Introducing Food to Children

Nutrition is an integral component of the health of all people across the lifespan, especially to the vulnerable population – the young, the pregnant, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. Among these groups, children receive the highest focus when it comes to introduction of food to prevent one thing: allergy.

According to Web MD, it is vital to introduce new foods to a baby gradually and one at a time, for this will allow parents to identify specific food allergies accurately. A case in point is giving three new kinds of foods to the baby and an allergic reaction happens. Parents will not be able to easily determine the cause of the allergy due to the multiple introduction of food.

As per the publication, the kind of food and the order different foods are introduced are not issues in child nutrition. This concept remains stable, provided that the foods that are offered are healthy and well-balanced for the baby. It should be noted that one should wait three to five days before adding another food to the table each time one offers a new food and foods should not be eliminated during that time period. The absence of allergic reactions to those foods given within that specific time frame could mean that they are safe for the baby.

According to Web MD, the top eight allergenic foods include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat, among others. Chicken has also been reported by some people as a food allergy. Thus, it is essential to safeguard one’s food, as there are over 160 foods that cause allergies and the aforementioned foods are known to cause problems with allergic reactions.

The symptoms of food allergy usually appear right after the food is eaten while in some cases, the symptoms appear within a few minutes to hours. The common food allergy symptoms include welts or hives, flushed skin or rash, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and swelling of the lip, tongue, and face.

Food texture and health relationship with food serve as core elements when it comes to food introduction to toddlers, children aged one to three years old. According to Eat Right, the texture of the food is a very important consideration in introducing foods to toddlers, as they prefer to begin with softer and smoother textures before moving on towards thicker foods. However, it should also be noted that foods that are firm, round, slippery, and sticky are choking hazards. This means that popcorn, peanuts, nuts and seeds, whole grapes, cherry tomatoes, whole kernel corn, olives, hotdogs, apple, celery, carrots, meat and poultry, peanut butter, hard candy, gum drops, and jelly beans, should not be given to them. For these children’s age group, it is important to chop meat, poultry, hotdogs, grapes, fruits, and vegetables into small pieces of about half-inch or smaller.

When it comes to promoting a healthy relationship with food, it should be noted that adults do have full responsibility. According to the publication, adults should know what food is present in a meal, in addition to how it is presented. Foods with the right texture for the baby’s tongue and mouth should be selected to prevent choking or aspiration. The child should be held on one’s lap when introducing solid foods. The baby or toddler can be moved to a safe high chair after. A upright position helps the child to easily view and explore the food as he desires and having the baby sit up straight and face forward will facilitate easier swallowing and prevent choking. Also, it is important to talk in a quiet and encouraging tone while feeding the child, since babies are easily distracted by games.

Overall, parents are responsible for the nutrition of their children. In addition, to proper timing and identification of food allergy and its symptoms, food texture and healthy food relationship are prime factors towards the improvement of the nutrition of the growing child.



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