Finger foods for babies

When looking for finger foods for babies please remember that each baby is different, although babies normally start self feeding between the ages of 6 to 9 months not all babies may show interested at this stage. When starting finger foods it is important to apply the 4-day rule.
What is this 4-day rule? The 4-day rule is a simple way to check if your baby has any sensitive or allergic reaction to new or different food types. Except for food allergies when introducing new foods to your baby you as parent might also be facing digestive problems like stomach pains, gas etc. When choosing to introduce your baby to new foods, choose to do so wisely. Take one food type at a time and space it over a 4-day period before introducing the next food type to your infant. By introducing food like a banana in the beginning of the week for example Monday, one should wait until at least Thursday before introducing another food type. By applying this rule, a parent can better determine what reaction the baby has to that specific type of food. It is also advised to try and introduce new types of food early in the morning, should your baby experience any negative side effects, so that you as a parent can still have the option of contacting the pediatrician during office hours. This also prevents any major disruption during your baby’s routine. A parent can start disregarding the 4-day rule, when your baby has been introduced to several new food types without any negative side effects. Should you have a family with a history of food allergies, it would be advised to continue the 4-day rule until your baby has reached 12 months of age.

Now that we looked at what to do when we start giving finger foods to babies, let us have a look at how do you know when your baby is ready for finger foods. Babies normally start self-feeding between the ages of 6 to 9 months. This is the stage were parents start to experiment with new tastes, textures etc.
When an infant reaches 9 months, they have already started to develop a fine motor skill, called the pincher grasp. This action takes place when your baby starts to pick up small objects and hold them between the thumb and fore finger. In the beginning, they are clumsy, but with practice, they improve this skill to perfection. Finger food is not just fun but also have a very important lesson that is taught to your baby. Finger food gives your baby more control over what they eat and how much they consume. This is a self-regulating process, which in turn will tell you as parent when your baby is hungry or full. By allowing your baby to establish and self regulate their eating habits teaches your baby how to recognize and respond according to feeling of hunger or being full.

We have established that a normal time for a baby to show interest in self-feeding would be between the ages of 6 to 9 months, but trust your instincts and spot the readiness signs as a parent. Finger food also has another advantage for your baby, called hand to mouth coordination. When choosing finger food make sure it is the healthy option. It is also important to take into consideration that the food you choose is soft and easily breakable, easy to swallow or melt in the mouth option. Introduce finger food one at a time starting with colours, textures and taste. As this is an experimental stage for your baby. Should your baby show initial dislike in certain types of food, give it a break for 3 weeks and then try it again, because baby’s taste changes frequently. By starting your baby on finger food also allows you as parent to create the perfect snack between meal times. This allows you as parent to manage portion control for when normal meal times arrive. This also prevents you the parent from facing the problem of baby not being hungry at meal times and disrupting his routine.

We had a look at everything regarding finger food. Now the question remains what type of finger food can one start to give to baby? In the fruit department, we can look at the following: Bananas, cooked apples and pear cubes, melon cubes, kiwi and avocados. Bananas and avocado’s are quite slippery food type, to make it easier on your baby, roll the banana or avocado in crushed baby cereal powder. This makes this type of food easier to hold and eat. The perfect veggie foods would be: sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, beetroot, broccoli, asparagus and peas.

When to start feeding solids

When to start feeding solids

Most of the decisions you make with your infant is based on the information you obtain through pre- natal classes, health care professionals, and internet and loved ones that have been through this process. It is important to remember when you start reading books, articles etc. regarding your baby, keep in mind that not one baby is the same. You as a parent, especially with your first-born are swamped with dos and don’ts. Most of the time, a parent is confused about all the advice available to them, due to all the contradictions. So what advice do you take and which ones does a parent discard? By the time you finished reading this article, you will have more insight and trust within yourself as a parent and well as in the decisions you will make regarding your baby.

Most of the products on the market as well as your health care professionals advise to start introducing solids to a baby at the age of six months. Now the question remains, why? Let us have a look at your babies digestive system. A baby cannot digest certain types of food at a certain stages in his life, for example starch, carbohydrates and fats. This is because of the pancreas. A baby‘s pancreas is not fully developed when he is born, and because the pancreas produce enzymes which in turn helps with the digestion of food. This in turns explain why health care professional’s advice solid food from the age of 4 to 6 months onward. If the pancreas has not yet fully developed and only starts to produce enzymes from the age of 4 to 6 months, how does the baby digest his milk?

We have established that a baby‘s pancreas is not fully developed which is the cause of low enzyme production, that is why the baby’s milk and saliva helps with the short comings by producing enzymes the selves. Even though the pancreas only starts to produce enzymes 4 months after birth, which effects food digestion, there are other factors to take into consideration before making the choice of introducing solids to your baby. Except for the pancreas, some of the other factors to take into consideration would be tongue- thrust and your baby’s gastro intestinal track. Let us have a look at what is happening inside your baby’s gastro intestinal track. An infant’s milk and saliva has been found to produce enzymes, but what about the gastro intestinal track? Older babies’ have a fully developed mucous layer in the gastro intestinal track unlike new a born, and this can lead to infection if care is not taken. An infant’s milk does not just produce enzymes but also anti-bodies, which help, protect the infant’s gastro intestinal tract until the mucous lining, is fully developed and produces anti – bodies on its own.

The third reason why early solid food feeding is not recommended is because of the baby’s tongue thrust reflex. Although the previous generations have started solid food feeding when the baby was a mere month or 2 old, researchers found due to this action there was a higher mortality rate amongst babies in that time. Research shows that there were mineral and vitamin deficiencies reported amongst babies, which was the cause of higher rates of illness and deaths. Research shows that since medical science progressed in the field regarding infants and their feeding habits, infants are now receiving the proper nutrients for their bodies. I can understand a parent asking, what does this have to do with my baby or me? There is a simple answer. A baby’s intestines are only closed between the ages of 4 to 6 months. Before this age, they have what medical professionals call an “open gut”. By feeding a baby before the mucous lining in the gastro intestinal tract has formed and closed. When feeding baby solids during this time, whole pieces of food may end up in the blood stream and that can cause your baby to have food allergies or gastro intestinal problems like colic, gas etc.

The perfect time to introduce solid foods would be between the ages of 4 to 6 months. This is the time to enjoy watching your baby smearing his face and everything around him in an attempt to stuff his mouth full of food. To let your baby discover how much fun food can be, is not necessarily the parent’s point of view since they have to do the cleaning, but trust your own instincts when it comes to your baby. No one knows him or her better that you.