There are many single-ingredient foods that are nutritious for babies, but sometimes it’s challenging to put them together into meals that feel complete, especially if you’re trying to make a meal the whole family can enjoy! By starting with the Eleven Foundation Foods from our book, What to Feed Your Baby, you will provide the best foundation and form young palates for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
Children need to eat all of the food groups. Yes, even bread, as whole grains provide lasting energy for growth and development. It’s best not to restrict any food group unless medically necessary in your infant or young child. That doesn’t mean you can’t raise a healthy vegetarian or vegan child, but make sure you consult with your pediatrician or a pediatric dietician to ensure your little one is getting the calories and nutrition needed to grow and develop properly. Vegetarian or not, all babies need fruits and veggies, which are one-ingredient power-packed foods. This is not only for the important nutrients they provide, but also to get your baby used to eating fruit and veggies from a young age. Healthy protein, such as from organic dairy, chicken, beans and lentils, are important for little bodies too. Here is how to create simple, healthy meals out of these Eleven Foundation Foods.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Also, adjust all textures and sizes of the foods below to your baby’s ability. These menus are designed for a baby at least 7 or 8 months old, who can sit unsupported and has moved beyond very thin purees.
Peanut butter oatmeal + organic blueberries
Melt one teaspoon of peanut butter into oatmeal prepared according to package directions. You may need to add more water/breast milk/formula to make sure the oatmeal is thin enough. Mash the blueberries for younger babies.
Whole-grain bread pieces + organic scrambled egg (yolk and white)+ diced/mashed ripe watermelon
Small scrambled egg pieces are a fabulous first finger food and healthy for all ages. You can make scrambled eggs at night and easily warm up the next morning.
Mashed organic beans + shredded cheese + small pieces soft tortilla + mashed avocado
This lunch is great for all ages (even parents!), just wrap it up into a burrito and add salsa, sour cream and more. It would also be yummy for baby to use organic vegetarian refried beans and melt the cheese into the beans.
Organic chicken + cooked sweet potato pieces + small pieces of soft plum or peach + green peas
Chicken can be diced into very small pieces and even mixed with cooked sweet potatoes. Mash the peas for younger babies, or use whole peas for a perfect finger food for older babies.
Cooked lentils or lentil soup/stew + organic brown rice or quinoa + shredded apple pieces
I love lentil soup for kids and adults! We have an easy and tasty recipe in What to Feed Your Baby— it’s filled with soft vegetables like carrots, onion and celery. Just give the baby soup with less broth (make sure not too hot) so it’s easier to spoon feed or self feed. Another option is to mix organic brown rice or quinoa into the soup, or serve it on the side.
Turkey meatballs cut in small pieces + whole-grain pasta with simple sauce + broccoli
This dinner can easily be adapted for the entire family. Dice or smash the meatballs into super small pieces for a young infant. Cut the pasta into very small pieces and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and even marinara sauce if you like. Shred the cooked broccoli into small pieces with your hands.
These six simple meals should help make mealtime easy, enjoyable and nutritious, not only for your baby, but for the whole family. As a parent, you are your child’s best role model when it comes to healthy eating, so let them see you enjoying simple, tasty, nutritious meals too!
And if you are interested in more nutritional guidance for your special little one, check out Dr. Altmann’s book What to Feed Your Baby: A Pediatrician’s Guide to the 11 Essential Foods to Guarantee Veggie-Loving, No-Fuss, Healthy-Eating Kids. This book is packed with easy and nutritious meals for you to prepare to ensure they are getting the best.
First published on Mamavation.com, June 13, 2016