You already know that some foods provide more health benefits than others. When feeding your children, the selections you make for them can affect their health and development. That is why so many parents are learning all they can about superfoods for babies.
A superfood is a nutrient-rich food known to be considerably beneficial to the body, brain and immune system. Some superfoods contain a high amount of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Other superfoods are high in protein and healthy fats. While everyone needs to eat a variety of healthy foods, superfoods pack the most nutritional "punch."
Feeding Superfoods to Your Baby
From a parenting standpoint, providing your child with a variety of superfoods makes a lot of sense. Your baby has a small tummy. That's why it is important to pack as many nutrients into their little meals as possible. Here are a few superfoods to consider adding to your baby's diet.
Brown Rice Cereal
Brown rice is ideal as one of the first solid superfoods for babies. Your baby can start eating brown rice cereal as soon as you start introducing solid foods, typically when the child is between 4 and 6 months old. White rice, promoted by pediatricians for years, is 94 percent starch, brown rice is 25 percent protein, minerals, and essential fats.
Oatmeal is a fiber-rich whole grain. Plus, a ¼ cup serving provides nearly 8 percent of your baby's iron needs (6 to 12 months). Oatmeal retains its health benefits during cooking. Breastfed babies benefit from the additional iron in their diets.
Kale has more calcium by weight than milk but is 25 percent more bioavailable. Kale is also high in vitamins A, C, K, and Iron. Steamed kale is easy to puree, although the FDA suggests that infants should not have kale or other dark leafy greens until they are seven months old.
Yogurt has live probiotic bacteria that aids in digestion and boosts the immune system. Greek-style yogurt has two or three times more protein than regular yogurt, plus Greek yogurt is lower in sugar.
Avocado contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and is an excellent source of soluble fiber, vitamin E, and potassium. For babies, avocado can be mashed or pureed. Toddlers may prefer avocado as a finger food while older siblings may prefer avocado as a dip for raw veggies.
Salmon is well-known as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Omega-3's are essential for the development of your baby's brain and their eyes. Salmon is also one of the healthiest fish choices available because it has a comparatively low mercury content. Your baby can eat mashed or pureed salmon as early as six months old.
Eggs are high in protein and contain all nine amino acids and iron. Children over six months benefit from the additional iron supply. Egg yolks also contain choline, which some experts believe can increase your child's memory. Eggs are inexpensive and easy to prepare. While the yolks are okay to serve to your baby, you may want to avoid giving your baby egg whites until they are 9 to 10 months old due to allergy concerns.
Black beans are easy to mash or puree for babies or to serve as finger foods for older babies. Black beans are an excellent protein source and high in magnesium, fiber, and folate. Black beans and other legumes may even help keep cholesterol low and may prevent some forms of cancer. Introducing black beans into your child's diet when they are young, makes them more likely to continue eating black beans as they get older.
Blueberries are high in vitamins A, E, and C, and also contain zinc, potassium, and selenium. High in carotenoids and flavonoids, blueberries are also high in healthy fiber. You can puree blueberries for young babies, and once they are eating finger foods, you can cut them in half (to reduce choking hazards).
Bananas, typically one of the baby's first fruits, are also high on the superfood list. Cut ripe bananas are also a fantastic finger food. Bananas are high in carbohydrates, vitamin B6, potassium and pack a significant amount of vitamin C. You can introduce them at 4 months, or as soon as your baby starts eating solids.
There are Many More Superfoods
It's not likely that any single superfood, on its own, will make a huge difference in your child's health. If your child just refuses to eat some foods, you will need to find a reasonable alternative. It is essential to offer your baby a varied and balanced diet to ensure they have what they need to grow and develop. There are plenty of other power-packed superfoods for babies, some of which you may already be aware.
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
- Whole grains
- Red meat
Your baby may seem to dislike some of the new foods when first introduced, but you should try a few times before giving up. If after a few tries, your baby still rejects your offering, you may want to try again when your baby is older. Your baby's preferences may change over time.
Some doctors still advocate starting an infant with vegetables before introducing fruits, so babies don't develop an initial preference for sweets. Other doctors maintain that the order will not affect the result. While the order in which you introduce foods may not matter, it is still advisable to wait four days between new foods. That way, if your baby shows signs of a food allergy or sensitivity, you can quickly pinpoint dietary changes that may be the cause.
Children learn by example. As they grow, they are still more influenced by what their parents do than what their parents say. The best you can do for your child is to set a great example. Teach them about the benefits of healthy food choices and foster a love of physical activity and exercise.
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