Do Babies Need Teeth for Finger Foods?

babies need teeth for finger food

At workshops I’m often asked by new parents whether babies need teeth to eat finger foods. The short answer is: no. Whether you’re choosing to start with purees or to follow Baby Led Weaning (BLW), we recommend starting to offer your baby finger foods by 7 months. Many babies won’t have any teeth at that age. And, most babies won’t have molars then. Our molars are the teeth that we use to chew food. We use our front teeth to bite and tear.

Babies’ gums are surprisingly strong. They can use them to eat finger foods. It’s the presence of things along their gums that helps them move their gag reflex from the young infant position to the mature position. And, it’s with practice that babies learn how to co-ordinate the chewing, swallowing, and breathing that are involved in eating. That’s why at this age babies put everything in their mouths – they’re practicing.

Introducing a wide range of tastes and textures before 9 – 12 months can help lessen picky eating in toddlerhood. You’ve got a developmental window of opportunity when babies are interested in tastes and textures. Use it!

What makes good finger foods?

  • Pieces of soft cooked vegetables
  • Ripe soft fruits (skins and pits removed)
  • Grated raw vegetables or hard fruits
  • Finely minced, shredded, ground or mashed cooked meat
  • Deboned fish and poultry
  • Bread crusts or toast

Some finger food examples:

  • Tortillas cut in narrow strips and thinly spread with nut butter
  • Omelet cut in to narrow strips
  • Salmon crumbled into small pieces
  • Grated carrot and grated apple
  • Extra-firm tofu steamed and cut in to skinny fingers

Looking for more finger food ideas (including iron-rich finger food ideas)? Check out my video on Youtube.

Can Kids Have Too Much Fruit?

baby w fruits & veg

Here’s what a Mom recently asked me: "I have what may be a silly question. Should I be concerned with my 8 month old getting too much fruit? In other words, can kids have too much fruit?

Can Kids Have Too Much Fruit?

In a word: yes. Let me expand with 2 key points.

  1. All of us (i.e. adults too) can get diarrhea from eating too much fruit at once. If your child’s stools are getting loose, then it's a sign of too much fruit.
  2. Of course, fruit is a healthy food. But human beings need a wide variety of foods from all the food groups to meet our nutrition needs.

In particular, for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, iron is a key nutrient that we’re looking to provide through food. Fruit is low in iron. It’s recommended that you offer iron-rich foods twice a day.

It’s normal for kids to have food preferences. However, kids aren’t at a developmentally ready to understand that human beings can’t survive on a favourite food alone until they’re well into their school-age years.

How to Make Sure Your Child Doesn't Get Too Much Fruit

If you notice that your child will always choose one or two favourite foods, I recommend starting a technique that I call “controlling what’s on the menu”.

Here’s how. You choose what foods you will offer, i.e. what foods are on the menu, at meals and snacks. Your child gets to choose what they’ll eat from what you’ve provided. And, they get to control how much of each food they eat (yes, including zero bites).

This way you are creating a situation where your child eats a balance of food groups throughout the day. And, your child gets to express themselves by controlling what they eat from what you’ve provided. You’ve created an environment where you’re making sure that your child is getting good nutrition at the same time as your child’s personal boundary with their body is respected.

For example, for this mom’s 8 month old, at one solid food time each day serve an iron-rich food either on it’s own, or with another food that isn’t fruit – maybe it’s a vegetable or a grain. Feel free to offer fruit at the other solid food time where you’re offering the iron-rich food. If your child eats a particularly huge amount of fruit one day and you notice that his stools are loose, hold off offering fruit for a day or two. Create balance by offering vegetables, protein foods, and grains.

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When Can I Stop Boiling Water for My Baby?

Stop Boiling Water for My Baby

“Can you tell me when I can stop boiling water for my baby (formula)? And when I can stop sterilizing her bottles? Seems silly since she puts everything else in her mouth.” Thank you to the parent who asked me this question.  Parents also often ask me a related question: whether they need to boil water when they’re teaching their babies how to drink from a lidless cup or sippy cup. So I’ll answer all these water-related questions together here.

