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Your Baby's Health & Nutrition Questions Answered!

Posted by on May. 5, 2015 at 1:27 PM
  • 28 Replies

We asked you to share your best questions about baby's health & nutrition with our expert. Dr. Greene.  Please find Dr. Green's answers below!

An industry leader with a progressive approach to wellness, Dr. Greene is a practicing pediatrician, author, Pediatric Advisor to Plum Organics, children's health advocate and father of four. His website, DrGreene.com, is cited by the AMA as "the pioneer physician web site" and he was named "The Children's Health Hero of the Internet" by Intel.  Dr. Greene is the author of "Feeding Baby Green", "Raising Baby Green" and "From First Kicks to First Steps". 


egyptian_mommy asked:  What are the best sources of calcium aside from milk?

Calcium is important not just for growing strong bones and teeth, but also for helping to control muscle and nerve function in the developing body. Breast milk is the best way to give calcium to a baby. Even if a mother is not getting adequate calcium in her own diet, her breast milk will have plenty for a healthy baby. The calcium in breast milk is more easily absorbed. Infant formulas have extra calcium added to make up for the difference in absorption. Healthy babies who are taking enough breast milk or formula shouldn't need extra calcium. When solids foods are started, it can be great to include some calcium-containing foods such as string cheese or yogurt. Yogurt can have even more calcium than milk. But there are also a number of great non-dairy sources. Greens of many types can be excellent sources. So can tofu. You'll also find good calcium in sesame seeds, broccoli, green beans, and oranges.

mnmo3bb asked: What food do you recommend to start baby on? 

I encourage parents to start baby on real foods they can touch, taste and smell such as a ripe avocado, banana, or a cooked sweet potato. Simply mash it in front of them and mix in some breast milk or formula, which can make transitioning to solid foods easier. By engaging them in the process, they will have a full sensory experience and will enjoy the fresh smell and vibrant colors in front of them. They can even watch you eat some of the same food, which can influence their preferences. Beyond that, I'm a fan of feeding green vegetables early and often to teach kids to love these nutritious foods from the very beginning.

Ablackdolphin asked: Is coconut milk okay?

Babies do best on breast milk or on an infant formula designed to try to approximate the nutritional profile they would get from breast milk. Toddlers and older children who drink cow's milk are getting a convenient source of protein, calcium, vitamin D and fat (brain growth is most rapid in the first 3 ears and is about 60 percent fat)*. Coconut milk typically has plenty of fat, but very little protein and often zero calcium or vitamin D. This can be a fine treat, but not a replacement for other milks.


la_bella_vita asked: What are the best ways to give baby fiber?

Breast milk doesn't have fiber per se, but it does have ingredients that do the job of fiber - so that's a great start. Once babies start taking solids, fiber can be found in appropriate amounts in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. With all of these foods having fiber, what's the problem? Sadly, for decades processed white flour cereals (white rice cereal) and other products such as crackers have been the dominant source of solids food calories for babies. My vote is to skip processed white flour products altogether for babies.

mamamedic69 asked: When do you think is a good time to introduce water? How much water can a baby/toddler have per day? Which water is better, tap, filtered, or bottled?

The window between when kids start sitting up and start walking is one of the easiest times to teach kids to enjoy the tastes of a variety of healthy foods. In my experience, it's also a great time for babies to learn to enjoy water as a refreshing beverage.

Before they start taking solids most babies don't need extra water - and water could make them take less of the breast milk or formula they do need. After they are taking solids well, I am a fan of starting 2 ounces of water or so once or even twice a day sometime during that first year, and continuing the habit with larger amounts as they grow.

Besides milks, sugary drinks and juices are the main beverages of millions of young kids. To keep added sugar consumption at a minimum, I suggest tap, bottled or filtered water as a healthier alternative for kids. My favorite is filtered water with flavors by adding fresh lemon, cucumbers or strawberries.

Splatz asked: What do you recommend to help with teething symptoms??

As new teeth are emerging, some kids have elevated temps, extra saliva, and discomfort in the mouth. To some extent these symptoms, if present, help to protect them and speed the process. What can we do that will work with and not just mask the symptoms?

