Nutritious and easy to make, these baby-friendly egg veggie pancakes made with whatever veggies you have on hand are the perfect breakfast/snack for babies and toddlers!
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In this blog post, I’ll be discussing the importance of proper nutrition and the key nutrients your child needs for optimal growth and neurodevelopment during infancy/toddlerhood. I’m also putting the spotlight on eggs, one of the most nutritious foods you can offer your baby as early as 6 months.
The Importance of First 1000 Days
Nutrition during pregnancy and the first two years of life (the first 1000 days) are extremely critical from a growth and developmental standpoint as well as in shaping food preferences and dietary habits. High quality nutrition sets the framework for the development of cognitive, motor, and social and emotional skills throughout life. Research shows that the majority of the brain’s structure is shaped during these early days and that nutrition inadequacy during this period may actually compromise its structural development, resulting in lifelong deficits in brain function (1, 2). Thus, proper nutrition is so important in providing both the building blocks and the fuel for the brain. While all nutrients play a role in optimizing brain growth and development, here are the key ones that are especially important during this time period: protein, zinc, iron, choline, folate, iodine, vitamins: A, D, B6, B12, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
The nutrient that surprised me the most was choline. This under-consumed, lesser-known essential nutrient (meaning it must be consumed in the diet to meet the body’s needs) helps the baby’s brain and spinal cord to develop properly during pregnancy and is necessary for continued brain development and learning during the child’s early years. Recognizing its utmost importance, the American Medical Association recommended the nutrient be added to all prenatal vitamin supplements back in 2017 (3).
Now that I’ve shared with you the importance of proper nutrition during the first 1000 days, particularly for neurodevelopment, I want to put the spotlight on one of my favorite foods – EGGS.
I love eggs because they’re so nutrient-dense, affordable, easily accessible, and super versatile! Did you know that eggs are a good or excellent source of 8 essential nutrients, including varying amounts of the key nutrients that I mentioned above: protein, zinc, iron, choline, folate, iodine, vitamins: A, D, B6, B12, and PUFAs? (Fun fact: Eggs are one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D (1 mcg)
Eggs are also one of the richest sources for choline. Two large eggs contain about 300 milligrams of choline, which is more than half the recommended amount for pregnant women (450mg/day).
Eggs For Babies
All this to say, if you’re pregnant and breastfeeding, be sure to enjoy this nutrient powerhouse on a regular basis! As for your baby, I recommend introducing eggs as soon as he/she is ready to start solids. Perhaps you’re thinking – “But aren’t they one of the top allergenic foods? Shouldn’t I introduce later?” From talking to many moms, one of the greatest sources of worry and fear is introducing baby to the potential food allergens. And that is why I want to briefly address this topic.
First of all, what is a food allergy? A food allergy reaction happens when the immune system attacks a food protein that it mistakes as a threat to the body. Symptoms may include itching or swelling of the mouth, throat, face or skin; trouble breathing; and stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. A severe food allergy can be life threatening.
What puts a child at high risk? The greatest factor is family history. If at least one parent or sibling has an atopic condition, which includes eczema, food allergies, allergic rhinitis, and asthma, the child is more likely to develop a food allergy. That said, babies can still show signs of allergy with no genetic predisposition. Another factor is the child’s personal history of atopy. If this applies to you, then I advise you to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best plan of action for your family.
While waiting to introduce them may seem like the safer route, there’s a lack of evidence supporting the idea that delaying the introduction of potentially problematic foods will actually protect the child. On the contrary, there’s growing evidence showing that introducing allergens as early as 4-6 months of age, even to at-risk infants, can dramatically reduce the risk or actually help prevent the development of food allergies.
For instance, in a clinical trial called the Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) study, peanut-containing foods were introduced and given regularly (3 times per week) to infants at high risk for developing food allergy. The result was up to an 86% reduction in the development of peanut allergy by 5 years of age (4, 5).
