Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What can I feed my baby?

As Hayden approached four months, I was starting to think more seriously about solid foods.  Asking myself, my mom, his pediatrician and my mom friends, "What can I feed my baby?"  I was so afraid, I wanted to do everything right and make his transition to solid foods fun and drama free.  I quickly learned this was the wrong approach, it was so limiting.  So I took a new approach, "What can I not feed my baby?"  The list my pediatrician gave me became my guideline for planning, preparing and serving meals.  

The list included:
  1. Peanut products
  2. Strawberries
  3. Tomatoes
  4. Fish
  5. Shellfish
  6. Honey
  7. Egg whites
  8. Citrus (diaper rash)*
This new approach was so liberating because the question went from what to how.  How could I prepare his foods safely and make them enticing?  Almost everything in the kitchen became fair game and I got creative.  Mixing purees and preparing soups, lentils and couscous with different veggies and meats.  I wanted to introduce Hayden to foods from around the world and I did.  I pureed in the beginning and kept his meals mild, then gradually increased the texture as Hayden learned to chew and the flavor as his palate became more sophisticated.  He loved it, introducing new food was exciting and he ate it all!

I remember setting up Hayden's dinner at a family gathering and my brother-in-law was amazed that I was spooning hummus onto his plate.  He couldn't believe a baby would eat hummus.  My response was, "Why not, the only way he would know it is weird that he eats hummus is if I told him."  I don't shower Hayden with praise for eating his veggies or trying something new, I expect him to do that.  I thank him for eating well (if he does) and encourage him to use his utensils but if he prefers his hands, I don't mind the mess.  I truly believe kids will eat when they are hungry and they will eat what you give them.  Food is not a punishment or a reward, it is fuel for the body and mind that can be delicious and fun too.

I didn't plan on getting on the Soap Box today but it seems that is what happened, hope my soap box speech is helpful.

*  Between 9 and 12 months, I had gotten the okay from his pediatrician to introduce all of these foods and the instruction to feed him what we are eating on his first birthday (my plan already as soon as I got the okay).  

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