08 July, 2011
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Fiber-Rich Foods for Babies
Fiber is an essential part of a baby's diet. There are a variety of ways to provide fiber to a baby. MedlinePlus suggests that establishing a high-fiber diet early in life may reduce the risk of obesity and can reduce constipation. During the first year of life, a baby relies mostly on formula or breastmilk for nutrition. When the baby begins solid foods around six or nine months of age, fiber-rich foods can be introduced.
Various fruits are high in fiber and are bland enough to be introduced to a baby during the first year of life. Caregivers should ask a healthcare professional when to begin solids and which fruits are best. Typically, a baby is given a single food in a puree and monitored for allergies for at least three days before a new food is introduced. Some common first foods include apples and bananas, which are both high in fiber. Other fruit choices include apricots, prunes, peaches, plums and pears. Prunes are often given when a baby is struggling with constipation.
Grains are usually given to the baby in the form of a single-grain cereal and may be given before or after fruits are introduced. White rice baby cereal is a common first food but this option is lower in fiber than other grains like oatmeal, barley or wheat. Other first foods given to babies that are high in fiber include whole grain breads, teething biscuits made with multiple grains and crackers made with any grain other than white flour.
Once the baby gets teeth and becomes skilled at eating more foods, caregivers can offer things like graham crackers, whole grain pasta, multi-grain pancakes and heartier oatmeal. These foods have more fiber per serving and are mostly comprised of insoluble fiber. The grainier the food, the more fiber it is likely to have.
Vegetables are usually given to a baby after grains and fruit during the first year of life. Vegetables high in fiber include peas, spinach, broccoli and beans. Some of these flavors may be unpleasant for a baby trying new foods or they can cause gas that is uncomfortable for the infant. Other baby-friendly vegetables include mashed chickpeas, lentils and spinach.
As the baby ages, raw vegetables can be offered. They will still need to be cut into pieces that are safe for a baby. Vegetable options include raw broccoli, dark leaf lettuce and edamame.
- Edwards, C.A., Parrett, A.M. Dietary Fibre in Infancy and Childhood, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society Journal. Feb, 2003, Vol. 1: 17-23.
- MedlinePlus: Fiber
- DrGreene: Healthy Eating, Part II - What Foods Do Children Need? What Foods Should be Avoided?
- MedlinePlus: Infant and Newborn Nutrition
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