Nutrition for Babies (Part 1)
5 First foods to try (for babies 5 months and up)
- Egg yolk
How much: your baby will be able to eat the entire yolk cooked.
How to cook: I advise hard boiling the egg, then let it cool. Remove the white and use the yolk in a bowl, mash it with a fork and either a little bit of expressed breast milk, or a teaspoon of boiled water. It is best if the consistency is watery.
Allergies: if there is any history of egg allergy in the family avoid this as first food. If not then there is no reason why egg can’t be a first food for your bub.
Nutritional information: egg yolk is high in fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and is great for your babies brain development. It has a similar nutrient profile to breast milk and is a typically easy to absorb in their digestive systems.
How much: about 2-3 teaspoons for a 5 month old is plenty. If they are interested in more, then give them more.
How to serve: scoop out 2-3 teaspoons into a bowl and mash well, add a little breast milk or 1 teaspoon boiled water if they prefer it runny.
Allergies: Avocado is a very low allergenic food and is typically a great first food.
Nutritional information: avocados are a high in monounsaturated fats which are great for hormones, brain function, and digestion. They also contain high levels of Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6.
- Pureed organic meat (beef is generally well liked)
How much: about 30-40gm for a 5 month old (2 tablespoons) cooked of mince and pureed. If you want to cook more, cook more and freeze remainder into ice cube trays for future use.
How to cook: place 30-40gm of organic beef mince into a fry pan and cook until it turns brown. Place into a blender and add 1 tablespoon boiled water and puree until it is slightly blended. Small bits of mince are okay and wont cause choking.
Allergies: no known allergies to organic beef.
Nutritional information: organic beef is a great source of protein, omega 3, good fats, iron, and B vitamins (especially B 12). Meat is a natural food for our bodies to breakdown and digest. Even more so than rice and wheat based foods.
How much: 4-5 teaspoons for a 5 month old.
How to serve: mash with a fork and serve on a spoon
Allergies: a very low allergenic food
Nutritional information: Very high in Vitamin C, low in sugar, and high in Vitamin A (vitamin A is very important for immune development, and mucous membranes eg. Nose, eyes, throat, vagina etc). This is a great food if your baby is getting thrush (oral, vaginal, or anal).
- Sweet potato
How much: 3-4 teaspoons of boiled and mashed sweet potato
How to Cook: Peel and chop up the end of a sweet potato, and place into a small saucepan of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes, strain (but keep the water to moisten the mashed sweet potato) and cool. Mash the sweet potato with a fork and add in a couple of teaspoons of the reserved water to make the consistency more watery. Serve on a spoon. Place any remainder into an ice cube tray and freeze for future use.
Allergies: Sweet potato is a low allergenic food, but does contain starches, which can cause a bit of fermentation. This might give your baby some wind. Monitor and note down any changes to your baby’s digestion
Nutritional information: Sweet potato is an energy food! It’s a healthy carbohydrate for your baby. It contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Magnesium, & Iron.
What if I don’t have time to cook/prepare food?
This is a common question I get asked in my clinic, and it is something that I really encourage parents to reassess. I understand cooking is time consuming, and it is so much easier to get a pre-made packet/jar of baby food. But these foods are often:
- More expensive, especially if your baby doesn’t like it and it gets thrown away
- Have lower nutrient values, due to the number of processes the food goes through before it is eaten
- Create more waste for the environment
- Marketed and advertised to play on your vulnerabilities as a new parent that these are the best food for your baby, when really they are not
- May have higher sugar content (anything above 8% is too high)
- Might contain preservatives and emulsifiers which your baby’s digestive system cannot differentiate as non food particles, and can contribute to allergies (digestive or skin)
Where do I find resources and recipes?
*Annabel Karmel has great recipes, advice, and also has cookbooks for you to work your way through. Annabelkarmel.com/au/baby/
* Foodbabieslove.com.au from a Melbourne based mum with healthy recipes.
* Wellnourished.com.au/babies-first-foods/ from an Aussie mum, naturopath and nutritionist, also with advice from a registered nurse there are plenty of nutrient dense whole food recipes for you to try at home.
Which foods should I be avoiding?
- Salt, foods can contain high levels of sodium, so no need to add salt to a baby’s food
- Sugar, not just added sugar, but even foods high in sugar (eg. Too much fruit and honey)
- Raw/uncooked meat, fish, eggs
- Low fat foods, like yoghurt, milk, cheese)
What about introducing common food allergens?
We now know that delaying the introduction of common allergens such as eggs, nut butters and fish, isn’t necessary and that it is safe to introduce them as early as six months, even for babies at a high risk of developing a food allergy. In fact, early exposure to common allergens may even prevent allergies from developing!
Piece of mind
It is important to know that introducing new foods can be a challenge. Some babies are ready from as early on as 4 months old, and some may not get the hang of it until they are much older. Talk to your friends, your parents, and experiment with different combinations. Your child is unique and will have his or her own likes and dislikes. It doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it right.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and enjoy the process!