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.
At what age should babies begin to drink water between meals? My baby is breastfed and just turned 7 months old.
During the first year of life, the demand for nutrients is high and the space in the tummy for food is low, so breastmilk/formula should be the drink of choice. If it’s really hot and humid, certainly some water is fine to keep your baby hydrated, but it shouldn’t be a regular beverage until your baby is over a year, and then offer between meals.
My girls love avocado, sweet potatoes and blueberries!
Great article! We have tried a few of these with our baby girl and can’t wait to try the rest of them!
My 8 month old LOVES avocados! I mash it and mix it together with plain greek yogurt. I do the same with bananas. It’s easy to make and super yummy! 🙂
That sounds delicious!
I tried avocados with both of my girls when they were babies and they didn’t like them. I was so disappointed because of how healthy they are for you and made several attempts but they never liked them. This list makes me happy though because other than the avocados both girls ate and still eat everything else on it!
Avocados aren’t for everyone–so don’t feel bad! You could try using it as a spread on a sandwich or with a squeeze of lemon juice…
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Is the skin of a grape too hard to chew? That’s the only reason we haven’t tried grapes with my son yet. I almost let him have a raisin the other day, but it was tough, so I took it back!
A little, but not too bad… I think the fear with grapes is more the shape. Like hot dogs, most parents cut grapes in halves or quarters to make sure they aren’t a choking hazard. Cutting also cuts down on the skin that has to be pierced through & chewed in each bite!
When mine were little I was afraid of grapes being a choking hazard so I just made sure to cut them into fourths and my little ones had no problems eating them!
I like to cut grapes into 16ths–cut lengthwise twice, then across 4 times–it makes for a very small dice which shouldn’t be a problem for him–even if he swallows it whole!
Avocados were my babies’ first food!