Sterilizing Baby Bottles

It’s safest to always sterilize bottles before using them. As long as you’re using bottles (for any liquid), do continue to sterilize them. Breastmilk and formula are both rich foods for babies, and unfortunately for germs too. Bottles, nipples, lids, etc have so many nooks and crannies that they’re difficult to scrub clean. Sterilizing is the best way to make sure that you’re keeping your baby safe. Use a sterilizer or boil all parts in a pot of boiling water. Household dishwashers aren’t able to truly sterilize bottles. For more directions check out: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile69a.stm

Boiling Water for Baby Formula

If you’re feeding your baby powdered or liquid concentrate formula, always use water that has been boiled. There is no age to stop using the boiled water. There are thorough step-by-step instructions available at this great resource: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile69b.stm

Boiling Water for Baby (Drinking)

Any time after you’ve started introducing solid foods, you can start providing your baby the opportunity to learn how to use an open/ lidless cup and a sippy cup (yes, even as young as 6 months). As long as you have safe drinking water, you can use water from your cold tap. There’s no need to pre-boil this water. What do I mean by “safe drinking water”? I mean that you live in a city or town with a municipal water system and you’re using the water that’s intended for drinking (sometimes the term “potable” is used). Or, you’re on a well system that you’ve had tested recently and know is safe. If you haven’t had your well tested in a long time, this is a great reason to get testing done.

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AHH the Pressure! Is my baby ready for solids or should I wait?

is my baby ready for solids

{Guest Expert blog post for Modern Mama } Many moms contact me wondering if their baby is ready for solid foods. Usually this comes from two places:

  1. Worry that their baby isn’t getting the nutrition that they need from breast milk/ formula.
  2. Pressure from family or friends to introduce baby food.

Here’s the latest scientific-evidence based information on how to know when your baby is ready for solid foods. Use it as ammunition against your under-slept, worrying mind and any well-intentioned advice from others.

Is my baby ready for solids?

Babies are ready for solid foods at about 6 months of age. At this age, babies start running out of the iron that they stored in their bodies while they were in your womb. Breast milk is naturally low in iron so you need to provide your baby with iron from another source – solid foods. Iron is used in overall growth and development. It’s especially important for little one’s brain development – for babies to reach full their cognitive potential. While iron isn’t as much of a concern for babies fed formula, they’re still developmentally ready for you to start feeding them first foods.

Like any developmental stage, babies become ready for first foods at slightly different ages. You will see the following signs in your baby anywhere between 4 and 6 months of age. Your baby is ready for you to start feeding them solid foods when you see the following:

  • Extrusion reflex disappears. The extrusion reflex is when anything put in your baby’s mouth automatically causes them to stick out their tongue, thus forcing it back out again.
  • He can focus his eyes on food placed in front of him.
  • She can sit upright with minimal support.
  • He can hold his head up without support. This is important for safe swallowing.
  • She is very interested in watching people eat and the food on your plate. She may even be grabbing for people’s food, plates, cups etc.

Notice that the presence of teeth isn’t on the list above. You don’t need to wait until little ones have teeth before feeding them baby food.

If your baby was born prematurely or has developmental or health concerns, speak with your health professional about when your baby will be ready to start solid foods.

There is no benefit to starting solids earlier than about 6 months. In fact, there is some emerging scientific evidence that introducing solid foods before babies are 4 months old may increase the risk for food allergies.

There are several persistent myths about when to start feeding your baby solid foods that I want to bust:

  1. Big babies don’t need solid foods earlier. At this age, babies are experts at breast and bottle feeding. And, breast milk and formula are rich sources of nutrients. Feeding your big baby solid foods earlier isn’t necessary or beneficial.
  2. Small babies don’t need solid foods earlier. As I described above, at this age, babies are experts at nursing nutrient-rich breastmilk and formula. Feeding your small baby solid foods earlier isn’t necessary or beneficial.
  3. Feeding babies solid foods doesn’t make babies sleep through the night.While I understand grasping at anything that may get your baby (and you) to sleep through the night, this is a myth. The age that some babies start sleeping through the night happens to be the same age that you start feeding your baby solid foods. While they happen at the same time, it’s not that the one causes the other. Sorry.

