Bringing your new little one home from the hospital brings with it a great deal of stress and unknowns. For the first time parent it is basically being thrown into a whole new lifestyle that you know absolutely nothing about. There are more questions then answers and a great deal of self-doubt and confusion.
I remember bringing my first -born home from the hospital and thinking “is my Doctor wrong?” He just put the life of this brand new baby into the hands of people who have limited “know how” and zero experience to draw on.
No. The Doctor’s aren’t "wrong", they realize probably better then most, the simple fact that a parent learns to be a parent by “being a parent”. A parent learns about their child’s needs, wants and cues by actively participating in their daily routine, by “doing” and “trying” and “learning”. Parents won’t always get it right the first time around… baby cries and the parent then goes through a series of steps to figure it out… does baby have a dirty diaper? Does baby have gas and need to be burped? Is baby tired and in need of comfort to fall asleep? Is baby hungry? Through a series of “trial and error” parents will learn to figure it out, parents will learn “this cry means that “, “this funny face means that” and “this body position/movement means that” It is one of the most important “hands on” learning experiences of your life.
As you are journeying through life with new baby and you are experiencing all of the “newness” that comes along with it, draw on the help and the experience of those around you. Although you will settle into your own routine and your own “best way” of doing things with your child it’s important to recognize that there simply is not just “one best way”, each parent or caregiver will do things in slightly a different way and that’s just fine, there is no “one size fits all” approach to parenting and/or caring for your new little one.
As unique as your child is, there are developmental “norms and averages” that you should be aware of; specific milestones that your child should be meeting by a specific age. It’s important that you are speaking with your healthcare professional to ensure that your child is staying on track and meeting their developmental goals.
There are also nutritional guidelines and recommendations that you should be aware of to ensure that your child is meeting his/her nutritional needs.
BIRTH – 6 MONTHS
Breastmilk and/or iron fortified formula will satisfy all nutritional requirements
Solid foods are not nutritionally needed at this time
During this developmental stage baby is best able to suck and not chew; baby has a tongue-thrust reflex that pushes out solid foods and baby has a very sensitive gag reflex
Baby’s tongue-thrust and gag reflexes both lessen and baby will begin to sit erect in the high chair, accept solids and begins teething
Strained, pureed foods presented on a small spoon are best tolerated
Good starter foods to introduce include: bananas, pears, iron-fortified rice cereal and applesauce
Baby begins to be able to hold a bottle and hand-eye coordination is greatly improved allowing them to reach for and grab food and utensils
Baby becomes increasingly interested in finger foods and, be aware, that baby will like to put everything in the mouth (including chokable food items and objects)
Finger foods, pureed and mashed foods are ideal. Baby may also begin drinking from a cup
Good food choices to introduce include: avocado, mashed potatoes, peaches, barley cereal, carrots, squash, teething biscuits, apple and pear juice
Baby is able to hold a bottle and cup longer and self-feeding skills improve, Baby will try to use utensils more and enjoys playing with and smearing food.
Finger foods are now mastered, bite-sized, melt-in –the-mouth and cooked vegetables can be enjoyed easily. A lumpier consistency is also easily enjoyed now with the addition of more new teeth
Good food choices to introduce include: poultry, noodles, beans, peas, egg yolk, sweet potatoes, cheese, oatmeal and yogurt
You can capitalize on baby's developing fine motor abilities and growing curiosity by adding new tastes and textures to baby's diet that give him an outlet for these skills. By nine months, it's time for finger foods.
peas and beans
more cereals: rice, barley, wheat, oatmeal
cubes of cheese, 1/2-inch
cubes of cooked fruit (fruit cocktail size)
With walking comes a dislike of sitting still, even to eat. Enjoys to pick at his/her food as well as others’ food
Has more of a “do-it-myself” desire and begins to hold utensils better and self-feeding more, although much will still be spilled
Will participate more in family meals and eats chopped and mashed family foods much easier
Good food choices to introduce include: grapefruit, grape halves, strawberries, melon, mango, kiwi, papaya, apricots, cottage cheese, fish (salmon, tuna), pasta, graham crackers, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, pancakes
When introducing new food items into the routine it’s important that they are introduced slowly and one at a time in order to recognize any potential food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances. If you suspect that a new food item is not being tolerated well then eliminate it from the diet for a few days and monitor.
FOOD SUSPECTS – Allergy/Sensitivity/Intolerance
cow milk (dairy)
*wheat and dairy are the most common food allergens among children