Whether you’re buying store-brand baby food or making your own, it’s never too early to start teaching your baby to enjoy healthy foods.
“Moms and dads need to make eating nutritious foods a regular part of life,” said Dian Griesel, PhD, a nutritionist, mom of two and co-author of TurboCharged. This includes lots of brightly colored fruits and vegetables in your baby’s diet and focusing on “superfoods” that are packed with nutrients and vitamins. Here are a few good choices to start:
- Avocados: This is the only fruit laced with monounsaturated “good” fats, an important component of a baby’s diet. It’s also a source of soluble fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar. Mash it up for babies or make your own homemade guacamole so toddlers can dip veggies into it.
- Bananas: “Bananas are a great source of potassium, protein, and too many vitamins to name,” Griesel said. “They also are high in water and fiber, and very filling.” Mash them up for babies. As your child gets older, Griesel recommended peeling a few bananas and freezing for an hour. Then put them in a blender with two tablespoons of heavy cream or half-and-half. “It’s so healthy and filling, you can even give it to your child as a meal.” A diced banana for the older infant is perfectly acceptable, too.
- Blueberries: These little blue wonders are packed with brain-boosting antioxidants, with research showing they can improve brain function and protect against heart disease. Serve them plain or mix them in with yogurt.
- Cage-free organic eggs: Make your little one scrambled eggs or a simple omelet or frittata with cheese, spinach or just about any vegetables you have on hand. Some pediatricians, however, advise not serving a child eggs until after the first birthday because of the potential for allergic reaction, so check with your doctor first.
- Grapes: If you’re serving a baby, place grapes in a teething feeder to reduce choking hazards. Older babies can handle them cut up into very small pieces and Griesel also recommended freezing and placing them in a mesh feeder, especially since it can be a soothing treat for teething babies.
- Sweet potatoes: Babies and kids love sweet potatoes for their sweetness, but parents and nutritionists love them for their healthy qualities. Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, vitamin C, fiber and an excellent source of beta-carotene—an antioxidant that helps prevent certain types of cancer.
- Water: You might not think of it as a “super food,” but it’s the most important one out there, according to Griesel. “Children today aren’t getting enough water, and it can cause an array of health problems. Instead of introducing your baby to juice, slice some oranges or pineapple and put it in a pitcher of water.” For babies water should be served between meals, while milk or a milk substitute should be served with meals.
- Fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese and fatty meats and fish will help growing toddlers remain strong and healthy.
- Babies can enjoy many different types of foods if you mash, freeze or place them in a teething feeder.
- Be creative with incorporating fruits and vegetables into your baby’s diet, like homemade banana ice cream and guacamole.
- Don’t forget to include water between meals.