Fuel for your baby

Published: Monday | December 21, 2009

Emma Dalton-Brown, Gleaner Writer

POSITIVE Parenting

There has been a long-standing debate about what to feed one's baby and when to introduce particular foods taking place in a forum of domestic CEOs from all over the globe, who meet weekly in Kingston, Jamaica! These women are well educated and have changed their careers recently to ensure that the next generation of human beings are brought up to be stellar individuals. The single most important part of this is nutrition.

Countless studies prove that what goes into an infant's mouth has direct effect on his or her growth and development. I've written about breast milk in the past, so I'm not going to harp on how perfect it is. What I am here to discuss is the relevance of a parent's choices when it comes to giving your son or daughter solids.

Books suggest that in the first stage of weaning, you start your baby on infant rice cereal, and once you've established that he or she does not react adversely to it, you introduce vegetables and fruits. These are to be given one at a time, for three to five days, before moving on to the next item, so that allergies may be easily detected. Some urge you to try your baby on the sweeter foods, such as banana and pumpkin, while I decided to go for the blander vegetables like cho cho, callaloo and Irish potato. Fortunately, our son lapped and smacked up the whole lot!

For years I have been listening to parents comment on what their children like, or not, to eat. "My baby girl refuses to eat carrots", or "Our child hates broccoli!" According to my paediatrician, it can take up to 20 times of tasting a food before a baby gladly accepts it.

No vegetables

I have a friend who will not consume anything green. His parents never forced the issue when he was little and, in turn, he hasn't even bothered to experiment in his adulthood! I urge all you mummies and daddies out there to avoid this outcome by persevering when your wee one next purses his (or her) lips tightly and whines in protest. You are not doing the child any favours, let alone yourself! Think about it, folks, you might love red meat, let's say, but I'm sure there are times when you don't fancy lamb, but a chicken drumstick instead. If your baby rejects string beans today, it doesn't follow that it should be off the table forever more.

Now that we've got that covered, where do we go from there? When is it appropriate to prepare the proteins for our babies, especially the highly allergenic ones: peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, shellfish and fish? What about berries and honey, which have caused catastrophic reactions in young children? Medical practitioners recommend waiting until the child is one year for most of these foods, and two years before trying nuts.

Then there are sugary and salty snacks to consider. Do you let your nine month old lick your chocolate bar, dab a finger in ice cream or chew on a saltine cracker? Should you season the infant purees with salt or his oats cereal with sugar?

Not appropriate fuel

No, no, no. I'm not completely sure about your baby, but mine was not born knowing what such things taste like. Trust me when I tell you that he will neither miss that creamy and delicious home-made chocolate ice cream I ate last night, nor the salt and vinegar chips I had last weekend. Of course, he reaches for them, and probably wishes to put them in his mouth, but he wants to gnaw on everything he can get his small hands on! It's not as if he really loves the flavour of my phone, or his plastic blocks! And by the way, fast food is definitely not appropriate fuel for your baby!


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