Avocado - Baby's First Food
While breast feeding is the best way to feed a baby there comes a time when breast milk is not enough to fill a growing and developing baby, so breast feeding needs to be complemented with other foods. During this transition period, introduce solids while you continue to breast feed. In the lead up to the first time your baby tries a new food, have them sit at the dinner table with you so they can see you eating your meal. Babies may be more interested in trying new foods when they see you eating and are hungry, so let them explore a new food and then breast feed to top up or in between feeds.
Introducing solids can occur any time when a baby is interested and ready, but usually begins around 4-6 months of age. At this time a baby’s nutritional needs are greater particularly for iron and research indicates there may be a window of opportunity when a baby’s developing immune system is ready to recognise foods, rather than see them as foreign and cause an allergic reaction(248).
Try one new food at a time over a couple of days and ensure no reactions occurred before starting a new food. Since breast milk is sweet, weaning foods are often sweet fruit purees and baked custards; however, starting your baby on savoury vegetable flavours before sweet flavours may help them accept vegetables more easily (249). For this reason, avocado is a great convenient first food. It requires no heating and can be eaten direct from the skin. Try a few teaspoons to start.
It’s important to keep trying different foods and flavours even if your baby refuses the first few times, or makes funny faces, as it takes time for them to become accustomed to a different texture and flavour in their mouth. A variety of flavours will also help them accept an unusual flavour and, if breast fed, try to consume the same foods to flavour your breast milk so the taste will become familiar(249). Once your baby enjoys a variety of fruits and vegies, a source of iron is vital for brain development so include pureed meat, chicken and fish. There is no need to delay the introduction of nuts (nut pastes/butters) unless there is a family history of nut allergy; however, avoid giving baby any small, hard foods they may choke on such as whole nuts until about 5 years of age. For ideas to introduce avocados to your baby, the Australian Avocado recipe finder has great recipes for babies aged 6 months – 1 year.
Avocado can provide a range of nutrients both to Mum and Bub including healthy fats, fibre, folate, vitamins C, E, K, minerals, and antioxidants. As your baby progresses, you can increase the amount of avocado they consume to about ¼ of an avocado or around 60g. At this serve, avocado can provide a 7-12 month old with:
• A source of fibre for a healthy bowel function
• A source of colourful carotenoid pigments for developing eyes
• 13% RDI for Vitamin B 1 (Thiamin)
• 10% RDI for Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
• 16% RDI for Niacin
• 20% RDI for Vitamin B6
• 23% RDI Vitamin C
• 24% RDI for Vitamin E
• A source of minerals: magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese
Avocado is an amazing source of folate which a baby needs to help cells divide and grow. A ¼ of avocado provides 90% RDI for Folate!
So take advantage of this super food and give your little one a healthy start.
Author: Lisa Yates, Consultant Dietitian Adv APD
Lisa Yates is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with 16 years experience in nutrition, communications, clinical practice, as well as strategy development and implementation.