In summary, your baby will be ready for first foods at about 6 months of age. There aren’t any nutritional benefits to starting earlier. Nor, will it help you get a decent night’s sleep.

Check out this post for information on choosing puree or Baby Led Weaning (BLW)

Why Not Both Purees and Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?

puree baby led weaning

{Guest post at Love Child Organics} I receive questions from many parents asking me whether they should use purees or finger foods (a method called Baby Led Weaning or BLW) as they start to introduce their babies to solid foods. I believe that there isn’t only one right way to start babies on solid foods. Why not use both purees and finger foods?

When introducing solid foods you’re achieving several goals:

  1. Meeting your baby’s nutrition needs.
  2. Providing the opportunity to learn eating skills.
  3. Minimizing the risk of choking.

All three of these can be achieved through offering your baby purees, finger foods, or a combination of both.

Further, I’ve been practicing long enough to have met babies with all different temperaments (personalities). Some are little independent souls who never accept being fed by a parent. Parents of these little ones need to have a ton of patience as their child learns how to pick up food and actually get it in her mouth. On the other hand there are babies whom I call “happy little outsourcers”. They figure out that their parents are much more efficient at getting food in their mouths and so they’re happy to sit back and let you spoon every bite into them. Most babies fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

I’ve also seen that babies catch onto the skills of eating finger foods at a variety of ages – typically somewhere between 6 and 10 months.  This isn’t surprising since there’s always a range of ages when babies reach any developmental milestone. Some babies roll over before others, some crawl before others, and some pick up finger foods before others.

In my opinion, what’s most important is to:

  • Provide a wide variety of healthy foods,
  • Include iron-rich foods (twice a day is a good frequency),
  • Follow your baby’s lead,
  • Match your technique to your baby,
  • Provide your baby with the opportunity to learn eating skills, and
  • Use techniques that you’re comfortable with.

The result: you’re teaching your baby to have a positive experience with food.

Click here to get more tips on nutrition for babies.

Puree vs Baby Led Weaning (BLW): Can't We All Just Get Along?

baby led weaning{Guest post for Modern Mama} In a previous post I shared the pros and cons of the pureed and Baby Led Weaning (BLW) methods for introducing your baby to solid foods. I had a number of people call and email me with questions from that post. So I wanted to clarify and add to the points I shared in it.

In a nutshell, I believe that you shouldn’t feel the need to choose either puree or Bab Led Weaning (BLW). Combine the best from both methods and follow your baby’s lead.

Let me explain.

Having taught parents how to introduce solid foods to their babies since 2008, I welcome a number of the contributions that BLW is providing to the baby feeding conversation. However, I’m also seeing some negative effects too.

Positive Contributions of Baby Led Weaning

Feed Your Baby Family Foods

Children from about four to twelve months are fascinated by what the people around them are eating. In Baby Led Weaning you don’t make separate foods for your baby. Instead you provide your baby with the foods that you’re feeding the rest of your family. This is a great strategy! A favorite quote of mine from Child-Feeding Expert Ellyn Satter is:

The goal of feeding your baby is to have him join you at the table…not for you to join him at the high chair.

  • Uses his curiosity about what everyone’s eating to your advantage. Many babies will reject pureed foods and reach out to grab what’s on other people’s plates.
  • Teaches him that by sharing the same foods, he belongs as a member of your family. Sharing food is powerful for human beings. Every culture marks significant occasions by gathering to share food.
  • Is less work than making your baby one meal and the rest of your family something completely different. Teaching your baby that she gets something completely different than other family members can lead to picky eating because you’ve set the precedent that she gets something different. Kids who have always eaten the same meal as the rest of the family don’t know that having something different is an option.
  • Can be a wake-up call to how healthy (or not) your eating habits are. If you’re eating foods that you’re not willing to feed your baby, should you really be eating them?

