Advice Column, Baby, Health, Nutrition, Pregnancy & Baby, Toddler

Avocados as a First Food for Babies

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  • Category Advice Column, Baby, Health, Nutrition, Pregnancy & Baby, Toddler

Your baby is nearing six months and the excitement starts to mount as you prepare to introduce solid foods for the first time. As your baby grows, the ability of breastmilk alone to meet the increasing nutritional needs starts to become limited as it is too low in energy, protein, and minerals like iron and zinc. A variety of nutritionally balanced foods are needed to fill this nutritional gap.

With all the do’s and don’ts out there, the great news is that avocados are a nutritionally unique food with suitable consistency and texture to feature as a first food in a baby’s diet.

First Food

Traditional first foods include cereals, soft porridge (e.g., rice porridge or maize porridge) and pureed vegetables like pumpkin. While these are great options, there are many other foods to add to your baby’s diet from early on. Easy to puree into a consistent texture, avocados work very well as one of the first foods. Compared to traditional first foods, avocados are nutritionally unique, containing healthy monounsaturated fats and a blend of soluble and insoluble fibre.

Avocados Pack a Nutrient Punch

Good first foods should meet the high nutritional needs of a baby, such as energy, fatty acids, and key vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, the B vitamins, iodine, iron and zinc. Avocados are high in energy, high in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, naturally free from cholesterol and sodium and are a source of fibre – all key nutrient factors in a healthy and balanced diet for a baby. Avocados are also high in vitamin K (necessary for healthy bones), copper (needed for immune function), and biotin (for skin and hair health), and contain amongst the highest levels of a group of antioxidants called carotenoids (namely lutein and zeaxanthin) of any fruit.

Avocados Offer Variety

It is good practice from early on to offer your baby a variety of flavours and textures. Now while it is important to start with pureed options as your baby first experiences the change in texture from liquid milk, it is easy to get stuck on pureed butternut and mashed banana. The ability to handle lumpier foods is important long term for your baby’s oral development for speech. Avocados offer a variety of texture options from super smooth to slightly lumpy and this can be easily altered depending on how much you mash the fruit.

It’s Play Time

A baby’s eating experience is about more than just taste: other senses like sight, feeling and smell are equally important. Allowing babies to play with food is key for motor development. Experiment by adding some avocado slices to the tray of the feeding chair or scooping pureed avo into your little one’s hands. This will encourage your baby to start moving the hand to the mouth to learn the important skill of self-feeding, and in a safe and secure manner. As your baby gets older and masters the pincer grasp, small avocado cubes are a great way to practise this newfound skill.

Allergen Awareness

Many caregivers make the mistake of not offering babies potential allergenic foods. In fact, introducing potential allergen foods from 6 months may even reduce the risk of allergies, according to research. Introduce potential allergens, like wheat, eggs, and nuts, one at a time, monitoring for 2 – 3 days for signs of a reaction. The great news is that avocado is not a high-risk food when it comes to allergies and can be safely and quickly introduced into your baby’s diet.

Remember, it’s important to always offer your baby age-appropriate purees and soft foods, which will differ from young babies just starting out with solids to older babies with more practice in their newfound eating skills.

BABY FOOD AVO & PUMPKIN PUREE

Butternut or sweet potato can be substituted for the pumpkin. Avocado makes a healthy first food, packed with monounsaturated fats and essential nutrients.

Number of servings: 4

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 mins

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ¼ small wedge pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes
  •  ¼ ripe, fresh avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon apple puree, homemade or readymade (optional)

Method:

  • Cook pumpkin in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes until very tender.
  • Drain and cool completely.
  •  Mash the pumpkin and avocado in a bowl until smooth.
  • Add apple sauce to taste.
  • Serve baby 1 to 2 tablespoons mixture.

Extra puree can be stored covered in the fridge, serve at room temperature. (do not heat in the microwave as the avocado will turn bitter)

BABY FOOD AVO CHOCOLATE PUDDING

Number of servings: 2
Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 0 minutes

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ¼ ripe, fresh avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
  • ½ banana
  • 2 dates, pitted, and soaked in boiling water
  •  ½ teaspoon cocoa powder
  •  ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  • Drain the dates, and chop.  Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a smooth puree.
  • Serve.

References

  1. Fewtrell M et al. Complementary Feeding: A Position Paper by the Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) Committee on Nutrition. Journal of Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2017;64: 119–132.
  2. Ierodiakonou D, Garcia-Larsen V, Logan A, et al. Timing of allergenic food introduction to the infant diet and risk of allergenic or autoimmune disease. A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2016;316:1181–92.
  3. Comerford KB et al. The Role of Avocados in Complementary and Transitional Feeding. Nutrients 2016, 8, 316; doi:10.3390/nu8050316.
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