As moms, we juggle with many questions as far as our baby's feeding is concerned. While breastfeeding also poses many challenges, the real struggle begins while introducing semi-solids or solids to our babies.
What to feed?
What not to feed?
When to start solids - between 4 to 6 months or after 6 months?
What is safe and what is unsafe?
To discuss and resolve my queries, I visited the paediatrician. He shared with me not just ideas on when, what and how to feed my baby, but also a list of forbidden or prohibited foods. These prohibited food items have also been identified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But to be honest, some of the items on the list really took me by surprise!
I am sharing the gist of my discussion with the doctor here. It has helped me a lot in ensuring the right food and nutrition for my baby.
When To Introduce Solids or Semi Solids
Many people advise starting semi-solids or solids between 4 to 6 months, while some may recommend starting after 6 months. As per my doctor as well as recent updates from the Wold Health Organisation, it is advisable to start semi-solids or solids after 6 months only. The baby's digestive system is much better developed now and he can try out new foods and tastes.
What NOT To Feed Your Baby
The popular Indian food that we use in so many remedies and recipes is banned for babies under the age of 1. My doctor told me that it has a kind of bacteria which is responsible for producing toxins that a baby cannot handle. Upon ingestion by a baby, it can cause a serious problem called Infant Botulism. This leads to very severe breathing issues in a baby!
When you can start this: It is recommended to start honey only after the age of 1. Also avoid foods that could contain honey, such as some formulations of Janam Gutti or Gripe Water (always check the pack for list of ingredients).
2. SALT & SUGAR
This was another strict instruction by my baby's paediatrician - no added salt and sugar in his food. But what would food will taste like without sugar or salt? This was the first question that flashed in my mind. But my doctor told me that breast milk (or formula) is itself rich enough to suffice the daily need of salt intake. If we try to give extra salt it will only lead to kidney troubles in the baby's body.
The doctor also asked me not to add any sweetener such as refined sugar to baby food. The natural sweetness in fruits and vegetables is enough to make up for the needs of a baby's tiny body. Excess of sugar may adversely affect the immune system, create tooth cavities at an early age, trigger diabetes or cause other problems like obesity.
When you can start this: Avoid giving any extra salt or sugar till your baby is 1. After that, even toddlers need very little salt. A maximum amount of 2g a day is enough until he is three years old.
All the three are banned: Strawberries, Blackberries and Raspberries. My doctor told me that their intake may irritate the systems in the body and causes fatal allergic reactions to the baby who is younger than a year. Berries may also cause skin irritation and have fatal effects like breathing problems.
I asked my paediatrician, "What about some baby food that has strawberry flavours? Should we avoid them as well?"
He said that processed strawberry does not harm the systems. The protein responsible for causing skin reactions or allergy is killed during the processing stages due to the high temperature.
When you can start this: Processed strawberry can be consumed once your baby has been introduced to solid foods. Avoid the raw berries till he crosses 1 year of age.
4. PEANUTS OR PEANUT BUTTER
Peanuts or peanut products are not advisable for babies before the age of 1 year. If consumed, they may even prompt life-threatening allergic reactions in the babies! But there is a catch.
The doctor also added: "In many cases in the recent past, if peanut or its products are introduced to kids at an early age, it may avoid allergies as well. So, there is a dual concern on feeding peanuts."
As a mom, I opted to stay cautious and delay in feeding peanuts to my baby. I suggest you discuss this with your doctor to see what works best for your baby.
5. EGG WHITES
My paediatrician suggested not to feed egg whites to my till he got older, at least 1 year old. Egg white has certain allergic elements which may cause itching, rash, fever, vomiting or diarrhoea to the baby.
When you can start this: It is best to avoid introducing egg whites to your baby until the age of 12 months. However, you can try egg yolks at the age of 9 months.
6. COW'S MILK & BUFFALO'S MILK
your baby turns 1, strictly avoid feeding him cow's milk, buffalo's
milk or any other milk other than breast milk or formula. These types of
milk have higher levels of proteins in them and may cause problem in
digestion. Cow’s milk also has too much sodium and potassium and the
baby's little kidneys cannot handle this.
When you can start this: It is best to breastfeed your baby for as long as possible, and definitely avoid dairy till he turns 1.
7. CITRUS & ACIDIC FRUITS
Citrus fruits like oranges have a high content of acid. If fed to a baby, this may cause diaper rash, sometimes even severe rash on the lips and mouth. This is mainly because of the higher content of acidity in them - something babies cannot deal with.
When you can start this: You can introduce citrus fruits after your baby has turned one.
Fish no doubt is very rich in Omega 3 - an essential nutrient for growth and development. However, some fish has mercury and this element can affect the growth of the baby's tiny nervous system. My doctor advised that it is better to be safe and avoid especially these fish till the age of 1 year. Some fish we must avoid include swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish.
When you can start this: I preferred to avoid fish till my baby turned 1 year old. You can introduce fish that do not have high levels of mercury even before that, if your doctor gives a go ahead.
My Tips to Introduce a New Food to the Baby
1. 3 Days No Repeat
I have always followed a "3 days no repeat" thumb-rule. It is not necessary that all new food will cause an allergy in our baby. We must follow up to see if the new food introduced to the baby causes an allergy or not.
If your baby has shown any allergic reaction towards a food item introduced you can easily get rid of that food item from your weaning list.
2. No Feeding Off Your Plate
Another important thing we need to remember is that as moms, we love to help feed our baby what's on our plate. We often give something or the other to eat directly in the baby's hand. The baby's grandparents or other relatives also do this out of love. But we must remain cautious while doing so!
3. Keep Checking
The discussion with my doctor was not the end of my research. I kept on
searching and reading up facts about foods and allergic reactions they
cause to babies. We belong to a speculative parenting generation and we
cannot feel satisfied unless we do the research ourselves. And trust me, it brings a lot of mental peace.
Wishing you a happy feeding journey with your baby and hope my experience will help you along :)
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