Move Along to Finger Foods

Sometimes I see parents who love the idea (and control) of feeding their baby purees so much that they get stuck, keeping their baby in this phase too long. Babies are ready to try finger foods anywhere between six and nine months. Yes, it’s messy. And it can be painful to watch a child clumsily work for 10 minutes to get a single piece of food in his mouth. But, this is an important learning opportunity. Eating is a skill that must be learned through practice. It’s great that you’re an expert at using a spoon to get food into your baby’s mouth. But he needs to have the opportunity to learn how to do it himself. And finger foods are the first step. Because when we’re feeding our babies, we’re actually doing two things: 1) meeting their nutrition needs and 2) teaching eating skills. I’ve seen prolonged spoon-feeding of purees result in babies who are:

  • Undernourished because they’re reject being “babied” and reject the spoon.
  • Picky eaters because they didn’t get to experience the huge variety of tastes and textures that food comes in while they are still in the food-curious stage. A stage where kids are suspicious of new foods often starts somewhere between 12 to 24 months (although I’ve seen it start at nine months in a number of children). Some people call this stage “food neophobia”. I call it “food-wariness”.

Follow Your Baby’s Lead

Baby Led Weaning places a lot of emphasis on following your baby’s lead regarding how much food to eat.  Babies are born knowing when they’re hungry and when they’re satisfied. It’s normal for them to sometimes eat a lot and other times to eat very little. When babies are allowed to control how much food they eat, they have a normal growth pattern. When spoon-feeding your baby it’s very easy to force them to take extra bites by playing games (e.g. “here comes the airplane”), or sneaking in spoonful’s when your baby is distracted. Resisting this urge is important to allow your baby to grow normally and not be overfed (which may lead to obesity).

Negative Impacts

You Need to Choose

The negative impacts that I’m seeing when speaking with parents and reading Mom blogs and chat boards is the idea that you need to choose a method. You’re either on the puree team or you’re on the Baby Led Weaning team. We already have enough “mommy wars”, judgment, second-guessing ourselves, and guilt regarding breastfeeding and formula feeding. The last thing that we need is this baggage continuing into introducing solid foods.

Puree Traps

There’s nothing inherently wrong with pureed foods. In fact, today I’ve eaten oatmeal, yogurt, and butternut squash soup – all of which are purees! Purees are a texture that adults eat too. The warnings that many in the Baby Led Weaning camp attribute to purees actually has nothing to do with purees themselves. They’re just easier traps to fall into when spoon-feeding. But they’re also easily avoidable. For example, you can offer your baby pureed versions of family foods and follow their lead when spoon-feeding.

One Size Fits All

I’ve seen many different babies with different temperaments (personalities). Some love being spoon-fed and take more slowly to finger foods. Others never take anything off a spoon, and rely solely on finger foods. I believe that following your baby’s lead and providing a wide variety of tastes and textures is the way to go – including both purees and finger foods.

In summary, why pressure parents into feeling that they need to choose? All the positive contributions that BLW have provided can be realized with the inclusion of both puree and finger foods. Let’s celebrate that there are a multitude of “right” ways to parent!

An Update on New Feeding Recommendations

Happy child. Guest post for Love Child Organics: http://www.lovechildorganics.com/blog/

Usually I answer a question from you – a member of the Love Child community. However, something noteworthy happened last month that I thought was worth writing about.

 

Quietly on a Friday last month, a joint statement from Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada was released called Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants: Recommendations from Six to 24 Months: Principles and recommendations for the nutrition of older infants (six to 12 months) and young children (12 to 24 months)

 

I was happy to see it finally be released because previously there were recommendations for 0 – 6 months and for 2 years and up, but nothing existed for Canadian parents for little ones between the ages of 6 months to 2 years. And, this is a time when so much changes and parents have so many questions! In addition, I was happy to see it be released because I had provided feedback on a draft version quite some time ago.

 

The group who developed this document reviewed the scientific evidence to develop guidelines for feeding our little ones. I wanted to share it with you in hopes that it will help cut through the mixed (and often conflicting messages) out there and help bust some persistent myths.

 

The overarching statement is:

“Breastfeeding - exclusively for the first six months, and continued for up to two years or longer with appropriate complementary feeding - is important for the nutrition, immunologic protection, growth, and development of infants and toddlers.”

