This is it, the moment you’ve been waiting for, your little one is finally ready for solid foods! Now that you’ve got the green light from your paediatrician, it’s time to get busy in the kitchen and prepare some wholesome meals for your baby. More than anything else, your little one’s solid should be well-balanced and nutritious, so that they get all the essential nutrients they need to support their growth and development in the first few years. Let’s look at some of the key pointers on how to establish a healthy diet from your child’s first food.
Essential Nutrients Your Baby Needs
Your baby’s first few years is when most of the key developmental milestones happen, so make sure they get sufficient intake of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is essential in helping your little one develop healthy vision. Some great sources of Vitamin A include orange coloured fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots. Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are rich in Vitamin A too.
- Vitamin B1 and B6: Vitamin B1 and B6 helps your baby to support a good immune system. Vitamin B6 is also essential to support your baby’s healthy brain development. Foods that contain Vitamin B1 include cauliflower, oranges, eggs and kale. On the other hand, foods that contain Vitamin B6 include salmon, eggs, carrots, spinach, banana, chickpeas and avocado.
- Vitamin C: Your little one needs Vitamin C to support the growth of collagen as well as their skin, teeth, bones, joint tissues and blood vessels. Some Vitamin-C-rich foods include broccoli, strawberries, papaya, kiwi and mangoes.
- Vitamin D: To grow strong bones, teeth and immune system, your baby needs Vitamin D. You can include foods like salmon, tuna and fortified whole grain baby cereals in your baby’s diet to help them get sufficient intake of this vitamin.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to keep your baby’s nerve cells and red blood cells healthy. Some foods that are naturally high in Vitamin E include kiwi, carrot juice, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and avocado.
- Folate: Folate, or also known as Vitamin B9, is essential for your baby’s body to maintain healthy cells and support brain development. Foods that are naturally good sources of folate include lentils, iceberg lettuce, brussels sprouts, green peas and baked potato.
- Iron: Iron is a key nutrient for the human body to develop red blood cells and supply oxygen throughout the body. For babies, it is crucial for them to get sufficient oxygen throughout the body to support cognitive and behavioral development. Some great sources of iron are iron-fortified baby cereals, as well as dark leafy greens like spinach and kale.
- Fibre: Like adults, babies need fibre to support a healthy bowel system. Some of the best fibre-rich foods for babies are oatmeal, apples, pears, bananas, beetroot, sweet potatoes and broccoli.
- Calcium: Calcium is essential for children to build strong bones. Dairy foods like milk and yogurt and good sources of calcium, but be sure to consult your doctor before giving your baby diary as some babies can’t eat dairy foods. Meanwhile, some dairy-free calcium sources include edamame, broccoli, kale, chinese cabbage and chickpeas.
- Protein: Protein is important for children as it repairs cells and body tissues, as well as help to build antibodies to support a good immune system. Some of the protein-rich foods suitable for babies include beans and lentils, chicken, tofu and fish.
Portion Guide for Baby Aged 6 to 12 months Old
You already know how important it is for your little one to have nutritious foods, but how much should you feed them? Here’s a portion guide for infants from 6 months (181 days) to 12 months old, according to the Ministry of Health Singapore on the Health Hub SG website:
|Food Groups||Number of Servings per Day||Examples of 1 Serving|
|Brown Rice and Fibre||1 to 2||2 bowls of porridge (500g)1 large mashed potato (180g)|
|Fruits||1 to 2||Pureed fruits like apple, orange, pear, mango, papaya, or watermelon (130g)|
|Vegetables||1 to 2||Pureed leafy greens (100g)|
|Meat and Others||1 to 2||1 palm-sized piece of fish, lean meat or skinless poultry (90g)250ml cup of cooked lentils, peas or beans (120g)|
|Breast Milk / Follow On Infant Formula||750ml||N/A|
Credit: Health Hub SG
Why You Should Continue To Breastfeed
Introducing solids to your baby doesn’t mean you should stop breastfeeding. Instead, you should complement breastfeeding with solid foods, and it’s best to keep breastfeeding for a year or as long as you can manage. Why? Here are some of the benefits of continuing to breastfeed your baby after 6 months.
- Breastfeeding in the early stage of offering solids to your baby ensures that they receive sufficient nutrients while they explore the taste and texture of solids.
- Breast milk helps your baby digest solids better.
- As breast milk changes in flavour based on what you have been eating, it allows your baby to have a wide variety of taste and help make introduction of solids easier.
- During your baby’s teething phase, your baby might not be fond of solids due to their sore gums, breast milk can help soothe your baby during this stage.
- As breast milk is filled with antibodies to boost your baby’s immune system, it provides your baby with ongoing protection as they explore their surroundings with all their senses.
All in all, starting solids is an exciting experience for both you and your baby, so try to cherish this stage in their life and be patient as you explore the many types of food together. Last but not least, the key to establishing a healthy diet for your baby lies in having a wide variety of nutritious wholefoods and complementing it with breast milk. Have fun spending your mealtime together with your little one, daddies and mummies!
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