Babies and Food: Preparing Healthy Meals at Home for Infants
For children between the ages of four months and two years, food must be specially prepared. After all, infants and newborns aren’t quite ready to graduate to table food, and for parents who choose to breast feed, that process can only continue for so long. However, in a world where so many are switching to fast and convenient as the most important factors in a diet, it’s important to remember the impact of those formative years on a child’s nutrition well into their adult life.
The first years of a child’s life are crucial for getting the proper start, especially while so much growth is taking place. Babies are growing and maturing at a rapid rate, developing their coordination and learning about the world, and it is important that children receive the right kind of fuel to take on each new and exciting day. Therefore making the right choices in nutrition is a crucial component of parenting, just as important as ensuring that your child has a safe and healthy environment for playing and sleeping.
While purchasing baby food has been a long standing tradition in parenting, more and more parents are opting to make at least a portion of the food they serve their children at home. Making baby food is an excellent choice on a number of different levels. Many children have food allergies, and preparing food at home makes it easy to single out what potentially troublesome ingredients are. Furthermore, a great deal of store-bought baby food has additives, and preparing your own meals is a great deal healthier.
Making food at home for your young child is more than just healthy, it’s often economical, too. With more and more households pinching pennies and all of the other costs associated with a newborn enough to worry about as it is, taking a bit of time and saving a lot of money is certainly incentive enough to try the do-it-yourself approach.
One important fact to remember: The World Health Organization and The American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that, until six months of age, children be breast-fed. This is the optimal source of nutrition, and prevents later iron deficiency. Try to keep that in mind when making your food choices.
The best way to tell if a child is ready to start solid foods is by paying attention to what stage in development he or she is at. Are they able to sit up and fight the urge to push solid items out of their mouth with their tongue? Then it’s time to begin on solid foods.
An important thing to remember regarding babies and food is that their bodies have not yet been introduced to more complicated foods, so that digestion is another factor in choosing what to prepare first. Many parents start out with pureed apples, bananas, and pears, as they are easy to digest and provoke few allergic reactions. Popular vegetables for children include sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and carrots, for much of the same reasons.
When babies are starting to eat, an excellent first recipe is cooked and pureed carrots. A root vegetable packed with beta carotene and vitamin C, as well as calcium, carrots provide much of the nutrition that children need to grow. First peel the carrots, then steam them. After that, pureeing them should be a breeze.
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