By Maureen Connolly for Your Baby Today
Now that you've introduced real food to your infant, a.k.a "solids," your next challenge is to create a diet that will provide all of the nutrients your baby needs to nourish her rapidly growing body and mind.
Of course, until she reaches her first birthday the biggest source of nutrients will continue to come from breast milk or formula. But at the same time, your baby is likely very excited and intrigued about all of the new and interesting tastes and textures that meal times now offer. As you introduce each new food, you'll discover her likes and dislikes. When squash is on the menu, she may show her enthusiasm for it by happily opening her mouth for every spoonful. But maybe peas don't please her, and she let's you know it by wrinkling up her nose whenever you try to feed her some.
One of the things that can happen when your baby is so clear about her food likes and dislikes, is that you start to rely on feeding her a few foods rather a variety of them. "The thing to remember about introducing new foods is to be patient. It can actually take fifteen or more tries before your baby decides that she really does like peas," says Marilyn K. Tanner, MHS, RD, a pediatric dietitian at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "The other thing to realize is that while breast milk and formula do a great job right now of meeting your infant's nutritional requirements, if her diet lacks variety later on, she can get short-changed on certain nutrients."
While Tanner stresses the importance of a diet that consists of lots of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins and fat sources, she also agrees choosing foods that offer a lot of nutritional bang for the buck is another way to up the odds that your baby is eating a healthy diet. We've highlighted 6 foods below that stand out as super baby-friendly and super nutritious:
Why serve them? "They're fiber-packed, a good source of carbohydrates and healthy monounsaturated fats and they even have some protein!" says Tanner. They're also high in iron, vitamins A and C, as well as niacin, magnesium, and potassium. They also taste yummy and since avocados are already soft, there's no mashing or pureeing required. (Of course, if your baby is new to solids you may want to puree or mash. And be sure to avoid serving the inner and outer skin, which can both be tough to chew.)
For starters, bananas come in their own carrying case, so you can just grab and go. They're also easy for babies to chew and they're high in potassium, folic acid, biotin, and selenium.
Pop one in the microwave for about three minutes, slice open, and mash, and you've got a super tasty, well-rounded, fiber-rich food that also has vitamin A, some protein, iron, and potassium.
The bland taste may actually appeal to some babies. But since tofu absorbs the flavor of what you cook it with, there's no limit to how creative you can get when preparing it. Tofu is also an excellent source of protein and it contains carbohydrates, calcium and iron.
This dairy delight is equally rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fats! Babies love the smooth texture, plus yogurt is packed with calcium, potassium, and folic acid. If you choose plain yogurt (which has much less sugar than sweetened or fruit-filled varieties) you can add your own fruit (make sure it's mashed first) for an extra dose of vitamin C.
Toasted Oats cereal
"These can withstand just about any temperature changes, so they don't require refrigeration or a special container," says Tanner. "Just pack them in a plastic baggie and your baby has a fiber-rich food at his fingertips. And since the oats are fortified with vitamins and minerals your baby is getting a dose of folic acid and iron, as well."
The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.