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Posted December 1, 2009

The Meal Deal: Off to A Solid Start

by Lianne Castelino and Andrea Howick

It’s here. Circled on the calendar for months. The milestone you’ve read volumes about. Your pediatrician confirms – it’s time. D-day. (Panic attack time!)

Your baby is ready to eat REAL FOOD. (GULP)

The questions swim in your head – where in the world do I start, what do I buy, how much, when, how often, organic, commercial, purees, name brands – overwhelming to say the least.

Introducing your baby to solid foods is the first major milestone in an infants’ life, and more than any other milestone, it’s one that will have an impact for the REST of your baby’s life.

Before that very first morsel enters your baby’s mouth, there are a few basic things you should keep in mind.

1.Empower yourself by reading or viewing quality resources from recommended and trusted sources before you start.

2.Spend time learning to recognize your baby’s hunger cues. Crying is NOT always an indicator of hunger.

3.Establish a feeding routine. This should include a high chair, bib, and a calm, relaxed environment.

4.Listen, observe and respect your baby’s communication signals when it comes to hunger and also when he or she is full.

5.Understand that what you feed your baby will greatly impact his or her diet, future food likes and dislikes and will help set the foundation for their relationship with food for many years to come.

The current global epidemic of obesity, in particular childhood obesity, is alarming. Two out of 3 Americans are either overweight or obese. Canada is not far behind.

As a result, it is more important than ever to make a conscious choice to educate yourself about all the healthy options out there to foster a love of fresh, natural, nutritious foods in your baby – right from their first bite.

Having said all of that, starting solids represents a whole new world of adventure and discovery for baby and parent filled with equal helpings of excitement and frustration!

Be patient. Get ready to learn. Keep an open mind. You might be amazed by how introducing your little one to solids could greatly alter your eating habits or that of your partner – hopefully for the better.

Transitioning from couple-food to family food is a learning curve that if carefully navigated – is filled with benefits for everyone. Menu-planning, grocery shopping, regular meals will become second nature, eventually!

Be aware of the potential hurdles along the way – allergenic foods, choking hazards, the dangers of too much sugar and spice, - to name a few.

And remember - new tastes, textures, colours, shapes – all take time to digest.

Take pleasure in introducing them and chances are your baby will feel the same about trying them.

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