Category Archives: EATING

nutrition and digestion tips for baby

BABY GEAR: BEST SIPPY CUP

Baby drinks out of a Lollacup brand of sippy cup

Baby with Lollacup

INTRODUCING AN IMPROVED SIPPY CUP:  LOLLACUP

Several month ago I was watching Shark Tank, one of my favorite TV shows that provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to pitch their idea for a business or product to a group of venture capitalists.  If they are fortunate, they leave the tank with an investment.  One of the baby products pitched on the show that received an investment is Lollacup.  The husband and wife team who developed Lollacup excitedly observed their daughter drinking from a straw at the age of 9-months-old.  Their pediatrician recommended weaning her to a straw cup rather than a traditional sippy cup.  However, the liquid in these cups would always sink to the bottom of the cup while the straw would float up to the top.  The clever parents saw an opportunity to create a new and improved sippy cup and that is when they created Lollacup.  Lollacup is a sippy cup with a weighted straw so the straw sinks to the bottom of the cup with the liquid.  This cup makes it possible for baby to drink out of a cup with a straw, even when the cup is tilted.  The twist off handles make it possible to place the cup into a diaper bag side pocket for moms and babies on the go.  Lollacup is also made in the USA of BPA-free and phthalate-free materials and sports an adorable bird design that babies love.

DRINKING WITH A STRAW AND MOTOR SKILLS

Lollacup is the perfect cup to teach baby to drink through a straw.  The action of drinking with a straw is beneficial for both babies and adults.  Why?  Because the action of sucking uses the sphincter or ring muscles in the body.  When we use one ring muscle it activates all of the ring muscles.  This action of sucking is familiar to baby since this has been her technique for eating food from the bottle or breast.  The action of toning all of the ring muscles can be soothing because they feel it through their entire body, and this why babies feel comforted when they use pacifiers.  Sucking also uses more muscular action than a sippy cup, which is beneficial for speech development.  Make the sound of the letter “O.”  Exaggerate the sound, “OOOOOO.”  You make the same round shape with your mouth that you do with the action of sucking through a straw.

THE SIPPY CUP AND BABY POSTURE

In order to drink from the Lollacup or an ordinary sippy cup baby sits with good posture.  This is one of the differences between drinking from a bottle and drinking from a sippy cup.  Baby can still recline when using a bottle.  It is more difficult to recline with a cup.  At around 9 months old, the next step in the development of a baby is drinking in the upright posture.  When  baby holds the handles on a Lollacup or sippy cup, he connects his arms into his spine.  He coordinates his arms, hands, mouth, and torso as he moves the cup up toward his mouth to take a drink.  Observe the baby’s posture in the above photo.  He needs to sit up with good posture to drink from the cup, and holding the handles enables him to do so.

Photo courtesy of Lollaland.


HEALTHY HALLOWEEN TREATS

HALLOWEEN ACTIVITIES

As many parents and children celebrate Halloween, we would like to offer some tips on how to have a healthy Halloween for baby’s future years.  First, choose festive activities over candy-collecting (a.k.a. trick-or-treating) which is much better for children’s health.  Many communities now offer fun family Halloween activities on the weekend prior to the holiday as well as on October 31st.  Just read your local papers and check the nearest Moms Club calendar for listings.  This year our neighborhood offered a costume contest at a local restaurant, a carnival with camel rides and a bounce house, a pumpkin patch, a haunted hayride, and a carnival at a local school.  Who needs to go trick-or-treating with so many fun activities to attend?

TRICK-OR-TREATING

If you take your toddler trick-or-treating, try and keep some healthy options mixed in with the candy.  Buy a healthy treat to give to kids who come to your door so you will not be stuck eating left-over candy.   Today, CNN offered some tips we would love to share:  “Make better candy choices.”  Here are our favorite suggestions:

TOP 3 TIPS FOR HEALTHY HALLOWEEN TREATS

  1. Choose healthy food such as unsalted nuts for trick-or-treats.
  2. Give a non-edible treats such as stickers, or trading cards.
  3. Donate part of your candy to Halloween Candy Buy Back.

Remember one of the most important facts is that sugar creates cavities.  The hard candies such as lollipops are the treats that do the most damage because they stick to the teeth.  Encourage brushing the teeth immediately after eating candy, if possible. For more information about teeth that is specific to babies, please read our posts on how to promote healthy teeth for baby:

BABY TOOTH DECAY

BABY CAVITIES

 

HAVE A HAPPY, HEALTHY, AND SAFE HALLOWEEN!


BISPHENOL A

“FDA Makes It Official:  BPA Can’t Be Used in Baby Bottles and Cups,” Sabrina Tavernese, New York Times, 7/17/12.

WHAT IS BISPHENOL A ?

Used since the 1960′s, Bisphenol A is an industrial compound used in making some plastics such as food containers, bottles, and cups.  Usually referred to as BPA, it is also used in resins found in the linings of metal products such as food cans, baby formula cans, and in some toys.  It also can be present in dental sealants and composites and may be found in the linings of water lines.  According to an article on the topic on MayoClinic.com, BPA can even be identified in some thermal paper products such as cash register receipts.  In recent years the effects of BPA on health has been a debated topic in the news and the subject of ongoing research.  This week, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.

