MiC Exclusive: Barbara Karafokas – Baby’s First Foods

We’re very pleased to have with us today, Barbara Karafokas, talking about introducing solid foods to your baby: When, What and How. Barbara is a qualified holistic nutritionist that loves to teach parents and kids about healthy eating, living and the Mediterranean diet. She has been holistically parenting for the past 15 years now, breastfeeding her daughter for three and has used as many natural remedies as possible to get through the sniffly or sore days. She is a passionate triathlete and also counsels sporty folk to improve their health and performance. Barbara creates Customized 7-Day Meal Plans and Wellness Plans including recommended supplements, herbs, and other relevant health tips specific to your condition and circumstance. Author of ‘The Med Life Diet’ 12 Essential Steps to creating healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits & attitudes for life! www.barbarakarafokas.com

Over the past twenty years or so infant-feeding practices have changed – for the better. No longer do we feed babies according to the calendar, stuffing cereal into the reluctant six-week old and feeling we have failed if baby has not taken a full-course meal by six months. Today, feeding your baby involves pairing good nutrition with individual developmental and intestinal readiness, which varies widely from baby to baby. Reading the feeding cues of your baby, introducing solid foods gradually and encouraging self-feeding all lead to that important principle of baby feeding: creating a healthy feeding attitude and having happier, healthier babies.

When should I start my baby on solid food?

A baby’s immature intestines are not equipped to handle a variety of foods until around four to six months, when many digestive enzymes seem to click in. Pediatric allergists discourage early introduction of foods especially if there is a strong family history of food allergies. Parents often get the urge to offer solids much earlier than baby gets the urge to eat them. Before six months, your baby doesn’t need solid food for nutritional reasons, but your baby may want them.

 Watch Your Baby NOT the Calendar, for signs of readiness!

What are ‘Ready-to-Eat’ Signs?

When your baby shows interest and his or her eyes follow your food, they may try to grab at it or mimic feeding behaviours such as opening the mouth wide open to eat. Another sign is also the ability to sit up in a high chair and pick up food with thumb and forefinger. A “ready-to-eat” signs trick is if you try with a little empty spoon to feed baby – watch for reactions. If baby reacts with a gagging reflex that is a sign that he or she is not ready for solids. If baby swallows then he or she is ready for solids.

Once you are sure that baby is ready, it’s time for solids fun to begin!

Which First Foods are Best to Start With?

Start with solids that are least allergenic and the closest to breast milk in taste and consistency. Examples of favourite first foods include mashed ripe bananas, rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula, grated apple, pear or avocado. Place a fingertipful of mashed banana on baby’s lips, letting her suck your finger as she usually does. Gradually increase the amount and thickness of the food by using a spoon. Again watch for baby’s reaction. If she swallows happily then she or he is ready for solids. If she or he spits food, closes mouth shut, sits confused with mouth open and a glob of food perched on his or her tongue, or a persistent tongue-thrust reflex, these are all signs to perhaps try again later.

When to feed?

To begin with, offer solids at a time of day when your baby seems hungriest. In the morning you could start with some rice cereal and leave afternoons for fruit.

Why is it important to introduce one food at a time?

New foods should be introduced one at a time. This means a single food, not mixed food like stew or soup, or even a mixed-grain cereal.

The reason for this precaution is that although the baby of six or seven months is not nearly as likely to have an allergic reaction as a younger child, it is still possible.

If you introduce foods one at a time and your baby develops a rash or a sore bottom (potential indications of an allergy) you will know that it has been caused by that food. You can try and re-introduce it again later, in a month.

A new food should be introduced every 4 days.

Thank you very much for joining us Barbara and for your guidance on this subject. While the WHO recommends that babies are not given solid food until after six months, many healthcare professionals are still advising parents to start solids as early as 3 months. Many food allergies and intolerances can be avoided by introducing solid food slowly and as you said, at the baby’s own pace, carefully watching for adverse reactions.

Barbara has very kindly donated two free Baby Nutrition Consultations worth EU30.00 for our Wednesday Win. These consultations will include a 7-day meal plan, allergy chart, 6 – 24mnth food chart and some basic recipes and food combinations, plus a 20minute talk on Skype! 

For a chance to win one of these two fantastic prizes, email: kat@mumsincyprus.com and simply put ‘Wednesday Win: Baby’s First Foods’ in the subject line. Winners will be drawn by 15th June 2016.

As an added bonus, Barbara is offering all Mums in Cyprus members:

– A Baby Nutrition session (which will include a 7-day meal plan, allergy chart, 6 – 24month food chart and some basic recipes and food combinations, plus a 20minute talk on Skype) with her for a discounted price of EU24.00 and

– An Adult Nutritional Consultation for a discounted price of EU40.00 (this includes  a 7-day custom meal plan, recommended supplements, healthy eating and living recommendations, herbs and essential oils specific to your condition, Body Composition measurements and is inclusive of two sessions conducted in person at her office in Nicosia or telephone or skype)

 To book a Baby Nutrition session or an Adult Nutrition Consultation with Barbara, please contact her by e-mail: barbara@barbarakarafokas.com or Telephone: 99 68 23 27. To claim your discount, please mention that you are a Mums in Cyprus member. 

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