Making it straight into the top 10 without a pause for thought is the avocado. It boasts more than 20 vitamins, giving this trendy fruit plenty of nutritional bang for every teeny bite your tot takes. It contains more protein than almost any other fruit, which is an important building block for bones, cartilage and skin, and is also needed to produce the hormones and enzymes that regulate your baby’s body.
It’s also a fab source of fat, which your youngster needs in her diet to support normal physical and mental growth and development, and to enable her body to absorb vitamin A. But what secures its long-term position as a weaning superfood is that all babies love it. The taste isn’t overwhelming, and it combines well with various other flavours, making it a great base for baby food.
Scoop out the flesh of a small, ripe avocado and mash together with a small, ripe banana. For a thinner consistency, or if you’re serving it as a first foods breakfast, mix in a little of your baby’s usual milk. Suitable from 6 months.
These little trees deserve a regular spot on your youngster’s tray. All broccoli is good, but choosing tenderstem makes it easy for a little fist to grab and puts your tot in charge of eating. It will help her develop and support a strong immune system, as it’s packed with Vitamin C.
3) Tenderstem broccoli
Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for your tot to build her natural defences as it helps her bacteria- and virus-fighting white blood cells to function better. And, as it can’t be stored in the body, it’s important to incorporate into her meals regularly. Broccolis is rich in vitamin A, too, which helps to sharpen and improve her vision, and it’s a good source of fibre to keep her tummy happy.
Introduce this bitter veg sooner rather than later, as your tot will be more receptive to new foods before she reaches ten months.
If she’s happy munching broccoli as finger food but turns her nose up at a purée, blend it with a sweet root vegetable such as parsnip, to counteract the bitterness.
Smashing into the top 10 at number seven is the humble egg. It’s one of the few food sources of vitamin D, which your tot needs to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Do always reach for the free-range eggs though, as they contain up to 30 per cent more of this sunshine vitamin than their factory-laid equivalent.
4) Free-range Eggs
Eggs are also packed with the nine essential amino acids that’ll help your little one grow strong and healthy hair and nails. And, best of all, this little shelled powerhouse of nutrients and vitamins can boost your baby’s brain. They contain both omega-3, a healthy fat which aids early brain development and cognitive memory, and choline, which helps her brain cells to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which aids mental focus and learning.
Worried about feeding eggs early in case of an allergic reaction? Introducing potentially allergenic foods early in the weaning process can reduce the risk of her developing an allergy, but if your little one has eczema or there are known food allergies in your family, do chat with your GP first.
If your little one doesn’t love eggs on their own, sneak a yolk into her favourite purée so she can still reap the benefits. And don’t forget – if the egg is stamped with the red lion, it’s totally safe to serve it with a runny yolk…dippy egg and soldiers for breakfast it is!
It’s important to introduce nuts early, unless there’s a family history of nut allergies (when you should chat to your GP, first). Children under five can’t have whole nuts so a natural, smooth peanut butter is the easy answer.
5) Peanut Butter
It’s a great source of vitamin E, which helps your little one maintain healthy skin and eyes, and strengthens her immune system. Look at the ingredients list on the jar before you buy: peanuts should be listed as the first ingredient, and make sure there’s no added sugar or salt.
Thinning the peanut butter means it won’t stick to the roof of your tot’s mouth, and makes it easier to swallow. Simply dilute with an equal amount of warm water and stir. She’ll then be able to dip toast fingers and, of course, her fingers, into it.
10) Sweet potato
Root vegetables are the ideal first weaning food. They’re unlikely to cause allergies in babies and are sweet, so they’re a great transition from milk. Sweet potatoes
are one of nature’s highest sources of beta carotene, which is the red-orange pigment that also gives carrots, butternut squash and cantaloupe melons their cheery hue.
Once consumed, beta carotene converts to vitamin A, which helps your youngster to build strong bones, teeth and tissue and aids quick repair of bones and muscles. And cleverly, your little one’s body will only
convert the amount she needs.