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Healthy food during childhood is one of the most important resources you can provide. Good nutrition supports the immune system, maintains a healthy weight, provides energy for optimal growth and function, supports digestion, and protects the heart.

During Infancy

During infancy, breastfeeding is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, exclusively for the first 6 months.

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“Breastfeeding can be challenging, especially for first time moms, but it is worth it and we at Norwell Pediatrics will support you. Lactation consultants can provide you with further assistance, if necessary.”

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

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Adding foods can be fun and exciting.  Adding them one or two at a time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends going slow while adding new foods to be sure there is no food allergies. We recommend iron fortified multigrain cereal, especially as breast milk doesn’t have much iron in it and baby’s stores are becoming depleted by about 6 months. Rice cereal has less nutritional value is often contaminated with arsenic. Oatmeal is another great option.

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“Honey should be avoided until one year of age, due to rare but serious risk of botulism.”

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

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Around 6 months of age a sippy cup with water can be introduced.

In some situations we may recommend starting earlier. With introduction of solid foods you may want to review information about choking hazards and get training to know how to handle a choking emergency.

We recommend a variety of pureed fruits and vegetables. Starting with a varied diet in infancy can support a more varied diet later in childhood. We recommend avoiding highly processed baby foods. Current recommendations now support introduction of peanut butter as an infant to lower the risk of allergy later in life.

“Baby’s should experiment with feeding themselves as soon as they are able.”

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

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While it’s messy it is important for your baby’s development. We also use self-feeding as an important developmental milestone. The fine coordination needed to feed themselves takes practice and a lot of patience, both yours and your baby’s.

“While it is tempting to continue to spoon feed your baby, allowing them the freedom to experiment, and to stop when they are full, is important.”

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

Most infants begin experimenting with eating 6 months but won’t be good at it until 15 to 18 months old. This experimentation with eating is important for development and promotes independence.

At 1 year

Most of the time formula can be transitioned to cow’s milk at 1 year, although breast feeding can continue as long as mutually beneficial. Some families choose to use a plant based milk instead.

Please check with us about your choice on this, but as a rule, always choose unsweetened. With the transition off of formula onto cow’s milk it is important to limit cow’s milk to 16-20 oz a day since excess milk can cause anemia.

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Commercially available jarred baby food is a convenience, but is nothing special. If you have time and would like to, you can easily mash cool unsalted steamed veggies, or use a food processor, to make home made baby foods.

At 2 years

During the second year of life continued varied diet of colorful unprocessed foods will build the foundation of a healthy adult diet.

Green foods are great!

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Beyond year 2

Limiting juice intake can be an important goal – it is a dessert with little nutritional value and excess sugar, even 100% juice without added sugars. Continuing addition of fresh fruits and vegetables is important.

You should continue to support healthy choices with as many whole foods as possible and as few processed food  as possible.

“Processed foods are full of salt and sugar. These same unhealthy foods lead to ‘pickiness’, obesity, and even high blood pressure and diabetes. We must establish good eating habits early on, to set our children onto the path of good nutrition.”

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

Even if children don’t like a food the first or second time, you should continue to expose them at intervals, since they may at some point begin to like a food they hadn’t before. Also, sometimes trying an old food a new way can be helpful, such as broccoli uncooked with some dip, rather than cooked broccoli which can become soggy and put-off a young pallet.

Try Fresh Broccoli with Dip!

Or, as another example, uncooked spinach in a salad.

Spinach salads are tasty!

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And also don’t forget other great colors of healthy fresh fruits such as blueberries.

Blueberries, yum!

“A healthy adult diet includes many fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a variety of sources of protein.”

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

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Protein sources should include fish as well as poultry, which are both more healthy than red meats like lamb or beef. Meat is not the only good source of protein though; beans, peas, edamame, lentils, nuts and seeds are all great sources of healthy proteins. Also don’t forget about the protein in dairy products, such as eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt. With yogurts be careful and read the labels, some are full of sugar and lacking nutrients. Look for high protein and low sugar options with active cultures.

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