After the recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding, your baby needs homemade baby food to meet their nutritional needs. But not every solid food is healthy for your baby. This is why we made a list of healthy Nigerian homemade foods you should include in your baby’s diet.
1o homemade baby foods in Nigeria
1. Pap and custard
Pap (also called ogi or akamu) is a food made from fermented maize, millet, or guinea corn. Because it’s semi-liquid, it supplies water to the body without placing stress on the digestive system of babies. It’s rich in carbohydrates, making it a healthy diet for babies that need to gain weight.
Additionally, it contains trace amounts of protein and potassium. The latter maintains healthy blood pressure, while the former repairs and builds muscle, tissue, and skin.
Like pap, the custard is semi-liquid. It’s made from fresh milk and eggs. As a result, it’s a rich source of vitamins, especially B12, and calcium, that improve cell strength and bone health. They’re good sources of protein and fat, which makes them a healthy choice for gaining weight.
Whether it’s breast milk or formula, babies need milk for growth. Cow milk, however, is better for babies aged 1 and above. Whole milk (cow milk with high-fat content) contains high levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals (e.g., calcium and potassium) that fit the internal organs of babies over 12 months old. The fat content also boosts brain development in children.
Reduced-fat milk and non-fat milk contain lower fat and nutritional contents compared to whole milk, making them suitable for overweight babies.
Consider soy milk if your baby is lactose intolerant—an inability to digest the sugar found in milk and dairy products. Soy milk contains similar nutrients as cow milk, with more iron.
3. Fruits purée
Avocado purées contain healthy quantities of “good” unsaturated fat that promote physical and brain development in babies. Similarly, carrot purées contain vitamin A, which improves the immune system and eye health. Besides containing rich nutrients, fruit purées are easy to prepare. For instance, a dozen avocados start at ₦4,549.
Eggs are so rich that they contain all the nutrients a single cell needs to become a baby chicken. Aside from carbohydrates and proteins, eggs contain vitamins (B2, B9, and B12) and choline that support healthy cellular and blood formation.
In particular, choline helps the liver circulate nutrients throughout the body. It also plays an active role in the brain development of babies.
Include eggs in your baby’s diet after 12 months. But if your baby is allergic to eggs—especially the white portion—start with the yolk, which doesn’t contain proteins that trigger allergies.
Potatoes supply the energy babies need for their development. The carbohydrate-rich, nightshade vegetable also contains vitamins B6, B9, and C that boost the immune system and brain development.
Because potatoes contain resistant starch, they feed the friendly bacteria in the gut. In turn, the good bacteria produce nutrients (e.g., short fatty acids) that improve the digestive health of babies.
Although potatoes are soft when cooked, cook them into a purée mashed with ground animal-based proteins (crayfish, meat, or Titus fish).
Swallow is a popular foodstuff in Nigeria. They’re made of dough-like solid food made from starchy vegetables and grains. Semo—like eba, fufu, and pounded yam—belongs to the swallow category.
But unlike other “hard” swallows, semo can be made in a semi-liquid form for babies. Because semo is made from wheat, it’s rich in protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins. It’s also rich in dietary iron, which lowers the risk of anemia (or iron deficiency) in babies.
All types of meat, including poultry, are healthy for babies. But strictly based on iron content, some types of meat are richer than others. For example, pork liver contains the highest amount of iron. While dark turkey meat (leg and thigh meat) contains more iron than white meat (the meat from the breast and wing regions).
- Cognitive development, such as social skills and eye-hand coordination.
- May improve mental health and reduce the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Improves physical and brain development.
- Improves sleep quality.
- May reduce the risk of asthma and diabetes.
While many oily fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, low-mercury fish is the safety net for kids. Examples are:
- Herring (shawa).
In case you’re wondering where to get fish and meat at prices that work for you, Pricepally, the online grocery store for fresh foodstuff, is your answer. We let you buy fresh meat and seafood, fruits, and foodstuffs at prices cheaper than the local market rate. Thanks to our Pally, our bulk-sharing feature, you can share the prices of meat with other shoppers or your friends.
Health tip: Avoid giving babies fried meat. Also, ensure the meat is soft and well-cooked.
Rice supplies babies with much-needed energy to stay active. It also contains bone-strengthening calcium and magnesium.
Like with many homemade baby foods, ensure baby rice is puréed in an easy-to-swallow form. Babies over 6 months old and below the age of 5 can take whole grain rice (or adult rice). But avoid giving babies leftover rice, as it may cause food poisoning.
Frequently Asked Questions about homemade baby foods in Nigeria
Can I add palm oil to baby pap?
Pap contains mostly carbohydrates and trace amounts of minerals, which are insufficient for growth. As a result, researchers advise parents to fortify pap with other nutrients, such as palm oil, crayfish, and milk.
Palm oil is rich in fat and vitamin A, which support rapid growth in children. However, add only small quantities of palm oil because it contains fatty acids, which may cause cardiovascular diseases in young people with abnormal weight.
Can I give my 6-month-old baby Indomie noodles?
Instant noodles (e.g., Indomie noodles) are processed pasta made with dough. They’re easy to cook and a rich source of carbohydrates. However, they contain preservatives and flavors that may affect children’s health, especially when consumed in excess. As a result, add green vegetables to noodles to improve their nutritional value.
When can my baby start to eat pepper?
After 6 months, you can feed your baby pepper—especially bell pepper, which is less spicy. After 8 or 12 months, you can introduce other spicy peppers (or spicy food in general). In both cases, ensure the peppers are well-cooked and soft. Peppers are loaded with vitamins, folate, and fiber. Because of their high fiber content, peppers may make babies poop and be gassy. Report allergies or negative reactions to medical experts for guidance.
Will force-feeding help my baby gain weight?
Force-feeding, the act of forcing babies to eat, causes acute malnutrition and obesity, according to a DW report. It may also make babies dislike food, which may lead to eating disorders if left unchecked. In extreme situations, force-feeding may cause accidental suffocation or death.
If you notice that your child has less appetite for food, carefully examine what your baby likes and how they like it. But don’t force-feed them with