REDUCING BISPHENAL A EXPOSURE

Some research studies show that BPA seeps its way into the food or beverage that is contained in a bottle or container which contains the compound.  Plastics containing BPA can be identified by looking at the recycling number on the bottom of the product.  Often, they are the clear containers.  The BPA plastic number is the number 7.  Avoid buying plastics with the number 7 on the bottom or choose a “BPA free” product.

Another concern is that BPA seeps into the body when one handles something containing the substance like a toy or cash register receipt.  There has been much controversy on this topic and research studies continue.  However, the National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services expreses concern for this compound and its effect on human health.  Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned BPA from use in the manufacturing of baby bottles and sippy cups.  This makes it much easier for concerned parents to confidently choose a bottle or cup for their baby.

WHAT DOES “BPA FREE” MEAN ?

Many plastics manufacturers are making plastic containers and bottles that do not contain the BPA compound.  These are often labeled “BPA Free.”  Another option is to choose a material other than plastic such as glass or steel.  Over the last few years, there has been a tremendous increase in the manufacturing of bottles, cups, and food storage containers made of glass or steel.  There are far more “green” choices available on the market now.  You can find websites online for purchasing green baby bottles or green sippy cups.  “Green” means “BPA Free.”  One popular website is greentogrow.com  Just remember, the best baby bottles are the green baby bottles.

 


BABY EATING: INTRODUCING CEREAL

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.”


BABY EATING: VEGETABLE PUREES

BABY FOOD:  HOMEMADE VS. STORE BOUGHT

When it is time to add vegetable purees into baby’s diet, the health conscious mother looks for an alternative to the store-bought baby food jars filled with added sugar and salt.  One also does not know if the vegetables in the jars were exposed to harmful chemicals such as pesticide residue.  The baby food sold in jars has salt added to preserve the food and often sugar is added to enhance the flavor.  The healthiest choice is for mother to make baby-food at home with organic vegetables.  The lower the intake of salt, sugar, and chemicals, the healthier baby will be.  Recently we discussed the importance of monitoring the salt content in baby’s diet as published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

PREPARING VEGETABLE PUREES

Making your own baby food is easy to do if you have a blender or food mill and access to fresh, organic vegetables.  Even if you do not have a blender or food mill, you can still make your own baby food at home.  Begin by purchasing only organic vegetables.  You can peel, wash, chill, grind/puree, and immediately steam the vegatables.  Or, you can peel, wash, cook, and then grind/puree.  Most blenders have a setting labeled “puree.”  The food mill allows you to grind the food into the tiny particles which make a puree.  Either tool works fine.  Or, one can grate or shred the vegetables if there is no food mill or blender available.  Today there are books/websites available on making your own baby food.  Have fun with it!

INTRODUCING PUREES TO BABIES

Is baby not eating her vegetables?  The method I recommend to mothers for introducing a new food to babies is one I learned from the great nutritionist Dr Carlton Fredericks.  In his chapter “The Well-Fed Baby,” from his book Look Younger, Feel Healthier, Dr. Fredericks describes this special technique.  “The most successful method is to present the new food combined with a familiar one,” he explains.  “Cook it in milk at a simmering temperature of approximately 200 degrees (Farenheit) . The milk should be subsequently used for cream sauces and soups.”  Over time, add in less of the familiar food.  Remember to always check with your doctor to learn what foods should not be given to baby and at what temperatures food should be heated.

BENEFITS FOR BABY OF HOMEMADE BABY FOOD

  • omits sugar content
  • free of added salt
  • eliminates pesticide/chemical residue when organic vegetables are used
  • virtually no nutritional values are sacrificed

 


BABY EATING: TEETHING BISCUITS

BABY CHEWING

Why are teething biscuits such a popular snack for babies?  They are cleverly designed to develop the skill of chewing.  These small snacks resemble a cookie in shape and size, but usually are free of much sugar and spice.  Ideally, they are made of simple grain ingredients and quite firm in texture.  The firmness makes it difficult for baby to bite off a large piece, on which she could choke.  Her jaw opens and closes as she gnaws away at the biscuit until her saliva softens it enough so a tiny piece breaks off, which she swallows easily.  This action of opening and closing her jaw develops the skill of chewing.  Once the tiny piece of biscuit is in inside her mouth, she will need to movie it around with her tongue to prepare it for the action of swallowing.  This is the skill of chewing food:  using the muscles of the jaw and mouth in a coordinated manner.

BABY EATING & THE FIVE SENSES

It is a new experience for baby to touch a piece of food, bring it to her own mouth, and experience the taste of it.  Prior to introducing these finger foods she has been spoon and bottle fed.  Baby is now seeing the food, touching the texture with her hands, smelling with her nose, hearing the crunch of her bite, and tasting the flavor.  This is both a new coordination and sensual experience for her.

BABY EATING HABITS

As we have learned, the flavor preferences later in life which can influence health and well-being are being traced back to foods given in infancy.  Thus, it is important to try and develop healthy eating habits in the first year of life.  Learn to read the labels and choose organic teething biscuits when possible.  Look for ones made without added sugar and salt.  For babies with wheat allergies one can find arrowroot teething biscuits.  Some ambitious mothers even make their own from scratch with teething biscuit recipes found on the internet.  It is a good idea to check with your pediatrician before using an internet recipee.  Remember, our options today are many. Choose wisely.