Many parents may find planning meals to introduce solids to their babies daunting and confusing. A lot has changed when it comes to feeding recommendations for babies at 6 months old onwards. Mashed potato, pureed fruits, eggs, and green vegetables are still some of the most common choices but there are lesser known options available.
Tanya Altmann, a contributing Paediatrician to TODAY, revealed some of her top picks and also gave two foods to avoid. Here are the three foods topping her list of must-have pantry staples for new parents:
More and more parents are turning to this underrated fruit when deciding what their baby’s first food should be–and with good reason. They’re high in potassium, fiber, healthy fats and they’re good for the heart (even for adults). Avocados can be pureed of mashed with a fork. Introducing diced pieces at around eight or nine months of age so you’ll baby can have fun exploring it by smashing it and learning to feed herself is a good idea as well.
Dr. Altmann suggests having a camera at the ready as one usually gets an adorable reaction from babies trying this for the first time!
Peanut butter and banana oatmeal. (Photo: Pixabay)
According to Dr. Altmann, getting kids started with eating nuts as early as 4 to 6 months can help prevent them from developing nut allergies in the future.
Nut butters aren’t only delicious and convenient but they’re healthy, too. They’re packed with vegetarian protein, healthy fats, and Vitamin E. One option is to include peanut butter in your child’s oatmeal by melting one teaspoon into one ounce of whole grain oatmeal for babies. You can start introducing peanut butter on its own (or with bread), in small amounts, when your baby is more than 8 months old.
Salmon and broccoli mash. (Photo: Pixabay)
Most kids who don’t start eating fish early end up disliking it as they get older–which is a shame because they’re actually really good for you!
Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fish helps in brain and eye development. Dr. Altmann shared that of the types of fish, Salmon is the most important and healthiest for infants because they contain high amounts of protein, Vitamin D, and omega-3. It’s also lower in mercury content as opposed to other fish. But, she warns, parents should take care when preparing this type of fish, making sure it is thoroughly cleaned and cooked.
Pureeing and fork-mashing are common methods of preparation but parents can also add water, breast milk, or vegetable broth for more moisture. At around seven months, Dr. Altmann shared her son loved eating salmon mixed with pureed sweet potatoes. Parents can also mix in green vegetables such as broccoli.
Here are the two foods Dr. Altmann warns parent against, which may be surprising to many because they have been some of the most common go-to picks for parents worldwide.
Avoid White Rice Cereal
Dr. Altmann encourages choosing brown rice or quinoa instead (Photo: Daily Mom)
This may come as a shock to many parents seeing as this has been a popular choice over the years for parents looking for the perfect first meal for their bay. But Dr. Altmann believes it is a poor choice because aside from the fact that it has no nutrients or flavor, it also starts poor eating habits in kids. And though it has both iron and zinc, it’s still not as nutritious as meat.
However, for parents who still believe that cereal should be their baby’s first food, there is a compromise: choosing brown over white rice. Not only is this more nutritious but starting them on brown rice (or quinoa) can get your child used to having a taste for healthier food choices as they grow.
A good option is brown rice or quinoa oatmeal (with, as mentioned earlier, peanut butter or fresh fruit). But parents should take care when introducing brown rice as it may cause diarrhoea. It would be best to monitor your baby’s digestion before incorporating this into their diet.
One of the most common questions Dr. Altmann is asked is when the proper time to give kids juice is.
Her answer was always: “Never.”
This may come as a surprise but she believes that even juice diluted with water starts children off with the bad habit of craving sweet beverages. Fruit juice, she adds, contains no fibre, making it an unfit substitute for actual fruit.
But, what’s better to drink then? Water, of course!
Dr. Altmann advises starting to introduce plain water once your baby turns 6 months of age. Drinking lots of water is a healthy habit that’s best started even before your kids turn one!