Dr. Barbara Huggins

Feeding Babies & Obesity

March 1, 2007

Feeding Babies & Obesity -  March 1, 2007Studies are showing that 60% of overweight babies grow up to be overweight children and adults. It's been shown that breastfeeding protects against obesity. But just as important, is what happens when the baby begins solids. Dr. Mom is serving up the facts on the importance of giving our children a healthy start.

There is a tremendous problem today with childhood obesity in the United States. The prevalence of obesity in the last 20 years: in 2-5 year olds the prevalence has doubled; in 6-11 year olds, and 12-19 year olds, the prevalence has tripled. What you feed your infant today may lead to obesity later in life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting infants on solid foods, such as rice cereal, between 4 and 6 months of age. After introducing rice cereal into your infant's diet, then you can move on to vegetables. It is important not to add cereal to your baby's bottle unless your physician instructs you to do so. Adding cereal to bottles can make babies overweight and can make it difficult for newborns and young infants to digest their milk.

It is important that the first food an infant tastes is nutritious. The more a child tastes a particular food, the greater liking they will develop for it. You may need to expose your child to a particular vegetable/food 10-15 times before your child will develop a liking for it. For this reason, it is important to keep sweets out of your child's diet.

Also, fruit juices should not be given to babies younger than six months old. Even when your baby is older, keep fruit juices to a minimum, no more than 8 ounces per day. Too much juice can fill a baby up, promote obesity, and can put a baby at an increased risk for cavities when teeth start coming in.

So, how do you get your child to eat and enjoy foods like squash, carrots, green beans?

Studies have shown that eating healthy while you are pregnant can help your child enjoy these foods during their infancy. Also, eating vegetables while nursing can help your infant's acceptance of vegetables once they are ready for solid foods.

Parents play a key role in helping their children develop a liking to a wide variety of foods. If parents eat healthy, children will eat healthy.

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