The first months are a critical period for the baby’s relationship with food for their healthiness, growth and their future safety. Parents should be well educated to make healthy foods and convenient choices. At this period, children shape their relationship with food, therefore, it is critical to put a very ground basis without being intense or emotional. In this blog, you will find useful points and the introduction of complementary food and growth patterns.
Babies are supposed to begin complementary feeding at the age of six months and definitely not before Four months. At this age, babies need a highly nutritious food containing minerals and vitamins. Although quantity is tiny, quality is of high importance. However, it is important too that the baby continues to breastfeed on demand.
Read this article for further general and specifics explanations and advice.
General healthy food advises
- All foods may be preferably steamed or slowly cooked.
- Up to one spoonful extra virgin olive oil can be added to all main meals.
- Initially, all foods should be processed to be a thick soup that stands on the spoon. As time passes though children may feel the need to feed themselves, so baby-led weaning may be encouraged (look below for guidance).
- All new species of food should be introduced for 2-3 days in order to recognize any food allergies.
- By the end of year 1, babies should have tasted a very wide range of food species in order to become familiar with them.
- Avoid prepared meals, beverages other than water and milk, products with additives and those with over a handful of ingredients.
- Babies should be offered water frequently when complementary feeding starts. This can be done by educational cups, open cups, straw, and spoon.
- If a family history of nutrition-related problems exists (allergies, intolerances, celiac disease, etc.) please consult your doctor before you decide on your baby’s nutrition.
- You should keep in mind that the baby determines the amount of food they will eat. Do not force a baby or child into eating. The objective is to offer the infant a variety of foods referring to the Mediterranean diet model and by the end of the year to be able to eat themselves from the family table. This time is a chance for the rest of the family too to opt for better food choices.
- Do not give to babies before the age of 12 months: fresh milk, honey, sugar, pork, salts (no salt until 2 years old).
Specific healthy foods advise
Vegetables are important elements of proper nutrition as they contain several vitamins and minerals (eg Vit A, Vit C). Introduce carrot, potato, zucchini for 2 days each preferably smooth or mashed. Then mix 3-4 vegetables together select-ing from all species except spinach and beetroot which may be introduced in the 8th month. Examples of vegetables: carrot, zucchini, potato, sweet potato, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, peas, avocado, tomato, onion and any other seasonal or indigenous vegetable and herb (eg parsley, dill, oregano, etc.).
Introduce apple, banana, pear for 2 days each preferably smooth or mashed. Then mix 3-4 vegetables together selecting from all species except acidic fruits which may be added later. Banana may cause slight constipation.
Examples of fruits that can be initially used are apple, pear, banana, mango, avocado, melon, watermelon, etc. Then we can add orange, tangerine, strawberry, peach, and kiwi.
Meats mostly suitable for babies are lamb, goat, beef, poultry and later maybe a rabbit, liver, buffalo. Approximate amounts should be about 30 grams/ meal, 3-5 times per week. Meat should be mainly combined with vegetables and /or pasta, rice, and similar products. Red meat (lamb, goat, beef) is especially needed because of its iron content. Bioavailability of iron can increase even more by adding a few lemon drops when meat is served.
In 6-7 months of age, it is necessary to introduce foods containing gluten.
Initially, they may be added to meat (eg pasta, tracheas, bulgur, couscous, rice, quinoa) and later in the afternoon meal (oats, quinoa, tracheas). Avoid giving whole grains to infants.
Pulses can be introduced gradually, e.g. by putting some beans in the vegetable soup. Initially give beans, chickpeas and then lentils and fava beans once per week.
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Fish can be added to the diet of the infant after 7 months. Initially introduce fish with white meat (e.g. cod, haddock, flounder, sole) and then fish with omega-3 fatty acids such as sardines, salmon (only once per month), bream. The consumption of fish twice a week is valuable for the infant, but it should be carefully de-boned. Fish and especially shellfish and crustaceans are highly allergenic.
The egg is a rich source of protein, iron and other minerals and can be added after 7 months. Give hard-boiled yolk for three days and then add the egg white. It is highly allergenic.
8- Milk products
From 7 months of age full-fat plain yogurt is a good choice for an afternoon meal. Avoid baby yogurts- try to select plain yogurt preferably made by goat/sheep milk. Also, unsalted full-fat cheese can be added in the afternoon meal or as a snack. Kefir is also a good choice.