The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the age of 0 to 2 years old as the "critical window" for optimal growth, health, and behavioral development. Proper nutrition plays a crucial role during this age with life-long health consequences.
The Department of Science and Technology's Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) has listed the top food choices for babies, and we included baby food recipes for each one! Happy feeding!
Note: Before preparing baby food for your little one, make sure the recipe is appropriate for your child’s age and solids stage. Salt is not advised for babies below 1 year old. The same goes for sugar for babies up to 2 years old. Remember to introduce new foods to your baby one at a time. Find a guide on starting on solids here.
1. Breast milk The American Academy of Pediatrics, WHO, and other health groups recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months then followed by complementary feeding. Complementary feeding slowly introduces a variety of solid and liquid food to your baby’s diet while you continue to breastfeed. You can also get creative by adding breast milk to your baby’s solid meals!
2. Rice and other grains According to the FNRI, lugaw is often the first semi-solid food given to Pinoy little ones and a good source of energy-giving carbohydrates! After a while, you can start mixing it with other food. Then, at 8 months old, you can move on from thick lugaw to soft rice. And at 10 months, your baby can have the same rice as the rest of the family.
3. Kamote, potato and other root crops Packed with energy-giving nutrients and rich in fiber, which aids digestion, root crops are a quick and easy option for baby food. Simply mash and enrich with milk!
4. Mango, papaya, banana (ripe latundan) and other fruits Fruits provide a variety of nutrients for good health. Mango and papaya, in particular, are great sources of vitamin C, according to the FNRI. They help fight infection and keep your baby's gums healthy. Check your local market for fruits in season to make sure you get the tastiest picks for your little one.
Baby food recipes to try: Mango, banana, and quinoa Bananas and cinnamon 5. Green and yellow vegetables Both these colorful group of veggies are rich in beta-carotene, which supports growth and development, boost the immune system, and care for your child's vision. They also contain minerals, like iron for healthy blood and calcium for strong bones and teeth. Green veggies include kangkong, petsay, kamote tops, and malunggay. Yellow (or orange) veggies include carrots and squash.
(Above) Mommy Cherdyn Mojica's Ginisang Munggo for Babies recipe
6. Egg The humble egg is “packed with protein, which builds and repairs muscles, and vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium,” according to the FNRI. Upon their advice, half an egg yolk -- cook the egg until it's completely firm and no parts are runny -- can be given to babies at 7 months old. The egg whites contain allergy-producing properties so wait until your baby is at least 11 months old before adding these to her diet, added the research institute.
7. Munggo and other legumes Legumes are a class of vegetables that include beans. Some examples are munggo, garbanzos and abitsuelas. They're relatively cheap and are great sources of protein, B-complex vitamins, and iron. FNRI recommends introducing mashed beans at around 10 to 11 months old.
Baby food recipes to try: Ginisang Munggo for Babies 8. Meat, fish, and poultry Meat, fish, and poultry belong to the “grow” food group and are rich in protein, which is essential for the growth and repair of tissues. These also contain highly absorbable iron for healthy blood, as well as vitamins and other minerals, such as zinc. Holistic nutrition coach Renee Rose Rodrigo, who has written several baby recipe guides for every age for Smart Parenting, recommends introducing meat at 9 months old.