Early Nutrition: Is Your Baby Getting the Right Nutrients?

One of my biggest concerns as a new mom was wondering if my son was getting the right amount of nutrients to aid his growth and development. Weaning wasn't a grand success because most of the food ended up on the floor making me more concerned. A quick reminder here is to remember that although milk is still the most important source of nutrients, introducing the right calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals is equally important.
So what exactly are the essential vitamins and minerals that your baby needs? In addition to Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium and Zinc they also require the following vitamins to boost the immune system and protect against diseases.
Vitamin A: required for vision and bone growth.
Vitamin B12: the most important vitamin that helps develop your baby's brain and nervous system.
Vitamin C: for a healthy immune system and to repair the red blood cells.
Vitamin E: to strengthen the blood circulation system 
Vitamin D: to help boost the immune system, bones and teeth.
Armed with the nutritional information I needed, I made a list of the most common weaning foods and the vitamins they contain. Milk (breastfeeding or formula) continued to form a major part of my baby's diet and foods offered were an addition and not a replacement. 
These are some of the foods that I introduced to my son.
  • Mashed rice: this is a common first food that most moms prefer. It's easy to digest and is a rich source of protein, calcium, iron and vitamins B and E.
  • Apple puree: apples are a good source of fiber and contain vitamin C. Instead of boiling the apples, I preferred to steam and then puree them as I read somewhere that steaming tends to preserve the nutrients.
  • Avocado and pear puree: avocado is a great first food for babies and is packed with vitamin E, B and folic acid. It is rich in omega-3, essential for brain development. Pears contain fiber and prevent constipation. I introduced the pear puree first and when I was sure that he did not have any allergic reaction, I added a spoonful of mashed avocado. 
  • Sweet potato and carrot puree: served separately and also combined in the right proportions, these vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins K and C, potassium, folate and fiber. 
  • Mashed banana: rich in vitamins C and B-6, it's a good source of fibre, iron and potassium. The fiber prevents digestive problems like constipation and is an ideal first food because of it softness and sweetness.
  • Dal khichdi: dal is a good source of protein. It contains minerals like magnesium, that keep the bones strong and potassium which helps control the body's water content. Once your baby develops a taste for dal you can add mashed rice, tomatoes and several vegetables to make it tastier. A dash of ghee can make a difference not only in taste but also because it contains several valuable nutrients that help in brain development.
  • Yogurt and cheese: these dairy products contain calcium, vitamin A and B12 vital for your baby's cognitive development. I often served these two as a snack and also added pureed mango to enhance the flavor of the yogurt.

As a new parent, you will receive all kinds of contradictory advice about your child's nutrition. It's best to start simple, develop your own schedule and introduce options as your baby's comfort level increases. A few guidelines and assistance from your paediatrician can give your baby a good and healthy start.