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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Best Super Foods for Baby

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This list is from Parents.com.  Here's their little disclaimer:

In general, the power foods in our guide are appropriate for babies 6 months and older, when prepared according to your baby's eating skills. But talk with your pediatrician before serving eggs, fish, citrus, and yogurt if your baby is less than a year old because these foods can cause an allergic reaction. Certain foods, such as meat, fruit, and vegetable purees, may be gradually introduced earlier than 6 months if your baby is ready for them. Just remember that solid foods of any kind should not be introduced before 4 months of age.

 1. Bananas
Bananas are full of carbohydrates, which provide sustained energy, as well as fiber to support a healthy digestive tract. They're a perfectly portable baby food, as they come in their own easy-to-peel packaging. When serving bananas to young babies, make sure they are ripe and thoroughly mashed. Older babies can eat chopped bananas as finger food, but they should also be ripe so they're easy for young eaters to mash and chew.
Baby A has a "na-na" almost every single day. She LOVES them! She can now eat them in cut up chunks, but when she was younger, they were easy to mash with a fork.

 2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber and an excellent source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps prevent certain types of cancer and mops up free radicals. Most babies prefer sweet potatoes over other vegetables because of their naturally sweet taste. When cooked and mashed, sweet potatoes make a smooth puree that's easy to eat, even for babies who are just starting the to transition to solid foods.
 Who doesn't like sweet potatoes? I did not eat these regularly as a kid, I have no idea why~they're awesome!  Baby A loves these any way she can get them. Last night, I brushed melted butter & cinnamon on sliced sweet potatoes and then grilled them. DELISH!


3. Avocados
Avocados are sometimes thought of as a vegetable, but they are actually a fruit! They also contain more nutrients than any of their food-group kin. Avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit and are rich in monounsaturated fat -- the "good" type of fat that helps prevent heart disease. Make sure you only serve Baby ripe avocados. Wash the outside, then remove the peel and mash well. Since they're high in fat, avocados can quickly make your baby feel full, so just serve a little on the side with other foods, such as meat or chicken purees.
This was actually Baby A's first food! We skipped cereal and went right to the good stuff.  

4. Eggs
Eggs are packed with goodness. Egg whites are mainly protein and the yolks provide zinc and vitamins A, D, E, and B12. The yolk also has choline, which research is showing is crucial for brain health and development. Traditionally, pediatricians have advised parents to not serve eggs -- especially egg whites -- until after the first year because of the potential for allergic reactions. But that advice is now changing, and some experts believe that eggs should be delayed only in families that have a history of allergies. Since eggs are an excellent source of protein and other nutrients, talk to your pediatrician once your baby starts eating solid foods to see when it's OK to introduce them.
 We were not told to delay giving eggs, so Baby A has enjoyed these in many ways~ scrambled, baby-sized omelets, hard-boiled, and today she even had a bit of my eggsalad! I use dijon mustard and a tiny bit of mayo, so it's a healthier version of the full-of-mayo recipe.

5. Carrots
Carrots have large amounts of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gives them their orange color. Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A in the body and plays a role in growth and healthy vision. Cooking carrots brings out their natural sweetness, which makes them appealing to babies, who are born with a preference for sweet flavors. When making carrots for your little one, make sure they are cooked until very soft. Then puree them or, if your baby is eating finger foods with more texture, you can give her well-cooked diced carrots.
I really do not love cooked carrots, so I don't make these all the time, though we do have them often in soup. Because I do not prefer them, I make an extra effort to offer them to Baby A who seems to have no issue with them.

 6.Yogurt
Yogurt gives your baby calcium, protein, and phosphorus, which are important for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Yogurt also has probiotics, a type of good bacteria that helps aid digestion and supports the immune system. Babies need fat in their diets, so choose whole-milk yogurt over low-fat or fat-free varieties. Also avoid flavored yogurts, which are high in sugar. If you want to add flavor, you can stir in a little fruit puree. Babies less than a year old may have a reaction to the milk proteins in yogurt, so talk to your pediatrician before serving it to younger babies.
 Yum! We D's love our yogurt.  When we went on our cruise, we were only offered plain or the kind that's flavored with fake sugar, so I tried the plain variety (she had previously only had yo baby)~ she loved it. Now that's the only kind we buy, and we buy the larger tub as it's much cheaper and cost-efficient than the smaller portioned cups.

7. Baby cereal
Iron-fortified infant cereals give your baby the iron she needs for proper growth and development. Babies are born with a supply of iron, but it starts to run out around 5-6 months. Breastmilk does not contain adequate amounts of iron, making iron-rich foods important. If your baby is just starting to eat solids, experts recommend iron-fortified rice cereal as the first food for babies since it's less likely than other grains to cause an allergic reaction. As your baby grows older, you can mix infant cereal with fruit. It's a good thickener for runny purees like pear, peach, and plum.
 I introduced this eventually into Baby A's diet, but was not a huge fan of it. It tasted so gross!!! She ate whole grain oatmeal and didn't seem to mind it.  Now she shares oatmeal with me when I make it (Trader Joe's rolled oats~ check for nut content).

8.Cheese
Cheese is a good source of protein -- an essential nutrient for growth -- and calcium for building strong bones and teeth. Cheese also contains a healthy dose of riboflavin (vitamin B2), which helps convert protein, fat, and carbohydrates into energy. Swiss cheese in particular has a slightly sweet taste that appeals to babies. Since cheese can be a choking hazard, cut it into small diced pieces. It's best for older babies who are eating finger foods and are used to different textures.
   This kid loves her cheese. She would probably eat it all day if we let her.  We tend to buy mozzarella sticks for easy-on-the-go snacks and we rip them into small pieces. She loves all kinda of cheese- provolone, swiss, feta...

