Sunday, November 26, 2006

How to get started

Kyle started sleeping through the night at 3-1/2 months, the first night that we moved him into his own room (Why didn't we do this sooner?!?!) However, by the time he was 5-months old, he started waking in the middle of the night again, and no matter what we did, we couldn't soothe him back to sleep and decided that he must be hungry. The moderator from my parents' support group had warned that once our babies start to sleep through the night, we shouldn't back step and start feeding them again if they wake. So after the first night of feeding him, we decided that maybe it was time to start the cereal.

When we saw Kyle's doctor at 4 months, she had recommended holding off on the cereal until 6 months, however, we didn't think this was possible, with a big baby who was very hungry. We had played around with the cereal a little bit, but after Thanksgiving and the middle-of-the-night episode, we stepped it up to much more of a serious business.

I initially followed the directions on the rice cereal box for baby's "first meal", and tried to spoon some into Kyle, but the mixture was SO runny, basically it was still just milk. Over the next few days, I quickly ramped it up to something more substantial that I could actually keep on the spoon, and Kyle had no problems with the consistency. After rice cereal for a week, we moved on to barley cereal, and then on to oatmeal. I thought Kyle would like a little variety, but once he had had the oatmeal, there was no going back. The best thing that I could do was to mix in a little of the rice or barley with a lot of the oatmeal.

When we saw Kyle's doctor again at his 6-month check-up, I told her that we had had to start cereal because his/our sleep was suffering, but that all he really liked now was the oatmeal - could we start mixed grain? Because we had no family history of wheat allergy, and he'd managed everything else well, she gave us the go ahead - with the standard warning to wait a few days for any adverse reaction.

The first month of cereal, Kyle was ecstatic, with a "MMMMMM" for each mouthful we gave him, as if to say "Why didn't you give me this stuff earlier?!?"

1 comment:

BabyNews101 said...

Many studies have shown that rice cereal is not the best solid to start with your baby.

The truth is, most doctors have to recommend SOMETHING, and because baby rice cereal is not allergenic, they can recommend it as a blanket first food without fear of reactions and lawsuits.

Really, rice has very little nutritional value,and usually only acts as a filler. It is pure carbohydrate which turns into sugars, and there is evidence that whilst not harmful in itself, it is completely unnecessary to an infant's development. It can cause stomach upsets and constipation especially if a baby is not old enough to be eating solids.

With today's recommendations that all babies should only start solids from 6 months and up, rice cereal is defunct. It's prime purpose is as a bland, anti-allergenic, part-liquid sloppy first food for babies who really weren't ready for solids in the first place. Hence its development in the era when weaning was routinely begun at three months. A three month old baby is not capable of eating solid food, has not yet lost its protective tongue-thrust reflex which it uses to push foreign bodies out of its mouth. Rice cereal was developed to counter this problem - essentially to trick and force feed infants too young to be eating.

When the recommendation changed to six months and over for introduction of solid food, the method of weaning did not change to reflect this. We are weaning our six month olds as if they were three months or less, with semi-liquid slop and pureed, bland food on spoons.

The best thing to do for your baby is allowing him or her to feed themselves - then we know they are truly ready for solids.

Baby-led weaning places the emphasis on exploring taste, texture, color and smell as the baby sets their own pace for the meal, choosing which foods to concentrate on. Instead of the traditional method of spooning puréed food into the baby's mouth, the baby is presented with a plate of varied finger food from which to choose.

Contrary to popular belief there is no research supporting the introduction of solids by purees and in fact babies can become very confused when stage 2 foods are introduced (with lumps) unsure whether to swallow or chew.
According to one theory, the baby will choose foods with the nutrients she might be slightly lacking, guided by taste. The baby learns most effectively by watching and imitating others, and allowing her to eat the same food at the same time as the rest of the family contributes to a positive weaning experience.

At six months babies learn to chew and grasp and this is therefore the ideal time to begin introducing finger food.
Self-feeding supports the child's motor development on many vital areas, such as their hand-eye coordination and chewing.

It encourages the child towards independence and often provides a stress-free alternative for meal times, for both the child and the parents. Some babies refuse to eat solids when offered with a spoon, but happily help themselves to finger food.

As recommended by the World Health Organization and several other health authorities across the world, there is no need to introduce solid food to a baby's diet until after 6 months, and by then the child's digestive system and her fine motor skills have developed enough to allow her to self-feed. Baby-led weaning takes advantage of the natural development stages of the child.

Signs of readiness
It is very important that baby-led weaning is not started before the child shows developmental signs indicating that he/she is ready to cope with solid foods. The baby should be able to:
1. sit well unsupported,
2. be eager to participate in mealtime and maybe even trying to grab food and put it in his/her mouth.
3. The child should show signs of developing a pincer grasp,
4. as well as an ability and willingness to chew.

Basic principles
The basic principles of baby-led weaning are:

At the start of the process the baby is allowed to reject food, and it may be offered again at a later date.

The child is allowed to decide how much it wants to eat. No "fill-ups" are to be offered at the end of the meal with a spoon.

The meals should not be hurried.
Sips of water are offered with meals.

Initially, soft fruits and vegetables are given. Harder foods are lightly cooked to make them soft enough to chew on even with bare gums.

Food given is free of added salt and sugar.

Food is not cut into bite-sized pieces until the baby has mastered object permanence and the pincer grasp.

Initially, food is offered in baton-shaped pieces or in natural shapes that have a 'handle' (such as broccoli florets), so that the baby can get a good grip and the food is visible for babies that have not yet mastered object permanence.

Foods with clear danger, such as peanuts, are not offered.
Foods can be offered to the baby on a spoon, but the baby is allowed to grab the spoon and the adult helps the baby guide it to the mouth.
Good first foods for babies
Save money and give your baby the freshest food by making your own baby food. Here are some suggestions.

Most babies love fruits. Make sure they are ripe, and wash well before peeling. Here are some favorites:
Bananas cut into slices which have then been halved or quartered
Unsweetened applesauce, or tiny apple chunks that have been softened by cooking in the microwave
Plums, peaches, pears, and apricots, gently cooked if necessary
Avocado diced into small, bite size pieces
Fresh vegetables should be washed, peeled and cooked until tender. Frozen veggies are convenient to have on hand. Avoid the canned varieties to which salt has been added. Your baby may enjoy:
Baked or boiled sweet potatoes, in tiny chunks
Mashed white potatoes
Baby carrots, green beans, peas and squash