Saturday, May 23, 2009

Myth? Quite Possibly...

I have had quite a few people comment on our food selections and order of introduction. I thought I would give a little background to our decisions! The comments range from, "Why are you doing "real" food before infant rice cereal?" "How can you make homemade organic brown rice cereal?" "You really shouldn't have started bananas before veggies b/c she will get a sweet tooth."


Interestingly enough, "bananas are an excellent source of nutrition and as such, are another perfect fruit to be one of baby's first foods. Bananas are often called one of nature's perfect foods because they are said to contain everything a person needs to survive. One of the most important nutritional components of Bananas is that they contain potassium and fiber. Bananas are also high in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Vitamin B2. The Potassium in bananas often gets a bad rap due to the confusion with sodium (salt). Potassium contributes to healthy blood pressure as well as healthy heart functions. Some studies have suggested that people who consume bananas and other foods high in potassium are less likely to develop atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Bananas are also known as one of nature's own antacids. They are known to help protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage. The reason for this seldom known and almost odd fact is that bananas contain "mucilaginous bulking substances". They help the intestines with producing a mucousy lining and are very very easy to digest."

Also, "avocado makes a great first food for baby due to its texture and creaminess as well as its high nutrient content. Avocados are often called one of nature's perfect foods because they are said to contain everything a person needs to survive. A wonderful "good fat" food for baby's brain and physical development, try an avocado as baby's first food instead of refined cereals! "Sodium- and cholesterol- free, avocados contain valuable nutrients including 8% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for folate; 4% DV for fiber and potassium, 4% DV for vitamin E; and 2% DV for iron. A serving of avocado also contains 81 micrograms of the carotenoid lutein and 19 micrograms of beta-carotene. Per serving, avocados have 3.5 grams of unsaturated fats, which are known to be important for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain."

So. after doing quite a bit of research on baby foods, many dietitians and nutritionists are actually saying that the order food is introduced doesn't matter.... also there is freedom in choosing the first foods.... most of the "food guidelines" are based on myths and not true science. I found an interesting article on MSNBC.... I have included it below! I have found a few websites that suggest waiting until 6-8 months to begin introducing spices!

Experts seek to debunk baby food myths:

Little evidence supports ‘any particular way of doing things’

Ditch the rice cereal and mashed peas, and make way for enchiladas, curry and even — gasp! — hot peppers. It's time to discard everything you think you know about feeding babies. It turns out most advice parents get about weaning infants onto solid foods — even from pediatricians — is more myth than science.

That's right, rice cereal may not be the best first food. Peanut butter doesn't have to wait until after the first birthday. Offering fruits before vegetables won't breed a sweet tooth. And strong spices? Bring 'em on.

"There's a bunch of mythology out there about this," says Dr. David Bergman, a Stanford University pediatrics professor. "There's not much evidence to support any particular way of doing things."

Word of that has been slow to reach parents and the stacks of baby books they rely on to navigate this often intimidating period of their children's lives. But that may be changing.

As research increasingly suggests a child's first experiences with food shape later eating habits, doctors say battling obesity and improving the American diet may mean debunking the myths and broadening babies' palates.

It's easier — and harder — than it sounds. Easier because experts say 6-month-olds can eat many of the same things their parents do. Harder because it's tough to find detailed guidance for nervous parents.

"Parents have lost touch with the notion that these charts are guides, not rules," says Rachel Brandeis, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Babies start with a very clean palate and it's your job to mold it."

It's easy to mistake that for a regimented process. Most parents are told to start rice cereal at 6 months, then slowly progress to simple vegetables, mild fruits and finally pasta and meat.

Ethnic foods and spices are mostly ignored by the guidelines — cinnamon and avocados are about as exotic as it gets — and parents are warned off potential allergens such as nuts and seafood for at least a year.

Yet experts say children over 6 months can handle most anything, with a few caveats: Be cautious if you have a family history of allergies; introduce one food at a time and watch for any problems; and make sure the food isn't a choking hazard.

Parents elsewhere in the world certainly take a more freewheeling approach, often starting babies on heartier, more flavorful fare — from meats in African countries to fish and radishes in Japan and artichokes and tomatoes in France.

The difference is cultural, not scientific, says Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' nutrition committee who says the American approach suffers from a Western bias that fails to reflect the nation's ethnic diversity.

Bhatia says he hopes his group soon will address not only that, but also ways to better educate parents about which rules must be followed and which ones are only suggestions.

