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Nourishing baby food


Franci
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Hello.

I have a baby girl, just turning 8 months old in a few days, so I'm very interested to know what are other people traditions on weaning babies on solids and what are traditionally considered the most nutrient dense foods around the world.

I'm Italian but with my first son, born in the UK, I didn't follow the general italians guidelines pediatricians give nowadays and honestly I'm not really aware of them much. I know they start with a vegetable broth, with some creamed cereals and pure vegetables, to add proteins later on. Nowadays everything seems to come in a jar.

The baby led weaning movement was becoming very popular at the time and my very stubborn little boy already decided by himself. Puree? No, thanks. So he went straight on finger foods, eating whole maccheroni by age 11 months. I was very proud of my gourmet child. Now, of course, he is one of those difficult 4 years olds.

It's the turn of my little girl, now. My husband origin is Chinese (who doesn't want to eat chinese, btw), so, yesterday, I feed my girl congee made with stock. The other day, I bought a little of lamb brain. The French butcher told me, smiling: est-il pour le bébé?

Ah, ah, I was thinking if the same would happen in the States...

I know this bookis very popular. But what are your believes in what is the most appropriate food for a baby, besides mother's milk, when available?

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Hi, Franci,

I went through the weaning process in Italy. :smile: I know you weren’t asking specifically about Italy, but I’ll tell you a little about it. :smile:

I didn’t follow all the rules. the original broth was insipid and my son wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. He just didn't get it. So as he grew, we increased the variety of the vegetables and pureed the whole thing. The end result was your typical “passata di verdure” which we mixed with tiny pasta shapes, parmigiano and raw oil. He is three now, and this is still by far is favorite meal. While extremely healthy and nutritious, I almost think it is a detriment to his diet as he won’t eat other vegetables on their own and gets bored quickly of repeated meals. In other words, I’ve made it very difficult for myself. This could just be a phenomenon relative to my child, as I know for a fact, my SIL who does the same passata is still able to give it to her child four times a week.

Aside from that, they don’t really recommend the jars here so much, they prefer you make the foods yourself. I remember that my pediatrician preferred we start out with commercial cheese and dairy (UHT and pasteurized). we tried "jarred cheese" which was hideous and let that go for things like stracchino, ricotta and the like.

They also eat meat and fish earlier than the US here for sure. Starting with lamb.

After he got used to the whole idea of eating food as opposed to drinking milk, we let him try everything.

His other favorite meal is probably pici al cinghiale, just like a good little Tuscan. :smile:

Edited by ambra (log)
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Here its sort of split between:

whatever the parents are eating, cooked soft, and cut into 'safe' shapes (no round things)

and

whatever the parents are eating, smashed. (Often, with extra made, pureed, and frozen in blobs or icecube trays, for those meals the parents dont cook. my baby ate many more meals a day than I did).

Changing textures seems to have been a bigger problem for my friends and I, than flavors, so I think the first option is awesome, if it works for your kid.

If it doesnt, the stuff can always go in a foodmill.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Oh, I definitely agree that it should be "whatever the parents are eating." but I didn't start out that way. I started that a little later. I think I might have posted about weaning here asking for advice and I think you, KA, gave me that advice in the first place. Although I could be remember wrong.

Edited by ambra (log)
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I dont like 'should' when it comes to kids eating. I think my take home on it, ambra, is whatever baby will eat is good. Mine ate a LOT more different veg than her father and I.

I started with fine purees and went thicker and chunkier over time, but that's not what is 'in' over here, now.

There's one mom posts on here, mother of 4, some of whom are superduper adventure eaters and some are white-food all the way. Kids are who they are!

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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In Mexico some of the traditional first foods are:

Egg Yolks

Atole (Ground, Nixtamalized Corn porridge)

Pureed Tomato, Carrots,

Mashed & Salted Avocado, Potato, Sweet Potato, Beans,

Bone Marrow Soup pureed with Tortilla, Pasta or Rice

Barley Agua Fresca

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Here its sort of split between:

whatever the parents are eating, cooked soft, and cut into 'safe' shapes (no round things)

whatever the parents are eating, smashed. (Often, with extra made, pureed, and frozen in blobs or icecube trays, for those meals the parents dont cook. my baby ate many more meals a day than I did).

