Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Pureed meat for babies

The decision to give increased attention to infant nutrition this month is not only because of how important nutrition is in the first one thousand days of a person's life is, it is also because we understand the challenges parents often face in knowing which healthy and appropriate foods to offer their babies. Under the guidance of a Nutritionist plus evidence-based research, The Informed Mum offers suggestions on healthy, nutritious, and homemade alternatives to store-bought baby foods. Clicking on the label "Baby Meals Ideas" on the blog shows different suggestions on baby meals one can easily whip up for one's baby. 

Meat is rich in dietary iron. The more finely grounded meat is, the easier the body finds it to absorb the iron. Given that dietary iron is one of the nutrients a baby who has started eating solids needs, then offering meat-based foods to such a baby is a good idea. Nutritionists recommend that meat be pureed with other foods such as vegetables to reduce the possibility of getting a 'stringy' end-product.  

Method of Preparation.

  • Wash and cut your preferred type of meat into small bits. It could be beef, chicken or any other fresh meat available. Chicken was used in the one presented here. 
  • Put meat bits into a pot and add enough water to cover the meat
  • Cook on low heat until meat is tender and soft.
  • Wash and if necessary chop the vegetable you have and add to the already cooked meat. The type of vegetable determines how long it should stay in the hot meat stock. Some vegetables cook faster than others. You could also choose to steam your vegetable in a different pot. Carrot was the vegetable used in the one presented here
  • Allow meat to cool a bit then transfer meat, stock and vegetable into a blender or food processor and blend. Blenders or food processors are usually better choices here as they tend to completely mash the meat to reduce the risk of bits of meat choking the baby. 
  • Your meat puree is ready to be served.
Pictorial description presented below
Bits cut from chicken thigh

Meat cooked on low heat till tender
Sliced carrots added to the already tender meat
Tenderized meat, carrot and meat stock ready to be blended
End product. 

Meats by nature are tasty. Adding a slightly sweet vegetable like carrot further enhances the taste of pureed/mashed meat. 

N.B: Neither salt, pepper or nor sort of seasoning was added. Nutritionists recommend that baby foods be as free from seasonings and spices as possible. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Mashed/pureed rice and vegetables

Parents of babies who have started eating solids are often at cross-roads of what food options to offer their babies, the challenges are more for nutrition-conscious parents who want to offer the best they can afford to their babies, as well as for parents of picky eaters who need to keep trying new meals to see that which their baby would love. 

Home made baby foods are usually better than store-bought ones for several reasons among which are discussed here. 

Babies do not have to be limited to eating pap alone, babies like all humans love variety.  Sometimes offering a baby a baby-friendly version of what the grown-ups are eating is good. It saves one the stress of preparing an entirely different food for the baby and also introduces the baby's palate to staple foods in the family. 

Rice is a staple food in Nigeria. Most homes eat a rice-based meal at least once a week. Some store-bought baby cereals are also rice-based. Rice is actually not a great food for babies because of it's low content of nutrients needed by babies. Like all such foods, rice can be supplemented with other foods to create a nutrient balance of sorts. The rice described in this article is supplemented with nutrient-dense vegetables. 

To prepare this one needs rice and any variety of vegetables one can get. The more varied the vegetables, the better

Method of Preparation
  • Boil the white rice just the way you do for the entire family but do not add salt. Pediatricians discourage the addition of salt to foods meant for babies below a year old.
  • Thoroughly wash and steam the  vegetables (either using a steamer or spreading over your hot, cooked rice for about 2-5 minutes depending on the type of vegetable). Some vegetables take slightly longer to soften, example carrots and broccoli. 
  • Scoop the softened vegetables and a little rice into your blender or food processor and mash. Or use whatever method of mashing baby food you use. The aim is to achieve a consistency suitable for your baby's age and preference. Older babies can handle not-so smooth consistencies. 
Your baby food is ready. The major difference between this food and a regular vegetable puree is the inclusion of rice. 
N.B: Stew was not added to the baby's version as the stew contained salt and some seasonings believed not to be very suitable for babies. Feel free to add a little stew to yours if your baby is at least 10 months old and/or your stew contains nothing you think the baby cannot handle. 

Vegetables added to the rice meant for the family

The rice and vegetable ready to be mashed
Mashed rice and veggies. Notice the not-so smooth consistency?

Adult version of the rice meal

Click here for more baby meal ideas

Friday, 9 March 2018

Weight management; what you may need to know

About 35 percent of Nigerians are said to be overweight. Being overweight or obese is linked to increased mortality and morbidity rates as a result of the diseases linked to obesity.
Our westernized diets and lifestyles, as well as our sedentary jobs, contribute to our weight gain.

