourself
- Less Nutrients - heat used to kill bacteria during processing may also negatively affect nutrients
Cons of Homemade Baby Food
- Time - it takes time to make homemade baby food
- Storage - doesn’t keep as long as jarred foods
- Choking hazard - food that isn’t mashed enough could cause choking
One of the biggest disadvantages of homemade baby food is that they tend to spoil very quickly, so you’ll have to invest in the proper storage equipment. Erika Radtke, a mother featured in a WebMD.com article explained the inconvenience of making homemade food
“It was a pain. I use to take a whole weekend to cook the foods, portion it out into ice cube trays, freeze them and store them.” Although homemade food is healthier it is definitely time-consuming.
Are there any other additional benefits of using homemade baby food?
Many parents have opted for homemade food because they want to ensure that their child is getting natural ingredients. The parents are also aware of the freshness of the food; it taste better and it is less expensive.
There are instances where homemade baby food may not be practical. If that is the case, what kind of jarred baby foods are a safe option?
5. What About Organic Baby Food?
Although you’ve decided to make homemade baby food, this doesn’t mean that all types of vegetables and fruits are safe apples, peaches, potatoes, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, spinach, strawberries and sweet bell peppers tend to be full of pesticides.
Consider organic jarred food to help avoid pesticides and chemicals. When considering organic jarred food parents should be looking for “no added sugars, salts, artificial flavors, preservatives of any kind.”
6. How to Make Baby Food
To get started, you’ll need the right tools! This includes investing in a baby food grinder, portable food mills, hand blenders and storage containers.
Try using bananas, grapes, kiwi, mango, avocado, pears, sweet potato and pumpkin for proper nutrients.
If you want to consider more advanced recipes for your baby, WebMD.com suggests the following books:
- Blender Baby Food
- Top 100 Baby Purees
- Petit Appetit Cookbook
You can also find other great cookbooks online and network with other parents who’ve started channels on social media to find safe recipes for your baby.
These points as well as suggestions from your pediatrician will definitely assist you with creating the best diet for your baby. Making the correct decisions regarding baby food will have an impact on your child’s maturation.
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