“The first six months of your baby’s life mark a significant milestone: the introduction of complementary foods. Indeed, exclusive consumption of infant formula or breast milk is no longer sufficient to meet your child’s nutritional needs. It’s time to diversify their diet, as they can now swallow and chew foods other than milk.”
Your baby’s energy and nutrient requirements increase from the 6th month onwards. This is the perfect time to introduce ‘solid’ or ‘complementary’ foods into their diet alongside milk, the primary source of nourishment for infants. Start gradually incorporating protein-rich foods into their diet.
1. Fish for Baby’s Growth
Rich in protein, fish contains essential fatty acids needed for your baby’s growth. Various fish species like pollock, sardines, salmon, whiting, sole, and more can delight your little one! If you’re concerned about allergens, start with freshwater fish fillets and gradually diversify. Avoid fish that may contain pollutants like swordfish, white or red tuna, lake trout, monkfish, pike, or bass. It’s also advisable to prefer fresh or frozen fish over breaded varieties. Always remember to carefully remove any bones for your baby’s safety. When cooking, opt for methods like steaming, baking in parchment paper, and always puree the fish.
2. Meat to Enhance Iron and Vitamin Intake
Considered the ultimate source of protein, meat isn’t just for garnishing your baby’s meals. It’s necessary to supplement and optimize iron, vitamin B, and zinc intake alongside milk. You can offer various meats to your child, such as chicken, turkey, veal, lamb, beef, and more. However, choose lean and easily digestible meats. Don’t hesitate to occasionally provide organ meats as they can serve as meat substitutes. However, avoid processed meats, spiced meats, and sausages. Until your baby reaches 9 months, always puree the meat for easier digestion. Beyond this age, offer finely minced or small pieces. It’s worth noting that at 6 months, your infant typically consumes around 10 grams of meat daily, which is roughly 2 teaspoons.
3. Tofu and Legumes: Meat Alternatives
Tofu and legumes are both excellent sources of protein, yet many parents overlook them. However, they can replace meat successfully. Lentils, beans, or chickpeas can be included in your baby’s diet. When well-cooked, they are just as delicious when mashed with a fork or pureed. Red lentils are the easiest to mash into a puree. A portion equals 30 to 60 ml, which is about 2 to 4 tablespoons. You can also mash or introduce silky tofu into a puree. As for regular tofu, you can cut it into small cubes or crumble it. A portion is approximately 30 grams.
4. Vegetables and Fruits for Essential Minerals and Vitamins
From their sixth month, your child can discover the delight of vegetables, served in the form of purees. Zucchini, carrots, spinach, broccoli, beets, eggplant, pumpkin, and more will replenish your little one’s protein intake. However, avoid fibrous vegetables like leek leaves or salsify, as they are challenging to digest. When it comes to canned vegetables, opt for fresh, seasonal, or frozen ones. Always wash and puree them well, and never add salt. Generally, little ones appreciate sweet fruits. To please your baby’s taste buds, choose ripe and fresh seasonal fruits. Additionally, you can offer quince, pear, nectarine, peach, apple, banana, and more. Served as a snack alongside breastfeeding or a bottle, fruits are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. However, it’s best to avoid nuts like peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds.
5. Dairy Products: A Partial Substitute for Breast Milk
At six months, your baby can consume yogurt to replace part of their bottle. Typically, a child’s yogurt weighs around 60 grams. Reduce the milk quantity by 60 ml, which is equivalent to 60 ml of water and 2 milk doses. When it comes to dairy products, whether it’s fromage frais or yogurt, opt for infant dairy products available in the baby section. They are made with infant milk and are perfectly suited to the nutritional needs of young children. Without excessive protein, they pose no risk to a baby’s kidneys.
6. Egg Yolks: A True Protein Source
It’s recommended to introduce eggs, especially egg yolks, to your baby at the same time as meat. Egg yolks, with their high iron content, are a genuine source of protein. They can be consumed alone or incorporated into your baby’s regular purees. As your baby’s appetite grows, you can offer the entire egg. It’s best to hard-boil the egg until it’s completely set. Then, separate the white from the yolk, and mash the yolk with a fork before serving!