Let’s face it – those early days of starting your little one on his or her first solids are not easily forgotten. Trying one food after the other, wiping away layer upon layer of pureed baby food off baby and every visible surface, that moment of victory when a mouthful is finally swallowed… the journey is both frustrating and rewarding for mom and baby.
But while advice is one thing, having to put up with the endless myths and misconceptions that abound the feeding process may be driving you up the wall.
How do you know what advice is best to take, and what advice is better taken with a pinch of salt?
Avoid These Popular Baby Food Misconceptions
Whether you are at the ready to start making your own homemade baby food, or you have a feeling that your baby is almost at the stage where solids can be introduced, the following myths will help you separate fact from fiction.
Myth #1: Rice cereal should be the first solid food introduced
Many parents (and doctors) believe that rice cereal is the ideal choice for first foods. It has just the right texture and taste to be easy for tiny mouths to swallow, and it is high in nutrients and fortified minerals too. While this cereal is definitely worth adding to the solid food list, there are a number of other foods that are equally good for first solids. Choose soft, hypoallergenic food that is not too strong in flavor, such as apple, sweet potato, pear or cereal. Remember to do the four day allergy test when introducing any new food.
Myth #2: Babies are a big risk for food allergies
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), only 8% of children under the age of six have shown signs to allergies, with only 2-5% listed with confirmed allergies. Still, to be safe, it is a good idea to only introduce allergenic foods at the age of three. The top allergens in foods include peanuts (whole or butter), egg whites, shellfish, fish and tree nuts (including cashews and walnuts). The best way to check for allergies or intolerances in infants is to use the 4 day wait rule with all food being introduced.
Myth #3: Babies only refuse foods they do not like
It’s no secret that babies can be fussy about foods, but rather than this being a taste thing, it is often simply a case of getting used to new foods. A study done by the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State showed that parents should offer a food six to eight times before it is accepted by a baby. Ultimately, you know which foods are important for growth and development, and it is your job to help your baby learn to love those veggies from as early an age as possible.
Myth #4: Babies know what they should be eating
Some moms believe that babies and very small toddlers have a natural instinct for which foods they should be eating. Sadly, this is not true. A baby offered a variety of foods will not grab the healthy food – they will grab the most interesting looking food. Once babies are able to start feeding on its own, a good way to encourage healthy selection is to offer finger foods such as avocado, sweet potato wedges, mashed beans and fruit that they can choose from when feeding themselves.
Myth #5: Commercial food is better than homemade baby food
There is something about commercial food that makes you think it has to be better than regular food that the bigger members of the family put on the table each dinnertime. But in reality, with no clear idea of what goes into factory made food, regular fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and grains that are already found in your kitchen offer a far healthier option. Better still, making baby food is cheaper as well as convenient. A good guide to keeping textures safe and avoiding choking hazards is to start with a stewed, strained, creamy texture and slowly progress to pureed, chunky and then bite-size bits as your baby gets older and more adjusted to solid foods.
At the end of the day, feeding time may not ever be the easy, happy moments that baby food commercials make it out to be. But if you have a better idea of which foods to try, which to leave for another day and how to get through it all with minimal stress, you (and your little one) will be just fine.