While milk and main meals are essential for baby’s physical and mental development, healthy baby snacks allow your little one to explore new tastes and textures and build fine motor skills.
Did you know that your weaning baby does not need teeth to chew? Before their first molars appear, usually from 12 to 18 months, babies use their gums to mash food. At this stage, you can try offering baby snacks that they can grab and mouth. It’s a great exercise to develop motor skills like hand-eye coordination and the pincer grip, while preparing Baby for a lifetime of healthy eating!
How to Start
Unless otherwise advised by your paediatrician, you may start giving your baby finger foods when he is ready. How do you know when? Well, if he can crawl with tummy off the floor, tries to feed himself by hand (or stuff toys into his mouth), and is able to mash food (or your fingers!) with his jaws, he’s probably ready. Foods can be just about anything you’d like your little one to try, as long as they’re age-appropriate. Do note, however, that Baby’s intestinal tract is still immature at this stage so no matter how keen you are to raise a little gourmand, hold off on sashimi and foie gras.
What to avoid: Raw honey, unpasteurised cheeses, and shellfish. Choking hazards such as whole seeds, nuts or grapes. Too much salt and sugar.
What to take note of: Meats, fish and eggs should be fully cooked.
Taste tip: Try sprinkling spices like cinammon for added flavour!
Note: When in doubt, check with your paediatrician first, and never leave Baby alone during snack time.
Baby-Friendly Snacking Ideas
Fruits are the easiest place to start. Try these:
• Bananas: Contain loads of nutrients and will appeal to your baby’s sweet – if imaginary – tooth. Peel and cut it into chunks she can easily hold and gnaw on.
• Mangoes: Rich in vitamin A and dietary fibre. Slice up a ripe mango with skin still intact so that baby has something to grip. Alternatively, you can lightly coat the chunks with a powder of finely ground rolled oats or wheat germ.
• Blueberries: Do not serve them whole as they can cause Baby to choke. Halve or crush them first, or use them to add flavour to mini pancakes or muffins for baby.
The easiest way to get your child to eat his veggies is to start him young! Try these:
• Broccoli florets and baby sweetcorn: Full of vitamins and minerals, these are perfectly textured for baby to pick up. Just steam, cool and serve!
• Carrots and pumpkin: Rich in beta carotene for healthy eyes, skin and immune system. Cut them into suitably sized sticks before steaming.
• Potato or sweet potato: Slice into sticks and bake them in the oven – remove before they get crisp. Everyone in the family will want to share this snack!
Baby still gets majority of her nutrition from milk, but you can also introduce other protein and calcium-rich foods. Try these:
• Firm (but not hard) cheeses: Mini Edam, cheddar, Gouda and parmesan are great options. Simply slice them into easy-to-hold sticks! Remember to choose dairy products made with pasteurised milk.
• Eggs: A whole food packed with proteins. Boil a whole egg till the yolk is completely solid. Then remove the shell and slice into quarters for Baby to pick at. Alternatively, whisk up an egg, pan-fry in a little vegetable oil, and serve up omelette strips.
• Meat: Baby can gnaw on thin strips of well-cooked meat. Start with chicken and turkey, white fish like sole and cod, then move on to pork and beef if you wish. Experiment with steaming, baking, grilling, and pan-frying.
A great way to introduce different whole grains to baby’s diet. Try these:
• Toasted bread ‘soldiers’: Yes, Baby will probably gum it into a soggy mess, but the texture is fun, especially for teething babies. Let her dip them into a favourite fruit puree like mashed avocado or hummus – just steam chickpeas and mash!
• Cereal puffs: A quick and easy snack, especially when you’re out and about. Choose those with no artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives.
One to try is the new Nestlé Gerber® Organic Puffs that are made with USDA certified organic ingredients. These are made with organic whole grains, packed with iron and vitamin E for wholesome snacking, and come in two natural flavours, Green Veggies and Apple. The star-shaped snacks are just the right size for little hands and dissolve easily in baby’s mouth.
Another thing we love about Nestlé Gerber® Organic Puffs is that it makes for a quick and convenient snack on-the-go. Like this:
Nestlé Gerber® Toddler Trail Mix
What you need:
– Nestlé Gerber® Organic Puffs
– Nestlé Gerber® Graduates® Yogurt Melts
– Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix them up. That’s it! Store in an airtight container. Babies and toddlers can practice their pincer grips while picking the snack type they want to eat. They’ll also learn sorting skills while snacking. Best of all, it’s easy to whip this up to bring along as a going-out snack!
The new Nestlé Gerber® Organic Puffs are available exclusively at FairPrice stores, or you can click here to buy it online.
For more healthy parenting tips from Nestlé Gerber®, visit www.starthealthy.nestle.com.sg. #snackorganicwithgerber
This article was done in collaboration with Nestlé Gerber®.