Starting Your Baby on Meat

Although most parents wait to introduce meat to baby, there is really no reason to put it off. Your baby can try pureed meat as one of his earliest baby foods if you like, as there is no scientific evidence to show that introducing foods in a certain order matters one way or the other.

Meat is a wonderful source of iron, a vital mineral to your baby’s growth and development. Many babies are at risk for anemia, a condition that develops due to a deficiency of iron, and adding meat to your baby’s diet can help to prevent this. Although your baby does get iron from breast milk or formula, the additional iron in meat can fill in the gaps, and provide iron in a much more absorbable form for the body that that found in formula.

Which Meat to Start With?

You can start baby on whichever meat you prefer, although many parents choose poultry such as chicken or turkey. Beef is an acceptable choice as well. Make sure the meat is cooked thoroughly and pureed as smoothly as possible. Making a meat puree at home that is smooth enough for a very young baby to handle can be a bit challenging, so you might want to start with pureed meat in jars. This commercial baby food has been processed with much more powerful machines than your home food processor and will be a lot smoother.

Getting Baby to Try Meat

Meat is not usually a taste that attracts babies at first, so try mixing it with a fruit or vegetable baby has already had. In fact, this is one of the reasons to wait a bit on meat, at least until your baby has safely managed a few fruits and vegetables you can use to make the taste of the meat a bit more appealing.

It isn’t unusual for babies to reject meat altogether. Don’t worry if your baby isn’t interested in trying it. Meat has a very different texture and taste from fruits and vegetables, even when they are mixed together. It might be a while before your baby really starts to warm up to meat. Don’t push it too hard. Your baby is getting all the required nutrition from breast milk or formula, so meat isn’t a must any time soon – or ever really. If your baby continues to dislike meat even long past the puree stage, there are plenty of other foods that provide the protein and iron usually added to the diet from meats.

Past Purees

When your baby is ready to chew food and eat things a little bit closer to table foods, you might find a renewed interest in meat. Pureed meat is not the most appetizing thing in the world, so when your baby is old enough to try small pieces that can be chewed you might see a different reaction.

Make sure to cut very small pieces of meat to avoid choking, and start with more tender meats that have been cooked well, such as dark meat chicken. A slow cooker is a great way to prepare juicy, tender meat for baby that will be easy to break down.

As your baby develops a more sophisticated palate, you can season the meat to make it taste much better and improve the chances your baby will be willing to give it more than a passing glance.

Help Your Baby Get More Iron

Iron is one of the most important minerals for health, growth and development in babies and toddlers. In recent years the incidence of iron-deficiency anemia in babies has gone down due to iron-fortified infant formulas and supplementation, but the risk is still very real. Especially in the second year of life, after your baby has been weaned from the breast or from formula feedings, getting the right amount of iron is of vital importance.

Why Does Baby Need Iron?

Iron helps the body to create new red blood cells, which contain hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout the body to keep organs and muscles growing and functioning. Without enough iron, your baby’s body can’t grow and develop normally. When iron stores are depleted, your baby isn’t getting enough oxygen in the bloodstream, which can result in fatigue, poor weight gain, poor appetite and changes in heart rate. There are long term effects as well to severe cases of anemia, which could even lead to hospitalization and blood transfusions.

What Baby Foods Provide Iron?

The best sources of iron in your baby’s diet are fortified infant cereals and meat. Continuing infant cereal into the second year of life can help to prevent iron deficiency anemia in your baby. Meat and poultry are also great sources of iron, but many babies and toddlers don’t eat much of these foods because they can be difficult to chew. You can mix meats with fruits or vegetables to make them more appealing, or try meat in a soup, where it has been cooked in broth and become very tender and easier to chew. If your baby isn’t interested in meat, try eggs, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, beans, peas, and whole grain bread. Choose fortified foods whenever you can to add extra iron.

One of the major causes of iron deficiency anemia in older babies is drinking too much milk. Make sure that your baby is not drinking more than 24 ounces of milk a day. Milk in large quantities can block the absorption of iron and also cause bleeding in the stomach lining, leading to iron loss. Milk is a healthy and important part of your older baby’s diet, but it is possible to drink too much and do damage to your baby’s body, so keep on eye on baby’s intake.

