Why eggs are an important first food for children
(BPT) - Trying to decide what first foods to feed your baby? Second-generation egg farmer Ross Dean knew that eggs would be one of his son's first foods once he was old enough to start eating solid foods.
"Many would say that I'm biased, or that they're easily accessible to me," said Dean, who works alongside his father and brothers in Iowa and Ohio. "Well, both are true — but the main reason I chose eggs is that they have varying amounts of all of the key nutrients that support neurodevelopment, and they're also a step in the right direction toward building healthy dietary habits that will help him grow."
The nutritional value of eggs
Dean knew that the many nutrients in eggs would make them an ideal food for his son, including:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
Choline has been recognized as an essential nutrient that helps brain development, even from an infant's pre-natal months. Because of their key nutrients, eggs were specifically mentioned as a crucial food source for pregnant women, infants and throughout the lifecycle in the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's Scientific Report.
This Advisory Committee of 20 health and medical experts reviewed the latest scientific evidence on nutrition and highlighted eggs as a vital first food for infants, due to the important role they play in a growing child's health. For pregnant women, choline helps to develop their baby's brain and spinal cord.
In fact, approximately 90% of Americans don't get enough choline, an important nutrient for cognitive development and health. Eggs are one of the most concentrated food sources of choline in the American diet. One large egg contains 150 milligrams of choline — about 27% of the amount men need daily and 35% of the amount women need each day.
Early egg introduction and allergies
The Advisory Committee also shared a new recommendation based on up-to-date research. Early introduction of eggs — when a baby is 4-6 months old and developmentally ready to eat solid foods — may help reduce a child's risk of developing an allergy to eggs.
Additionally, based on this report, caregivers provide a variety of foods for children including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy, along with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grain products beginning from 6-12 months old. The Advisory Committee specifically recommended eggs as an important first food for infants and toddlers as they are a rich source of choline and because early introduction of eggs (after 4 months of age), when baby is developmentally ready, may help reduce the risk of developing an egg allergy.
How to introduce eggs into your baby's diet
Dean recommends keeping it simple. He has tried the following ways of feeding eggs to his young son:
- Hard-cooked egg yolk, mashed on a spoon
- Omelets with cheese and sautéed veggies, cut into thin strips to easily pick up
- Finely mashed scrambled eggs
- As an ingredient in food such as pancakes
The recipe below is one that everyone in the family can enjoy. Banana, pumpkin and eggs come together to create a soft texture and sweet taste, making these pancakes perfect for babies and toddlers.
Total time: 20 minutes; Servings: 4
3 bananas (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (about half of a 15-ounce can)
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
Fresh fruit to serve with it, if desired
In blender, combine banana, pumpkin, eggs and baking powder. Blend until smooth.
Spray nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat.
Pour about 1 tablespoon of batter onto skillet and cook until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
Carefully flip pancake and cook the other side until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
Repeat with remaining batter.
Refrigerate leftovers up to 3 days.
Feeding your baby or toddler eggs not only provides them with crucial nutrients at an early age, but eggs are also quick to prepare and easy for infants and young children to eat.
Looking for more recipes for your family using The Incredible Egg? Check out IncredibleEgg.org/KidFriendlyRecipes for ideas.