Rayya Azarbeygui, a 35-year-old Lebanese immigrant living in New York, isn't waiting. After her son was born last year, she decided he should eat the same foods she does — heavily seasoned Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and baba ghanoush.

"My pediatrician thinks I'm completely crazy," says Azarbeygui, whose son is now 13 months old. "But you know, he sees my child thriving and so says, 'You know what, children in India eat like that. Why not yours?'"

How to introduce healthy children to solid food has rarely been studied. Even the federal government has given it little attention; dietary guidelines apply only to children 2 and older.

In a review of the research, Nancy Butte, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine, found that many strongly held assumptions — such as the need to offer foods in a particular order or to delay allergenic foods — have little scientific basis.

Take rice cereal, for example. Under conventional American wisdom, it's the best first food. But Butte says iron-rich meat — often one of the last foods American parents introduce — would be a better choice.

Dr. David Ludwig of Children's Hospital Boston, a specialist in pediatric nutrition, says some studies suggest rice and other highly processed grain cereals actually could be among the worst foods for infants.

"These foods are in a certain sense no different from adding sugar to formula. They digest very rapidly in the body into sugar, raising blood sugar and insulin levels" and could contribute to later health problems, including obesity, he says.

The lack of variety in the American approach also could be a problem. Exposing infants to more foods may help them adapt to different foods later, which Ludwig says may be key to getting older children to eat healthier.

Food allergy fears get some of the blame for the bland approach. For decades doctors have said the best way to prevent allergies is to limit infants to bland foods, avoiding seasonings, citrus, nuts and certain seafood.

But Butte's review found no evidence that children without family histories of food allergies benefit from this. Others suspect avoiding certain foods or eating bland diets actually could make allergies more likely. Some exposure might be a good thing.

And bring on the spices. Science is catching up with the folklore that babies in the womb and those who are breast-fed taste — and develop a taste for — whatever Mom eats. So experts say if Mom enjoys loads of oregano, baby might, too.

That's been Maru Mondragon's experience. The 40-year-old Mexican indulged on spicy foods while pregnant with her youngest son, 21-month-old Russell, but not while carrying his 3-year-old brother, Christian.

Christian has a mild palate while his younger brother snacks on jalapenos and demands hot salsa on everything.

"If it is really spicy, he cries, but still keeps eating it," says Mondragon, who moved to Denver four years ago.

That's the sort of approach Bhatia says more parents should know about. Parents should view this as a chance to encourage children to embrace healthy eating habits and introduce them to their culture and heritage.

"So you eat a lot of curry," he says, "try junior on a mild curry."

Anyone have any thoughts?



Anonymous said...

my only thought is that i would never, ever question what you feed or do for sophia as you are the biggest researcher, healthiest person, and best mommy in the world! when i get pregnant, i will constantly be calling and emailing you to see what i should be doing for my baby! can you just go ahead and write a "tell all" book now?!!! -erz

Whitney and Jake said...

My naturopath actually told me that it is best to start with veggies and fruits because most grains (even really pure ones like rice) are very hard to digest for a new little system, so we did only veg and fruits until about 7-8months. I got a lot of "why" questions too, but both of my kids turned out healthy and fine!

Erin A. said...

Good info! I love that when it's my turn you will have already done the research for me! :)

Anonymous said...

I have a thought. You have way too much time on your hands. Go enjoy your daughter and get off the computer.

kbmulder said...

Thanks for all the good info! I am going to try some avacado, never thought of that. I was also afraid about the sweet tooth myth, but now I feel better. Did you try the brown rice cereal yet?

Auntie Sarah said...

I think you are a wonderful mother and I can see it each time I see you and Sophia. She adores you and loves you very much. Continue to be just as great as you are!!

DEBSIK said...

There couldnt be a more patient,loving,nuturing, mommy in the whole wide world than you! Keep up the great job in raising your daughter- I am so thankful that you have such a strong desire to keep your family as healthy as possible and you have always done your homework when it comes to knowing and understanding all the facts! Keep sharing!!!!

Amber said...

I agree with ERZ! You're doing a fantastic job! Plus, our ped. had us start Noah on rice cereal, and it was too hard on his system. So I took him off of it, and he was EBF until 6 months. Then we started him with fruits and veggies first! Don't worry about the questions and what others do what you are comfortable with...because that's what's BEST for Sophia!