What About Iron Supplements?

Most multi-vitamins for children contain iron, but it is always a good idea to double check. The vitamin drops used for babies should clearly state on the label that they contain iron. Follow the manufacturer’s and your doctor’s instructions for dosage, and do not mix vitamin drops containing iron in with milk, as it blocks the absorption of iron. If you can’t get your baby to take it directly, which is not unusual as it has a strong smell and taste, mix it with a small amount of fruit juice, or add it to food. Just make sure when adding it to food that it is a portion you are certain your baby will finish eating, in order to get all of the supplements.

Children who have developed anemia may need a stronger iron supplement to recover the stores their bodies have lost. Your doctor will discuss this with you if it becomes necessary. Luckily, iron deficiency anemia is entirely avoidable in most cases, as long as you make sure to add extra iron to your baby’s diet early on.

How Long to Continue Baby Cereal

How long your child should continue to eat infant cereals depends on a number of factors. Your child’s diet, timing of weaning from breast-feeding or formula, and your doctor’s opinion are all considerations when deciding at what point to stop infant cereal and switch to more grown-up baby food.

Why Infant Cereal?

It may seem like oatmeal is oatmeal, but there is a difference between baby cereals and those meant for adults. Baby cereals are designed to meet the nutritional needs of infants, which differ from those of adults. Because most babies are not able to eat the same varied diet as a grown person, they require extra nutrients. They are also growing and developing at a rapid rate, which means their little bodies need certain things more than an adult might.

The main difference between a baby cereal and the average box of oats is iron. Cereals designed for babies have been fortified with this important mineral, which helps your baby’s growing body to create new red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Some infant cereals are also fortified with DHA and ARA, which are thought to support eye and brain development. In addition to these, baby cereals contain a number of other vitamins and minerals to help your baby grow.

At a certain point, when your child has become proficient at chewing and swallowing other foods, it will be possible to get the entire spectrum of required nutrients from a varied baby food diet. Particularly during the first two years of life, however, most children need an extra boost in the nutritional department.

Other Sources of Iron

Fortified infant cereal isn’t the only way your baby can get extra iron. Most doctors will recommend a liquid vitamin and mineral supplement for your baby, especially after weaning from the breast or bottle is complete. Some of these supplements contain iron – be sure to check the label to be sure before you buy.

If you are planning to breastfeed into the second year, your baby will get more iron than if you switch entirely to whole milk. This still may not be enough, especially as your baby nurses less often over time.

Keeping Infant Cereal in The Mix

As your baby gets older and enjoys thicker, chunkier foods, infant cereal might not be as interesting, especially as it tends to be bland. There are a number of ways to make infant cereal a bit more interesting to an older child, Mix it with chunkier fruits or vegetables, or add raisins and a touch of honey for taste – but don’t do this until after a year old, as honey is not safe for babies under one. You can also blend it with a thicker oatmeal that might be more interesting to your older child’s palate.

If you can’t get your older child to eat infant cereal, don’t despair. There are many other ways to get enough iron in your little one’s diet. Be sure to use iron supplements, and offer iron rich foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, green vegetables and beans. There are also some cereals on the market meant for adults that have been fortified with iron, such as instant oatmeal. Check labels to look for added iron before you buy.

If you are concerned about your child’s iron intake, talk to your pediatrician. A simple blood test can check for anemia to make sure your little one is healthy.

The Role of Iron in Formula

Iron is an essential mineral to your baby’s growth and development. It is vital to the blood supply, helping to create the hemoglobins that carry oxygen through the blood. Most formulas today are fortified with iron, in accordance with AAP recommendations for preventing an iron deficiency, or anemia, in babies. There are some concerns regarding iron in formula, usually in relation to constipation or other stomach problems; however, the recommendation is still to choose iron-fortified formula over low-iron versions.

