Baby's First Food - What are the Essentials
Choosing your baby’s first foods can be daunting. Which food to feed first? How long do you wait? Sometimes, all the clashing information can feel overwhelming.
Often, first foods are cereal based, chosen because of their mild palate, low allergen risk and the ease of consumption. The problem is that these “starter” foods can increase the risk of constipation and digestive distress, and hold very little nutritional value. Instead of always offering cereal, balance your child’s meals with foods that are full of the vitamins, minerals, essential building blocks and energy your child needs.
Around the one-year mark, your child’s diet shifts from mainly breast milk or formula to solid food. But what should you be looking for in that starter food?
So what does your baby need?
High in Omegas
Omega 3 and 6 are necessary to ensure that your toddler gets off to a good start. When it comes to omega fatty acids, it’s all about balance. On average, we consume too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3. Without Omega 3s, your little one could suffer from vision challenges and even learning and behavioural difficulties. Brain growth is at its highest in the first three years, with approximately 60% of the human brain being comprised of fats, Omega 3’s becomes that more vital.
Try: Chia, salmon, and fish oil for foods that can provide your child with that mental boost.
Full of Fibre
Conventional pasta, carbohydrates and infant cereal can be difficult to digest. This is mainly because our body does not make amylase, the enzyme necessary to digest grains, until approximately 16 months of age. Alternatively, our body produces protease, the enzyme required to digest protein/legumes, at birth. Protease breaks down protein in amino acids, essential for the baby’s growth and repair. Naturally high in insoluble fibre, adding chickpeas to your child’s diet will help keep your baby’s bowels regular while reducing the risk of constipation. This ensures the baby is able to eliminate toxins, which is critical for overall health and happiness.
Try: Fibre rich foods including broccoli, bananas, raspberries, pears and avocados.
Power their Belly with Pre and Probiotics:
Choosing the right food can not only provide your child with nutrients but also help ward off illness by boosting the immune system. Digestive health is key to a happy and energized toddler. Fibre is a part of this, but to maximize that healthy belly, look for foods high in pre and probiotics. Prebiotics will not only produce the essential food required for good micro flora (probiotics) but also gives your child the micro bacteria boost required to fight against diseases, colds/flus, as well as allergies and intolerances in the future. Frequent diaper rashes and eczema, can be signs that your child may need more pre and probiotics in their diets.
Try: Bananas, chickpeas, garlic and tomatoes. Great sources of probiotics include kefir or yogurt.
Exposing your child to new foods can be a wonderful experience for both baby and parent! When you choose foods that have a natural health boost, it makes the experience that much better.