Nutritious and Delicious: Best High Fibre-Foods for Babies
Fruits and vegetables are not just important for adults but they are equally important for…
Fruits and vegetables are not just important for adults but they are equally important for your baby’s nutrition. These are high-fibre foods and should be a crucial part of your baby’s diet.
Some benefits of including high-fibre foods in your baby’s diet include: High-fibre foods are essential for healthy digestion in babies. They regulate blood sugar levels and prevent constipation. The high-fibre foods are also rich in vitamins and minerals which support the baby’s immune system.
Definition and Types of Dietary Fibre
Dietary fibre, also known as fibre, roughage, or bulk is a part of plant food that your body cannot digest. The body breaks down and digests other components such as protein, carbohydrates and fats, but fibre passes out of the body intact.
Types of dietary fibre:
- Soluble fibre: Fibre which dissolves in water is called soluble fibre. It forms a gel-like substance and it slows down the digestion process. Examples of such foods are apples, oats, peas, beans and citrus fruits.
- Insoluble fibre: Foods which don’t dissolve in water are called insoluble fibre foods. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to the stool and helps in the easy passing of stool. Few examples; whole-wheat flour, cauliflower, potatoes, nuts, seeds and skin of fruits and vegetables
Role of Fibre in Promoting Healthy Digestion and Overall Well-Being
Some benefits of including fibre rich food in your diet are
- Fibre controls the sugar levels in the body. It slows down the digestion process and prevents spikes in the sugar level after a meal.
- Fibre is a prebiotic. Prebiotic fibre foods are those which are not digested by the body but they act as a gut cleanser.
- Fibre adds bulk to the stool, softens it and helps in the easy passing of stool. People who suffer from constipation must make fibre rich foods a part of their diet. Including these foods will also prevent getting haemorrhoids.
- Incorporating high-fibre foods into your diet can help you lose weight because they are low in calories and can keep you full for a long time.
Age-Appropriate Foods for Fibre Intake
The recommended daily fibre intake varies depending on age and gender
Introduction to Solid Foods for Babies
Solid food is introduced to babies at the age of six months. It can be delayed if the baby has shown signs of readiness like sitting with support, head control, and hand-eye-mouth coordination.
Some tips to introduce solid foods to babies:
- Avoid salt and sugar till the baby completes 12 months of age.
- Start with one ingredient of purees. Like banana, steamed apple, semolina, etc. Hand-mash the food. Do not puree the foods in a food processor or blender.
- Introduce one food at a time and notice if there are any signs of allergies.
- Do not offer animal milk as food. Breast milk or formula milk is the main source of nutrition till 1 year.
- Since the baby is used to consuming only liquid introduction to solid food and different texture will cause gagging. Gagging is different from choking.
- Make the baby sit in an upright position in a high chair or use pillows and cushions as support.
Recommended Age for Introducing High-Fibre Foods
It is recommended to introduce low fibre foods. High-fibre foods are harder to digest for babies because their digestive system is still not developed completely.
- 6-8 months: Start introducing low-fibre foods such as single ingredients cereals and fruits and vegetables.
- 8-10 months: When the baby reaches this age, they have a few teeth and they are accustomed to eating solid foods. Introduce high-fibre foods step by step such as starting with fruits first, then vegetables, then lentils, and so on.
- 10-12 months: Don’t remove the peel of the fruits and vegetables when the baby reaches 10 months of age. Foods should be cut in finger-sized shapes.
Nutritious High-Fibre Foods for Babies
In this section, we are going to discuss some of the high-fibre foods for babies, their benefits, and how to incorporate these foods into the baby’s diet.
Whole grains contain all parts of the grain like the bran, germ, and endosperm. They are a healthier option as compared to refined grains which contain only the endosperm. There are many benefits of whole grains for babies.
- They help in healthy digestion
- Whole grains are nutrient-dense
- Whole grains provide energy and keep the babies satisfied and full
- Whole grains are tasty and they can be used to make a lot of foods like pasta, bread, chapati, and noodles.
Examples of high-fibre whole grains suitable for babies:
Let us discuss some fibre rich fruits and the fibre content per 100 gms:
Ways to introduce fruits to your baby’s diet:
Most babies have a liking for fruits. Not only the fruits are tasty but they take little effort to prepare before serving.
- You can steam the fruits like apples, and pears and then hand-mash them using a fork. The consistency should be puree-like.
- If you are practising baby-led weaning then you can buy the fruits as it is in finger food form.
- You can make a smoothie or yoghurt using fruits. Don’t add any sweeteners.
- Fruits like raspberry, strawberry, and banana can be added to the oatmeal.
Vegetables are an important part of a baby’s diet. Making sure that there is a balance of fibre content along with other nutrients is crucial.
- Sweet Potatoes: Apart from fibre, sweet potatoes contain Vitamins A and C, and potassium. You can either roast the sweet potato or boil it. Remove the peel before offering.
- Carrots: Carrots are important for vision, skin and immune function.
- Squash: Squash is high in dietary fibre, vitamins A and C.
- Peas: Peas benefits from healthy digestion, immune function and bone health.
- Broccoli: Broccoli has nutrients like fibre, Vitamins A, C and K, folic acid and calcium.
- Spinach: Spinach supports healthy digestion and overall growth and development.
There are various strategies as to how you can incorporate veggies into your baby’s meal.