 

There are 7 main points (and my comments on each):

  1. Breastfeeding is an important source of nutrition for older infants and young children as complementary foods are introduced.
    • I was happy to see this statement because blog that I wrote previously for my own website received a lot of attention when I busted the myth that breastfeeding once you’ve introduced solid foods only provides water.
  2. Supplemental vitamin D is recommended for infants and young children who are breastfed or receiving breastmilk.
    • Yes, it’s recommended that you continue with vitamin D drops even after you’ve introduced solid foods.
  3. Complementary feeding, along with continued breastfeeding, provides the nutrients and energy to meet the needs of the older infant.
    • An important point that they make is that purees are a great texture. But do introduce lumpy textures before nine months. And, keep progressing through a wide variety of textures by 1 year.
  4. Responsive feeding promotes the development of healthy eating skills.
    • By “responsive feeding” they mean involving your baby as an active participant in eating. This means no sneaking in bites when they aren’t looking and no “here comes the airplane”. Feed your baby as much as they are interested in eating – which will sometimes be a lot and will sometimes be one bite.
    • They also mean the importance of providing your baby with the opportunity to learn eating skills. This includes learning how to self-feed with finger foods and learning how to drink from an open (lidless) cup.
  5. Iron-rich complementary foods help to prevent iron deficiency.
    • Offer iron-rich foods several times each day including meats, meat alternatives, and iron-fortified baby cereal. Choose a variety of these foods that your family eats.
  6. Foods for older infants and young children must be prepared, served, and stored safely.
    • This refers both to avoiding choking hazards and avoiding food poisoning.
    • An important point made here is to not leave kids unsupervised while eating. I’d add the point that kids shouldn’t eat while driving in the car, running around playing, etc because of the choking hazard.
  7. From one year of age, young children begin to have a regular schedule of meals and snacks, and generally follow the advice in Canada's Food Guide.
    • It’s likely not news to you that they recommend minimal sugar, salt, juice, and sugary drinks.
    • I love that they go on to mention how important parents are as healthy eating in role models!

 

While it’s written in language directed to health professionals, you can check out the recommendations for yourself at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/recom-6-24-months-6-24-mois-eng.php

 

Can I give finger foods if my baby doesn’t have teeth yet?

finger-foods-if-baby-doesnt-have-teeth-yet {Guest Post at Love Child Organics Both in workshops and when providing in-home child feeding sessions, I’m often asked this question: "Can I give finger foods if my baby doesn’t have teeth yet?

The short answer is: yes! You don’t need to wait until little ones have teeth before feeding them finger foods.

Babies are ready for finger foods by 7 months, if not before. Many won’t have teeth (or very many teeth) by this age.

Your baby is likely ready for finger foods when you see the following:

  • She can bring food to her mouth using her hand.
  • He can eat thicker purees (the consistency of mashed potatoes).
  • She can sit upright with minimal support.
  • He is very interested in watching people eat and the food on your plate. He May even be grabbing for people’s food, plates, cups etc.

It’s amazing to watch what little ones can handle with their gums. So go ahead and offer finger food versions of a wide variety of foods that your family eats.

Bottom Line: Enjoy watching your little one discover the amazing variety of tastes and textures that food comes in!

For more info on baby food - both purees and Baby-Led Weaning (BLW), check out this blog post.

$14 off! Picky Eater e-book and online seminar + Introducing Solids online seminar

Excited birthday girl. ~ Is finding a way to get your picky eater to try new foods your New Years resolution?

~ Is your baby entering into toddlerhood and you want to do everything you can to prevent them from becoming a picky eater?

~ Are you getting ready to start your baby on solid foods?

 

 

To get your family’s 2014 started on the right foot I’m offering a New Years resolution sale!

Get the evidence-based information you need from the convenience of your own computer or tablet.

To celebrate 2014, both of my online seminars and my guide e-book are $14 off (from now until 7am, January 2nd).

Use coupon code: NY2014 to get your $14 off:

Introducing Solid Foods (4-8 months) Online Seminar: Everything you need to safely meet your baby’s rapidly changing nutrition needs. And, instill a life-long LOVE of healthy eating. Online Seminar.

Snacking Secrets: How to plan healthy snacks that your 2 – 5 year old will eat (without ruining their dinner). Online Seminar.

