What food is best for baby

Healthy nutrition for babies and toddlers: this is what you should pay attention to

One thing should be said in advance: there is no such thing as 100 percent good or bad food. As with much else, quantity is what counts. Healthy food for babies and toddlers contains nutrients, the need for which in the first months of life is completely covered by breastfeeding or bottle feeding.

Of course, a baby has to be fed differently than older children or even adults. On the one hand, because it has no or only a few teeth and cannot chew (properly). On the other hand, the entire gastrointestinal tract has to slowly get used to solid food. It doesn't happen overnight, but step by step over months.

Babies 1st year of life: 3 feeding phases

Baby's first year of life can be divided into three nutritional phases: drinking phase, transition phase and complementary feeding phase.

1. The drinking phase
The drinking phase begins at birth and should last at least four full months: During this time, the baby will only receive milk, either breast milk or, if you cannot or will not breastfeed, infant formula. (You can find a guide to intuitive breastfeeding here on Amazon, for example.)

2. The transition phase
The second phase of nutrition (usually between the fifth and seventh month) is known as the "transition phase" because during this time the baby learns to switch from pure milk food to solid food. (You can find out how to best introduce baby food, for example, in the book 'Baby food: The safe introduction to complementary food. Information, recommendations, the best recipes', which you can order right here on Amazon.)

3. The complementary feeding phase
In the complementary feeding phase, the baby is accustomed to vegetables, meat, fruit and cereals with various porridge preparations in slow increments. Over time, the baby can also be given more solid foods as snacks for in between meals. (You can find baby food recipes and tips and tricks for parents here on Amazon, for example)

Eating after the complementary feeding phase

At the end of the complementary feeding phase, around the first birthday, the porridges are only mashed, no longer pureed. Now your child will get a piece of bread pressed into their hand. During the complementary feeding phase, your baby will continue to receive milk meals (breastfeeding or bottle feeding), but these will decrease over time.

When it comes to the phase of family meals, you should then - as with yourself - pay attention to a completely normal healthy diet.

Don't panic: it all sounds a lot more complicated than it is. But do not stress yourself unnecessarily, and above all: do not make a science out of nutrition for your baby. If you just keep a few basic rules in mind and make sure that your baby is getting all the essential nutrients, nothing can go wrong.

What nutrients does my baby need?

Here are a few guidelines on the nutrients that make up a healthy diet for children. Start right from the start with a balanced diet. Because if children learn from an early age what healthy eating means, they will later complain less. Don't make a big stir if your baby or toddler refuses to eat. Just try again another time.

1. Fruits & vegetables:

Healthy food for babies and toddlers contains a lot of vegetables and a smaller proportion of fruit from the complementary feeding phase. Both provide important minerals and vitamins. The 5-a-day rule applies to both babies and toddlers: vegetables 3 times a day, fruit twice a day, regardless of whether they are raw or cooked.

The classic vegetables for the first porridge for babies are parsnips and carrots. But you can also start with any other vegetable. However, it makes sense to choose vegetables that do not have a strong taste. Just try out what your baby likes. But don't vary too often, as babies need some time to get used to new tastes.

Fruit: To start with, most babies particularly like mashed bananas or apple and pear puree. Of course, you can also try other types of fruit, as long as they are soft enough for your baby's palate or have been boiled and mashed.

And what about fruit juices?
Be careful with fruit juices: although they contain vitamins, they also contain a lot of sugar. This is especially a problem if the fruit juice is drunk through the bottle. The risk of tooth decay increases enormously - even if your baby does not yet have any teeth. In addition, the sweetness tempts you to suckle continuously, which intensifies the first effect. You can actually do without fruit juices entirely, water and tea are enough for a baby to drink. If you still want to give your baby juice, you should dilute the juice at least in the ratio of water: juice = 5: 1.

2. Grains for high quality carbohydrates

Grains are the most important food for babies and toddlers because they contain high quality carbohydrates - our main source of energy. In the first year of life, however, make sure to only use whole grain cereals in the form of cereal porridge. Whole grain bread and other whole grain products are not yet able to digest your baby properly.

Your child can first come into contact with cereals through the evening cereal porridge, which can contain semolina, millet, spelled or oats (what you ultimately use also depends on your child's taste). In the course of the complementary feeding phase, noodles, bread and rice are added.

By the way: if older children have a balanced diet, high-quality carbohydrates should make up around 40 percent of their daily diet.

Video recipe: Make baby porridge from oatmeal and applesauce yourself

Video by Jutta Eliks

3. Potatoes for even more good carbohydrates

Potatoes contain a lot of good carbohydrates and should be included in warm baby food as often as possible. The complementary food phase is usually started with the warm lunchtime porridge, which initially only contains vegetables and then also potatoes. If your sweetheart has a little practice eating, it is sufficient to just mash the potatoes.

