Feeding Your Kids, Tips for Parents

pediatrician Judith B Larkin, MD

Dr. Larkin

For many parents the feeding of their children – i.e. nutrition and eating – are topics that can raise questions, anxiety and concerns about whether you are doing it “right.”

Questions ranging from when do you start feeding your infant solid foods to whether you should go organic, are common.

A big issue in most households with children five and under – actually with kids of any age – is what to do about food refusal. During the tweet chat entitled Feeding Your Kids the Right Way – First 5 Years of Life, Jefferson pediatrician Judy Larkin, MD, (and a host of other experts) answered questions raised by ABC News’ chief medical and health editor Richard Besser, MD.

You can look find the entire string of tweets on Twitter using the hashtag #abcDrBchat. Below are some of the questions and Dr. Larkin’s answers.

Question: When should you introduce solid foods? How do you know if your baby is ready?

Dr. Larkin: Solids can be started between 4 & 6 months. Your baby needs to have good head control & be able to sit supported, Dr Larkin

Question: Is there a best food to start with?

Dr. Larkin: Rice cereal mixed with either breast milk or formula is usually the first food to offer. It’s well tolerated and a good source of iron.

Question: Is there any connection between infant food introduction and food allergies?

Dr. Larkin: It used to be thought that introducing certain foods too early led to allergies. New research suggests that restricting foods may be more responsible for the increase in food allergies.

Question: How do you know if your child is eating enough? It’s easier to tell during that first year?

Dr. Larkin: Overall seeing that your child is gaining weight appropriate for his or her age is a good sign. And parents should take cues from their children. Kids, especially babies, know when they are full.

Question: What is the best approach to food refusal? Some kids just refuse to eat the good stuff!

Dr. Larkin: Don’t use food as a reward or as a punishment with your kids.

Try making “boring” foods more interesting by adding different spices and trying different preparations or recipes. Try the one bite rule. Don’t be over zealous. But don’t give up the first time, try and try again.

Parents are key food role models for their kids. Demonstrating health eating habits & food choices is important.

Question: What can you do to reduce the chance your child will be obese or overweight?

Dr. Larkin: First, Avoiding sodas, juice and other sugar-sweetened drinks is important. Also pay attention to portion size. So remember to read food labels. Serving sizes can be tricky for both adults and children. Also while food and nutrition are key components to reducing childhood obesity, so is physical activity and parents should encourage their kids to be active.

For more information:

You’ll find a lot more from this Twitter discussion of eating, food and nutrition in young children and infants using the hastag #abcDrBchat or you can see the collection put together by ABC News here.

Dr. Larkin notes that a great source information on this and other issues related to your children’s health is www.KidsHealth.org from our pediatric partners at Neumours.

To make an appointment with a Jefferson pediatrician, call 1-800-JEFF-NOW (1-800-533-3669) or use our online appointment request form.

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