The main reason we introduce food to babies (from a nutritional point of view) is because of their increased iron requirements at 6months. It’s important to include a high iron food in every meal in those first months of offering food. But not all foods are good sources of iron (fruit and veggies have almost none), nor are they in an appropriate form for babies to consume (think meat, fish, chicken, legumes and nuts). One way to increase iron intake is to add iron fortified rice cereal to purees that typically have very little iron in them. But, the last time I reviewed a baby rice cereal, I copped some interesting comments from those opposed to using rice cereals. As a paediatric dietitian (who supports both puree and baby-led weaning approaches to introducing solids) I am happy to recommend rice cereal as something to include with other pureed food.
In the Australian market we don’t have a lot of other cereals or products fortified with iron. And that’s where today’s review comes in. Please remember, these reviews are just meant to give you some more info about common food products so that you can make up your own mind for your own family. Today’s Chewsday Review features Bellamy’s Organic Spelt macaroni.
🔹Organic spelt (99%), mineral iron
🔹Common allergens include: gluten
🔹This product provides a good amount of iron, which is critical for a baby's brain and immune system development. I talk in detail about iron here. At about 6 months of age, babies no longer have sufficient iron stores, and breastmilk or infant formula can no longer provide enough iron for their growing bodies. In fact, a baby's requirements for iron are higher between 7-12 months than they are during later childhood. A 30g (dry) serving of this pasta (about 1/3 Cup cooked) provides more than half of a baby's iron requirements. This is HUGE! Given that babies only ingest very little food as they are introduced to solids (via BLW or purée), this is an easy option.
🔹No added sugar or salt, meaning it's just spelt and iron.
🔹Meets healthy guidelines for fat, sugar and salt.
🔹The macaroni cooking instructions suggest 5 minutes of cooking time. Whilst this is soft, the pieces are still too big or firm for babies just starting out on their solids journey. This is not about a choking risk, more that it’s very difficult for babies to manage lumpy purees when they’ve only been swallowing milk or smooth puree. As your baby gets older you can gradually increase the texture of their spoon food. I’d suggest this pasta texture is more appropriate for 8 months and beyond. You could certainly puree it at first if you wanted to.
🔹This product contains gluten, which is a potential allergen. If this is the first time you’re offering wheat/gluten, just make sure you’re not mixing it with another highly allergenic food like egg, nuts, milk, sesame, peanuts, fish, soy or shellfish. It’s recommended to only offer one new allergen at a time so that if your baby does have a reaction, you can easily trace the cause.
🔹At $4.69 for a 200g packet, it’s not cheap. That works out to $23/kilo (uncooked). Really though, that’s cheaper than other sources of iron like red meat.
🔹I’ve only found it at Chemist Warehouse and not the major supermarkets.
🔹The packet states that it is suitable for babies 8+ months of age and I agree. Having said that, the pasta will be too much of a lumpy texture for some little ones at this age. This is really normal, and you might find you need to cook it a few mins longer so it’s super soft.
🔹’Good source of iron’ Agree!
🔹’Organic’ Remember this doesn’t make it healthier. Baby food does not need to be organic.
🔹No added sugar or salt. True.
🔹From a dietetic perspective, I think this is a good option to include with typically low iron foods like tomato-based sauce, veggies and fruit because it's a ready source of iron, which is the most important nutrient in the first 6 months of solid food.
🔹If you're intent on baby-led weaning without offering purée, then you could use this pasta as a grain in pikelet/muffin style foods, or buy a self-feeding spoon for your bub to practice with.
🔹I'd also recommend offering other high-iron foods as your baby develops the skills e.g. Puréed meat, slow cooked meat, lentils, fish, Kid’s Weet-Bix.
About Toddler Mealtimes
Toddler Mealtimes is an online subscription for parents who want to feel confident about teaching their toddler to enjoy a variety of foods. It's particularly helpful for those who are noticing their toddler becoming increasingly fussy, but they're not quite sure to handle it. The 12 month subscription guides you through managing toddler fussiness with confidence with regular tips and tricks via videos and photos. Sign up here www.toddlermealtimes.com.au
About Baby Mealtimes
Baby Mealtimes is an online subscription for parents with babies aged 4-12 months. It’s your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about introducing solid food to your baby. The monthly subscription (or 8 month package) guides you through what to offer and when, with meal ideas and a photo gallery of over 120 finger foods organised by age. Sign up here www.babymealtimes.com.au
About Mealtime Building Blocks
Dr Kyla Smith and Liz Beaton are paediatric dietitians specialising in fussy eating, feeding difficulties and childhood nutrition. Lauren Pike is an occupational therapist working in fussy eating and feeding difficulties. They have a private practice called Mealtime Building Blocks in Perth, Western Australia. You can connect with Kyla, Liz and Lauren here www.mealtimes.com.au