Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What Gerber doesn't want you to know

We never bought a single jar of baby food for Sam.  And given the aggressive marketing by baby food manufacturers (just search for "baby food" and see what comes up), they don't want you to figure this out: you don't need it.

Since the World Heath Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding for six months, solids need not be introduced until six months at the earliest.  And until one year, breast milk or a substitute is still the biggest source of nutrition for baby.  That means eating solid food under the age of one is just for learning.

What, then, is the point of teaching them to eat mashed "baby food?"  The object of feeding solids initially should be to develop motor skills, teach chewing and swallowing, get a feel for different types of foods, and have fun.  This means we should serve babies soft foods mashable by baby's gums in non-chokable-sized pieces.  You don't even need a food processor or ricer--it's quite easy to do with a fork right at the dinner table off your own plate.  Caregivers can do this easily, or stick to milk during the time the baby is in their care.  An added benefit is that you are in complete control of all ingredients in your baby's solid food. 

Then, by the time baby is one, ideally, he will be well practiced with feeding himself and be accustomed to different flavors and textures, rather than expecting only certain flavors and textures to be delivered all the way to his mouth.

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