Dr. Tanya Altmann, pediatrician and author of What to Feed Your Baby, is an expert on baby and early child nutrition. At her own practice, Dr. Tanya helps new parents overcome the stress of first feedings and get babies started on a lifelong healthy eating journey. But just for you, Dr. Tanya is sharing some of the questions she hears most frequently about first foods and nutrition.
Q: Should I be giving my baby regular dairy? I know calcium is important.
A: This can come as a surprise to parents because breast milk is such a great source of nutrients, but babies under 12 months should not have cow’s milk. Their bodies aren’t yet able to process the protein and it doesn’t have the right amount of nutrients for their little bodies until babies are at least age 1. However, there is another great dairy option — yogurt! Yogurt is safe for babies as young as six months and you’ll find that infants love yogurt. Plus, yogurt has calcium, vitamin D, and protein — just what your baby needs!
Q: I’m still breastfeeding but want to introduce other foods. Where should I start?
A: Introducing your baby to solids is an exciting time, but it can be stressful. There are so many options — where do you start? To make it simple, I’ve come up with a list of foundation foods that are nutritious, safe for babies, and will help them develop healthy eating habits. My foundation foods include eggs, prunes, avocados, yogurt, fish, cheese, nut butters, chicken, beans, lentils, berries, citrus fruits, green vegetables, whole grains, and water.* At first, you’ll start by puréeing most of these foods and giving your baby a little bit on a spoon. As they keep growing and get more accustomed to chewing, you can stop puréeing and start giving them the food in its natural form.
Q: What’s the deal with probiotics? That’s just for adults, right?
A: No! Probiotics and gut health is important for everyone, but especially babies as it’s the foundation for overall health as they grow and develop. Babies are first introduced to probiotics (the good kind of bacteria that is important for good gut health) in breast milk and you want to ensure they’re still receiving probiotics from another source once you stop breastfeeding. That’s why I tell parents to introduce yogurt as one of the first foundation foods since it contains calcium and Vitamin D. Stonyfield YoBaby® is the #1 Pediatrician recommended yogurt for babies between 6 months and 2 years old among refrigerated yogurts.** Plus, YoBaby yogurt has the probiotic BB-12***, which has been shown to have a digestive health benefit when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle by promoting beneficial gut bacteria and regular, soft stools.
Q: I’ve tried to feed my baby certain foods, but she keeps spitting them out. Will she learn to like it?
A: Just because your baby spits out avocados or another food you’re trying, don’t give up! Sometimes it can take half a dozen attempts to get a baby to eat a new food. Don’t automatically assume you have a picky eater; it’s natural for them to spit out something new. Most parents are unaware that between 4 to 7 months of age, babies develop a “flavor window” which shapes the flavors they begin to like and remember. This is a big learning experience and every different taste and texture is an adventure for them! It’s up to you to help develop your baby’s taste buds and teach them to love nutritious foods at an early age. I always say that babies who eat veggies at a younger age are more likely to enjoy them as older kids and teens. Keep trying, you’ll get there.
Q: Should I encourage my baby to start eating with her hands?
A: Absolutely! Don’t be afraid to put down the spoon and let your little one try feeding themselves with some nutritious finger foods. You’ll know if they’re not ready and you need to go back to the spoon if they gag or spit it back out at you. My favorite way to start is with some cut up berries since they’re easy for them to pick up. You’re helping to develop their fine motor skills and introducing a new and delicious snack. Make sure you’re monitoring their eating closely though to avoid any choking.
Q: When my baby starts teething, what are some snacks that can help ease the pain?
A: Most babies get their first tooth around 6 months — some even earlier. Teething can be painful and can result in red and swollen gums. If your baby is extra fussy or keeps trying to bite their hand or toys, it could be a sign of teething. Soft cut up berries or cold melon are gentle against their gums and can be soothing. Try using a mesh feeder if your little one isn’t yet able to tolerate pieces and to prevent choking. I also like to freeze Organic Whole Milk YoBaby yogurt into popsicles and serve those — the cold temperature can help with swelling and feel good against their sensitive gums.
As always, it’s important to consult your child’s pediatrician, but we hope this Q&A relieves some stress and clears up confusion when choosing your baby’s first foods. For more of Dr Tanya’s feeding tips please visit www.stonyfield.com/author/dr-tanya-altmann.
*As always, check with your pediatrician before giving your baby these foundation foods and modify as needed to accommodate any food allergies.
** Source: IMS Health ProVoice Survey, 12/01/15 – 09/30/16
***BB-12® is a registered trademark of Chr. Hansen.
This post is sponsored by Stonyfield Farm, Inc.