My experience has been the same and I see it currently with new mothers. There is a "rule" floating around about waiting 3 days between introducing new foods so you can tell if there is an allergy, but really other than an immediate reaction, with a baby, sensitivities are hard to detect or pinpoint. They randomly break out with little facial rashes or get cranky with what appears to be tummy troubles.

20 years ago the common first food to put on their tray to let them try self feeding was Cheerios. Today I see lots of specialized baby food products with a similar shape in different flavors - the difference being that they dissolve very quickly -addressing possible choking I suppose.

A favorite once mine was trying the hand to mouth self feeding was as follows:

A chicken leg and a carrot slowly cooked in water until it had given its all to the broth (carrot added about half way through). Meat removed. Add dry fusilli, gemelli or similar pasta that they can get a grip on and cook in the broth until soft but not mushy. Broth will be almost completely absorbed. The carrots can be mashed and spoon fed or you can let the babe work on motor skills trying to pick them up. This was all in my mind, nothing I was told, but it seemed like it was getting the protein and goodness from the chicken into the pasta. A bit messier than just boiled pasta, but babies are messy as a given :smile:

I have seen (and did on occasion utilize) the age old technique of biting off a bit of my food and giving it a slight chew and then offering it from my fingers to his mouth like a baby bird. Does this cut across cultures?

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My kids are pretty young, so this isn't too far back for me. Both of them were early eaters. Some pediatricians want you to wait till 6 month, but both of mine wanted to try foods by 4 months.

Our pediatrician had us start with cereals (typically processed and flaked for quick rehydration) mixed with whatever milk you give your child. Then veggies and then fruits. We moved pretty quickly to feeding them whatever we were eating. Certain foods that are typically allergenic, like egg, cows milk, etc, our Dr recommended to avoid for the first year. Honey was delayed longer.

Finger foods for our kids were cheerios, cooked baby carrots, these flavored puffed rice snacks and these weird dehydrated yogurt snacks also known around my house as baby crack. My kids also liked eating peas cooked soft and rice by the handful, which gets everywhere.

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. . . .

I have seen (and did on occasion utilize) the age old technique of biting off a bit of my food and giving it a slight chew and then offering it from my fingers to his mouth like a baby bird. Does this cut across cultures?

I've definitely seen it done in here, in DK, and have seen mothers from Greenland do it, too. Never saw it done in Italy, however, I think it might feel too much like going in the direction of 'brutta figura' (what with taking chewed food out of your mouth), but it may just have to do with the particular parents I've known.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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The year I was pregnant I called intl directory assistance to get the phone numbers for all the foreign baby food companies so I could purchase a few cases of German, Japanese and British baby food and the directory assistance lady told me she was going to report me to CPS and that I was abusive.

:o

Here I was trying to raise a child with a great palate and I was abusive.

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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GlorifiedRice-Wow I hope you called back and talked to her supervisor. Talk about judgmental!

With my first daughter, I tried to follow the guidelines that my ped. gave me, cereals (starting with rice) at 4 months, then single fruit and veggie purees, then blends, then chunks, etc...

I was a little more flexible with my second, I started with mixed stuff right away, but I made all her food, so I'd throw whatever fruit looked good and ripe in the Vitamix and have the teachers at her school mix in some baby cereal.

My 17 mo started on solids at about 4 months, and we basically just ground up whatever we had. One of the first things he ate was my lentil soup (complete with garlic, red pepper paste, and ham) pureed smooth. The teacher in his classroom always joked that heating up his food made her hungry! I just make sure that whatever I give him is either smooshy or small enough that he won't choke on it.

It's funny how the anxiety level goes down with each child! I guess that wouldn't be the case if you had a child with allergy issues, but luckily for us that hasn't been an issue.

The only thing we've avoided is honey, since botulism is a concern with children under one.

