Best for babies: Top 10 foods for healthy babies
MANILA, Philippines – Parents want only the best for their babies and the best way to ensure a healthy child is through good nutrition.
However, feeding babies can be very tricky as they have very sensitive digestive systems. With only a small tummy to feed, it's very important for babies to eat only the most nutritious food.
It's best for the right type of food to be provided to babies as it can promote not only good health, but also develop good eating habits in the future.
The effects on children not properly nourished within the first 1,000 days of life from pregnancy to 2 years of age are irreversible. Malnutrition occuring at an early age may also hinder children from achieving their full potential.
Experts have also emphasized the benefits of exclusively breastfeeding babies from birth until they are 6 months old. (READ: The real cost of infant milk formula)
Breastmilk, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), is the ideal nourishment as it contains the necessary nutrients a body can readily absorb which can fight life-threatening diseases such cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and asthma, among others.
When they reach 7 months, babies can now consume other food that can help them gain more nutrients. These can help them fully develop into healthy children and eventually, as adults in the future.
But what should you feed a baby?
According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the top 10 best food for babies are:
Breastmilk is considered by the FNRI and other health organizations as the “most natural and perfect first food” for a baby. It contains the correct proportions of necessary nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals to meet the baby’s needs for the first 6 months of life.
Colloquially referred to as lugaw, this can be the first semi-solid food babies can consume. When they hit the 8th month, they can be fed thicker lugaw or even soft-cooked rice. At 10 months, they can be fed the same type of rice as the family’s. Cereals can be made more nutritious and delicious at the same time by adding breastmilk.
Rootcrops such as kamote and potato are rich with energy and fiber. These can be mashed and enriched with milk for babies.
Fruits provide a wide variety of nutrients for a baby’s good health. Mango and papaya are prime sources of vitamin C which can help keep gums healthy, prevent bruising, and keep infections away from the body. Mango, papaya, banana (especially ripe latundan at first) provide a variety of nutrients for good health.
Vegetables are rich in various nutrients that can contribute to better bodily functions of a baby. Yellow vegetables like carrots and squash contain beta-carotene that can develop a baby's healthy skin, clear eyesight, good growth, glossy hair, and better immune system. Meanwhile, green leafy vegetables like kamote tops, kangkong, pechay, and malunggay are best sources of b-carotene. They contain minerals such as iron for healthy blood and calcium for strong bone and teeth.
One-half cooked eggyolk can be given to your baby at 7 months old. However, due to allergy-producing qualities of eggwhites, one should wait until the baby is 11 months old. Eggs are filled with protein that can build and repair muscles and vitamin D which helps the body absorb calcium.
These are cheaper sources of protein, B-complex vitamins, and iron. Mashed beans can be served to babies aged 19 to 11 months and can be enriched with milk.
These provide protein for growth and repair of body tissues, iron for healthy blood, and other vitamins and minerals such as zinc for a better immune system. When a child is 6 months old, it is best to introduce foods with a "chewier" texture like minced or finely chopped meat, fish, and poultry.
9. Water and beverages
A baby usually begins learning to drink from a cup around 6 to 7 months old. Aside from water, juices are acceptable but take note that these should be placed in a cup as drinking juices through feeding bottles may result in early childhood tooth decay. However, fruit juice should be part of a meal or snack and not consumed throughout the day. Too much drinking can lead to diarrhea as babies do not easily digest juice.
10. Gelatin and biscuits
Simple food such as custards, puddings, and plain gulaman can be served to babies for extra fiber. Biscuits are best given to babies when they start teething.
When feeding babies, it is important to be really careful because of their sensitive digestive system.
Introduce food one at a time and in small amounts for them to get used to. It usually takes about 3 days to see if there is any allergic reaction.
Be sure that you only give food that is age-appropriate. Do not add salt to babies' food until the age of one as their kidneys cannot handle it.
Most importantly, ensure the cleanliness of the food you’re serving babies. Pay attention to good hygiene when preparing meals.
Keep these tips in mind, combined with regular trips to a pediatrician, and your bundle of joy will remain happy and healthy for years to come. – Rappler.com
Baby eating image via ShutterStock
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