9.Chicken
Chicken is packed with protein and is a source of vitamin B6, which is used to help the body extract energy from food. It's important that babies start regularly eating foods containing adequate amounts of protein to support their rapid growth. If your baby doesn't like the taste of chicken on its own, mix it with his favorite fruit or vegetable.
I have a confession to make~ I watched Food Inc. two weeks ago and haven't been able to stomach meat since! I have made it once or twice for Baby A and the hubs though. Not sure how long my meat strike will last, but I do make an effort to not force vegetarianism on anybody in my family:)

10.Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits, including oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are a good source of vitamin C, which helps make the collagen that's found in muscles, bones, and other body tissues. Vitamin C also heals cuts and assists with the absorption of iron from other foods. Citrus fruits also have potassium, a mineral that helps muscles contract and plays a role in maintaining a healthy fluid balance in the body. Often too acidic for young babies, hold off on serving citrus fruits until after Baby's first birthday.
 Baby A had her first taste of citrus quite by accident when a family member fed her some clemantine without asking (it was very small). She reacted well and on occasion has been known to suck on lemons (is she my kid or what?).

11. Red Meat
Red meat provides an easily absorbed form of iron for your baby. Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen to cells throughout the body and is important for brain development. Unfortunately, iron deficiency -- which over time can cause learning and behavior problems -- is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in children. That's why it's important to make sure your baby gets iron, from red meat and other sources, in his diet. For younger babies, serve meat purees, such as the Beef and Carrot Puree recipe, pictured here. Older babies who are able to chew can have well-cooked, finely diced meats.
 Yeah, not good at this one at all. I don't like red meat very much at all, plus I am on a meat strike (see above), so we don't have it often at all. My husband LOVES red meat, so I try to make it for him when I remember, so I will have to remember to include her in those plans:)

12. Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is appealing to babies because they love its sweet taste. It's a good source of the antioxidant beta-carotene and also has vitamin C, potassium, fiber, folate, B-vitamins, and even some omega-3 fatty acids. It's easy to make at home if you buy the prepeeled, precut squash sold in the produce section. Just steam or boil until tender, then puree until smooth. Make a big batch because it makes a healthy and delicious side dish for the whole family.
 Yup, yummy! We had a lot of this in the fall/early winter.

13. Fish
White fish, such as haddock and cod, is an excellent source of protein, which babies need for growth and development. Fatty fish, such as salmon, provides fat-soluble vitamins as well as essential fats, such as DHA, that support brain and eye development and a healthy immune system. Fish can cause an allergic reaction, so talk to your pediatrician before introducing it to your baby. Once you have the OK, the American Heart Association recommends that parents serve up to two meals a week of low-mercury fish to children because of its many health benefits.
 We are just starting to get into this...so far, so good! I am a seafood nut, so I can't wait until Baby A can experience all the delicious meals we make with fish!

14. Tomatoes
Tomatoes are high in lycopene, the red pigment in tomatoes that acts as an antioxidant to help prevent cancer and heart disease. Lycopene can be absorbed more efficiently by the body if the tomatoes have been cooked with a fat. So make a tomato sauce for pasta by cooking tomatoes with a little olive oil. Puree until smooth for beginner eaters. Homemade sauce is much lower in sugar and salt than purchased sauce, so it's great for the whole family. Don't have fresh tomatoes? Canned tomatoes will work as well.
Baby A loves 'matoes. We dice 'em, she eats them, we cook them, she eats them. Once of her favorite snacks is mozzarella cheese and diced tomatoes!  Due to the BPA seeping into food, try to buy 
 tomatoes in glass jars instead of cans.

15. Peas
Peas are bursting with vitamin K, a nutrient that works alongside calcium to help build healthy bones. Peas are also a source of the antioxidant vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid and B vitamins. And adding peas to your baby's plate will boost the fiber in her diet, which is important because research shows that almost all babies, as well as older children, do not get enough fiber. Pureed baby food peas are easy to make. Try this recipe for Green Pea Delight Baby Food.
 I once read you should try to incorporate one green veggie into every meal so that if you ever serve a meal without something green, your child will feel that something is missing.  Interesting take, huh? Peas are my go-to green veggie for a few reasons- they are delicious, Baby A can eat them easily by herself, and also because they are just so good for you!

16. Broccoli
Broccoli is a true super food, as it is a great source of vitamin C and also contains beta-carotene, folic acid, iron, potassium, and fiber. Boiling broccoli in water cuts its vitamin C content in half, so it's best to steam or microwave it. If your baby isn't keen on the taste of broccoli, mix it with a sweet-tasting vegetable, such as sweet potato or butternut squash.
 According to Dr. Oz, you should have broccoli every single day. We don't, but we do make an effort to eat it.  Baby A still has trouble with it, even if it's really soft. She tends to cough then spit it out, so we have to chop it really really small, and I usually only give her the "trees" (top).

  17. Pasta
Pasta is full of carbohydrates, which are broken down to supply the body with energy. And its mild flavor and variety of fun shapes makes it appealing to kids of all ages. Most pasta is enriched with vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid, iron, and B-vitamins. Multigrain and whole wheat pastas also provide fiber, but their texture may be too firm for younger babies. Pasta in small shapes that's cooked until very tender makes a great finger food for older babies and toddlers.
 Oh pasta, how I love thee! We have pasta every few nights- whether it's the main dish, a side, or in soup. We eat it hot, cold, even Mexican-style! I try to always buy whole wheat over enriched. Baby A loves it and always feeds herself.


That's it! Have any others to add? Leave a comment! Which does your baby love?



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