What your baby eats today will determine his/her health tomorrow. In this guide, we will be discussing some of the most nourishing super foods for toddlers and babies. Note that breast milk is the best super food for baby until it is 1 year old and you can even continue breastfeeding longer, if possible. Once the child is allowed solid foods, talk to the doctor about the best super foods for baby. Stock up your pantry up with the following list of super foods and even print it out to keep with you when you go shopping. We have also discussed some recipe ideas and foods to avoid.
1. Best super foods by color
Naturally colored fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and can help fight cancer. Here are the best super foods for baby and toddlers in different natural colors:
- Green– Asparagus, avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, kale and peas, green apple.
- Red– beans, cherries, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, red grapefruit, raspberries
- Orange/yellow– Carrots, bananas, lemons, mangoes, pumpkin, squash, peaches, apricots, cantaloupes.
- Dark blue or purple– blueberries, blackberries, grapes, plums and prunes
- White– garlic, onions, leeks, etc. These contain organosulphides which act as natural antiseptic, antimicrobial and antibacterial agents to reduce childhood infections.
2. Iron rich foods
Iron rich super foods are the best foods for baby and toddlers in the age groups of 6 months and above. You must start small with these foods as they can sometimes upset baby’s sensitive digestive system. Avoid giving hard foods like nuts etc which could lead to allergies or risk of choking. Also, never feed raw honey or raw eggs to your baby. Here are the best iron rich super foods for toddlers. Remember: for the 6-8 months age group, always feed mashed, chopped, pureed, minced and finger foods:
- Fortified whole grain cereals
- Cooked or pureed meat
- Chickpeas and red kidney beans boiled and mashed
- Pureed vegetables and fruits
- Lentil soups
- Poultry, chicken, fish cooked soft
Here is an easy recipe of meat puree which is a fantastic super food for baby and toddler:
Meat puree recipe
- 50-60 grams of chicken, lamb or other lean meat
- In a saucepan, add the meat and little water.
- Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer.
- Turn off heat after 30 minutes. The meat will be tender now. Drain excess water, reserve it.
- Take the cooked meat and mash it in a processor. You can use the cooking liquid to puree it.
Likewise, you can puree fruits, tofu, semolina, millet, fish, etc. You can also use meat from the family’s recipe to grate and mash to fee the baby.
3. Calcium enriched foods
Like we said before, breast milk or infant formula is the best super food which will provide baby with all the nutrition s/he needs. Additionally, you can start feeding the baby soy, oat, rice, coconut or almond milk (which are usually fortified with calcium and Vitamin D) once the baby has turned 1 year old. Never feed cow, goat or sheep milk to baby below the age of 1 year.
4. Introducing dairy
Whole milk can be introduced once the baby turns 1 year old. You can give full cream, cheese and even ice cream to the baby. Now is the time to wean the baby off the bottle as this habit can give rise to tooth decay. Limit foods high in sugar such as toddler formulas and juices.
5. Sample meals for baby 1 year and older:
- Breakfast: Porridge, eggs, milk, dried fruit, cereal, yogurt, cheese, strawberries.
- Lunch-Baked beans on whole wheat toast, 1 grain/legume
- Snack- fruit bread, stewed fruits, rice pudding, cereal, yogurt, cheese.
- Dinner-fish or tofu, poultry, lean meat with vegetable, grains and yogurt
6. Discretionary foods to avoid completely
These are foods high in fat, trans fats, sugar and refined flours. Until the age of 6, you must limit these foods and beyond this age, you must stop giving these foods completely to your child. These are ‘empty’ foods that do not provide any nutrition to the body.
7. Food ideas for fussy kids
Here are some foods to feed fussy kids:
- If the child won’t eat veggies, try to grate them on sandwiches, in soups etc.
- Make savory pancakes and add veggies in them
- Serve vegetables with a tasty dip like hummus
- Sneak in vegetables on whole wheat pizzas.
- Add spinach and mushroom to omelets
- Make fruit and vegetable kebobs
- Present food in an interesting manner shaped like smiley faces or characters they love.
- Offer a variety of fruits.
- Offer meat at lunchtime as most kids are too tired to chew at dinner.
- Serve iron fortified snacks like cereals and dried fruits
- Make meals interesting in the form of risotto, meat loaf spaghetti Bolognese etc
- Make a delicious casserole
- Serve alternatives to meat if the child won’t eat red meat like lentils, tofu, eggs etc.
- Serve cheese with whole-meal crackers
The best super foods for toddlers and babies are the ones that contain all major foods groups like healthy complex carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. So make sure that you feed such foods to your baby once your doctor has allowed her/him to eat solid foods.