A concerned grandmother says, “I’m worried about my grandson, Robert Scott. He’s barely 3 ½ months old, and my daughter is already feeding him solid foods like rice cereal, peaches and carrots. I thought you weren’t supposed to start those foods until the babies were 5 or 6 months old. Obesity runs in our family, and I’m worried about over feeding him. What’s the right time to start solids?”
Dr. Jim Sears responds, “The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that no foods are given before 6 months. And that’s very, very important. Many of the books out there still say the old recommendations 4 to 6 months. Now it’s nothing before 6 months. Now why? It’s very important. We’ve learned that the baby’s intestines just are not ready to handle all these other foods, anything other than milk, OK? And starting them sooner can lead to food allergies or even more severe intestinal problems. And here’s something most doctors are not going to tell their patients: Traditionally, the first food is rice cereal. We used to always tell our patients that. But look at what rice cereal is: it’s all carbs! Americans are carboholics already, and that’s probably where it starts. So we really should start with fruits and vegetables. Mashed bananas are a great first food. Avocado is another great first food. It’s very high in the healthy fats that the babies’ brains need.”
“So, I have a baby picture when I was 3 months old eating a rib. That’s not good?” Dr. Phil joshes.
Another concerned mom says, “I feed my 3 ½-year-old son, Jacob, chicken nuggets and French fries for almost every meal. When I try to give him anything else, he refuses. Once, I tried giving him healthy options, but then he went two-and-a-half days without eating anything I offered him. I feel like a horrible mother, but I can’t starve my child. How can I get my son to eat anything but fried food?”
“Well put him in detox for God’s sake,” Dr. Phil says. “You’ve got him addicted to fats and sugar, and then you cut him off. He’s going through withdrawal!” He turns to Dr. William Sears.
“This child’s tastes are being shaped in the wrong direction. You don’t start on ribs. You just don’t. Sorry.”
“You tell me now!” Dr. Phil jokes.
“Get them out of the house! Fruits, vegetables, if you didn’t grow it, and it doesn’t grow, don’t feed young kids that stuff,” says Dr. Sears.
Dr. Phil says, “Let’s talk about this particular case which I think is not that isolated because we have a 70 percent double-income society. We’ve got a lot of working parents out there. They’re doing the best they can and oftentimes it’s to grab something on the run. And we want them to stop that and change that, but what is the best way to wean the child off of the bad foods? Because if you just take away the hamburger and fries and put an apple down there, that ain’t going to work. Can’t you maybe start, like, baking chicken nuggets or something where it’s a little bit different?”
“This is what you’ve got to do,” Dr. Jim Sears chimes in. “First off, you start buying those items at a health food store, at a whole foods market you can get healthier versions of chicken nuggets and French fries. And then you absolutely do not fry them.”
“All right, my little sister would get really picky and not eat stuff, and my dad’s theory was, ‘Leave her alone. She gets hungry enough, she’ll eat the box,'” says Dr. Phil. “At some point, that kid’s going to start eating, right?”
“Eventually, he will start eating,” Dr. Jim Sears assures him.
“This mother’s story is typical,” says Dr. William Sears. “We’ve got to back up and say fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish ” all the good stuff.”
“What I like to do is send positive food messages,” adds Dr. Jim Sears. “I don’t beg, ‘Oh, Johnny, please eat your beans, or your apples. You’ve got to eat this stuff.’ I just say, ‘You know, Spider-Man is so strong because he eats a lot of apples.'”
“Yeah, you identify it with the heroes. That’s very insidious. I like it,” says Dr. Phil, giving a thumbs-up.