Babies often bring their own hands to their mouths because pressure on the gums brings relief. It can feel even better if you rub their gums gently and firmly with a clean finger (as with any massage, it can feel better coming from someone else). The first few passes are often a bit uncomfortable, but babies tend to relax more as the gum massage continues.

Cool things to chew on are another great way to help with teething and its symptoms. Wet cloths or cloth toys from the fridge can be a hit. Some babies like hard objects like a cold metal spoon. (Be sure it's not an object a baby could choke on).

I'm not a fan of benzocaine teething gels to just numb the pain. But talk with your pediatrician about other medications if these don't relieve your baby's discomfort or if there is a true fever.

egyptian_mommy asked: There are conflicting opinions on food allergies with one side believing they're caused by early introduction and another side believing they're caused by delaying introduction. What is your professional opinion?  What should parents keep in mind regarding food allergies?

I'm not surprised you've heard conflicting information, but the latest evidence suggests that between about 6 and 12 months old the immune system is rapidly learning which exposures are normal and welcome, so that it can learn to defend against threats with what we would call an allergic reaction. Delaying beyond this can make some good foods seem like a scary stranger.

I agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics that delaying any new food for healthy children beyond 6 months does not reduce the risk of allergies - and may well increase it. I do suggest, though, holding off on new allergenic foods when a baby is sick or on antibiotics.

The best scenario is when healthy babies get small amounts of the most allergic foods sometime between 6 and 12 month old and while they are still nursing.

Keep in mind that food allergies are a good topic to discuss with your pediatrician, and all the more so if they run in your family.

SweetLuci asked: If a baby is being breastfed, what age should solid foods be introduced?

Breast milk is a living, adaptive, complex and complete food that fuels babies through some of their most important growth. There is no rush to add solids before a baby demands it. My take is that it's better to watch your baby to decide when to add solids than to watch the calendar for a particular age.

At some point most healthy babies will become fascinated with food they see. Before long, their interest turns to desire. Then they begin to clearly let it be known they are still hungry after nursing and/or that it's not fair for you to eat without offering them some. That's usually the time to begin.

Often this is around 6 months, but you'll want to talk about the best timing for your baby with your own pediatrician.

Aneela asked: can a baby be fine with just breast milk for their whole first year and no solids?

The window between 6 and 12 months old is such a valuable opportunity to teach babies to enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes! It's still possible to do after they learn to walk, but it's slower and more difficult.

We start solids for two main reasons: to provide some nutrition for that day and to teach kids foods to enjoy later as they grow.

Breast milk without solids in the second half of the first year can provide great nutrition (though talk with your pediatrician to be sure your baby has plenty of iron, vitamin D and calories). But the experience of learning to see, smell, touch, taste, and swallow different vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes during this window is not something I would want to skip.

Bob192 asked: At what age should you start giving table foods?

As part of the food journey we want to teach our children to recognize and enjoy healthy foods - and this includes learning the textures of table foods.

A great time to do this is when babies are able to pick up little bits of food and swallow them well, with little if any coughing or gagging. Often this is around 8 or 9 months, though for some it is younger and for some it is older. It's great to get this going before they start refusing to be spoon-fed and before they enter the pickier stage of toddlerhood.

It's also great to eat some of the same table foods with them, and of course to watch them closely and choose foods carefully (shape and texture) to avoid choking.

I like tiny cubes of avocado, banana, or cooked sweet potato, which are soft and easy to manage. Bits of scrambled egg are another good early choice. 

Mrswillie asked: Any help, with picky eaters?

Thankfully, kids can learn to like foods that they didn't before. In one study, parents took babies' least favorite vegetable and offered them a bit as their first bite of food every day for a week. They just gave a taste, never coaxing or forcing them to eat more than they wanted. At the end of the week, 85% of the babies who had rejected that vegetable had learned to like it. So don't give up when introducing foods they reject the first few times.

Even if you have a picky eater, be assured that most of them are getting enough calories and likely enough protein. The foods that they may be lacking are veggies, fruits, or whole grains. Try to focus on these by offering a wide variety of nutritious snack options throughout the day.

newlife1214 asked: How much should I feed my baby?

