6 hot baby feeding trends to know this year

Is it hygienic to pre-chew your baby’s food? What about food pouches? Learn which feeding trends are healthy…or not.

Your child relies on you for all his nutritional needs in the initial years. Indeed, the diet decisions you make for him may have a profound impact on how he develops.

There are many schools of thought as to how you should be feeding your cherub. So, that you make an informed decision on which path to take, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital senior dietitian, Lee Yee Hong, and Nature's Farm senior nutritionist, Yong Wai Chin, offer  insights on the latest feeding trends…

1) Pre-chewing your baby’s food
WHAT? It is a common practice among grandparents to blow on your munchkin’s food to cool it or chew it down to size. They do this especially when they are out and don’t have the proper cutlery to perform the task.
THINGS TO NOTE Lee notes that a controversial European research study showed that pre-chewing your child’s food may reduce his or her chances of developing eczema. However, saliva contains tonnes of bacteria, which can leave your little one vulnerable to a wide variety of health risks because of their developing immune system. If you or your folks have been ill or have a communicable disease, avoid pre-masticating junior’s food at all costs.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? As far as possible, refrain from pre-masticating your sweetie’s food for health and hygiene reasons. If you want to cool down the food, Lee suggests that safe way is to stir it well after cooking or heating. Also, make sure to taste and test the food temperature with a different spoon from the one you’re using to feed baby.

To prevent your child from choking, Yong advises that for babies aged 6 to 12 months, you should only offer foods that are similar in texture to porridge. Remove any bony or dry ingredients like ikan bilis, dried scallops or chicken or pork bones. Also don’t offer pits, seeds or tougher cuts of meat or vegetables. Firm pieces of meat or vegetables should be cut into pieces no larger than half an inch.

Saliva contains tonnes of bacteria which can leave your little one vulnerable to a wide variety of health risks because of their developing immune system.

2) Gluten-free diet
WHAT? Gluten is a form of protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. Hence, cutting it out of your mini-me’s diet often means not consuming a wide variety of baked goods, biscuits, noodles or pasta.
THINGS TO NOTE This protein can cause inflammation in the small intestines for celiac disease sufferers. In fact, observing a diet that is not gluten-free may result in serious complications, such as cancer of the small intestines. Therefore, babies with celiac disease should eat arrowroot, buckwheat, corn, flax, potato, rice, rice bran, quinoa, soy and tapioca instead of foods containing gluten.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Don’t restrict your child’s diet, unless he is allergic to gluten or has celiac disease. Lee explains, “Whole grains and wheat-based foods usually have a lot of essential nutrients, such as vitamin B, antioxidants, iron, selenium and magnesium, as well as fibre, which are important to your baby’s overall well-being and growth.” Yong stresses that a diet that’s low in fibre and vitamin B can lead to constipation and vitamin deficiencies.

3) Vegan diet
WHAT? In a vegan or vegetarian diet, a person does not eat meat, fish, poultry and dairy. There are two other kinds of vegan diets: A lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy, while a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet includes dairy, eggs and veggies.
THINGS TO NOTE Yong notes that from a nutritional perspective, it’s not a good idea put your baby on a vegan diet. “A vegan diet is typically low in calories, lacks protein, essential fatty acids, vitamin B12, A and D, calcium and zinc.” A vegan diet can also be “bulky” and high in fibre, so it will likely fill baby’s stomach up quickly, which compromises nutrient absorption. These deficiencies may have a significant impact on your child’s nutrition and growth. So, you may need to supplement your child’s diet with multivitamins which add unnecessary costs.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? If you are keen to try a vegan diet or are moving on to a vegan diet for religious reasons, you should note your munchkin may need to be provided with micronutrient supplements like multivitamins and minerals. Yong shares, “Liquid supplements are a safer and more convenient option for children below the age of 2 as it can be easily added to your child’s food or milk.”