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As new parents, you always want the best for your baby. But, when it comes to food, there is nothing really called ‘the best’ for all babies. ‘Best’ could be closest to what suits your baby best. Therefore, food should be suitable for the age of the baby. Experts suggest that you should not introduce solid food before four months. After that, gradually add semi-solids to their diet. Also, you should not completely reject any food item unless the baby has a proven allergy to it because this is the time when their food habits will develop for life. So, place an assortment on their platter, and sometimes sit back and watch what they naturally pick. Babies have their own taste buds, too!
Best Foods for Babies
Keeping the above-mentioned things in mind, we have created a list of 10 items you could add to the weaning diet. These are based on expert recommendations. They ensure optimum nutrition from different categories of food, and all are ‘e-some’ (read awesome!).
- Easy to make.
- Easy to eat.
- Easy on the pocket.
However, don’t add everything at once. Take one baby step at a time. Keep a gap of three days between new food items to watch out for any allergic reaction. You should also check with your paediatrician for added guidance about the best food suitable for your baby’s age, to meet his specific health needs.
1. Breast Milk
This is one food that almost covers all aspects of nutrition for the first year of baby life. It is also indispensable in developing their immunity. However, it is low on iron and may not provide sufficient nutrition after six months when the baby starts becoming more agile and mobile. That’s when you need to start adding the best foods for baby brain development and weight gain.
- Only breast milk for the first six months.
- Top up liquid, semi-solid, solid food with breast milk until 12 months or longer, if possible.
What could be an ideal first ‘green’ food for gurgling baby? Avocados, because they are full of good fat (monounsaturated) and very high in protein, more than any other fruit/vegetable.
It is also ideal for the busy, new mom because:
- The high-fat content keeps the baby full for hours.
- Avocados don’t need to be cooked.
Starting six months.
3. Iron-Fortified Cereal
Apparently, babies are born with an iron reserve that starts to deplete from 6 months. Start iron-rich food at that time. Moreover, mother’s milk is low in iron, too. Any of the iron-rich cereals like rice, oatmeal and barley make up for all this. Start with one of them and slowly add more iron-rich foods. Some recommend rice because they don’t usually cause any allergy.
Better be early than late: four to six months is good.
4. Red Meat
Red meat is a good source of protein, iron, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and zinc. Nutrients from meat are vital for proper brain, skeletal, and muscular development. So, just veggies for your baby’s first meal is a myth, more because he cannot digest iron from plant sources easily.
When you do begin red meat, ensure you cook it very well, blend it and mix with breast milk and vegetable pulp so that it can be easily eaten and digested. Be sure to remove any tiny bone pieces from the puree. You can also buy canned plain meat puree.
Seven to 10 month onward.
When a baby is out of spoon-feeding, broccoli florets fit perfectly into tiny baby fingers. Boil them to make them soft and manageable. They are a superb source of vitamin C, but they should be steamed or microwaved because boiling eliminates half the vitamin. They also contain beta-carotene, folic acid, iron, potassium, and fibre.
Some babies may not like the taste of broccoli. To make it more appealing, you could:
- Mix it with a sweeter veggie like carrot and sweet potato.
- Boil, cool and chill. But don’t serve anything chilled if the baby is prone to catching a cold or if the weather is generally cold.
Beets contain vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and folic acid. They are among the naturally sweeter vegetables that babies take a quick liking to. Best baby preparation of beet is in juice or puree form, after boiling or roasting them.
Beets contain nitrates that are not suitable for babies under 6 months because they can cause anaemia. The best time to start beet is 8-10 months.
7. Sweet Potatoes
The taste of some vegetables is often a put-off for babies. If you start your baby’s vegan journey with sweet potatoes, there may be some resistance. You would rather start off with something more naturally pleasant-tasting like sweet potato. They provide potassium, vitamin C, and fibre. They also contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant, that fortifies against some types of cancer. Mash it well for a memorable first ‘veggie’ treat for baby.
Around 6 months.
This is one food that brings a toothless grin to baby’s playful face. Easy to mash and mess, ‘sooooo…’ sweet gives a nutritive ‘high’ and knows the ‘potty’ tricks. They are a source of:
- Energy, because they are carbohydrate-rich.
- Digestive elements and stool softener because they are full of fibre.
They are also among the best food for babies to gain weight from 6 to 9 months.
Mash and serve when they are ripe. Chopped bananas may be served to older babies as finger food.
4 month onwards because they are easy to digest.
Prunes that you may know as dried plums could be appealing to babies because they are soft and sweet. Its goodness includes lots of fibre that is a natural cure for constipation. This often happens when babies are moving from semi-solids to solid food. You can serve prunes in the form of a puree or blend it with oatmeal, cereal, or applesauce.
Alternatively, you can feed raisins, too, as they are excellent for babies. Raisins must be soaked and pureed along with other foods before feeding the child to avoid choking hazards. When the child is old enough to chew the raisins and swallow them, you may let him eat raisins as they are.
Recommended Age 7 month onwards
4-6 months because they are easy to digest and no reports of allergy risks.
Protect your baby’s eyes with loads of carrots because they contain oodles of beta-carotene that changes to vitamin A in the body that is essential for healthy vision. Beta-carotene is also an antioxidant that gives carrots the orange colour.
Carrots are also a great first baby vegetable because of its natural sweetness. Carrots should be boiled until they are very soft. Then you can either make a puree, dice them or just serve carrots as finger food. Ensure the boiled carrots are cooled to the core before you serve them whole.
6 and 8 months.
Although there is no one set of rules when it comes to providing nutrition to your little one through natural food, with some guidance, you can create a power-packed diet with the foods that suit your baby’s needs. Once you have the ingredients in place, it is all about experimenting and discovering how to create balanced and age-appropriate meals for your child.
Also Read: Best Fiber Rich for Babies