Iron in Formula vs. Breast Milk

Some advocates of lower iron formulas argue that breast milk contains far less iron than the average fortified formula. This is true; however, the iron in breast milk is much more easily absorbed by and used by a baby’s body than that found in formula. Therefore a lower amount can have a greater effect. Some doctors do recommend an iron supplement for breast fed babies, but the research is not yet clear on how helpful this is in preventing anemia.

Does Iron in Formula Cause Gastrointestinal Distress?

The main reason why parents choose to switch to a low-iron formula is the belief that the iron in the formula is responsible for such problems as colic, constipation, gas and diarrhea. Because iron supplements in adults can cause constipation, it seems like a logical conclusion that iron would have the same effect on a baby. The research on the topic, however, discredits this belief. There is no evidence of any difference in any of the above issues between babies fed iron-fortified formula and those fed low-iron versions of the same formula.

There is, however, a difference between breastfed babies and formula fed babies in levels of constipation and gas, as well as other stomach issues. This is not because of levels of iron, however, but because breast milk is much easier for the baby’s body to digest than formula. It is also used so effectively by the body that it often leaves less waste to clog up the baby’s system.

The Benefits of Iron in Formula

Since manufacturers started adding iron to formula in the 1970’s, the rate of anemia in infants has dropped dramatically, from 20% to 3% of formula fed babies. Iron is vital to your growing baby’s health, allowing the creation of new red blood cells.

At this time, the AAP recommends that you use a formula fortified with iron, if you are not breastfeeding your baby. Formulas with higher amounts of iron are a better choice because a very small amount of the total iron is actually absorbed and used by the body. Cow’s milk formulas have an absorption rate of only about 12% of iron, while soy formulas are even lower. Compared to the 50% rate of absorption from human milk, it becomes obvious why adding iron to formula is necessary to provide baby with an adequate supply of iron.

At this time, there is no evidence to support the use of low-iron formulas, but despite efforts to educate new parents, low-iron formulas are still available and are still being chosen by parents based on inaccurate information. If you have concerns about iron in your baby’s diet, talk to your pediatrician. It is difficult to see a baby suffering from gastrointestinal distress, but blaming it on iron and removing this important nutrient from baby’s diet can have a damaging effect on health and is unlikely to improve the problem.

Nutrition for Mom and Baby

When you find out you are pregnant, it is time to take a good look at your nutrition. Eating foods that provide all of the vitamins and minerals your baby needs is absolutely vital during pregnancy, so you will need to pay close attention to what you are eating.

During pregnancy, your body is undergoing major changes and a great deal of strain. It’s important to keep it functioning at peak performance to support the growing life in your womb as well as keep yourself healthy. The best way to do this is with proper nutrition.

Why You Need Good Nutrition

The baby inside you will draw all of the necessary vitamins and minerals from your body through the placenta. This means that your body’s stores of these important nutrients will quickly become depleted if you are not replacing them every day. There are some vitamins and minerals that the body can not produce nor store, therefore you must provide them through your diet. Your baby will take what is needed without regard for what your body requires to function, so you must be conscientious about good nutrition to be sure you can continue to support your growing baby as well as keep your own body healthy.

Keys to Good Nutrition

The number one key to getting all the nutrients both you and your baby need is to eat a varied diet of foods that are nutrient-rich. Including all kinds of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean proteins and whole grains in your diet will give your body the range of vitamins and minerals required. Eat the proper number of servings from all of the food groups, and choose different options from each throughout the week. Each food can provide a different mix of nutrients, and keeping your diet varied will make sure you are getting the most out of the foods you eat.

Removing unhealthy foods that don’t offer much in the way of nutrition from your diet is vital during pregnancy. To make sure that you and baby are getting everything you need, you should make sure every food you eat has some benefit for your body and your baby. Skip high-calorie, low-nutrition foods such as fast food, sugary foods, sodas and junk food like potato chips and candy. It’s ok to have a treat once in a while, but remember that these foods aren’t doing you or your baby any good.

Don’t forget beverages! What you drink can also help to provide you with good nutrition. Choose low-fat milk, 100% juices, and remember to drink plenty of water as well. Hydration is important for you and your baby too!

