The VegPlate_Baby layout shows the various food groups of foods consumed by the infant during his first year: the weaning phase usually begins no earlier than 6 months and initially breast milk (or formula) will be the main part, so much so that other foods are called "complementary".
Unlike for the layout of VegPlate for adults, there are no rigid guidelines on the amount of food that the child will have to eat, because each baby's needs are many and varied. So, it simply represents a qualitative "mindset" , easy to follow and that leaves much room for variation.
For more general considerations about when to start weaning, and how to deal with the introduction of the various complementary foods, the reference should be a book on the subject. Here we briefly illustrate the various food groups of PiattoVeg_Baby and explain how to use them during weaning.
Furthermore, it is important to read the entire section of special recommendations, both the general indications about omega-3, vitamin D and calcium, and vitamin B12, as well as those specific for pregnancy and lactation.
In first months of weaning, breast milk remains the main food of the infant's diet. In the absence of breast milk, infant follow-up formulas, known as "type 2", can be used, as indicated by the pediatrician.
Grains are the main ingredient of baby food for the duration of weaning. Grains creams are considered the basic food and are indispensable at every meal. They are prepared from cereal grains, flakes, or flour. Baby pasta can be introduced only when the child learns to chew: first, gluten-free grains or buckwheat, only later offer durum wheat (after the grains creams with gluten have been presented).
Use only refined, non-whole grains; semi-whole grains can be introduced by 18 months, and whole-grain grains only after two years of age.
Here's how to use the grains in their various forms to prepare the cream:
The liquid phase of the baby food
The liquid phase for grains creams can be: breast milk, formula, or vegetable stock. The latter must not contain pieces of vegetables, but only the cooking water and not to be salted; It should also be prepared with mineral waters rich in calcium. An ordinary (non-formula) vegetable milk, enriched in calcium and not sweetened, can also be used: in the beginning, it is better to choose rice or some other gluten-free grains, or almond milk; only towards the end of weaning can grains milks with gluten be used.
It is advisable to begin weaning with gluten-free grains, such as rice, millet or pseudo-grains, and then move on to those that contain native gluten (barley, oats, barley), and lastly wheat. The consumption of grains with gluten should always be alternated with the consumption of those that are gluten-free, which is a rule that applies to all stages of life.
Pasta and bread
At about one year, the infant can eat grains very much cooked, and pasta of small to medium size. Bread can be eaten only after the introduction of grains with gluten, when he will be able to chew the soft, central part of the bread.
Wheat germ, a flour obtained from the germ of the grain, is a natural supplement of iron (1 mg per 10 g) and therefore useful to be added to your sweet or savory preparations even more than 1 time per day to increase iron intake; but it is to be offered only after the introduction of gluten in the diet of the child.
Vegetable protein foods par excellence are legumes, which are to be used from the beginning of weaning, in the form of cream of decorticated legumes. The elimination of the skin of legumes is important in order to avoid an excess of fiber.
To prepare the cream of legumes, simply simmer one of the following types of legumes in filtered vegetable stock (containing no pieces of vegetables), preferably made with high-calcium water (or vegetable milk, enriched with calcium and unsweetened):
A piece of kombu seaweed (0.5 cm, 1 time per week), fennel seeds, or 1 bay leaf can be added to the cooking water (to be then deleted after cooking). The cooking time will vary depending on the shape and the size of the legume (45 minutes for large and whole legumes; a few minutes for flakes).
Among the protein foods we also find soy derivatives:
Legume creams, or the cream from soy derivatives, can be added in small amounts (1-2 teaspoons) to grains creams, slowly increasing the quantity to daily use. Seitan, on the other hand, should be avoided until after 12 months, as it consists fundamentally of gluten
Animal protein foods (cheeses and eggs) are not needed, neither during weaning nor at any other stage of life; If used, it should be kept to a minimum and not used on a daily basis, at the most 2-3 times a week; in any case, it is strongly recommended to avoid them. Regarding this topic, the sections avoid milk e avoid eggs.
The consumption of vegetables during all the first year of life, and then during weaning, should be moderated, because it is a food rich in fiber and low in energy. However, it is useful in the development of the child's sense of taste.
Initially only filtered vegetable broth, made from seasonal vegetables is to be used. After a few weeks, a teaspoon of vegetables passed through a food mill, thus eliminating as much fiber as possible, can be added.
The broth is prepared with 2-3 seasonal vegetables, then gradually adding others, every 3-5 days. Preference is to be given to the fruit-producing vegetables (zucchini, squash, etc.) and tubers (carrots, potatoes, fennel) compared with the leafy vegetables, because they contain less fiber and lend themselves well to form a puree. Avoid the use of salt, and just a bit of extra-virgin olive oil can be added.
It is best to limit the use of lettuce, turnips, cabbage, watercress, Swiss chard, spinach, that contain more nitrites.
When the child will be able to eat solid food and grab bits of food, small pieces of well cooked vegetables can be presented, letting him put them in his mouth himself.
Fruit must be given only when the child is already accustomed to grains, legume and vegetable foods, so as to avoid developing a preference for sweet food. Fruit should also be given far from the main meals, because, as in adults, it can cause intestinal gas production. Fruit is only complementary, and does not replace the other foods. Only lemon is added to every meal (just a few drops is enough), to improve iron absorption.
Fruit should be ripe and seasonal, prepared as a puree, sugar-free and at room temperature. When the child begins to drink, the puree may be replaced even with small amounts of centrifuged fruit juice, extract or freshly prepared juice, for a maximum total of 250-300 ml per day, to prevent it from causing episodes of diarrhea.
Dried fresh fruit can also use (i.e., raisins, dried apricots, dried figs, dates, etc.) after it has been soaked, for example in the vegetable milk, possibly together with grains flakes, and pureed to prepare a sweet porridge to be used as a snack.
These are very precious foods, because they facilitate the increased intakes of energy, protein, essential fatty acids and minerals (particularly iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium). They can be pulverized (with a small electric coffee grinder) or reduced to a cream (commercially available creams : almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, sesame “tahin”) and can be added to baby food from the first month of weaning on.
The whole nuts should be given only when the child can chew and swallow food without choking hazards.
The fats are added to all baby food, in the form of extra-virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil (the latter only if it has been refrigerated from factory to store refrigerator-section, see explanations in section dedicated to omega-3 nutrients). These oils should be used at each meal in rotation, 1 teaspoon (5 g) at every meal, beginning with the first month of weaning.
For all the information on the time and manner of the introduction of complementary foods, food lists to use and examples of weaning schemata, please refer to a complete book.
This section simply shows the approximate amount of foods of the various food groups to give to the child at the various stages of weaning.
In this case, the concept of "number of servings” cannot be applied, as for an adult, because the amount of food suitable for each baby is extremely variable, and above all it is not possible to establish it first. Thus, indicative quantities are provided, from which a menu for weaning can easily planned that meets the nutritional requirements of each child.
In the following table, the approximate amounts of the various complementary plant foods for use at each meal are given (in grams, indicating edible parts of uncooked foods), varying with the child's age.
|Food||6 months||8 months||12 months|
Flour or semolina or
grains for infants*
Pasta or uncooked
|Legumes, dried, uncooked||0-10||15||20|
|Legumes, fresh, uncooked||0-25||35||45|
Vegetable milk (not to
substitute breast milk