Doctor’s Advice: Heating Up Purees and Getting Baby to Listen

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How do I heat up my baby’s purees? 

Hi, I just prepared my baby’s first solid food (sweet potato) using the Baby Bullet, and have now stored it in the fridge as I am planning to feed it to her tomorrow. Would it be okay to use the bottle warmer to heat up the cup, or what is the best way (temperature, cool or warm) to heat up her food?

-Patricia 

Hi, Patricia – Generally, think about how food tastes to you based on temperature. Typically, savory foods “bloom” and taste best warmed up, and fruits and sweets are generally better in the cold or room temperature range. You can use a bottle warmer to heat up the cup, or set her food container in a bowl of very hot water. Always stir and touch/taste her food first to make sure it’s not too hot, and still tasty. Typically, fresh food will last about 3 days in the fridge, and 3-5 months in the freezer.

Do store-bought baby foods contain food dyes?

What foods should I avoid to prevent my children from consuming dyes?

-Rebekah C.

Hi Rebebkah,

Typically most store-bought baby foods do not contain dyes, but they may have varying levels of ascorbic acid (essentially vitamin C) that is added back to replace what is lost in processing, to retain color, and to act as a preservative. However, if the food label starts to get lengthy and you don’t recognize the ingredients, best to stay away. There could be fillers and additives in the mix that extend shelf life or change the flavor and texture of the food. As your baby gets older, packaged food is pretty challenging – my take: if it’s not a color that exists in nature, don’t eat it! And if sugar, corn syrup, or other sugars are in the first 3 ingredients, walk away. 

My toddler is inattentive!

My two-year-old isn’t listening to me. He ignores me constantly at the Toddler and Me class we attend together. It angers me for obvious reasons, but it also worries me. What happens if I need his attention because he is in danger? Have any advice?

-Jasper Honeycutt 

Hi Jasper,

Unfortunately most 2-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat, so it’s hard to get their sustained attention because of their developmental age. Often, when we’re frustrated, our voice’s volume cranks up, and 2-year-olds just shut down when they hear parents yelling or upset.

When he’s in toddler class, he’s likely distracted and may not be able to process your voice in the sea of kids. So, if you really need to gain his attention you have to practice this – approach him, crouch down to his level, lower your voice to almost a whisper, look him directly in the eyes, hold his elbows or hands, and tell him simply what you want him to do. Don’t ask anything in question form (like, “We’ve got to go, okay?”) because the answer will be “No.”

If you need to leave or change course, approach him, let him know that next time you come up to him, that you are going to go. Walk away for 30-60 seconds to give him time to adapt, and re-approach and calmly say “It’s time to go,” or whatever you need to say. With toddlers, you need to stay calm and quiet in your direction because yelling doesn’t get him to listen; he may hear it, but tune it out because it upsets him – it might upset us, too!

If there is a really noisy or active room, you might need to gently scoop him up, go outside and face-to-face tell him what you need. Be consistent and get others involved in his care to do the same, so that he is more likely to respond when adults approach him this way.

If, under these circumstances, he won’t make eye contact with you or doesn’t respond, it’s very important to bring this to the attention of your healthcare provider now! Hearing needs to be checked, and his development/speech assessed – under more rare circumstances, this inattention could be a sign that he needs a medical or other intervention.

Toddlers can be a pain, no doubt. They are constantly trying to push out the boundaries that we create to keep them safe. Lots of battles and push-back occur as a result. Just remember, most children will stop to listen and hear the lower the volume, so try this approach on for size!

Best of luck!

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About Dr. JJ Levenstein

Dr. JJ Levenstein is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and in 2012 retired from her thriving private pediatric practice in Encino, California. She served on the staff of CHLA and Encino Tarzana Hospitals for 20 years and was consistently voted one of the Best Doctors in America® from 2003 through 2012. Drawing from her experience as a pediatrician and mom, Dr. Levenstein serves as president and co-founder of MD Moms, makers of Baby Silk, the first personal care line for babies developed by pediatrician moms. She serves on the board of United Cerebral Palsy LA, is an active writer and sits on the advisory boards of several child-centered websites. She is an accomplished chef and completed culinary school in 2013! She has had a lifelong interest in child nutrition and all things related to preventive health.

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