Superfoods for Babies: 9-12 Months

Your baby will probably be much more proficient at chewing, and chopped or mashed food can replace purees. Many babies refuse to be spoon-fed, so finger foods become an important part of the diet.

Vegetables and Fruits

In her book Superfoods for Babies and Children (Atria Books), bestselling author Annabel Karmel details which are the best foods for your 9- to 12-month-old baby, and why.

Superfoods for Babies and Children by Annabel Karmel

Spinach is rich in chlorophyll, the green pigment found in plants that helps prevent and treat anemia. Spinach is a good source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, so do not overcook it or you will destroy a lot of its content. But despite popular opinion -- and Popeye -- it is not a particularly good source of iron.

Broccoli is king of the healthy vegetable superstars. Its phytochemicals have important properties, especially against cancer. It provides an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene. The darker the florets, the higher the amount of antioxidants. Broccoli should be steamed, as boiling almost halves its vitamin C content. Broccoli eaten three times a week is believed to lower the risk of cancer. This is because broccoli contains glucosinolate, which triggers the production of cancer-fighting enzymes.

Carrots are more nutritious when cooked, unlike many other vegetables. Cooking breaks open the plant cells so antioxidants and other plant chemicals can be absorbed much better. Carrots contain large amounts of carotene, an antioxidant that gives carrots their orange color.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful pigment important in the prevention of cancer. Men who have a high level of lycopene in their fat stores are half as likely to have a heart attack. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and potassium, which is important for healthy blood and helps counteract the negative effects of salt. One of the factors of the good health of the Mediterranean people may be that their diet is rich in fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes.

Raspberries are rich in vitamin C, which is needed for growth, healthy skin, bones, and teeth, and also helps the body to absorb iron from food. Raspberries are higher in folic acid and zinc than most fruits.

Avocados are sometimes thought of as a vegetable but they are actually a fruit and contain more nutrients than any other fruit. Avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit and are rich in monounsaturated fat, the "good" type of fat, which helps prevent heart disease. The high calorie content of avocados makes them a good food for growing children.

Butternut squash is rich in beta-carotene, the plant form of vitamin A, which helps protect against cancer and boosts your child's immune system.

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