Prenatal Vitamins

You should take a prenatal vitamin to fill in any gaps in your diet and ensure you get the right amounts of all of the vitamins and minerals. Make sure your vitamin provides everything you need – discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist before making a purchase. You can get your vitamins both over the counter or with a prescription from your doctor; as long as you make sure they contain everything you need.

If you don’t eat properly, your baby doesn’t eat properly either. Keep in mind that everything that goes into your body goes into baby’s body as well. Since you baby can’t make good choices, you will have to be the one to make them for you both.

Why you Need a Prenatal Supplement?

Even if you are striving to eat a balanced diet from all four food groups, your vitamin and mineral intake can still fall short. During pregnancy, it is especially vital that you get the needed amounts of all of the necessary nutrients to support your health as well as your baby’s growth. In order to help you meet all of your nutritional needs, your doctor will recommend that you take a prenatal supplement.

What Is A Prenatal Supplement?

Like other multivitamins, prenatal supplements offer a combination of all of the vitamins and minerals you need on a daily basis. Just as some supplements are specifically targeted to other populations such as men, women, seniors or children, a prenatal supplement contains specific levels of vitamins and minerals to meet the needs of a pregnant woman. Prenatal supplements generally contain more of the nutrients pregnant women require to remain healthy and nourish the baby growing within, such as folic acid, calcium, and iron.

Where Should I Get My Supplements?

There are two options for prenatal supplements; over the counter and prescription versions are both available. Talk to your doctor about which option is best for you. Prescription supplements often contain larger doses of important nutrients, but can also cause reactions such as nausea and constipation. Over the counter options can be purchased at a drugstore, grocery store or any other store that offers vitamin and mineral supplements. If the options are confusing, ask the pharmacist for help. If your doctor has prescribed a supplement, do not switch without asking first. There may be a reason in your medical history why that particular supplement was chosen for you.

If you are having a really bad reaction to your current supplement, you should be able to switch to a different option with your doctor’s help. It may take some trial and error to find one that you tolerate well.

Can’t I Just Eat Right?

You can, and you should eat right during your pregnancy! But some of the nutrients your body needs may be difficult to get in the right amounts from your diet. Prenatal supplements aren’t intended to replace a healthy, balanced diet, but to support it by filling in any potential holes in your nutrition. Pregnancy isn’t a good time to take chances on getting the right nutrients. Your baby’s health depends on your heath – so take good care of it and take every precaution to make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.

Tips for Taking Prenatal Supplements

Some pregnant women struggle with taking their prenatal vitamins due to nausea. If you are feeling sick, try to take your vitamin at a time of day when you are feeling the least nauseous. You may find that taking them with food helps to ward off the nausea as well. To help your body get used to them, try to take them at the same time every day. Remember that if you aren’t eating well due to nausea, it’s even more important to get nutrition into your body in any way you can. If you do miss a day, there is no need to double up on your supplements. In fact, this might not be a good idea as too much of certain vitamins and minerals can be detrimental to your health.

If you are not yet pregnant but planning to conceive, start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as you start trying. You won’t know you are pregnant until your baby has already been growing for several weeks, so make sure you are already providing a healthy body in which your baby can thrive.

Looking For and Building Up Fine Motor Skills In Your Baby

There’s just so much to take in throughout baby’s first years. They will change so much from month to month that you may even feel as though you don’t recognize your little one on certain days. They grow leaps and bounds just within a given week. They accumulate new skills and traits all the time, leaving you marveling at all that they can do.

It seems that almost overnight your little newborn baby who is more of a blob than anything else turns into this charismatic little person that has more personality than you can believe. Babies are truly marvelous in all that they accomplish, and many of these milestones happen right in front of our very eyes. When it comes to fine motor skills, this is something that you want to be tuned into in terms of your baby’s development. You want to be on the lookout for it and you want to help foster and develop it as a parent, as it will provide great benefits later on.

What Can You Look For?

