The Nigerian baby food sector is seeing significant growth as new businesses try to cater for time-poor parents who are looking for convenient but nutritious baby food.
We have come across a number of companies in Nigeria selling pureed baby foods made in pouches. This innovation simply compliments the huge number of imported baby food that can be found in local markets and supermarkets. While convenience food definately makes sense for busy parents, there is hard evidence to back up the argument that homemade baby food is better than shop-bought. A recent study by Glasgow University’s department of human nutrition found that babies had to eat twice as much processed food as homemade food in order to get the same nutrients. At around six months, when starting on solids, many parents lead their children down another wrong path – that of powdered cereals, premade baby foods, and junk foods disguised as baby-friendly snacks. One recommendation: make your own baby food. I’m sure some readers will comment that cooking for baby is too much work. But it's worth it.
When weaning, parents should to introduce a wide range of foods to a baby’s diet to reduce the risk of food intolerances.
The following are ingredients that can easily be sourced, that Nigerian parents can use to make baby foods;
Vegetables and tubers: Well-mashed vegetables are a great start. You can use the normal vegetables and tubers you cook for the family, like yam, sweet potato, irish potato, carrots, cauliflower etc.
Fruit: Mashed banana is usually a favourite but avoid fruit with seeds.
Pulses: Pulses include beans, lentils etc. Make sure they are well mashed or puréed and use little flavouring or salt.
Grains: Rice is one of the most popular weaning foods. Just make sure it is soft. You can leave other grains like oats or corn until a few months later.
Swallows: Amala with ewedu is a popular weaning food for babies. Most parents would advice you to add ground crayfish to make a nutritious meal for a growing infant. You can gradually introduce other swallows like eba, semovita, pounded yam as your baby grows older. But ensure that the food is soft enough for your child to consume.
Poultry, meat, fish: Introduce a little of these from about seven or eight months, once your baby is used to the vegetable mixes.