 The more money a Nigerian has, the more likely he/she is to be overweight due to several factors.
  1.  He now does less physical activity. He can not only buy a car and trek less, he can pay others to do jobs he hitherto did for himself. The wealthier a Nigerian is, the more likely he is to have maids catering to all his needs and wants. These reduce the level of the person's physical activity. Reduced physical activity means fewer calories will get burnt. 
  2.  The wealthier a Nigerian is, the more unhealthy his diet tends to get. He tends to eat a lot more meat, drink a lot more soft drinks and eat a lot more fast and processed foods.

When these two factors come into play, then chances are very high the individual will be overweight/obese.

Shedding weight is something many people desire but few get to achieve. Some never get to start the process, some start and lose the motivation along the line. Others think shedding weight is like rocket science.
You need to take note of the following if you intend shedding your excess weight.

  1.  Know how much weight you need to shed. You need to define how much of your weight is excess. Calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) would help you determine how much weight you need to shed.You may need to read this article containing details of how to calculate BMI. 
  2. Decide to shed the excess weight. Shedding weight is a decision, and like most decisions, you need to make up your mind, choose a suitable weight loss plan and choose to stick to your plan.
  3.  Shedding weight does not necessarily need a fancy diet plan with a fancy name. Some diet plans are not sustainable in the long run. While some like the ketogenic diet need good money to be able to stick to as you may need to buy some products not readily available in your area.  Shedding weight could work by just reducing your food portions and increasing your level of physical activity. The aim is to create a deficit in calories so that your body gets to burn the stored fat. Research shows reduced calorie intake alongside increased physical activity can lead to significant weight loss over time.
  4.  Avoid quick fixes. All those "burn 5kg in a month" bla bla bla can help you shed weight fast, but may not be sustainable in the long run. You may work your body so hard that you may end up with cravings that plunge you back to where you started from. Slow and steady is better. If you get a diet/exercise plan that helps you shed 2kg monthly, that could be more sustainable and your body will easily adjust to the new routine.
  5. When you settle for a particular diet plan, you need to be dedicated.  You should be able to devote about 30 minutes each day for about 5 days a week. It needs not be torturous.  You need not register at some fancy gym if you cannot afford it. Some workout apps can serve as a guide. Some tools like a skipping/jump rope can sometimes be of help.
  6. Start physical exercise small and gradually build up the intensity. This ensures you do not overwork your body. Do that which your body can handle. Workouts need not be torturous. Any day your body doesn't feel up to it, chill and make up the next possible time.
  7. You do not need to stick to boring and bland-tasting foods. Eat more fruits and vegetables, less fried and processed foods, cut down on carbohydrate and fats-rich foods. This does not mean you shouldn't eat your jollof rice once in a while, or enjoy your eba and soup. Simply control the portions of carbohydrates-rich foods like rice, garri, and yam. Our soups are usually rich and healthy, take  more soup and less swallow.

You may want to read this article on Shedding excess pregnancy weight

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Homemade Baby Foods; What you need to know

Most pediatricians recommend waiting until a baby is 6 months old to start solid foods, but some say it is possible to start as early as 4 months as long as certain developmental stages have been reached. Basically, complementary feeding should not be introduced before a baby gets to 4 months, and should not be later than 6 months. By 6 months, a baby needs nutrients beyond what breast milk and formula can provide.

Homemade baby foods are usually more healthy and nutritious than store-bought ones. They are a great way to add more nutrients to your baby's diet. Store-bought baby foods tend to lose vitamins and nutrients during processing and a lot of the “yumminess” that can make your baby excited to try new foods and combinations. When you reside in a country where you are not very sure of the quality of food products imported into or produced in the country then you need to be more concerned about offering your baby commercially prepared foods. The Nigerian market is bedeviled with a lot of fake and substandard products that one cannot always be sure if what is being purchased is an original. So the best way to handle the situation especially for babies is to go the homemade way. We have shared some homemade baby food ideas  These homemade recipes are more nutritious than foods that have been sitting on a store shelf. But before you select what to offer your baby, take the following precautions

  1. For fruits used in making purees; buy only fresh, blemish-free fruits. Also, buy those you can be certain have not been preserved with chemicals. We hear stories of using chemicals to preserve fruits like Banana and Pawpaw in Nigeria. As much as possible avoid chemically preserved ones.
  2. For grains like millet, maize, sorghum etc commonly used in preparing pap, or any other cereals or grains;  buy those without weevil and without chemical preservatives.  Chemicals are usually used to preserve these grains. Buying such grains when they are fully in season reduces the chances that they would have been preserved.  When you buy them when they are not in season, chances are high they have been preserved with chemicals.
  3.  Fruits in season should always be preferred. .Most fruits in Nigeria are seasonal.  Not only will you be taking advantage of the season when you prioritize fruits in season, you will be reducing wastage in the economy as well as reducing the chances of offering chemically preserved foods to your baby.
  4. Avoid exotic fruits. The apples, grapes, and strawberries you see on most supermarket shelves are usually imported and most times preserved chemically to survive the distance and climatic conditions in Nigeria. They also lose some nutrients in the process.  We have different fruits in every season so it is best we stick to our local fruit.
  5. Before preparing baby foods, thoroughly wash your hands and also wash the fruit or vegetable you would be using. It is adviced you use salt in washing the fruit and rinse afterwards. 
  6. Do not introduce two different foods for the first time to your baby. Nutritionists and Dieticians recommend you wait at least 2 days after introduction of a new food before trying another one. This is to monitor your baby's reaction to the food.
  7.  Do not add sweeteners like sugar to your baby's food. Bland or sour -tasting foods like pap can be sweetend with sweet fruits if you so desire. Do not also add salt to baby food. Babies' kidneys are believed to be too fragile to handle salt. Babies below one year should not be offered salt in their foods.
  8. Use boiled and cooled water to prepare your baby's foods. Most reliable bottled water brands in Nigeria have fakes in the market so the only water you can be sure of is the one whose source you know and have taken an extra measure to boil and cool.

