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The Rockaway Times
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The Healthy Child - Introducing Solids
By Dr. Jon Sarnoff, Pediatrician
How we introduce solid
foods to children has under-
gone a bit of a sea change over
the last few years. I would like
to take a look at the different
aspects of introducing solids
and hopefully leave you with a
roadmap to growing a healthy
and well-mannered eater.
Let’s first discuss timing.
We recommend introducing
solids between four and six
months when infants can sit
up and lose the tongue thrust
reflex. For breastfed babies,
we wait until closer to six
months so they can maximize
the benefits of breast milk.
Typically, we introduce an
individual solid over three to
five days to make sure there
is no an allergic reaction.
We introduce finger foods at
around eight or nine months
when a baby has the ability
to hold foods with a modified
pincer grasp.
For years, pediatricians rec-
ommended a rigid schedule to
introduce foods over a series
of months. Over the past cou-
ple of years, this has changed
dramatically. I would like to
take a moment to digress and
talk about an elegant study
that got the ball rolling. A
British study showed that Is-
raeli babies raised in Israel
had a low rate of peanut al-
lergies. At the same time, Is-
raeli babies raised in England
had a rate of peanut allergy
similar to that of the gener-
al English population. This
finding was attributed to fact
that, in Israel, Bamba, a small
peanut snack, is the first food
introduced. Studies followed
which confirmed the idea that
the early introduction of pea-
nuts decreased the chances of
developing a peanut allergy.
Currently, we recommend in-
troducing high-risk allergens
(peanuts, nuts, eggs) early
in the process for children at
risk for allergies. We also rec-
ommend that parents do not
intentionally delay the intro-
duction of high-risk allergens
for children without risk fac-
tors for allergies.
So, is there an order that
a parent needs to follow?
The short answer is that you
should mix things up. If you
start with a cereal, then move
to a meat, or a vegetable or a
fruit. If your child loves a cer-
tain food do not stick with that
food at the cost of introducing
other tastes. Conversely, do
not get discouraged if your
baby does not like a certain
food. Sometimes it can take
nine or 10 times before a baby
starts to enjoy a given solid.
There is one important point
that we cannot overlook.
Breastfed babies need to get
iron from their solid foods. At
around six months, a baby’s
iron stores start to dwindle.
For this reason, it is important
to introduce cereal or puréed
meat early in the process.
Let’s switch gears to discuss
how to create a well-man-
nered eater. First, try to eat
as a family and model good
manners. Second, do not al-
low video while eating. A vid-
eo distraction eliminates the
opportunity to make the meal
into a social experience and
often leads to kids who habit-
ually eat while watching TV.
Third, never negotiate over
the amount of food your baby
eats because you cannot win.
If you focus on the quality and
the timing of meals, the quan-
tity will come naturally.
(Dr. Sarnoff is with Premier
Pediatrics NYC, Brooklyn and
Rockaways. For more infor-
mation email at drsarnoff@