- You can puree the vegetables and add seasonings. If the baby is under 12 avoid salt and sugar. You can offer 1 vegetable or mix 2-3 vegetables.
- Adding veggies to the baby’s soups and stews is a great option.
- Offer vegetable finger foods. You can either boil the foods or saute them in ghee.
- Incorporate veggies in every meal. You can add them to Upma, Sambhar, pasta etc.
There are various benefits of including legumes like beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas in your baby’s diet. They are a source of high-fibre foods. legumes also contain protein, carbohydrates and other nutrients. They are plant-based so they don’t have any cholesterol and help in healthy weight management.
Creative ways to include legumes in baby-friendly meals:
- Boil the legumes for some extra whistles so that they become soft. You can then add finely chopped onion and tomatoes to make it more tasty.
- Instead of pureeing them completely you can mash them slightly and add rice or roti to them.
- You can make dips of legumes and use them along with your baby’s meals.
Tips for Introducing High-Fibre Foods to Babies
Gradual Introduction and Monitoring for Allergies
- Introduce high-fibre foods gradually and notice any potential allergies or reactions.
- Too many high-fibre foods can cause gas and other digestive issues.
Texture Modifications and Preparation Techniques for Easy Consumption
- If you are just starting high-fibre food for your baby then it is best to offer them in mashed and puree form.
- As your baby adjusts to the food then you can include small pieces without mashing.
- Make dips and sauces from high-fibre foods to change the texture and taste.
Pairing High-Fibre Foods With Other Nutritious Ingredients
- A baby’s meal should be a mix of all the nutrients like fibre, protein, vitamins and carbohydrates.
- Pair whole grains foods with fruits.
- It is very important to select a healthy fat to cook high-fibre food. You can use mustard oil, coconut oil, olive oil or ghee while cooking. Avoid refined oil.
- Introduce high-fibre legumes in combination with other vegetables or grains to provide a variety of flavours and textures.
Potential Challenges and Solutions
Common Challenges in Introducing High-Fibre Foods to Babies
- Texture aversion: Babies who are used to smooth purees can have a hard time adapting to high-fibre foods. These foods require some chewing so it would be a challenge for babies with little to no teeth to chew from their gums.
- Taste preferences: Babies who are used to eating sweet foods in all their meals will have a taste preference for sweet food. Most of the high-fibre foods are cooked as savoury food so babies would have to adapt their taste.
- Digestive issues: Some babies can have digestive issues after eating high-fibre foods. Issues such as gas, bloating and constipation are common. Avid giving these foods in the dinner. Offer these foods in the daytime so that the baby has enough time to digest the food.
Strategies to Overcome Texture Aversions or Picky Eating Habits
- Gradual transition: Most babies are used to foods with smooth textures. Gradually change the texture of the food. For example, if you are making purees in a blender, shift to mashing it with your hand. After a few weeks don’t mash at all.
- Play with textures: offer different textures of foods. Experiment with cooking like boiling, steaming, frying, and roasting.
- Try baby-led weaning: Babies are more likely to have an interest in the food if they are allowed to explore the texture and eat themselves.
- Serve familiar favourites: don’t overwhelm the baby by offering the new texture food all alone. Serve the food along with any food item that is their favorite like curd, soup, or any finger food.
- Don’t give up: Keep offering different varieties of textures. Initially, they will reject the food but repeated exposure to the same food will lead to them accepting it.
Dealing With Potential Digestive Issues When Introducing Fibre-Rich Foods
- It will soften the fibre and promote smooth digestion.
- Include a variety of high-fibre foods: If one type of high-fibre food causes digestive issues then you can offer other types of foods. For example, if legumes cause gas then include more fruits and vegetables.
- Monitor portion sizes: do not offer high-fibre foods in large sizes. The diet should be a combination of different nutrients
Potential Choking Hazards and Precautions
Never offer hard and small food pieces to babies. They may cause a choking hazard. High-fibre food like chickpeas and whole nuts should not be served as it is. You can also cut the food in the appropriate size as per your baby’s age. Properly cook whole grains, lentils, and legumes. Always supervise meal time so that you can take action just in case a choking incident happens. It’s always a good decision to learn CPR techniques.
Precautions for Babies With Specific Dietary Requirements or Medical Conditions
- IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome): In this condition, babies may have abdominal pain and bloating. Avoid high-fibre foods in this case.
- Colic: Colic is a condition in which the baby cries uncontrollably. It is related to digestive issues. According to doctors, it is best to avoid legumes in this condition.
- Food allergy: Some babies are allergic to foods like nuts, soya, and seeds.
- Gluten sensitivity: Babies who are gluten intolerant should be offered high-fibre foods which do not have gluten like oats, quinoa, or barley.
As parents you always want the best for your kids including nutrition. You include nutrients like protein, iron, and calcium in your baby’s diet. But one nutrient which gets overlooked a lot is fibre. High-fibre foods provide numerous benefits like promoting healthy digestion, sustaining energy levels, healthy weight management and supporting heart health.
When solid food is introduced to the baby, make it a priority to include high-fibre foods gradually. Keep a check on portion size and notice any potential allergies. Some high-fibre foods like legumes and lentils must be consumed during the day so that the baby has enough time to digest the food.
Now that you know what high-fibre foods to include in your baby’s diet, start following it.
We are wishing you and your baby a happy and healthy journey as you explore the world of nutritious and fibre-rich foods!