Provide, Trust, Love (Then Introduce New Foods): A step-by-step solution to transform your child from picky eater to food-confident kid ~2-5 year old edition~ Guide e-Book.

Act now! Use coupon code: NY2014 to get your $14 off before 7am, Jan 2nd.

Iron-Rich Baby Finger Food Ideas

In my recent feedback survey you asked for more finger food ideas for babies and toddlers. So, I recorded this video as a sneak peek behind the scenes as I prepared finger food samples for an upcoming workshop. All these examples are iron-rich finger foods. And, they're all good ideas for babies and toddlers from about 6 months onwards, whether you're moving on from purees or you're following Baby-Led Weaning.

Enjoy! " width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen">

Does My 7 month old Baby Need Water?

baby need water Thank you to the VIP who asked this question: "Does my 7 month old baby need water?".  The short answer is: No. Seven month olds don’t need water. But, it’ a great time to start offering it to them anyways. Let me explain.

Baby Need Water?

We offer little ones solid foods starting at about 6 months of age for two reasons:

  1. To meet their nutritional needs.
  2. To provide the opportunity to learn eating skills.

At 7 months old, your baby will still be nipple feeding (i.e. breastfeeding or formula feeding) several times a day.  They’ll be meeting their need for fluids through nipple feeding. So, your little one doesn’t need water to meet their nutritional needs.

Open Cups

Learning to drink from a cup is a learned skill. Any time from 6 months onwards is a great time to start. From time-to-time, when your little one is sitting at the table, offer them a small amount of water (I’m talking an inch deep or less) in an open (lidless) cup. Yes, the first few times the water will pour down their face. A clever mom in one of my recent workshops shared how she dresses her little one in only a diaper when doing this – there’s less clean-up. Over time your little one will learn how to hold on to the cup, tip their head up just the right amount, and close their lips around the cup. It’s amazing how fast and how young they pick up this skill! Now you may have noticed that so far I’ve only been talking about using an open/ lidless cup.

Sippy Cups

That’s because kids don’t actually need a sippy cup. Sippy cups are helpful for parents because it means less spills. But they aren’t actually a developmental need for kids. In fact, sippy cups with the valves/ bladders in them teach your kids to suck – not sip. They aren’t actually any skill progression from a bottle. Removing the valve/ bladder gets kids moving back towards sipping instead of sucking. But it also means more spills. Some speech language professionals recommend cups with straws instead of sippy cups because of concerns about oral movement and development.

 

The Bottom Line

While your 7 month old baby doesn’t need water yet, it’s a great time to start offering the opportunity to learn how to drink from a cup. Sippy cups and cups with straws are handy ways to limit spills. But they aren’t needed for kids to learn how to drink from a cup.

When Can I Give Baby Strawberries, Peanuts and Shellfish?

When-Can-I-Give-Baby-Strawberries-Peanuts-and-Shellfish {Guest Post at Love Child Organics' blog: www.lovechildorganics.com/blog/ } A parent asked the following question: “What age is it safe to give my baby strawberries (and other possibly allergenic foods)?”

Anyone browsing the internet, reading parenting books, or listening to the advice of family and friends will be confused about what foods you should and shouldn’t introduce to your baby to minimize her/his risk of allergies. Everyone says something different!

Read on and I’ll share with you the inside scoop on why there’s so much conflicting information. And, how the new recommendations are based on the current scientific evidence.

The reason for much of the conflicting information is that most of the previous medical theories about what causes babies to have food allergies have proven not to be true.

As a result, the scientific research community has gone back to the drawing board to develop and test new theories for why babies develop food allergies. And even more importantly, they’ve gone back to the drawing board to find out how to prevent them.

There are lots of theories being tested currently. Two examples include exposure to pollution and almost the opposite theory that babies are raised in too clean and sterile an environment.

The (frustrating) fact is that we currently just don’t know what causes food allergies or how to prevent them.

So the reason that there’s so much conflicting information out there is that some of it is outdated. And, some of it is based on theories that are currently being tested (but not yet proven to be true).

On the other hand, what we do know is that the old rules about waiting until certain ages to introduce specific foods didn’t prevent allergies. In fact, there’s some emerging evidence that delaying the introduction of some foods, such as peanuts, may actually increase the risk of allergy.