Babies have a built in mechanism to know exactly how much to eat - as long as they aren't tricked by extra calories in a bottle (added rice or sugary drinks) or by ‘junk' food (French fries or processed white flour treats).

If babies are getting breast milk or formula to drink and healthy real foods to eat, the best bet for healthy babies is to go by their signals. Feed them when they are hungry. Stop when they lose interest. And check in with their doctor at every well-child visit to see how they are growing.

newlife1214 asked: Do I have to worry about my baby getting vitamins? (Like vitamin D)

Breast milk has relatively low levels of vitamin D, and historically babies would get their vitamin D from the sun. Today most babies spend most of the day indoors - and wear sunscreen outside which reduces Vitamin D production. Therefore, babies who are breastfed or partially breastfed often need extra vitamin D.

Additionally, breast milk has relatively low levels of iron and historically, babies got much of their iron from allowing the umbilical cord to pulse for at least 90 seconds before it was cut. This is not something that's commonly practiced and therefore may lead to the risk of iron deficiency in babies. This is why babies who are exclusively breastfed may need extra iron when they are several months old.

Otherwise, both breast milk and formula contain plenty of the vitamins and minerals babies need.

newlife1214 asked: What is a normal sleep pattern?

At one week old, babies sleep an average of 16 hours or more every 24 hours including about 4 naps a day. By three months the 24-hour average drops to 15 hours with about 3 naps a day, and by nine months to 14 hours and 2 naps a day. During the second year, kids sleep about half the time.

For newborns the longest stretch of sleep is usually 3 or 4 hours. By 6 months, most babies have 6-hour stretches of sleep at night.

Ablackdolphin asked: Do babies born vaginally have better gut flora than c section babies?

Every baby is unique, but on average babies who've had a vaginal birth have healthier and more diverse gut flora from the start.

Ablackdolphin asked: At what age could you introduce fermented foods?

Fermented foods can be a great way for babies to get beneficial bacteria (probiotics). These can be introduced after 6 months old if they are in a shape and texture that the baby can safely manage.

Ablackdolphin asked: Ideas for sneaking in more veggies?

If you're starting before a child has learned to walk, it's usually best to be obvious about the veggies and repeat them enough times for the baby to learn to recognize and enjoy them (up to 15 tries, 6-10 tries on average).

For toddlers, you can often add new veggies into one of their favorite sauces or spice profiles (a tomato sauce or a curry, for instance).

SweetLuci asked: What causes colic?

Colic is often defined as crying for at least 3 hours a day for 3 days a week in babies less than 3 months old - and it appears it may have different causes in different babies. Here are a few possibilities:

·       Cow's milk protein intolerance

·       GI immaturity

·       Gas

·       Intestinal hypermotility

·       Altered gut flora

·       Hypersensitivity to environmental stimuli

·       Immature motor regulation

·       Early form of migraine

Many thanks to all of you for your fantastic questions and special thanks to Dr. Greene for his excellent answers!

Dr. Greene is here to provide general advice.  All medical concerns should be addressed with one's own health care professional

by on May. 5, 2015 at 1:27 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by Bella on May. 5, 2015 at 2:38 PM

Thank you : ) 

by on May. 5, 2015 at 2:54 PM

Thanks for all this great information =)

by Silver Member on May. 5, 2015 at 2:56 PM

THANK YOU! I've never seen my name up there before lol 

by Silver Member on May. 5, 2015 at 3:40 PM
Thank you for your responses.
by Member on May. 5, 2015 at 4:04 PM

thank you for your reply. and just to add my son didn't take to baby foods...he just wanted normal food later on after he turned one and not baby mush as we call it ha.

he is a very healthy eater (he likes curries, oriental food, mexican, italian etc you get the idea) and drinks a lot of water as a kid now...but every child is different.

by Bronze Member on May. 5, 2015 at 4:11 PM


by Bronze Member on May. 5, 2015 at 4:48 PM

Thanks ! There is some great advice here ! Somethings I never even thought about before! 

by Silver Member on May. 5, 2015 at 5:12 PM

Thank you!!!

by on May. 5, 2015 at 7:49 PM

Thank you.

by Bronze Member on May. 5, 2015 at 10:29 PM
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