A DIETARY REVOLUTION
Cereal is often the first food introduced to baby. What a change this is for her! Until now she has been drinking only liquids such as milk or formula. The introduction of a solid food into baby’s diet is a revolution in her dining experience. Not only does the introduction of a solid food present a new texture and flavor, but it also presents a mechanical challenge. She now must learn how to use her tongue to move the cereal around in her mouth. She must coordinate the action of the tongue with the action on swallowing. She may even need to chew a bit which uses the action of her jaw…opening and closing. These actions work together to prepare and swallow the more solid food inside her mouth.
CHOOSE HEALTHY CEREAL FOR BABY
With all the packaged cereals available for baby today, please choose wisely. Select whole-grain baby cereals free of additives. This means free of salt, free of sugar, and free of chemical preservatives. Many vitamins are removed from the cereals when the grain is stripped, thus “whole-grain” is the more nutritious choice.
THE MECHANICS OF FEEDING CEREAL TO BABY
Introduce cereal to baby by giving her just one single teaspoonful so she can experience a new taste and a different texture. Use a small spoon when feeding her. Place the spoonful of cereal at the middle of her tongue. If you place it too close to the front of her mouth, near her lips, she may accidentally push the food out of her mouth as her tongue moves around. When she seems to successfully manage the teaspoonful of cereal over a number of days you can increase the amount to two or three tablespoonsful. Try and feed the solid food before giving her milk or formula because otherwise she may fill up with the liquid and refuse the nutritious solid food.
EATING IS A MOTOR MILESTONE
Remember that eating is one of the Stellar Caterpillar Top 10 Motor Milestones. Just like learning to roll or crawl, there are micro-skills that make up this milestone. For example, baby has to learn to move the food with her tongue before swallowing it. It takes time for her to learn and she learns well when introduced to a new skill in little steps, or should we say, in “small bites.”