First and foremost, it’s important to note that this is not something that you want to force. You don’t want to push your baby as they won’t reach any milestones until they are ready. If you push too hard you may get the opposite reaction. However, you do want to keep tuned into their fine motor skills as this is something that they will utilize their whole life through. See if baby is reaching for things, grabbing for items, sucking on her hand, or discovering things such as their own body parts. These are all good examples and exhibit a sense of fine motor skills that are rather important for baby’s development. These are important to ensure that they keep on track, and they are actually things that you can facilitate on your own.

You want to watch for these things in the first few months of your baby’s development. By five months as an average, baby should be trying to reach for things or at least be interested in things. It may take some time and encouragement from you as a parent, but the simple act of reaching or grabbing is a great sign that baby is doing what they are supposed to do. Every baby will work on their own timetable as some babies start grabbing or reaching far sooner. Others may skip over this phase and then move onto the next. This all shows possible coordination and shows that baby understands what to do to get what they want. All of these things are important for fine motor skills and the development of your baby overall.

How Can You Facilitate It?

This doesn’t mean that you should be shaking a rattle in front of your newborn relentlessly every day. It does mean though that as your baby grows and shows signs of readiness, that you are on the floor playing and interacting with them. Introduce different toys such as puzzles and different colors of toys. Things that are interesting to them will help them to reach and grab, and eventually pull items towards them. The point is that you as a parent can set up an environment that doesn’t force but encourages your baby to develop these skills and build upon them as they get older.

Preparing For and Understanding Baby’s First Words

Many parents look at their baby’s content little faces as they sleep and wonder what’s next. There are so many different milestones to look forward to as a parent. As you make it through the first year of baby’s life, there is much to work towards and much to enjoy. You want to be sure that you enjoy every moment, even the little ones. You also want to know what you have to look forward to. It may almost feel like a race sometimes – you make it through one milestone and enjoy it, wondering what will be next. This is a common sentiment amongst new parents, particularly as they await some of the larger milestones. One of the biggies is by far hearing baby’s first words, and it’s an exciting one. So what can you expect in terms of baby’s first words?

Detecting Baby’s First Words

The reality is that baby’s very first words may be a bunch of jumble. If you look at this chart for example, you see that baby’s first words change and evolve as they grow older. At three months they will be rambling or just responding to the sound of your voice. By six months however, that may be turning into a limited and somewhat difficult to decipher vocabulary.

As with any other milestone it is important to note that there is no real set time limit to encounter these things. So before you set yourself or your baby up for unrealistic expectations, know that it will all come in time. Sure if your baby isn’t saying anything as they near their second birthday, then it’s time for some outside help. However up until then enjoy their sounds as they prepare to utter those first words.

How Can You Get Them Talking?

Though it’s all likely to happen in its own due time, the reality is that there are certain and very simple things that you can do to get them talking. Baby’s first words are likely to be very simple one-syllable words that they can easily utter. The reason that many babies utter “dada” first is that it comes off of their tongue so easily. Whereas “mama” requires more pronunciation that their little mouths aren’t really ready for. So while this may serve as a disappointment to moms everywhere, this is why the first word is often “dada” or even something else – it’s not due to lack of love or appreciation.

What you can do to help the language along is to talk to them. Many parents find that talking to their babies as they move about their day can help to properly prepare them for the words that they will say. Tell them what you are doing as you are doing it, even the simple things. Have a conversation with your little one as they will be fascinating by the sound of your voice and seem interested in what you have to say to them. You can also get them talking if you show them toys or pictures of things and then tell them what it is. This is a more educational type of play, and it does wonders for developing a baby’s vocabulary. It may not mean that they start uttering words tomorrow, but it will most certainly work towards their overall development and vocabulary moving forward.

Understanding the Crawling Milestone for Your Baby

The one thing that you will learn early on as a parent is that no two babies are created equal. You will quickly learn that just because one baby is doing something at a certain point in their development doesn’t mean that every baby will do it the same way. Even amongst siblings, developmental patterns can be totally different. This is an important lesson to learn early on as a parent so that you ignore the urge to compare your little one to others.

