Baby rice has its place, but there are plenty of yummy, healthy foods that are great for your baby. Here’s our pick of 10 superfoods for babies. By Libby Peacock
Although baby rice has it’s place, there are plenty of superfoods for babies you can add to your little one’s plate. Packed with essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals – these superfoods for babies really are important for their optimal growth and development.
Superfoods for babies
Your parents were right about carrots, they really are one of the best superfoods for babies. They contain many minerals and vitamins that are great for overall health and development, including the antioxidant betacarotine, which gives carrots their orange colour and is converted into vitamin A (which promotes good vision and healthy skin) during digestion. Carrots also contain calcium and magnesium for bone health, iron, and vitamin C, which boosts your little one’s immune system and helps her fight infections. The fibre will also help combat constipation. A brilliant first food, steamed, mashed carrot is easily digested by your baby and it’s sweeter than those greens, which makes it more palatible as a first food.
Like their relative the blueberry, raspberries are a rich source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, and fibre, which is good for digestive health. Vitamin C is essential for your baby’s health and development – even protecting against the common cold. It also helps your tot’s body to absorb iron from food. Raspberries are also high in folic acid and zinc.
Avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit and are rich in the good, monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids that little ones need in their diets for good health. They also have a high calorie content, which makes them good for growing tots. Ripe, mashed avo is the perfect, easy, super-healthy baby food. You can serve this from six months.
4. Natural yoghurt
Sweetened yoghurt contains unhealthy sugar, but your baby will develop a taste for natural yoghurt if you feed it to her early on. Apart from being a rich source of protein, calcium, B vitamins and minerals, research studies suggest that natural yoghurt with live cultures (probiotics or ‘good bacteria’) is good for your little one’s tummy and colon health. Tots who cannot tolerate milk can often eat yoghurt without any discomfort – the culturing process has already broken down the lactose into glucose and galactose, which can be absorbed by lactose-intolerant people. The culturing of natural yoghurt also increases the absorption of calcium and B vitamins.
Salmon is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which babies need for brain, nerve and eye development. Food scientist Professor Susan Brewer, a researcher at the University of Illinois, says most children don’t get enough omega-3 after they switch from breast milk to solid food. Brewer has worked with Alaska’s Agricultural Research Service to develop baby food made from salmon to incorporate fish into children’s diets. Before your little one is ready for slightly textured food, bake and puree the fish, thin it with water (or breast milk) and serve.
Not usually thought of as a baby food, beetroot is high in calcium and Vitamin A – both important for your baby’s development. It also contains potassium, magnesium, iron, Vitamin B6, folic acid and plenty of fibre. Paediatricians generally recommend introducing beetroot between eight and 10 months (when your baby’s iron requirements are particularly high).
7. Red meat
Older babies are among those most affected by iron deficiency, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Red meat provides an excellent and easily absorbed source of iron (which is crucial for brain development, among other benefits) – and in pureed form (thinned with water or your baby’s usual milk) it is a wonderful baby superfood.
This delicious fruit is a rich source of vitamins, including immune system-boosting vitamin C as well as vitamin A, which promotes good eyesight. It is also a good source of calcium and magnesium. The high fibre content will prevent constipation. Papaya is also known for aiding digestion – just make sure it’s ripe before giving it to your baby. Serve it from six months.
You may not think of lentils as a regular baby food, but they are a wonderful source of protein, iron, folate, zinc and manganese, as well as fibre. Your best option for a puree is red lentils, which you don’t have to soak and become soft and smooth after cooking. Boil them until they are very soft, then puree them (or leave some texture for older babies).
Spinach contains an abundance of essential nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, folate, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, iron, selenium and manganese. This is a great addition to your tot’s diet from the time she is 10 months old.
Our experienced editors work with trained journalists and qualified experts to compile accurate, insightful and helpful information about pregnancy, birth, early childhood development and parenting. Our content is reviewed regularly by our panel of advisors, which include medical doctors and healthcare professionals. Meet the Living & Loving Team and our Online Experts.