My daughter who is a young mother recently sent a video of her 8-month-old eating butternut squash curry. Curry? I asked. She referred me to this recent review of research. The old rules about what and when to feed an infant are apparently a cultural tradition and not based on any science:
In a review of the research, Nancy Butte, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine, found that many strongly held assumptions — such as the need to offer foods in a particular order or to delay allergenic foods — have little scientific basis.
Take rice cereal, for example. Under conventional American wisdom, it’s the best first food. But Butte says iron-rich meat — often one of the last foods American parents introduce — would be a better choice.
Dr. David Ludwig of Children’s Hospital Boston, a specialist in pediatric nutrition, says some studies suggest rice and other highly processed grain cereals actually could be among the worst foods for infants.
“These foods are in a certain sense no different from adding sugar to formula. They digest very rapidly in the body into sugar, raising blood sugar and insulin levels” and could contribute to later health problems, including obesity, he says.
The lack of variety in the American approach also could be a problem. Exposing infants to more foods may help them adapt to different foods later, which Ludwig says may be key to getting older children to eat healthier.
Caroline can enjoy some oatmeal sprinkled with turmeric when we next get together.