Saturday, July 25, 2009

Introducing Babies to Foods: Our Approach

Healthy, happy, well-fed babiesAs a food lover and a new parent, introducing foods and cooking for my kids has been the focus of my attention over the last few years especially in a world of ADD, diabetes and obesity. I cannot begin to say I am expert, having only raised my oldest to 3 and my youngest is not eating real meals yet, but I think we are doing pretty good. As this always seems to be struggle with parents trying to get their children to eat well I thought would share our experiences. The 3 year old is very active and has only had a few colds, never been to a doctor for illness and never needed any pharmas. He didn't have his first cold until he was over one and half and that was only after we starting giving him grains. My youngest has not had a cold yet and he turns 1 in August. So as parents we are quite proud of our track record.

Without getting too deep here are the principles of what we have tried to do....
1. Introduced food after 6 months (exclusively nursed up to that point)
2. Started with fruits, including bananas, prunes and blueberries intially (except for strawberries, kiwis and citrus which we wait until 2 yrs to introduce)
3. Tried intoducing egg yolks, but neither child was a big fan
4. Gradually continued to introduced more fruits and some vegetables like squash, avocado and green beans
5. Started chicken after the first year
6. We started introducing small portions of grains at about one and half, but I would probably wait until two for the second child as it is very hard for a young digestive track to deal with grains. Delaying the introduction of grains is very, very, very challenging though, especially because my wife and I are addicted to chocolate chip cookies and love nothing better than bread and butter.
7. Introduced unfiltered juice after one year, but water it down (half & half).
8. Start introducing red meat and other meats after two years
9. Would love to avoid any processed sugar altogether, but reality is we started giving little bits of dessert around one and half (goes with the grains)
10. Dairy is only consumed as a treat, with the exception of cheese (mostly from raw milk), I should caveat for all those dairy lovers out there that both my children still nurse.
11. We have tried to consistently use as much organic and natural foods as possible. The hardest challenge with this is eating out as few restaurants offer organic.

Now that my little guy is almost three years old, he not only eats most things that his mom and dad do and has been incredibly healthy, but he also seems to have a great palette. He'll often turn down treats for some fresh cherries or turn down juice for a glass of water.