It goes without saying that as a new parent, you want to provide your baby with the best that you can offer. A baby’s food source is instrumental to their growth and development, one way to give the baby the best, is to create your own nutritious meals.
Of course, there are conflicting reports and accounts online making it hard to know where to begin in your bid to create nutritious meals! Fear not! The family team at Modvive have created this beginner’s guide to help you navigate the world of baby nutrition and create healthy, tasty(!), and balanced meals for your little one.
Why Nutrition is Important for Babies
Of course, nutrition and a balanced diet is important for everyone at every stage of their life. However, for tiny babies, it’s integral to their growth and development. From birth to age one babies go through rapid growth which requires a lot of energy and nutrients. Further, a nutritious diet can also support a child’s immune system, brain development, and their overall health.
There are so many reasons why nutrition is important to little one’s, here are just a few:
- Growth and Development: As mentioned, babies need an assortment of nutrients — including protein, fats and carbohydrates, to support their continuous growth and development. Nutrients like protein, fats and carbs help build strong bone and muscle (crucial for rambunctious toddlers), they also support brain development, and lastly, they provide the energy needed for all of their daily activities.
- Immune System Support: A baby needs a strong immune system Fortunately, a well-balanced diet can help as it reduces their risk of developing infections and illnesses.
- Brain Development: The first year of a baby’s life is a critical time for brain development. Nutrients like iron are essential for brain growth. It can be found in breast milk, formula, and certain foods — we’ll get to this soon!
What Foods to Avoid
As we have shown, there are many foods that are beneficial for babies. On the flip side of the coin, however, there are a few foods to avoid:
Honey can contain types of bacterium that can cause botulism in babies 1 year and under.
Cow’s milk should not be given to newborn babies. Despite advertising, it does not contain the right balance of nutrients.
Foods that are small, hard, or sticky can be a choking hazard for babies. Examples include nuts, popcorn, and marshmallows.
Nutritious Foods for Babies
Now that we’ve covered some foods to avoid, let’s chat about the foods that are nutritious and in turn, beneficial for babies.
Breast Milk or Formula:
Formula or breast milk is generally a safe source of nutrition for babies, at least until they are 6 months old. Both forms of milk give a baby all of the nutrients that they need.
Fruits and Vegetables:
Much the same for adults, fruits and vegetables are great for youngsters. Fruit and veg are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You can easily make baby-friendly foods by mashing avocado, sweet potato, and banana.
Grains are a superfood for adults and babies alike. Examples of whole grains include brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa. All of these are a fantastic source of energy and nutrients for babies. They also provide fiber, which helps aid digestion.
Good sources of protein include pureed and fish, as well as beans and lentils.
Credit: Vanessa Loring Via: Pexels
Tips for Creating Nutritious Meals for Babies
Don’t worry! Creating nutritious meals for your baby doesn’t have to be difficult. You can even make some dishes using components of your dinner. Here are a few quick tips to help you get started — you’ll soon find yourself getting creative in the kitchen.
Offer a Wide Variety:
Babies need a variety of nutrients to support their growth and development. Offering a variety of foods can help ensure that they get all of the nutrients they need.
Experiment with Different Textures:
Babies may prefer different textures, so don’t be afraid to experiment with purees, mashed foods, and finger foods.
Introduce New Foods Gradually:
Introducing new foods gradually can help you identify any potential food allergies or sensitivities that your baby may have.
Use Fresh Ingredients:
Using fresh, whole ingredients can help ensure that your baby is getting the most nutrients possible.
Limit Added Salt and Sugar:
Young babies do not need added salt or sugar in their diets; try to limit both of these as much as possible. Traditionally, a baby has their first taste of sugar that’s not naturally occurring at their first birthday party.
Don’t Force Your Baby to Eat:
Babies have small stomachs and may not always be hungry. If your baby isn’t interested in eating at a certain time, don’t force it. Instead, try again later.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I start introducing solid foods to my baby?
You can start introducing solid foods to your baby around 6 months of age. That said, every child is different. We recommend talking to a health professional before you make the change.
Can I give my baby cow’s milk?
No. Babies under one year should not have cow’s milk as it does not contain the right balance of nutrients.
What are some easy meal ideas for babies?
Some easy meal ideas for babies include mashed sweet potato, mashed avocado, and pureed chicken or fish.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough of, or the right nutrition?
Both weight and growth are good indicators of whether or not a baby is getting enough nutrition. That said, if you’re worried about your baby’s weight you should chat with your GP.
Being a new parent is stressful. The new responsibility partnered with the weight of creating nutritious meals may seem daunting at first, but with a little bit of planning and preparation, it can be easy and enjoyable!
Remember to offer a variety of foods, experiment with different textures, and use fresh ingredients whenever possible — doing so ensures that you’re offering baby a healthy and balanced diet that supports their growth and their development.
If you enjoyed this article, view our other family oriented blog post: Plan a Family Game Night.