5 Tips for 1st Foods for Babies

Ask any parent what he or she remembers most about a child’s first year and you’re likely to hear quite a bit about sleep schedules. However, a baby’s eating schedule is just as important as his or her sleep.

While feeding a baby seems like it should be simple, for some new parents it can be nerve-wracking and lead to plenty of questions, such as: “Should I breastfeed or bottle feed?” “How much should my baby eat?” “When should I start baby food?” “What should my baby’s first foods be?”

To help navigate first-year feeding, consider these tips from the experts at KinderCare.

Let babies eat as much as they need, when they need it.

Be prepared to feed your baby soon after he or she shows signs of hunger, like rooting; sucking on hands, toes, clothes or toys; or reaching for food. Let your baby tell you when he or she is full – like turning away, falling asleep or losing interest in eating. This helps your baby learn to eat when hungry and stop when full, even if it means not eating everything you offer.

Choose a feeding style that meets you and your baby’s needs.

Whether you breastfeed or use a bottle, the important thing is your baby is fed. If you breastfeed, it’s a good idea to express some milk now and again so your baby will take a bottle if someone else needs to feed him or her.

Understand when it’s time to start baby food.

While most babies are introduced to solid foods around 6 months of age, it depends on their individual development. Generally, if your baby can sit up on his or her own, has good neck and head control and shows interest – like reaching for food during mealtimes – it may be appropriate to try solid food.

Focus on exploration.

It’s important to provide your baby with a variety of foods free from added sugars, sodium and artificial ingredients, and let him or her explore rather than focusing on how much is eaten.

“Focus on introducing veggies, proteins, grains and fruit – in that order,” said Courtney Hines, KinderCare’s nutritionist. “Babies are naturally inclined to prefer sweet things so save fruit for last so your baby is more inclined to try other flavors.”

Make the transition gradual and fun.

Hines recommends gradually exposing babies to a wide variety of whole, unprocessed foods with varying flavors and textures, and talking with your baby about the taste, feel and look of the foods he or she is trying. Starting with soft foods like mashed potatoes, avocadoes, sweet potatoes, cooked rice and bananas can give you an idea of what your child can handle.

It’s easy to focus on baby food stages, but transitioning to solid foods will take place over time, making it important to continue offering your baby a bottle before mealtimes, in addition to solid food. Once your baby reaches his or her first birthday, talk with your family doctor about transitioning from breast milk or formula to unflavored, whole-fat milk.

It’s important to remember that every baby develops at his or her own pace. Talk with your child’s doctor about the right pace for your baby, and find more tips to navigate your child’s major milestones at kindercare.com. (Family Features)


Natural Ways to Support Infant Health During Pregnancy

Photography courtesy of : (c) pololia – Fotolia.com.

In the last ten years, scientists have learned that having enough beneficial gut bacteria is a critical component of overall health. Now, research shows that ensuring newborns have sufficient exposure to probiotic bacteria during infancy and early childhood can give them a head start on lifelong wellness.

What makes bacteria so important? Well, with nearly 80 percent of the immune system residing in the gut, a healthy microbial makeup from birth is essential for proper immune system development and optimal digestive, metabolic, and brain function.

When looking to encourage a healthy infant microbiome (AKA the array of bacteria and microorganisms in the body), science tells us that the mother’s gut health is key.

Here’s how it works: during pregnancy, babies are exposed to their mother’s bacteria in the placenta, which harbors a variety of microbes. A baby’s immune system begins to develop just after birth, during which a mother passes on her beneficial bacteria to her child (often termed “seeding the microbiome”) as he or she passes through the vaginal canal and partakes in breast milk and skin-to-skin contact.

Then, through an interactive connection between host cells and the baby’s brand new gut microbiome (inherited directly from the mother), helpful microorganisms selectively colonize the gut and participate in the maintenance and promotion of the child’s immune system.

Expecting and nursing mothers can be proactive by ensuring their gut health is in tip-top condition, since the microbes they pass on to their infant can help establish a solid foundation for lifelong health.

In addition to directly replenishing their good bacteria, moms should do their best to stay well-rested and properly hydrated while paying close attention to their diet. Focusing on getting proper prenatal nutrition in the form of whole and plant-based foods, especially those rich in prebiotic fiber is important. It’s also helpful to be mindful of factors that deplete good bacteria, like antimicrobials, stress, environmental toxins and exposure to unnecessary antibiotics.

Many doctors, midwives and other experts are touting the health benefits of one supplement for expecting and new mothers believed to increase a child’s chances for a healthy start at life: probiotics.

“As a mom, the best gift you can give your baby is a healthy microbiome,” says Jamie Morea, co-founder of Hyperbiotics, a company that specializes in probiotic supplements and has developed the first probiotic formula designed specifically for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Hyperbiotics PRO-Moms includes time-release delivery for enhanced effectiveness, ensuring the living organisms survive stomach acids to colonize within the gut.

Not only can probiotics help with digestive discomfort during pregnancy, but an effective supplement can repopulate a mother’s system and help ensure she is passing on the best and most beneficial bacteria to her children.

To learn more about how to support optimal gut health for moms and babies, visit hyperbiotics.com or join the conversation on social media at #followyourgut.

Because gut and microbial health have an overwhelming impact on lifelong wellness, tending to it while expecting is one of the most important things to consider for mothers-to-be in order to properly pave the path of health for little ones. (StatePoint)