Introducing your baby to Nigerian food
Generally, when babies start showing interest in what you eat, they’re ready for real food. This was one of the first things we learnt about introducing our baby to solids.
Allow me to preface this post by adding that every baby is different, and what worked for us may not work for you. We were very fortunate that, both mother and child had no issues with breastfeeding. So, we never had any need to supplement with formula or anything else.
Baby Naijachef was breastfed exclusively for the first 6-7 months of his life (Kudos Mrs NaijaChef), not even water. He’d been showing interest in food for about a month, but if you’re like we were, we weren’t sure how to proceed.
The first meal
We decided that we’d give him one thing at a time and see how he reacts. Of course, anything he was going to eat had to be zero to low salt as baby’s bodies can’t process salt or sugar at that age. The very first thing we tried him with was healthy dodo. He found it hard. He of course had no teeth, and so all he did, was a lot of sucking on the plantains.
We learnt from that, so next up we tried boiled plantains. He didn’t eat a lot of it, but he did eat some! Progress!
In case you’re wondering, we decided we were not going to do any pureeing of any sorts. We decided to go with the principles of baby led weaning (you offer the baby foods they can hold, the baby decides what they want to eat, how much to eat, and eats it themselves). You want to avoid giving them small foods they can choke on, like groundnuts, grapes, raisins, etc.
Other foods we tried early on
We got bolder! Haha! Of course, he was still showing strong interest in what we ate, so we started trying other foods. Around 6 months old, babies start to need supplemental iron to what they were born with and get from breast milk. Foods high in iron which we gave him are:
- Egg yolk
We also tried to make sure we were offering him fruits and vegetables. We found out he really loved bananas.
Initially, all he did was mostly chomp on the beef and suck, he didn’t swallow, but that’s okay. Keep in mind, he was still having his regular breastfeeding. The goal was to have him get used to other foods, and get supplemental iron. The additional foods were all had between his regular meal times.
I particularly remember this day! He sometimes struggled holding food when we started offering him food. On this day, he took a look at the broccoli and beef strips. I saw him grab one of the broccoli florets with his right hand, swing his hand out and drop the broccoli to the floor. I assumed he just wasn’t sure what to do, and was playing with the food.
Then, the right hand swings back, grabs a beef strip, holds it firmly, and stuffs it in his mouth! 😮
I couldn’t believe my eyes! People, 6-month olds know exactly what they want! Lol!
As I write this article, our ‘baby’ is now 13 months. We’ve since come to realize that he particularly loves protein; meat, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt e.t.c. He never gets tired of Greek yogurt! He eats everything we eat now though. He loves eba (which he calls ‘abba’). He doesn’t like pepper (or can’t handle it yet), so we don’t force it; for example, he eats his eba with meat broth.
Typical meals in a day
A typical day meal plan for baby naijachef looks like this:
8:00 AM: About 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
9:00 AM: 1/2 cup of oatmeal with Greek yogurt or milk with 1/2 a banana
12:00 PM: Boiled sweet potatoes with chicken broth and a chicken drumstick and mixed vegetables
1:00 PM: About 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
5:30 PM: Eba with chicken broth and fish (usually salmon)
Also, he still gets breast milk 3-4 times a day in addition.
What have you found works with your baby? Please leave a comment below!