In another large-scale study called the HealthNuts (6), it was found that introducing cooked egg into the baby’s diet at 4-6 months decreased the risk of egg allergy compared to 10-12 months or later. Overall, based on 5 clinical trials, which included nearly 2000 children, there’s “moderate certainty” that early introduction to egg (between 4-6 months of age) reduces the risk of egg allergy (7).
I want to add that along with early introduction of allergenic foods, sustained exposure is very important to maintain their oral tolerance. In other words, keep offering those foods on a regular basis.
As many of you know, when it came time to start solids, I chose to take the baby led weaning approach where the baby is introduced to finger foods from the start. Whether you decide to take the traditional spoon-feeding approach, baby led weaning, or a combination of the two, what’s most important is allowing your baby to lead and exposing him/her to a wide variety of flavors and textures during this time-sensitive “window of opportunity” between 6-12 months of age where the babies are most open to trying new foods (7). By doing so, you’re helping to shape their food preferences and laying the foundation for future eating patterns. If you’re looking for baby-friendly finger foods that are soft textured, packed with nutritious ingredients, and freezable, check out my 1st e-cookbook!
So if your baby rejects certain foods, don’t give up! Liking is a consequence of familiarity so keep offering! Is your baby not a fan of eggs? Good news is that they’re so versatile you can serve them in many different ways.
Head on over to my Instagram @kidfriendly.meals for more details!
Right now, I want to share with you a super easy and nutritious egg veggie pancake you can serve to your baby. These were and continue to be a hit with my son. It’s an awesome way to incorporate different flavors and textures into one bite. Feel free to customize this by using whatever vegetables you have on hand, herbs/spices you fancy, and milk and flour of choice.
Baby Friendly Egg Veggie Pancakes
- 1/2 teaspoon oil or butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk of choice can use breastmilk
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable s of choice: in here, I used spinach, grated raw carrots, cooked broccoli
- 1 tablespoon flour of choice I personally like to use spelt
- 1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds
- 1/4 teaspoon herbs/spices of choice e.g. cinnamon, curry powder, cumin, oregano, turmeric
- Beat egg and milk together in a bowl until blended. Add rest of the ingredients and combine.
- Heat butter/oil in a 6-inch nonstick pan over medium-low heat, tilting the pan to coat bottom.
- Pour in the mixture (don’t stir), spread evenly, and let the batter cook for a minute or so until the bottom starts to set.
- Flip and cook the other side until lightly browned.
- Remove from pan. Once cooled, slice into desired shapes.
Can serve as is or spread nut butters, avocado, Greek yogurt, etc. on top
- Benton, D. (2008). The influence of children’s diet on their cognition and behavior. European Journal of Nutrition, 47(S3), 25-37. doi:10.1007/s00394-008-3003-x
- Schwarzenberg, S. J., & Georgieff, M. K. (2018). Advocacy for Improving Nutrition in the First 1000 Days to Support Childhood Development and Adult Health. Pediatrics,141(2). doi:10.1542/peds.2017-3716
- AMA backs global health experts in calling infertility a disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/ama-backs-global-health-experts-calling-infertility-disease
- Chipps, B. E. (2015). Randomized Trial of Peanut Consumption in Infants at Risk for Peanut Allergy. Pediatrics,136(Supplement). doi:10.1542/peds.2015-2776ff
- Toit, G. D., Sayre, P. H., Roberts, G., Sever, M. L., Lawson, K., Bahnson, H. T., . . . Lack, G. (2016). Effect of Avoidance on Peanut Allergy after Early Peanut Consumption. New England Journal of Medicine,374(15), 1435-1443. doi:10.1056/nejmoa1514209
- Leonard, S. A., & Nowak-Wêgrzyn, A. (2011). Can Early Introduction of Egg Prevent Egg Allergy in Infants? A Population-Based Study. Pediatrics,128(Supplement 3). doi:10.1542/peds.2011-2107v
- Lippner, E., & Dinakar, C. (2017). Timing of Allergenic Food Introduction to the Infant Diet and Risk of Allergic or Autoimmune Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Pediatrics,140(Supplement 3). doi:10.1542/peds.2017-2475mm