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Ideas for Feeding Kids Adopted from China

January 7, 2012 | post a comment

We often get emails from parents who are having difficulty transitioning their children from their native diet to the diet of their new home, region, and country.  As a result, we surveyed a couple of hundred parents last summer about what foods and techniques were the most helpful during the transition.  I thought I’d share some of the info gleaned from that survey here, one country at a time.  Today, China…..

The transition diet is one you develop to help bridge the gap between your child’s native diet and what eventually will become his or her regular diet at home. The transition diet often includes recipes and foods from the native diet. A good way to start the transition process is to ask exactly what foods your child ate in the orphanage or foster home, using that as a base for your cooking at home. As one parent put it, “I would encourage all parents to adapt the foods they present to mimic what the child had at the orphanage during the first months home. It is an easy adaptation that parents can make to create a more familiar environment during what can be a hard transition.” It may also be helpful to watch the caregivers feed your child at least one meal before returning home. Simple things such as the temperature or texture of foods may be important to your child. One mother wrote, “Our daughter was on formula at the orphanage but they gave it to her very, very hot. It took us a while to realize she wanted everything HOT and would cry hysterically if it wasn’t hot.” Even if you don’t know exactly what your child ate previously, incorporating native foods into his or her diet is a great way to help your child transition to a new culture, as well as preserve traditions from his or her first culture.

Transition foods for children adopted from China often are based around rice, noodles, eggs, and meat. Familiar foods may include congee (see recipe below), rice, and eggs in many forms, such as steamed eggs (see recipe below), hard boiled eggs, and egg drop soup. Other familiar foods might include stir-fried rice with a little meat and veggies, boiled rice porridge, dumplings, noodles, peas, chicken, and fruit such as bananas, watermelon, and mandarin oranges. Depending on the province the child is from, spicy foods may be familiar and preferred.

Some children from Chinese orphanages may need to be on a soft food diet, even if it does not seem age appropriate. Sometimes children in orphanages are on a soft or liquid diet until they are 3 or 4 years old due to lack of funds for solid foods. Formula is often diluted and sometimes sweetened with sugar. If your child has been on a soft food diet, start with simple, soft foods such as bananas, eggs and rice and slowly introduce new foods and textures.

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Quick Steamed Eggs

  • 7 ½ ounces chicken broth
  • 1 egg
  • seasonings to taste (eg: finely chopped green onion, salt, pepper)

Whisk together and microwave at medium power for 8 minutes.

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Congee

A popular breakfast food in China, congee is similar to a porridge. Fish, chicken, shrimp, meat, peanuts, sesame seeds, and eggs can be added to create an even heartier porridge. Congee is considered to be a restorative, easily digestible and nourishing to infants. This easy congee recipe is made in the slow cooker and can be prepared for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

  • 5 cups water (chicken, beef, or fish stock)
  • 1 cup grain (short-grain brown rice, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, 12-grain meal, etc)
  • optional spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger)

To Prepare: Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker, and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. Serve with a little honey* or maple syrup and any variety of fruit (apples, banana, blueberries, mango, raspberries, blackberries, etc).

Try using different condiments such as egg and seafood for a savory congee.

Optional condiments: raisins, dried plums, fish, meat, poultry, fried egg, seafood, fresh fruit

Tip: Store extra congee in 6 ounce mason jars or baby food jars and keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

*Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.

Read more about food and nutrition in China.

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