Hello, my name is Amarachi, and complementary foods have literally saved my life. I am a mother of four amazing children living in Lagos, Nigeria. In addition, I have a regular 9-5 job and work as a side hustle providing nutrition and wellness consulting.
My toddler recently refused to eat any of the store-bought popular brands of baby food that we normally buy; any witnesses?
What should I do? Thank goodness for complementary foods…
First, let me provide a very brief layman’s definition of complementary foods. Complementary foods are foods that are given to babies along with breast milk around the age of six months. According to WHO, Breast milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of babies after about 6 months.
For those of us who couldn’t breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, complementary foods are foods that are given in addition to breastmilk and formula. You know, food that you want your child to start eating so that he or she will stay fuller for longer and nutritional needs will be met.
Why give complementary foods?
Complementary foods do not have to be purchased from a store; they can be easily prepared at home. Indeed, there are some benefits to making complementary foods at home, such as increasing the variety of vegetables, adding spices and herbs, and making a puree out of the food you prepare for the family at mealtimes.
As a nutrition and wellness coach, the first thing I consider when feeding my children is the nutrient content of the food, but I also need something practical and tasty.
Critical days of child’s development
When it comes to nutrition, the period from conception to two years (the first 1000 days) of a child’s life is thought to be critical. Important brain structures and functions are constantly developing. At this point, iron is in short supply. Untreated iron deficiency during this time, according to research, can cause permanent changes in the structure and function of the brain.
Some important nutrients to note
Aside from iron, there are four other essential nutrients to look for when feeding infants and young toddlers. They are; Iron, Zinc, Vitamin D, Total fat and DHA.
Giving your child complementary foods is another opportunity for you to expose them to new tastes and textures, including the fruits and vegetables you want them to eat later in life. Introducing vegetables early in life helps to maximize acceptance during infancy and childhood.
Complementary foods you can try
Here are a few of my favourite recipes;
1. Chicken Peri
Here’s what you’ll need for Chicken Peri.
- 1/3 of a medium onion
- 3 garlic cloves, halved
- 1/2 pound (1/4 kg) chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
- 1 cup of very low sodium chicken broth
- Put the onions in the pot first, then the chicken, and finally the garlic and broth.
- Cook the chicken until it is tender and well-cooked.
- Remove the chicken and place it in a bowl to cool.
- Serve the chicken mashed (puréed) with the remaining broth.
There’s a rich supply of Niacin, Magnesium, Zinc, and Iron in a single serving of this meal.
Here’s what you’ll need for Beefie.
- 1/2 pound boneless beef
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small carrot
- 1/4 of a small onion
- 1 small potato
- A cup of water
- In a medium/high-heat pot, heat the oil.
- Sear (brown) the sides of the beef chunks for 2-3 minutes.
- After chopping them, combine the onions, carrots, potatoes, and water in a mixing bowl.
- Stir the ingredients together and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the meat is tender.
- Mash all of the ingredients together or puree in a food processor.
There’s a rich supply of Iron, Vitamin A, Potassium, and Fat in a single serving of this meal.
Mum Tip: When your baby is eating, always keep an eye on him or her. If you would like to book a consultation, please feel free to reach out. There are more exciting and tasty recipes to share with you.
Article by Amarachi Okoro