10 Food Myths & Facts Demystified for Infants
Created by Payal Updated on Jan 23, 2013
“Should I start to give carrot puree to my 4-month-old child?” “Children should be given a bit of cereal from the age of 4 or 5 months.” “My 1 month old must be given boiled water.” “My child will become overweight if I don’t put her on a diet”. These are some of the queries and statements we have been receiving from mothers and caregivers of small children.
Most Common Food Myths Busted Towards Infant
So, in my blog, I seek to debunk 10 of the most common myths parents have about food, from birth till the pre-school age. This will also provide some answers for frequently asked questions on the website.
Myth 1: Infants who are breastfed have to be given water to drink
Children who are breastfed don’t need to be given water as breast milk contains exactly the amount of water an infant needs. Till the age of six months, until solid food is introduced, there is no need for additional water to be given to an infant to drink. Children who are fed formula from birth may be given boiled cooled water.
Myth 2: Infants need to be given rice water, daal water, etc from 3-4 months of age.
Actually, children should not be given anything but milk till the age of 6 months. Watery rice cereal, daal water, and other pureed foods may be introduced slowly form the age of 6 months.
Myth 3: Rice cereal must be the first foods for infants
It is traditionally believed that rice is most easily digested, and hence rice cereal should be introduced as an infant’s first food. But doctors now believe that rice cereal does the same for babies as they do for us- they get digested very fast in the body to create sugar, raising the blood sugar. Some highly debated theories also say that over-dependence on rice cereal at that age actually raises carbohydrate craving in children leading to childhood obesity. Whatever be the case, the better way may be to follow the middle path. Rice cereal is still one of the easiest and most convenient first foods. But it may be a good idea to supplement it with daal water, pureed fruits and vegetables, and even pureed fish and meat.
Myth 4: Store-bought baby food is healthier than homemade baby food
This is again a popular notion that what we make at home may not be good enough for baby and packaged baby food is better nutritionally. Actually, bottled baby food is very convenient and healthy, no doubt, but it does not provide any more nutrition than homemade baby food. It may actually be a better idea to feed baby whatever you cook in the house. Including meats, fish, different fruits and vegetables in the diet of solid foods would provide the baby with a host of different tastes which will be better in developing the taste buds of the baby towards different foods. Store-bought food may be convenient and I have certainly bought and fed my daughter a lot of Gerber and Heinz, but all you need to prepare baby food at home in your food processor. You can even mash up cooked fruits, meat or vegetables with a fork. You can microwave apples in the oven and mash up with a spoon. My daughter’s portion of fruits at 6-10 months consisted of mashed baked apples and mashed bananas that she loved. I have fed her mashed cooked fish and chicken, potatoes, carrots, etc which are also tasty and healthy.
Myth 5: No red meat, no spice, no onions or garlic, no eggs.
Actually, a child can have everything you have. In fact, even lightly spiced food is ordinary for children in certain parts of the country. You may want to make sure that your child does not suffer from any allergies. The only thing a child below 12 months of age should not have is honey. Raw honey contains botulism spores which may make some babies ill. In fact, the introduction of different types of foods in your baby's diet at an early stage may help to develop a taste for it. All children are bound to go through the mac-and-cheese phase, it is a good idea to try and give them varied options on their plate and let them choose which ones they would want to eat.
Myth 6: Introduce vegetables first, then fruits
There is no truth to the thought that since fruits are sweet, a child who has fruits as their first foods will reject vegetables. So introducing fruits along with vegetables is a good way to go.
Myth 7: They have to have two glasses of milk a day.
This is a myth at many levels. Firstly it has just been researched that the optimum milk quantity for preschoolers in terms of iron absorption is 2 cups. Secondly, if your child does not want to drink milk and it is a daily chore for you, or if your child is lactose intolerant, you could substitute milk with milk products like curd, yogurt, cheese or cottage cheese. It is known that ice cream in limited quantities also forms a part of this group. Ice creams with natural fruits in it make a yummy as well as a healthy option. As a parent you need to make sure they don’t overdo the ice cream as it has a lot of sugar and artificial flavorings in it, which makes it less than healthy.
Myth 8: Sugar makes children hyperactive
There have been repeated studies that have debunked this myth. What does make children hyperactive may be an overload of sugary foods and snacks and other factors like parties, games, excitement, lack of sleep, poor diets, low iron in their diet and even too much tv or computer games. So while a good healthy diet is essential for children, you may also ensure that your child is getting enough shuteye and rest during the day.
Myth 9: Fruit juices are healthy so it can be substituted for whole fruits
Fruit juice is definitely very healthy for children, especially if made at home with no added sugar or sweeteners. But actual fruits or fruit puree is even better. In fact, children should have at least 2-3 fruit portions a day at a preschool stage in the raw form since it provides them much needed fiber for a better bowel movement. Hence you could give them fruit juice but It does not substitute a fruit. Staying clear of fruit drinks (not juice), which has a lot of added sugar and color which is not healthy may be a good way to go.
Myth 10: Overweight children should be put on a diet
Actually in it is unhealthy to put an overweight preschooler on a diet. It may also lead to body issues at an older age. However, you may have to see that you feed them an appropriate amount of food as per their age. Giving them a healthy balanced meal, with salads and soups is a good idea. Children need a lot of activity so it would be better to put them in a dance class, games groups and encourage them to go to the playground rather than lounge in front of the TV.
With a healthy diet, sans fast food and sugary treats, a child may actually eat a varied and balanced diet, with all food groups as well as all types of spices, which gives them the benefit of taste along with nutrition for every age.
| Oct 15, 2013
My two year old daughter doesnt like to eat anything.... She likes milk and ragi preparaton n she wants only ragi preparation for breakfast lunch n dinner.... How do i change her? I prepare many varieties of food for her but she never enjoys eating.... N her weight is only 9 kg.... pls suggest
| Apr 09, 2015
My daughter is now4&1/2 years old when she was 1 yr old she likes to eat vegetable khichdi which i think a very healthy meal for her in khichdi i add equal amount of rise and pulses and double amount of mixed chopped vegetables and spinach and after it ready i grinned it in a grinder ang if required i add milk in it she just loves it and after having it take a long nap
| May 04, 2015
My son is 1. 8 months old. He is very fussy eater sometimes he will eat something but soon he will reject it or the next time if i'll prepare the same he rejects the same. I keep on trying something or the other for him so that he may eat something but every time he rejects my effort. What should I do so that he develops a habit of eating every food.
| May 11, 2015
Hi Swati Srivastava Pls refer to this blog- https://www.parentune.com/parent-blog/healthy-and-fun-food-options-for-your-toddler/195