If you are interested in reading this article, you are probably entering a new phase with your little baby – the introduction of solids. Congratulations!! You as parents are in for an exciting and fun-filled adventure!
Children need specific nutrients to help them grow and develop. Just as silkworms can survive on lettuce leaves, but only grow into productive worms when fed mulberry leaves, so kids can also survive on “junk food” but only experience a healthy, energetic life when fed a healthy, well-balanced diet.
From the age of 4-6 months, your baby will need solid food together with milk feeds to provide in all his or her nutritional requirements. The introduction of healthy solid food is vital to help your baby grow, develop and build a strong immune system. During the first two years of life, children experience rapid growth and brain development. What we feed our children during these first two years, determines their health for the rest of their lives!
Fresh, home-cooked food is by far the best for your baby. It is colourant and preservative free and your baby gets all the important macro- and micro nutrients for their little body to grow! Your baby also learn to appreciate the different tastes and textures of food which will help to establish a healthy, enthusiastic eater later on.
All of the following food groups are important when your baby start to eat solid food:
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and veggies act as “POLICEMEN” in the body. They contain a lot of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants to help protect against germs and diseases. Try to give many different fruit and veggies with lots of different colours. Children eat as much with their eyes as with their taste buds! Green vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, spinach, peas, gem squash, baby marrows and more can be given and is an important source of B-vitamins and iron. Red, yellow, orange and purple veggies such as carrots, pumpkin, beetroot and more, provide us with Beta-carotene and fat-soluble vitamins.
Protein consist of building blocks called amino-acids. Protein are the BUILDERS of the body and are like “bricks” needed to build a house. They are important to build muscle, bones, teeth, brain and a strong immune system. Sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, pulses and dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Starch is “PETROL” food and is important to provide “fuel” and energy for infants to grow and develop. You would want to introduce complex starches that provide energy for the whole day such as corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, oats and more. Avoid refined starches such as fine, white products like cookies, white rice, white bread, chips, salty cracks etc…
Fats are like HANDYMEN. They help to maintain the body in good working order. Natural foods containing fat are good sources of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and provides energy for baby’s fast-growing body. “Good” fats include unsaturated fat found in fish, avocado and oils such as olive oil as well as Saturated fat is found in butter, eggs, coconut, and meat. “Bad” fats are processed fats and are known as trans-fat. These fats are found in biscuits, crisps, pies, margarine etc. This type of fat is not good for your baby, and should be avoided.
The following foods have been identified as SUPERFOODS and can be included in baby food to increase nutrient density.
Broccoli is nutrient packed and is rich in Vitamins A, C, B, folic acid, calcium and anti-oxidants. It has also been proven to have anti-cancer properties.
Butternut are a wonderful source of vitamins A, C, E and K as well as the minerals magnesium, calcium and manganese.
- Blue berries
Blue berries has the highest anti-oxidant level of any fruit. It has a wide variety of healing qualities and help to keep the lungs, bladder, eyes and immune system healthy. It also has anti-cancer properties.
Avocado contains fat, carbohydrates and has the highest protein content of all fruit. It is rich in mono-unsaturated fat, vitamin A, E and Beta-carotene. It is also a good source of fibre and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Carrots is rich source of Vitamin A and C that helps to develop a strong immune system. The anti-oxidants in carrots help to protect against heart disease. It also contains potassium and magnesium that helps to lower blood pressure and vitamin B6 that helps to form red blood cells that carries oxygen in the blood.
Bananas are a good source of complex carbohydrates, protein and fibre. It also contains vitamin C and B6 that helps to form a healthy immune system and production of red blood cells. Bananas are also a rich source of minerals such as magnesium, selenium, iron van vitamin K.
Garlic is known to have anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It also helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Be on the look-out for guidelines on introducing solids for the first time, coming soon!