Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ask the Host Q5: Introducing Solids

My little girl is six months old. I started her on solids last week. Well, I tried to. I started on rice cereal but her tongue pushes everything out. Do you have to start with rice cereal? I wanted to make my own baby food but my doctor told me the rice cereal is the best first food. Does her pushing the food out mean she's not ready?  Sometimes she turns her head away too. Should I leave it for a while? Or keep persisting?

Hey, that's more than one question! I'm going to have to charge you extra. :) The tongue thrust is an important reflex for those little people, it helps to keep them from choking. She's also playing with her food. It's a whole new thing to her and what you deem to be "spitting it out" may be moving it around in her mouth before she knows how to keep it all the way closed. However, doing it repeatedly could be a sign she's not ready just yet. There's only one way to find out. If you take a break, it doesn't have to be a long one. A whole lot of development can happen in a week or two at this age.

Remember, your doctor is an expert in medicine, not necessarily nutrition. However, I am reluctant to offer advice on the internet that contradicts the opinion of a medical professional. I can tell you that The Parasite's first food was not boxed cereal. It wasn't cereal at all, I started with avocado and then some other fruits and vegetables. As for that "you have to start with veggies, not fruit because it's too sweet" idea - Hooey! Breastmilk is about as sweet as it gets, and formula is not far behind. I wouldn't worry too much about a little unsweetened fruit puree.

When I did introduce grains, I ground up oatmeal, barley and brown rice (separately, but now that I think of it I guess I could have mixed them together) and whisked them with some boiling water for a few minutes. I never used boxed cereal for the same reason I didn't do jarred food - I am cheap. $4 for a box of something I could do myself with 10 cents worth of steel cut oats from the bulk store and a coffee grinder? No thanks!

Infant cereals are generally recommended as the first food because they're easy on the tummy, not terribly high the list of likely allergens and they're fortified with iron. Babies are born with rich iron stores that deplete rapidly after about six months. I'm not sure where you are but in Canada they now recommend introducing meat as one of the first foods. The heme iron in meats is better absorbed than the nonheme iron in fortified cereals. I started with boneless, skinless chicken thigh blended with some homemade chicken stock. I have since found a couple of brands of chicken stock that are very low in sodium so I'd gladly use that if I was still making baby food.

My favourite site when The Parasite first started on solids was Wholesome Baby Food. I found the food charts particularly useful as a guide when determining what to introduce when. There's lots of tips and recipes to help get you started if you want to give making baby food a go.

This post is part of a weekly series, Ask the Host, that allows you to ask any question you want as long as you're prepared for completely honest answers. Got a question? Send me an email with "I have a question" in the subject line.

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