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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In India a common first food is moong dal khichdi. This is a mixture of rice and dal, cooked to a soft porridge-y texture. There are lots of different kinds of khichdi and some can be rich, spicy and have a dry texture, but a very basic and mushy moong dal khichdi is a popular food for invalids, the elderly and the very young.

A simple version for a baby could just be rice and dal in a 2:1 ratio, cooked very mushy and then given a touch of ghee. Veggies can be added, mashed well during early baby feeding stages. Some people add a few spices and others don't. One friend said she used a bayleaf and a couple of peppercorns but removed them when the khichdi was cooked. Another friend confessed to me that she was too nervous to even put in turmeric while the baby was very young. However, I do know a family who put small amounts of (always ground finely) daily spices such as cumin, coriander and garam masala in the baby food from day one. Only thing they left until later was chillies. So I guess thoughts on this vary. A common themes seems to be that "Mum said she just took out small bits of whatever everyone else was eating before hot spices and salt were added and mashed it up".

Other common dishes are various softe textured cereals from dalia (cracked wheat) porridge, to gruels made from sooji (semolina) and so on. I've got a large encyclopedic book on health care for women in India without good access to medical care and the advice on suitable foods for weaning in there are that the food should consist of a "main" food (all those listed as examples are starchy - rice, wheat, millet, sweet potato, maize, tapioca, etc.) mixed with a protein-y food (dal, beans, meat, egg, fish, etc.), brightly coloured vegetables and fruits and something fatty (ghee, oil, etc.). This should all very mashed up to start with and may be diluted with breast milk.

There are also some special traditional baby foods made from sprouted grains that are considered very healthy. Ragi, a kind of millet, is a popular grain used this way and is also believed to be good for the mother. Typically the grains are sprouted, dried thoroughly, ground to a power and used to make a sweet-ish or savoury porridge as necessary. Some mixtures use multiple beans and grains.

Of course, commercial baby foods are making headway in many places now. So easy and convenient for parents, though not IMO as beneficial as homemade. There are ways to make it more covenient though, and things like the sprouted-ragi powder are easy to prepare in advance and then have a porrdige ready very quickly.

The bayleaf-pepper khichdi friend told me the first time she made the khichdi for her baby she realised at the end she had at least 3 times as much as she needed and it felt very frustrating to work hard to make so little! So she decided to make a powder of rice, dal and a little cumin in the correct proportions once a week and then use the powder to make a porridge when needed. The result had a very fine texture perfect for baby's first meal and made it easier when the baby only wanted a tsp at a time. By the time the baby wanted more texture-y foods she was eating more too and it was easier to make the right quantity at a time.

Btw, I know parents here who have given honey to small babies. I don't know exactly how old the babies were but it was just considered a nice pleasant taste and good for the baby. Of course, it may just be a case of ignorance where they were unaware of the dangers of botulism.

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For what I'm reading, in the more traditional societies grains are still sprouted to maximize the absorption of nutrients and limit the toxicity (nixtamalized corn, sprouted millet, etc). I'm not a huge supporter of theWeston Price Fondation, because it seems to me it's almost a religion, but some stuff make sense. I think the highly processed cereals that babies are feed in the western world are not nutritious food.

Down here, it's stewed mashed ripe plantain, quinua gruel, and whatever the parents are eating for veggies and fruit, mashed or pureed.

Is the quinoa soaked and/or sprouted?

While extremely healthy and nutritious, I almost think it is a detriment to his diet as he won’t eat other vegetables on their own and gets bored quickly of repeated meals. In other words, I’ve made it very difficult for myself.

His other favorite meal is probably pici al cinghiale, just like a good little Tuscan. :smile:

eh, eh. This is interesting instead. My son, the baby led weaning child, would not mix stuff and would not eat a veloute or a passato.

In Mexico some of the traditional first foods are:

Egg Yolks

Atole (Ground, Nixtamalized Corn porridge)

Pureed Tomato, Carrots,

Mashed & Salted Avocado, Potato, Sweet Potato, Beans,

Bone Marrow Soup pureed with Tortilla, Pasta or Rice

Barley Agua Fresca

thank you! This is my idea of traditional diets full of nutrients. How do you make the bone marrow soup?

