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Introducing fruits to small children

When is the best time to start giving fruits to babies? Most baby books recommend starting from 4-6 months. In my article on weaning baby onto solids, I recommend giving vegetables from 6 months. I like to introduce fruits from about 8 ? 10 months which gives me time to check on the baby's ability to digest the vegetables. You can check this out by looking at your baby's stools. If the stools contain undigested vegetables this means that his system is not ready to take fruits, which is why I recommend starting fruits later. It is best to hold off on introducing citrus fruits until your baby is at least 2 years old.

Citrus fruits commonly cause allergies or food-sensitivity reactions, such as a diaper rash or eczema. If you have a family history of allergies or asthma, it is best to avoid all citrus fruits including tomatoes and strawberries. When you do introduce citrus fruits, monitor your child for symptoms such as hives, rashes or wheezing.

Sometimes milk may cause an allergic reaction if combined with fruits especially orange. If you have a family history of allergies, eczema and asthma, it might be useful to refer to the chart on blood group diet and check out the most suitable fruit to give and which one to avoid. Some people advocate giving pureed fruits to small children. I personally do not like to do this because, firstly I am too lazy to do this and secondly but most importantly, processing fruits will reduce the nutritional contents of the fruits. Another question that many mothers ask is: "Should I extract the juice from the fruits for my baby?" My answer is "No". Your baby needs to eat the fibre from the fruit as well as the juice.

The fibre is necessary to prevent constipation and some of the vital nutrients are in the fibre so by just giving the juice alone your baby will not have all the nutrients of the fruit. Drinking too much fruit juice tends to increase restlessness in healthy infants and the children tend to become shorter and fatter. If you really must give fruit juice to your baby, make sure that the juices that you purchase are pasteurized. Limit your baby's intake of juice to 4-6oz per day, this is equivalent to one serving of fruit and is sufficient for a baby's dietary needs. If you use commercial fruit juices always dilute it before giving to your baby. The formula is one part juice to 3 parts water.

Some taboos with regards to giving fruit juice to baby ? Never give fruit juice to baby below 6 months of age ? Do not give sweet juices from a feeding bottle as this leads to early tooth decay ? Do not allow your baby to endlessly sip juice throughout the day So far all the children that I have looked after do not have any problems eating their vegetables and fruits. In fact, they love eating so much I sometimes wonder where they put the food. I guess they must have hollow legs! Instead of making fruits into purees for babies I prefer to scrape the fruit and give it fresh to the baby. I like to use this method until the baby is 1 year old.

? Cut the fruit into 4 big slices. It is best to start with one big slice per day and you can give more as your baby gets used to the fruit. ? Using a teaspoon, scrape the fruit until you get some pulp and juice onto the tip of the spoon. ? Offer it to the baby. ? Continue scraping and feeding it to the baby until the slice is finished. Fruits which are suitable for 'scraping' ? Apples contain both insoluble and soluble fiber and are an excellent source of antioxidants especially the peels.

Apples' protective effects against free radical damage to cholesterol reach their peak at three hours following apple consumption and drop off after 24 hours, providing yet another good reason to eat a whole fresh apple a day. ? Avocados are a surprisingly complete food, with fourteen minerals to stimulate growth, including iron and copper. The sodium and potassium in avocados keeps the body chemically balanced, and their low sugar content and absence of starch make them an ideal fruit for diabetics.

Vitamins in avocados include A, several B-complex, C, and E, as well as phosphorus and magnesium. They're also a great source of antioxidants like vitamins E and C, fruit oil and digestible fats. Because of their density, avocados filling.

When blended with other fruits, they make particularly nutritious baby food. ? Pears are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber, which helps the body to eliminate cholesterol and also protects against environmental toxins. Pears are also a good source of potassium, protein, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. It is an ideal weight loss food therefore should not give too much to small children. If the fruit is soft you can give it slice by slice instead of mashing it up. This will teach your baby to enjoy the real texture of the fruit and it is less messy.

? I like to use the local 'pisang emas' because the texture is smoother and one banana is just nice for small children. ? Peel the banana and using a teaspoon, slice off a small piece at a time. ? Feed your baby one slice at a time Fruits that is suitable for 'slicing' with a spoon. ? Bananas are an exceptionally rich source of prebiotic which nourishes probiotic (friendly) bacteria in the colon.

Probiotics produce vitamins and digestive enzymes that improve our ability to absorb nutrients and compounds to protect us against unfriendly microorganisms and the body's ability to absorb calcium. In addition, gastrointestinal transit time is lessened, decreasing the risk of colon cancer. Bananas have antacid effects that protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage.

In addition, bananas contain pectin, a soluble fiber that can help normalize movement through the digestive tract and ease constipation. ? Kiwifruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of dietary fiber. It is also a good source of the minerals potassium, magnesium and copper.

In addition, kiwi fruit is a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E. ? Papayas are an excellent source of three very powerful antioxidants, vitamin C, E and A. Vitamin C and vitamin A, which is made in the body from the beta-carotene in papaya, are both needed for the proper function of a healthy immune system.

Papaya therefore may be a healthy fruit choice for preventing such illnesses as recurrent ear infections, colds and flu. Once your baby is over 1 year old, start offering cut pieces of fruits. To prevent oxidation of vitamin C, I always cut the fruit immediately before serving. If you really have to cut the fruit in advance, then it is best to keep the fruit in an air tight container to prevent oxidation. Other fruits that is suitable for 'cutting' ? Mangoes are packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. They are perfect to replenish salts, vitamins and energy after physical exercise.

Mango strengthens and invigorates the nerve tissues in muscles, heart, brain and other parts of the body. The enzymes of mango cleanse the bowel of the "filth" within and are an ideal antidote for all toxic effects inside the body. The vitamin C in mango enhances the absorption of iron and so prevents anemia in vegetarians. ? Watermelon is rich in the B vitamins necessary for energy production. Watermelon is a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin B1, magnesium and potassium.

It is a very good thirst quencher. Examples of some fruits that is not suitable for children below 2 years of age. ? Oranges can cause over production of phlegm and may be allergenic.

? Very acidic fruits such as pineapple and pomelo. ? Very 'heaty' fruits such as durian, mandarin oranges and guava ? Very 'cooling' fruits such as mangosteen, Chinese pear Always remember to try one fruit at a time so that you can assess whether that fruit is suitable. Normally by the end of 6 months your baby should be able to take a large variety of fruits. Copyright (c) 2007 Cecilia Koh.

Cecilia Koh is a British trained nurse/midwife with over 30 years working experience. If you want to know more baby care topics go to http://www.Babiesconsult.com

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