Baby Food Around the World
Global Baby Food
While the majority of Western countries tend to start their children on a bland diet of pureed carrots and mash, many other cultures introduce their babies to a wide range of flavours and ingredients from an early age, while others are limited by what food is available. So sit down, make your baby a cup of tea, and read on!
Japanese babies are often given water in addition to breast milk from an early age, and mothers may also bottle feed their babies miso soup and non-caffeinated teas before they reach one. When starting solids, the baby is fed a thin rice porridge, which is gradually made thicker and topped with small dried fish, tuna, tofu, vegetables and mashed pumpkin. One of the most popular baby foods is ‘nattō’, a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans, which is eaten by adults and children alike. Raw fish is also fed to children under two, usually ‘maguro’ (tuna) or ‘ikura’ (salmon roe). Babies use spoons and forks to begin with, but by the age of two, most children much prefer chopsticks.
The most common baby food fed to Nigerian babies is ‘gari’, which is similar to potato flour and made from cassava roots, which have been cleaned and grated before being left to ferment. It’s then made into a dough or porridge or added to soups. Babies are also fed yams and okra as well as tripe for protein, when available. Across Western Africa, food is often introduced by ‘premastication’, where the parents first chew adult food before offering it to the baby. This makes the food soft enough to swallow and it’s thought that enzymes from the mother’s saliva help to make the food more easily digestible.
An Inuit (Eskimo) baby’s first introduction to food is normally seaweed and ‘nuk-tuk’ (seal blubber). Caribou and whale meat is introduced (often served raw), as well as wild herbs, roots and berries once the baby reaches around nine months old.
Indian babies are introduced to aromatic spices and flavours from around 6 months, with hot spices being added from around 2-3 years. Spices like turmeric and cinnamon have long been known to have positive health and digestive benefits and are added to many baby foods, as well as herbs like coriander and mint. Try this recipe to spice up your baby’s tastebuds!
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