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Introducing New Foods to Toddlers

Toddlers get bored with the usual cereal, vegetable and fruit menu. Moreover, the calories obtained from breast milk or formula milk are no longer sufficient to meet the energy demands of these tiny tots. Introducing new foods to your baby in his or her first year, will be much easier than trying later on. Nevertheless, if you haven’t introduced new foods so far, it’s alright. It’s never too late to begin. Let’s find out some ways to introduce new health foods to toddlers.

How to Introduce New Foods to Toddlers

A mother may be concerned as to how and when should she introduce new foods to her toddler. Introducing new foods is not such a complex task. Let’s have a look at some different types of nutritious foods you can introduce to your little one.

Introducing Meat
Meat is rich in proteins and iron, which are both essential for the baby’s growth and development. You may have already introduced strained meat to your baby, when he or she was between 6 to 10 months of age. However, some may even have started as early as 3 to 4 months. It varies from baby to baby. Nevertheless, now is the time to introduce meat pieces. Chop well-cooked meat into tiny bite-size pieces and introduce it to your child. Some children may quickly adapt to the taste of meat, however, some may not find it so appealing. This is quite natural, because the texture of meat is entirely new to them. However, this does not mean they are rejecting meat. They just require some more time. Try introducing meat again a few days later.

Introducing Fish
Fish is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, however, it must be introduced after the child has attained at least 6 months of age. It is important to debone the fish thoroughly. Double-check for any fine bones, as they can result in choking. Avoid giving the skin portion as well. Just press the steamed flesh between your fingers and feed it to your child. If your child rejects it, try again next week (provided there have been no allergic reactions). This time, try baking, grilling or shallow frying the fish. Changing the method of preparation may also help. Your child may like the flavor of grilled fish, but dislike that of steamed fish. So keep trying different preparations. Since fish like swordfish, shark, mackerel, etc. are known to be high in mercury levels, avoid feeding your toddler these fish varieties.

Introducing Eggs
Since many babies are found to be allergic to eggs, parents must be cautious while introducing eggs to their little ones. It is better to introduce only the egg yolk at the age of 6 months. This is because in case your child is allergic to egg, it will be towards the egg albumen or egg white. So avoid introducing the egg white, until your child has attained one year of age. To introduce an egg yolk, peel a hard-boiled egg and separate the egg white. Mash the yolk with a fork and give tiny bits of it to your child. Don’t worry if your little one rejects it the first time. Eventually he or she will develop a liking towards it. You can introduce the egg white once your child is a year old. However, if you have a family history of egg allergies you can wait longer, before introducing eggs to your infant.

Introducing Tofu
Tofu can be introduced to your baby after 8 months of age. To introduce tofu, you can crumble tofu pieces. Put some in your child’s mouth. Don’t expect your child to eat more than half a teaspoon of tofu, in the first attempt. The texture and flavor are new to your infant’s taste buds and it will take a few tries before he or she gets used to it. Tofu can also be crumbled and mixed with a vegetable puree and given to your child. If you have silken tofu, prepare a smoothie with a mango and banana and feed it to your little one. Children are not mostly fond of hot or cold foods. So make sure, what you are serving is tepid. The temperature of the food can also cause the toddler to like or dislike a particular food item.

Introducing Wheat
At about 8 months of age, one can introduce wheat products to the little one. However, wheat is usually introduced after other grains, such as rice, oats, barley, etc., have been introduced. If your child is not allergic to these grains, it’s unlikely your child will have gluten allergy. Well-cooked pasta is something you can introduce. Get different shapes of pasta, which your child will enjoy feeling and chewing. However, make sure you look out for gluten sensitivities. Moreover, most children are not fond of seasonings to a great extent, while some are. Alter the flavor according to your child’s liking. If he or she doesn’t eat it bland, try making it next time with some seasoning. Usually if the mother takes seasonings in her diet, the flavor will pass on to the baby through the breast milk. Thus, such babies will like seasoning.

Things to Remember

  • Try introducing only one new food item every week. Don’t overdo it.
  • Introduce one food item and then check for allergic reactions.
  • Give your child time to look at the food, touch it and examine it for as long as he or she likes. Don’t hurry them.
  • Depending on your child’s motor skill development, he or she may want to hold a spoon. Allow them to do so and try to feed themselves. It may be a messy affair, however, it will encourage your child to try new items.
  • Don’t pressurize your toddler to taste or eat anything. This will cause the little one to dislike food-tasting sessions.
  • Do not introduce new stuff when your baby is extremely hungry, cranky or ill.

You may get all kinds of advice from family and friends, regarding the best time to introduce new foods to toddlers, however, it is best to consult your pediatrician before doing anything. Moreover, be patient and persistent. Don’t be quick to assume that if your child has rejected most of these foods, he or she will be a picky eater. Let your child take his or her time to develop an interest in these new foods. All the best!

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I am a father of three and my wife is a registered nurse specialized in children.

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