I generally add always bone marrow to my beef stock and often start a risotto with the marrow. Now I'm thinking of making congee with a little bone marrow and saffron...chinese meets italian :biggrin:

And the Barley Aqua Fresca?

. . . .

I have seen (and did on occasion utilize) the age old technique of biting off a bit of my food and giving it a slight chew and then offering it from my fingers to his mouth like a baby bird. Does this cut across cultures?

I've definitely seen it done in here, in DK, and have seen mothers from Greenland do it, too. Never saw it done in Italy, however, I think it might feel too much like going in the direction of 'brutta figura' (what with taking chewed food out of your mouth), but it may just have to do with the particular parents I've known.

It is done also in Italy. I do not like the idea though.

It's funny how the anxiety level goes down with each child! I guess that wouldn't be the case if you had a child with allergy issues, but luckily for us that hasn't been an issue.

Instead I'm more anxious with my second baby. My first child would just refuse to be fed, he was able to take the food bring to his mouth, chew and swallow. Yes, a little gagging at the beginning but not much. My daughter is different and I'm being more cautious with her.

There are also some special traditional baby foods made from sprouted grains that are considered very healthy. Ragi, a kind of millet, is a popular grain used this way and is also believed to be good for the mother. Typically the grains are sprouted, dried thoroughly, ground to a power and used to make a sweet-ish or savoury porridge as necessary. Some mixtures use multiple beans and grains.

Of course, commercial baby foods are making headway in many places now. So easy and convenient for parents, though not IMO as beneficial as homemade. There are ways to make it more covenient though, and things like the sprouted-ragi powder are easy to prepare in advance and then have a porrdige ready very quickly.

The bayleaf-pepper khichdi friend told me the first time she made the khichdi for her baby she realised at the end she had at least 3 times as much as she needed and it felt very frustrating to work hard to make so little! So she decided to make a powder of rice, dal and a little cumin in the correct proportions once a week and then use the powder to make a porridge when needed. The result had a very fine texture perfect for baby's first meal and made it easier when the baby only wanted a tsp at a time. By the time the baby wanted more texture-y foods she was eating more too and it was easier to make the right quantity at a time.

Thank you Jenny. Is the ragi also fermented?

I'd like to incorporate more spices and herbs in my daughter diet. My son is not used to it. To the point that when we visited his Chinese grandmother he basically didn't touch food for a week. He was not used to the taste of soy sauce or coriander...

Besides chillies, are there any other spices not reccomended for babies.

I think in Chinese traditional medicine ginger is "hot" and not suitables for babies. I should ask my mother in law.

Regards

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Thank you Jenny. Is the ragi also fermented?

Not that I know of.

I'd like to incorporate more spices and herbs in my daughter diet. My son is not used to it. To the point that when we visited his Chinese grandmother he basically didn't touch food for a week. He was not used to the taste of soy sauce or coriander...

Besides chillies, are there any other spices not reccomended for babies.

I think in Chinese traditional medicine ginger is "hot" and not suitables for babies. I should ask my mother in law.

Regards

I think this varies depending on who you ask, and I don't have children so cannot advise fully! Generally the idea seems to be to start blander, with some people avoiding any spices at all and other just using specific non-pungent spices in small amounts. I wouldn't reccomend anything that is distinctly pungent that may upset the baby and give a burning sensation.

I know that there are a number of taboo foods for mother and baby according to some traditions in India, varying by region. Some of these are utter nonsense but probably harmless and others can be harmful because they encourage people to avoid foods that are nutritious. So I guess your best step is to check with someone who is actually medically trained. Traditional knowledge can be very useful and healthy but some traditions can be harmful and are more based on superstition.

I bring this up because Indian traditional medicine definitely has a lot to say about heating and cooling foods. When used with proper understanding of the whole Ayurvedic (Indian medicine) system these are useful classifications and can be used to make healthy choices. But it must be remembered that Ayurvedic medicine says that everyone has a particular constitution and that advice must be tailored specifically to each person. However, often things are misunderstood by people and this leads to blanket statements about how "women should not eat heating foods" and so on.

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