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Babies' First Foods

Registered Nutritionist and mum, Fiona Windle explores the benefits of nutritious foods for baby right from the start, and there might be some you don't expect.

The milestone of introducing complementary solid foods to a baby's diet, alongside breast (or formula) milk, is one of great anticipation.

Around 6 months of age, the cues of baby's readiness to welcome something thicker in their diet becomes more obvious.

At this age, their development is generally on par to start chewing and swallowing semi-solid foods and their digestive system is at the ready, with all the enzymes needed to turn food into much-needed nutrients. This milestone is also when their iron levels (built while in the womb) start to taper off, so iron-rich foods are essential. In fact, by 7 months babies need more iron than their dad. There's a lot of growing and developing to do, and iron plays a major role.

So what are the best first foods for your baby to explore to get the most out of mealtime and make sure every bite counts?

Importantly, when complementary solid foods are introduced, they should be offered gradually, one food at a time starting with about 1/2 to 2 teaspoons after a milk feed.

Silky smooth purée is the aim of the game at this early stage. Cooked veges, and fruit with skin and pips removed (cooked if needed), are important, offering a range of flavours for your baby to get used to while delivering vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fibre.

For their protein, fat, minerals, and B vitamin needs, particularly vitamin B12, meat plays a key role in contributing to their nutrient intake. With a lot in a little, introducing meat, particularly red meat and especially organ meat, can be a game-changer when it comes to the all-important iron factor - remember they need fuelling up on iron at this age.

A couple of organ meat options to consider are lamb's liver, commonly called lamb's fry or kidney. They are both highly nutritious and economical, in other words - good bang for financial buck and sustenance. These may not be common foods in your household, but given this is a time where your little one's diet is starting from scratch, you may like to explore outside your usual diet and experiment with your own taste buds too. And who knows, you might get some better nutrition in your own meal times along the way too.

Ultimately the babyhood feeding journey in the first year should reach a point where they are eating the same family foods with you, in the same textures as you are.

Recipe Ideas

So let's take a closer look at how we may introduce organ meat.

Here's one of our recipes called Lamb's Liver and Vegetables that simply takes pan-fried lamb's fry and combines with simmered veges for an iron-boosting purée.

Before you head off to experiment with liver for your baby and family, here's some tips and tricks to consider:

When first introducing liver to your baby, keep a piece in the freezer and simply grate off the amount required each time. Add the frozen shavings to simmering, almost cooked vegetables in the final 5 minutes of cooking. Mash or purée the vegetable/liver mix.

You can store leftover serves in ice-cube trays in the freezer. Heat each serve as required.

While liver is an excellent source of iron, it is also high in vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for health but too much can be harmful to babies. Limit cooked liver to 15 grams per week.

When first introducing liver to your baby, keep an uncooked piece in the freezer and simply grate a small amount of frozen liver into simmering, almost cooked vegetables in the final 5 minutes of cooking before purēeing.

This Iron-Rich Casserole takes a slow cook beef cut with kidney, combined with veges and some herbs to produce a flavourful, nourishing meal for the whole family to enjoy. Let us know if you give them a go, and share your family's reaction.

More Info

If you are considering feeding your baby a vegetarian or vegan diet, I strongly suggest seeking the advice of a nutrition expert, a Registered Nutritionist, or Dietitian.

Posted by Fiona Windle

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