Older children often like boiled potatoes, jacket potatoes, fried potatoes or French fries (watch out for the fat content).

And "inferior" carbohydrates?

"Inferior" carbohydrates are found in chocolate, cakes, fruit juices and fruit yoghurts, for example. If babies or toddlers eat too much of it, they run the risk of becoming overweight. However, there is nothing wrong with occasional sweets by the age of two.

4. Fish and meat: vitamins & minerals

Meat and fish should also be on baby's menu. Because they contain valuable nutrients.

Meat provides vitamins, minerals and especially iron. This is why it should occur in one or two meals a week in children who are not on a vegetarian diet.

In the complementary feeding phase, for example, you can add turkey breast to the lunch porridge. Over time, your baby can nibble on sausages, eat liver sausage on dinner or have noodles with minced meat sauce.

Many babies have the peculiarity of only "sucking out" meat and spitting out the rest, even if they actually have enough teeth. This is mostly due to the fact that it is simply very strenuous for the small jaw to chew the fibrous meat. You can help your child by chopping the meat very small, continuing to puree it, or alternatively offering minced meat.

It is important that the iron from the meat is optimally absorbed by the body. You can support this by combining meat with vitamin C. For older children this can be done with a glass of orange juice, for babies you can give fruit puree as dessert or add a dash of fruit juice to the porridge.

Fish provides omega-3 fatty acids and iodine. In the healthy diet for babies and toddlers, fish is on the menu at least once a week. But watch out for bones!

Can I feed my baby vegetarian?

It is possible to feed babies and toddlers a vegetarian diet. However, in this case it is particularly important to make sure that your child gets all the important nutrients in spite of not eating fish and meat. For example, there are numerous vegetarian foods that are high in iron.

But beware: Not all meat alternatives are suitable for babies! Soy, for example, should not be offered in the first year of life.

If you want to feed your child on a vegetarian diet, you should definitely seek advice from your pediatrician in order to avoid deficiency symptoms and other possible health problems. You can also get valuable tips and delicious recipe ideas in books that deal extensively with the topic of vegetarian cooking for babies and toddlers (for example here on Amazon).

Good to know: According to the German Nutrition Society e. V. (DGE), a varied vegetarian diet without meat and fish, but containing eggs and dairy products, can definitely be recommended as a permanent diet, even for children. However, the DGE advises against a vegan, purely plant-based diet (i.e. without any animal products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, etc.) for all children.

5. Milk and eggs

In the first months of life, healthy eating for your child means: milk! With the introduction of complementary foods, milk will then be replaced as the main food, but it is still an important component in your child's diet, as it covers the main need for calcium.

In the first year of life you can continue to breastfeed your child in addition to the other meals. Many children also like to drink a bottle of baby milk at night ("Pre" or "1" are completely sufficient).

Can I give my child cow's milk?

You can actually give your child cow's milk as early as the first year of life, for example a glass of milk for breakfast or dinner.

Important: Your child should not be at risk of allergies and gradually get used to cow's milk. The calcium requirement can also be met with dairy products such as cheese, milk porridge, yoghurt and quark (but better not until the age of two).

Chicken eggs for my child: yes or no?

Anyone who has an allergy-prone child should eliminate eggs from their baby's diet in the first year of life. For all other children, the following applies: whether cooked, stirred or processed in the meal - one to three eggs a week, for example in delicious pancakes, are part of healthy eating for toddlers.

Also read our article: Allergies in children: when eating becomes a danger.

6. Fat: Yes - but the right one!

Fat is essential in healthy eating for babies and toddlers. It is only important that it is the right fat. Rapeseed oil is usually recommended for classic baby food because it provides healthy fatty acids and has a mild taste. Avocados also contain "good" fat and can be mixed well with a porridge.

Can my child eat sweets, fast food, etc.?

A baby doesn't need fast food or sweets. This food contains few nutrients, but a lot of fat and sugar and thus only leads to obesity. Still: it's the amount that matters. If your child watches their older siblings snacking, it is difficult to say "no" categorically. Nevertheless, make sure that he does not eat too much and too often sweet and greasy foods. In addition, your child should only be given food that they can chew on and that they cannot choke on.

Great as complementary food: make baby food yourself

Video by Jutta Eliks

You can find more information on complementary foods and baby's nutrition on the following information portals:

Even more tips for baby's nutrition:

The best cookbooks for babies: How to cook baby food yourself

Complementary food plan: The optimal diet for the first year

Constipation in the baby: the best tips to get better soon

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