See Baby meal ideas for homemade baby food suggestion. 

Monday, 5 March 2018

Break the Silence: Respectful Maternity Care

Every woman is entitled to respectable maternity care (RMC). It is your right to be treated right. Watch this video and see what RMC entails

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Avocado and egg yolk puree

Avocado and egg yolk puree

Many children in Nigeria do not meet the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. It is more common to offer children energy-dense, low nutrient foods which are linked to either obesity or other forms of malnutrition.  
Offering your child good and balanced foods is very important for your child's growth and development especially in the first 1000 days of your child's life. 

Among healthy foods you could offer your child of 6 months and above  is avocado and egg yolk puree. Children below the age of one are not known to properly digest egg whites so it is recommended that they are offered the yolk alone. Egg yolks have a soft texture that make them suitable for infants. 

A research conducted by Maria M et al... and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2002) 75: 6,1084–1092 revealed that the addition of egg yolk to the diet of infants resulted to modest improvements in their dietary iron status. Considering that from 6 months of age, babies need more dietary iron than breast milk supplies make dietary sources of iron beneficial to babies. Little wonder Laura L et al in Nutrition Reviews 2014, 72: 6, 355–368 described eggs as having an "uncracked potential for improving maternal and child nutrition........". 

Avocado has been described by nutritionists as "a great first food for babies". Avocado is a great nutrient-dense food full of healthy monounsaturated fats and nearly 20 minerals and vitamins. Its texture and creaminess makes it acceptable to many babies. Avocado can be mashed/pureed with different fruits to make wonderful baby foods.


  • A ripe but firm blemish-free avocado
  • 2 yolks (or more) from a hard-boiled egg
Procedure for preparing avocado and egg yolk puree

  • Wash the avocado, cut it into two parts and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh
  • Put avocado flesh and egg yolks into a blender and blend with a little water to get the consistency you think is suitable for your baby's age. For babies who have started eating textured or lumpy foods, the food can just be mashed and not pureed. 
Ripe avocado 
Yolks of hard-boiled chicken eggs
Avocado and egg yolk puree
Mashed or pureed avocado gradually turns brown after a while as a result of oxidation. It is always better to prepare single servings but if necessary, excess should be put in air-tight containers and frozen for future use. 

Beans puree

It is no news that knowing what to feed a baby who has started eating solids is often challenging, more so when the baby's parent is concerned about how healthy and nutritious what the baby consumes is. Sometimes, nutritious and baby-friendly foods need not look fancy and be exotic. A mashed or pureed version of adult foods can also make suitable baby food. Presented here is mashed/pureed beans suitable for babies around 8 months and above. 

This baby puree recipe is an adaptation of Chioma Ikejiofor of Mummysyum's 'Ukwa Beans'.
1 cup of black-eyed beans
1 bulb of onion
peeled/de-shelled shrimps (crayfish can be used in place of this )
About a tablespoon of palm oil
Some leaves of spinach (Ugu can be used in place of this)

  • Peel the beans (like you would peel beans meant for Akara or Moi moi)
  • Put beans in a clean pot, pour in just enough water to cover the beans then place on your heat source to cook.
  • Blend spinach, shrimps, and onions and pour into the pot.
  • Add palm oil
  • Cook until soft. 
  • For babies who have started eating textured or lumpy foods (about 9 months and above), you can serve at this stage. For babies still taking smooth purees and paps, you would need to mash or blend the food. 
Pediatricians discourage the addition of salt and most seasonings to baby food until the child is about a year old. So there is no need for salt in the food. Neither is there a need for the heat from pepper. Salt and pepper can be added to this recipe when preparing for children above one year old.

pictorial steps are shown below

Black-eyed beans

Peeled beans

shrimps, spinach leaves, and onions ready for blending
blended shrimp, spinach, and onions mixture

Mixture added to the cooking beans

Palm oil added at this point. Notice the change in color?

Beans is ready. This is suitable for babies who have started eating textured or lumpy foods.
Mashed/pureed version for younger babies

Packed and ready for storage in the freezer