3 ways to maximize nutrition in your baby's diet

Posted: April 02, 2024 | Word Count: 717

As a parent, it's normal to be focused on your baby getting enough of the nutrients their little bodies need to grow and thrive. Once babies are eating solid food, it's the perfect time to start widening their palates by introducing a variety of healthy plant-based options.

Here are three tips from Plum Organics to help you choose foods that will start your baby on a good path toward adventurous flavors and textures for years to come.

1. Introduce bitter and savory flavors early

You may naturally want to choose sweet foods like fruit when you first start feeding your baby solid food, like mashed-up bananas and applesauce. However, it's a better idea to get your child acclimated to a wider variety of flavors that represent more foods they will encounter as they grow early on, including savory and even bitter tastes. That way they will be more open to liking foods like vegetables and proteins, which are not sweet.

Some parents will opt for baby foods that combine fruits and vegetables to sneak veggies in, but fruits often mask the bitter flavor of vegetables, which defeats the purpose. Instead, try foods that introduce different flavors through vegetables only, so babies learn early that all foods are not — and don't need to taste — sweet.

"Babies are born with an innate preference for sweet foods and an aversion to bitter foods,” said Whitney English, M.S., R.D. and co-founder of Plant-Based Juniors. "To foster a diverse palate and support adventurous eating, we need to train babies' palates to enjoy bitter flavors by introducing them early and often!”

To help you get started, leading organic baby food brand, Plum Organics offers a Zucchini, Pea + Kale with Thyme pouch which is organic, non-GMO and contains no added sugars.

"Herbs and spices also contain bitter compounds, and it's helpful to get babies acquainted with them early too," added English. "Right from the start, you can add them to meals to create interesting and diverse flavors. The only spices you'll want to avoid are those with heat, like chili powder or peppers."

2. Focus on vitamin C to boost iron absorption

According to the Mayo Clinic, iron is a priority nutrient for children, as it aids their bodies in many important ways such as using oxygen and helping to make red blood cells, both of which are crucial for growing children. And unfortunately, many children do not get enough iron, which can lead to iron deficiency anemia.

"Iron is a critical nutrient for growth and development, which is why needs are high during pregnancy and early childhood to support rapid growth and the production of energy, red blood cells and brain cells," said Alexandra Caspero, M.A., R.D. and co-founder of Plant-Based Juniors.

But because iron can be harder to absorb in the body, it's important to include vitamin C in the diets of babies and young children, as that nutrient can better enhance iron absorption.

"Iron is found in two forms: heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found only in animal foods like meat, poultry and seafood. It's much more easily absorbed than non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is found in both animal and plant foods such as legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and leafy greens and is harder to absorb than heme iron," explained Caspero. "Fortunately, pairing non-heme iron with a source of vitamin C can increase the absorption of non-heme iron by three to six times."

For this reason, Caspero recommends serving infant-friendly sources of vitamin C alongside iron-rich meals. For example, many Plum Organics pouches include vitamin C-rich foods like broccoli, sweet potato, blueberries, mango and more.

3. Make it easy to feed your baby healthier food on-the-go

While it may seem challenging to feed your little one nutritious food when you're running from one appointment or playdate to another, you can make it easier for yourself by picking up some Plum Organics pouches, which are veggie-packed and great for parents and caregivers to make feeding a breeze.

With a variety of flavors your baby is bound to love, you'll be ready to offer a quick meal or snack whenever it's needed, expanding your baby's palate and providing the peace of mind that you're feeding them well.

Learn more tips about feeding your baby or toddler at PlumOrganics.com.

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