If your 6 month old baby has just been weaned onto solids, how can you ensure that she's getting sufficient essential nutrients from home-cooked food?
Once you start introducing your baby to solids after 6 months, it is important that you provide her with a wide variety of different foods so that she gets a good balanced diet.
Although you might prefer to feed your little one home-cooked food, how do you know for sure that the homemade baby food you lovingly made from scratch contains enough nutrients that are essential to her growth and development?
What are the pros and cons of making home-cooked food for your bub and what can you do to ensure that she is getting the sufficient amount of nutrients?
Pros and cons of home-cooked baby food
- You can choose your own ingredients
- It is (usually) more economical
- Your baby gets the opportunity to eat the same food as the rest of the family (in puree form)
- You can easily whip up a meal at any time using whatever ingredients you already have at home
- Time-consuming to prepare everything yourself
- Food wastage often occurs because you might cook too much at a time
- Storage may be inconvenient as home-cooked food requires refrigeration or freezing
- Depending on the ingredients used, your baby might not get all the nutrients she needs
Some important nutrients in food can also be lost during the process of cooking, so even if you choose the best ingredients for your little one's home-cooked food, she might be losing out on important vitamins and minerals needed for health and development such as vitamin A, iron, zinc and protein.
How to complete your home-cooked meal
To ensure that your little one's homemade food has all the important nutrients for her growth and development, you may complement your child’s diet with nutrient-packed cereals!
Cereals are well-known weaning foods that provide a good source of carbohydrates and some cereals are nutrients-densed, meaning they are fortified with many vitamins and minerals to support your child and help them reach their full potential.
So not only can you still choose your own ingredients for your bub's meal of the day, you can complete the home-cooked food with these nutrient-packed cereals and rest assured that your child is getting all the nutrients she needs.
Who says nutritious meals must take long hours to prepare? Here are some creative ideas on whipping up delicious meals using baby cereals!
Helpful tips for home-cooked meals
Preparing a wholesome meal for your little one is easy and there are many creative ways to jazz up her infant cereal besides simply mixing it with water or milk!
It's good to add in some fruit, vegetables or meat too, but how can you prepare your little one's meal without losing too many nutrients during the cooking process?
Fruits and vegetables
This is a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, but remember that a lot of nutrition can be found in the skin, so try to choose whole fruits so your bub can enjoy the health benefits.
Blend some fruit (or even veggies) as a delicious smoothie, or puree it so it's easier for your little one to eat.
Steaming vegetables is also a great way to quickly cook and soften it up without losing nutrients.
Fish is a great source of lean protein and is good for your baby's heart, but the way you cook it can affect the nutritional quality.
The healthy way to cook fish and ensure that it's still good for the heart is to grill, bake, steam, poach or pan-fry.
You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice to give it some extra flavour!
Poultry and meat
When introducing meat (beef, lamb, pork) and poultry (chicken, turkey, duck) to your baby, it should be pureed until the consistency is thin and smooth.
Once your little one is a bit older, you can mince the meat or poultry so it's easier to chew and digest.
Oil and seasonings
Your growing baby may need some fat in her diet for energy to help with her growth, but try to minimise any use of oil when cooking your home-cooked baby food and opt for healthier oils such as canola, walnut or olive oil.
It is also recommended not to add any salt, sugar, spice or soya sauce to your bub's food so as to encourage her to be familiar with natural flavours.
*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer
Do you have any favourite recipes for home-cooked meals for babies? Do share it with us in the comments section below!