Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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You'd probably do just about anything when you’re pregnant to keep your baby from developing food allergies. Avoid shrimp? Check. Stay away from eggs? No problem. Skip soy? Consider it done. Unfortunately, the advice on how to prevent food allergies keeps changing. So where does that leave you if someone offers you a peanut butter cookie?
When our daughter started solids four years ago, my husband and I had the do's and don'ts memorized: wait until she's 6 months old, introduce cereal first and absolutely no eggs. Lucky for you, parents today can reject many of the strict rules we sweated just a few years back. Take a look:
Old Rule: Give nothing but breast milk for 6 months.
Your toddler clamps his mouth shut, turns his head away and screams--loudly--as if you're inflicting the worst kind of torture on his fragile soul. The offense? Vegetables.
When your baby is nursing well (usually by 2 to 3 weeks old), give her a bottle at one feeding—or, better yet, ask your partner to do it in the wee hours so you can get some sleep, Karp says. Don’t wait longer than 4 weeks, or she’ll be more likely to refuse it. Also try not to give more than one bottle per day; switching back and forth too much may cause nipple confusion. If you hope to breastfeed for months to come—and experts recommend continuing through the first year—beware of topping off your nursing sessions with a bottle.
Many a mom has heard that beans, broccoli, chili peppers, garlic and onions should be avoided like the plague while breastfeeding. But if you devoured these foods during pregnancy, they probably won’t bother your baby now, says Ruth Lawrence, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York and chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Breastfeeding.
Interested in whipping up a batch of fresh fare for your nascent eater? The right tools will make the job simple and rewarding, so invest now in equipment that will last a lifetime. Eileen Behan, R.D., author of The Baby Food Bible (Ballantine Books), offers her kitchen gear hotlist:
Your baby’s first tastes of solid foods are thoroughly entertaining to watch, as new flavors and textures provoke faces that are equally adorable and hilarious. What’s not so amusing is that, in some instances, there are invisible contaminants, fillers and other unhealthy ingredients lurking in his food.
Wouldn’t it be great if babies came with feeding instructions? Well, to some extent they do.
Studies have shown that infants are born with a preference for sweet tastes, followed soon after by a preference for salt. And when it comes to knowing how much to eat, babies are born with that ability, too. It’s called self-regulation, meaning babies have internal cues that tell them when they’re hungry and when they’re full.
Five to 8 percent of children under age 3 have food allergies, according to experts’ estimates. (Some prefer the term food sensitivity or intolerance, reserving the word allergy for the most severe reaction—anaphylaxis—a life-threatening emergency.) Although you may not be able to entirely prevent your baby from developing a food sensitivity, there are steps you can take to try to keep this from happening.
Start solids at no earlier than 6 months old. Giving your baby breast milk exclusively is not just adequate for six to nine months--it's optimal. Formula is a second-best option, but either way, no solid foods need to be added during the first six months. (Pediatricians used to recommend starting solids at age 4 months, but we now know that introducing them this early may increase a child's tendencies toward allergies and obesity.) Fruits and vegetables are easier to digest than cereal and thus make excellent first foods. Cook a sweet potato, mash it and feed it to your baby.
No. Some doctors believe that diets very high in soy (as many vegetarian diets are) can lead to such problems as attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity because of phytoestrogens in the soy. Not only are these dire predictions not supported by science, but millions of people worldwide are vegetarians (myself included) and have no behavioral problems whatsoever.
Absolutely not. Granted, breast milk does contain trace amounts of the same chemicals found in cow's milk; our air, food and water supply; our very own bodies; and, yes, in formula. Yet it is still the "cleanest," best food you can feed your baby. And because of its newest additives, while formula may seem better for your baby than breast milk, it's not. So don't let your concern keep you from breastfeeding. Just eat the healthiest foods possible and drink clean water (bottled or filtered, if necessary).