If you’re in a playgroup or have friends with a baby about the same age, then you may be tempted to look from their baby to yours and wonder why the milestones are happening as they are. It’s natural but it can be a destructive behavior! Understanding how the milestones work is a good idea, particularly when it comes to one such as crawling.

Is Your Baby Crawling On Time?

You will hear experts say that the typical baby crawls anywhere between six and ten months. This is an average and therefore not something to be taken as anything but a guideline. There are some babies that will crawl far earlier than that, and then some babies that will crawl far later than that. Some babies may not even crawl at all because they prefer scooting and can get to where they want to be using this method. Add to that the fact that some babies will skip over crawling altogether. They may roll or scoot and get what they want until they one day get up and start standing and walking.

So as you start fearing that your baby is behind, know that there is no real set time limit. If you are ever in doubt or concerned, then by all means talk to your pediatrician. Know though that every baby handles this rather large milestone in a totally different way.

They All Do Things Differently

Babies get mobile in the first place to get to items that they want. They see something across the floor that they want and then they go for it. As you can see even experts such as Dr. Greene are reluctant to give true time limits to crawling. If the baby sees something that they want, then they will start off by rolling to get to it. This can quickly evolve into crawling, though it usually does take time and has a process involved with it.

If you see your baby “army crawling”, that is using their forearm to move them along and bringing their bottom half up behind, then they may be getting close. They may use these alternate methods solely as it’s easy for them to get around. So be sure not to put any pressure on your baby or your expectations because they are still doing what they are conditioned to do.

Ignore the myths that say if a baby avoids crawling or is late to crawl that they may not be as coordinated. This is simply not true and if your baby is moving around and doing everything else that they are supposed to do, then they are right on track. It’s easy to get caught up in measuring the milestones, but remember that every baby is different and that crawling is an activity that is quite different for everyone.

Baby’s First Tooth

Has your baby not quite seemed like themselves lately? Many parents can tend to pinpoint when something is amiss and when their baby seems to just be a bit off. It can be a sign of the baby being sick, or it may be a sign of something more routine and common that every baby goes through.

Teething is an aspect of baby’s first year that is on the minds of parent, and it can be a rather challenging one to contend with. The reality is that every baby is different and therefore to say when it will happen or how strenuous it will be on parent and child is hard to predict. Some parents will tell you that their baby was virtually unaffected by the teething ritual. Others will tell you that it was one of the most challenging parts of the first year. Every baby is different and therefore how they cope with teething can be a completely unique experience.

Planning for the Milestone

Every parent looks anxiously in their baby’s mouth from early on to see if that first tooth has finally popped through. Even when they are showing signs of teething, though, it may be a long road until you see the first tooth. As you can see from this baby development chart, the average age for a baby to get their first tooth is anywhere between four and seven months. This, however, is a rather wide range and there are babies at either end of the spectrum. Some may not even have their first tooth by their first birthday, and that’s just the way they are built. This is not a sign of imperfection nor of any sort of developmental issues. This is just how each baby is built and how they develop, so it’s nothing to be concerned about. You can plan for the milestone with a few simple supplies that can make any potential teething issues run much smoother.

Are They Showing Any Signs?

Sure there are some parents that will tell you that they had no idea that it was coming. That they woke up one morning, looked in their baby’s mouth, and suddenly a tooth was staring back up at them. While this does happen, it’s an exception to the rule. Even if your baby doesn’t necessarily have a difficult time with teething, they will often show some sort of signs to indicate that it’s coming.

So what are the signs? One of the first and most obvious signs is that the baby is drooling a lot. This is due in large part to the excess fluids gathering in the mouth as a result of the teething, and therefore comes out almost constantly. You will see your baby drooling, sometimes almost like a faucet, and the only thing you can do to contain it is to put a bib on them.

Many babies are also known to put absolutely everything in their mouth. If they are chewing on their toys, your hand, or anything else in sight that they can fit in or around their mouth, then they may be teething.

You will notice in some babies that they get fussy or that their sleeping or eating patterns get disrupted. This may go on for a bit of a while as the tooth actually breaks through, but it’s a good thing overall. That tooth will come in no time and you can enjoy yet another milestone with your little love.

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