Starting at about 6 months of age, introduce almost any food that your family eats. There’s no need to wait to give your baby foods such as strawberries, peanuts, shellfish, or any of the foods previously off limits.

That being said, there are a few foods that we do recommend waiting to introduce. These recommendations are either from a nutrition point of view or a prevention of food poisoning point of view. The foods to delay introducing are:

  • Honey – wait until after 12 months of age
  • Cows milk until 9 – 12 months (small amounts of yogurt and cheese are OK after about 6 months).
  • Raw meats, fish, raw/runny egg whites, or unpasteurized dairy foods until 4 years

For baby food ideas, check out the videos I share on my Youtube channel.

Beets: What to Do with Them

beet-recipes-dietitian-dietician-victoria-bc Aah, beets. These versatile root veggies are one of my favourites! As a dietitian, part of my job is to know how to prepare healthy foods like beets. So I’m sharing a couple of my favourite ways to use them. A classic storage, root veggie, you can find local ones (fairly cheap) throughout the winter here in Victoria, BC.

And, because of their naturally sweet taste, many kids like them.

However, people often wonder what the heck to do with them. Here are some of my favourite ways to use them.

 

 

Grated – Raw Beets

Beets don’t even need to be cooked. Simply wash them, peel off the outer skin, and grate them into a salad.

It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Grated veggies are a fantastic finger food for little ones to practice that pincer grasp.

However, be warned – beets stain! Pick up pieces from all surfaces (including the floor) quickly.

Grated, raw beets are a delicious part of my lentil-farro power bowl (full meal salad).

 

Roasted Beets

When I’m turning on the oven to cook something, I often pop a few beets in at the same time – either for a warm side-dish today, or for chilled as a salad in the future.

  1. Wash beets and cut off any long tails or furry top bits.
  2. Cut a piece of tin foil large enough to wrap the beet in. Lay it on the counter, shiny side up. Pour a dollop of olive oil in the centre.
  3. Roll the beet around in the oil to coat it. Wrap the tin foil tightly around the beet.
  4. Repeat for each beet.
  5. Place wrapped beets on a cookie tray or in a baking dish.
  6. Roast until tender, how long this takes depends on the size of the beets and the heat of your oven – at 350 degrees F it may take as long as 2 hours; at 425 degrees F it may take as short as 45 min.

 

 

Beet and Bean Borscht

Check out this fantastic hearty and tasty full meal in one pot, vegetarian borscht here. While the recipe takes a little longer to cook, it makes a lot of soup. And, this soup tastes great re-heated. Freeze leftovers (without the yogurt or sour cream topping) in small batches. I wanted to share it not only because it’s so tasty, but because it’s handy to have healthy meals like this in the freezer when the busy holiday season starts up.

Beans, beets and cabbage are all super healthy (and inexpensive) that I’m always looking for new recipes. I picked up this little pamphlet at the Saskatchewan pavilion at the 2010 Olympics. Did you know that we grow tons of beans, split peas and lentils here in Canada?

If the mixed textures in this soup are too advanced for your little one, simply take beans and pieces of the veggies out of the soup and place them in your little one’s dish/ on their tray.

Can I give finger foods if my baby doesn’t have teeth yet?

finger foods baby doesn’t have teethThank you to the parent who asked me this week’s question: "My baby doesn’t have any teeth yet. Can I give her finger foods?" The short answer is: yes! You don’t need to wait until a baby has teeth before giving finger foods.

Babies are ready for finger foods by 7 months, if not before.

Many babies won’t have teeth (or very many teeth) by this age.

It’s amazing to watch what they can handle with their gums. So go ahead and offer finger food versions of a wide variety of foods that your family eats.

Enjoy watching your little one discover the amazing variety of tastes and textures that food comes in!

Check out this video for iron-rich finger foods for babies.

Take the Opportunity to Learn from me In-Person

mom & daughter eatingFrom workshops to the Vancouver Island Baby Fair, there are lots of upcoming opportunities to learn in-person and have me answer your questions. Workshops If you live in Vancouver or the North Shore and your little one is anywhere from 4 months to 5 years old, there's a workshop coming up for you. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee and some goodies, meet other parents, and learn how to meet your child’s nutrition needs today and instill a life-long love of healthy eating (and there’ll be lots of time for questions).

