Your baby may have just started on solids or started teething and you are very excited about these new stages in your babies life. Are you wondering what are the best foods to provide to your precious one that will be nourishing? I'm enjoying going through this stage with my youngest grandchild and my daughter-in-law has been asking me to make healthy teething rusks, and what are the best vegetables to start feeding him. Also, she wanted to know what would be a better options to store-bought baby cereals? My grandson is loving trying lots of different foods and exploring the different textures and flavours.
In most of the Western world commercially made fortified cereals are recommended for babies first food. The problem with babies eating cereals is, there are many anti-nutrients in grains which can put a strain on babies digestive system, also they don’t make the enzyme (amylase) to break down and digest carbohydrate until they are older. Packaged and processed baby foods are exposed to very high temperatures to preserve them. They become a sterile product that's lifeless, so only use if really necessary.
I'm so delighted to see many mothers today are wanting to make their own homemade baby foods. At first babies food needs to be pureed to make it lovely and smooth, later when baby starts to get a few teeth the food will only need to be mashed, they will enjoy some texture.
The first foods that you introduce to your baby must be easy to digest. Also, you will want to start with small amounts to make sure they don't provoke any allergic reactions (you introduce one food and have it for 5 days or so in a row, no reactions, then try another food, no reaction you can combine those two foods together in one meal). Choose organic vegetables where possible. Serve the food lightly warm, also your baby will require extra water to drink when eating solids. If your baby is dribbling the food out and they actually don't have a chewing mechanism, then they are not ready for solid foods just yet.
This is one of the great superfoods and an excellent choice for babies first solid food. It’s a great source of potassium, iron, copper, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and fibre. Sweet potato is naturally sweet and has a lovely creamy texture, I'm sure your baby will enjoy it. Steam until really soft and puree.
Butternut pumpkin and other varieties of pumpkin are an excellent source of beta-carotene (for eye health). Pumpkin is also a great source of vitamin C and easy for babies to digest. You can steam or roast until soft and puree.
Another great superfood, carrots are another vegetable that's very high in beta-carotene, which is good for the eyes. Carrots also contain niacin, folate and vitamins A, B6, and C, plus the minerals include, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. Steam or roast until soft and puree.
Avocados have a lovely creamy texture your baby will enjoy, it's easily digested and is a wonderful first food for your baby. They contain large amounts of good healthy fats (for brain development) and contain niacin, folate and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and C. The minerals include, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and iron. Choose ripe avocados, no cooking is required and they come in their own package making them perfect for transporting or when you are short on time.
Bananas come in their own package and don't need any cooking, so they are a suitable food for when you are out and about. Bananas contain niacin, folate and vitamins A, B6, C, and E. They are also an excellent source of potassium (for heart health), magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. Choose ripe bananas and mash well. Bananas can cause constipation in babies, so go easy and don't overdo them.
Blueberries are another superfood for babies. They are full of antioxidants, niacin, folate, as well as vitamins A, C, and K, and the minerals potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and iron. Stew the blueberries and mash or puree, once baby is older they can eat them whole.
Once babies teeth start moving within their gums they will want to bite and chew on things. I created this rusk recipe for my grandson. By making your baby's own healthy teething rusks, you can skip the refined sugars, gluten, flavours or additives that can be found in some commercially made rusks. I've used organic quinoa flakes to produce a firm texture that doesn't crumble or snap off easily like other gluten-free flour options. Click here for the recipe.
This Pear and Quinoa Porridge is a lovely creamy porridge that's perfect for babies older than 7 months and toddlers. Quinoa flakes cook very quickly and are lovely and soft, they are perfect for cold mornings. Quinoa is a complete protein, which means it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need. Click here for the recipe.
Once your baby is handling the superfoods above with no reactions, start mixing in other vegetables that are also a good source of fibre and plant-derived nutrients (swede, parsnip, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower), approximately from 9 months. Babies also like finger foods, use cooked vegetables cut into sticks for your baby to chew on. Trying all these new delicious nutrient-packed foods is an exciting time in your babies development, they will be looking forward to meal times.
By Susan Joy