Baby Meets Broccoli (4-9 months): Introducing Solid Foods. Wed October 9th, 9:30-11:30am. Cactus Club Park Royal (West Van) Register at: Modern Mama North Shore's website

Taste and Texture Transition (9-18 months): Transitioning From Baby Food to Big Kid Food and Prevening Picky Eating. Tues November 5th, 10am-12noon. Broadway + Granville (Vancouver) Register at: Modern Mama Vancouver's website

Taste and Texture Transition (9-18 months): Transitioning From Baby Food to Big Kid Food and Prevening Picky Eating. Wed November 6th, 9:30-11:30am. Cactus Club Park Royal (West Van) Register at: Modern Mama North Shore's website

Toddler at the Table (19-36 months): 3 Most Common Causes for Picky Eating and How to Minimize It. Tues October 8th, 10am-12noon. Broadway + Granville (Vancouver) Register at: Modern Mama Vancouver's website

Picky Preschooler (3-5 years): 3 Most Common Causes for Picky Eating and How to Minimize It. Tues December 3rd, 9am-11am. Broadway + Granville (Vancouver) Register at: Modern Mama Vancouver's website

Vancouver Island Baby Fair The Baby Fair is this weekend! I'll be joined by lots of great exhibitors and fun entertainment. Catch me on the Main Stage at 11:30am-12noon on Saturday where I'll be talking about Beyond Mush: Introducing Solid Foods

Stop by my booth to say Hi. I'd love to meet you!

Here's all the Fair details: http://www.vancouverislandbabyfair.com/index1.cfm

Homemade Baby Food - Egg Yolk

Egg Yolk contains the easiest form of iron for our bodies to absorb (called heme iron). This makes it a great first food. And, the new recommendations are to offer your baby egg from about 6 months onwards, there's no need to wait until after 12 months to prevent food allergy.

Check out this video for how to prepare it (it's super easy):

Register NOW for the Best Price Ever

intro solids spaghetti baby onlyI'm working away behind the scenes to bring to you my popular Baby Meets Broccoli: Introducing Solid Foods workshop - ONLINE! Now you'll get everything that you need to safely meet your baby's rapidly changing nutrition needs. And start in the right direction to instill in your baby a lifelong love of healthy eating.

All without you having to get dressed and out the door!

The workshop will be launched on September 23rd.

STARTING TODAY, when you pre-register before the launch, you'll get the workshop for the best price that I'll ever offer.

The workshop's regular price will be $37.

Register before September 23rd and you'll get access for only $19!

I encourage you to act quickly because I won't offer this low a regstration fee ever again.

Ooh, and please share this news with your friends!

Register here: www.vitaminkconsulting.com/introducingsolids

Homemade Baby Food Beans

I've added a new "how-to" video for homemade baby food. This time it's for homemade baby food beans. Beans and lentils are good sources of iron. And, it's recommended that you offer your baby iron-rich foods at least twice a day, from about 6 months onwards. Check out more iron-rich baby food videos on Youtube.

 

Homemade Baby Food Fish

Did you know that it's recommended that you offer your baby iron-rich foods at least twice a day from 6 months onwards? Many parents are surprized when I share about a great source of iron - fish! And they can't imagine how to prepare them for their babies. So, I've created some videos showing how to prepare iron-rich foods - both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods. Over the next few weeks I'll be releasing them on Youtube. This week I'm showing you how to prepare both meat and fish. Here's the video on how to prepare homemade baby food fish:

Homemade Baby Food Meat

Did you know that it's recommended that you offer your baby iron-rich foods at least twice a day from 6 months onwards? Many parents are surprized when I share about a great source of iron - meat! And they can't imagine how to prepare them for their babies. No - I'm not recommending giving your baby a great big steak to chew on! So, I've created some videos showing how to prepare iron-rich foods - both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods. Over the next few weeks I'll be releasing them on Youtube. This week I'm showing you how to prepare both meat and fish. Here's the video on how to prepare homemade baby food meat: