Bread For Babies: Safety, Right Age, Precautions, And Recipes

Baby Tips

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Bread prepared from wheat flour is a staple food for many people worldwide. For babies, it can provide carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and some micronutrients. Feeding wheat bread to babies for the first time does require precautions since wheat is a common allergen (1). So, what is the right age and how to feed wheat bread to your baby?

In this post, we answer these questions and tell you about the nutritive value of bread and the precautions you may take while feeding bread for babies.

Is It Safe To Give Bread To Babies?

Yes, bread is safe for babies. Experts recommend feeding 100% whole-wheat bread as it can provide considerable amounts of carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, and essential micronutrients, like iron, zinc, and thiamin (2). However, while adding it to your baby’s weaning diet, check for possible sensitivity or allergic reactions, especially if you or anyone in your family has a history of allergies.

Babies with a confirmed wheat allergy should avoid all wheat products, including baby cereals, bread, pasta, and crackers. Most infants outgrow wheat allergy within early childhood (3) (4).

When Can You Give Bread To Babies?

According to the UK National Health Service, you can introduce bread to babies from the age of six months (5). Bread can be among the first foods when a six-month-old begins eating solids. Pick fresh, 100% whole-wheat bread without any seeds or nuts (6). Serve lightly-toasted bread, cut in small pieces that are easy to swallow for a baby without the risk of choking.

Nutritive Value Of Bread

Below is the proximate composition comparison of one medium-sized slice of refined bread, whole wheat bread, and enriched bread (7) (8) (9). Whole-wheat bread is made from whole-wheat flour that contains all the nutritious parts of the wheat grain, namely bran, germ, and endosperm, while refined wheat flour only contains the endosperm. Enriched bread is made from enriched flour, which is refined flour fortified with nutrients that were lost during the milling process.

Name Whole-wheat bread Refined bread Enriched bread
Energy (Kcal) 90.7 74.5 69.9
Protein (g) 4.48 2.48 2
Carbohydrate, by difference (g) 15.4 13.8 13
Fiber, total dietary (g) 2.16 0.756 0
Calcium, Ca (mg) 58 40.3 25
Magnesium, Mg (mg) 27 6.44 0
Phosphorus, P (mg) 76.3 27.4 0
Potassium, K (mg) 91.4 35.3 20
Sodium, Na (mg) 164 137 120
Thiamin (mg) 0.142 0.149 0
Riboflavin (mg) 0.06 0.068 0.1
Niacin (mg) 1.6 1.34 1.1
Folate, total (µg) 15.1 31.1 25*
Choline, total (mg) 9.79 4.09 0

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture 

How Much Bread Should You Give To Your Infant?

Whole-wheat bread in moderation can be an important part of a well-balanced diet. Below is the daily suggested intake for grains, including bread, for babies (10).

Age (months) Suggested daily serving 
6 to 8 1 to 2 ounces (28-56 grams) of iron-fortified infant cereals, bread, and small pieces of crackers

Only bread: Two small slices of whole-wheat bread per day

8 to 12 2 to 4 ounces (56-113 grams) of iron-fortified cereals, other grains, bread, crackers, noodles, tortilla pieces, etc.

Only bread: One large, one medium, and one small slice of whole-wheat bread per day

Source: USDA

Precautions To Take While Giving Bread To Babies

Here are some simple precautions to ensure the safe intake of bread for babies and toddlers.

  1. Prefer whole-wheat bread to refined or enriched bread. Look for “100% Whole-Wheat” labels on the bread packaging.
  2. Not every “brown bread” is 100% whole-wheat bread. Check the ingredients for the mention of 100% whole-wheat flour. Also, check for the percentage of whole-wheat. Use bread made from 100% whole-wheat flour.
  3. Avoid multi-grain whole-wheat bread since it may contain seeds and nuts. Only pick single grain (whole-wheat) bread to avoid possible allergic reactions.
  4. Go for low sodium and no-added sweetener varieties. Also, check for the presence of any other additives, such as food color.
  5. Check the manufacturing date and “best before” or “use by” date. Prefer fresh bread.
  6. Follow a “three to five-day wait” while introducing bread to rule out sensitivities or allergies towards wheat. Add no new food while you are feeding bread to your baby.
  7. General symptoms of wheat allergy are hives, wheezing, stomach ache, and diarrhea, occurring immediately after the baby eats food made with wheat (1) (3). Babies that experience bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach ache but no wheezing or hives are likely to have wheat sensitivity or celiac disease (11) (12). It can be hard to distinguish symptoms of wheat allergy or sensitivity from those of celiac disease (13). Therefore, stop feeding wheat products to the baby and consult a doctor for the precise diagnosis.
  8. Babies with wheat allergy or wheat sensitivity can have bread made from flours of almonds, legumes, and tubers. Take your pediatrician’s opinion before introducing these alternative options.
  9. If wheat suits the baby, then feed whole-wheat bread in moderation and as part of a well-balanced diet. Overconsumption may fill up the baby’s tummy and leave no space for breast milk and other foods.
  10. Toast the bread and cut it into small pieces that are easy to swallow. If the baby does not like the bread, wait for a few days and try again. You can also introduce bread in combination with other foods, such as vegetable and fruit purees.
  11. Babies above eight months of age can consume small, bite-sized lightly toasted bread, breadsticks, bread crusts, and pitta bread as finger foods (14).
  12. For toddlers who eat a wide variety of solids, you can consider trying other types of bread, such as whole-grain cornbread, whole-grain or sprouted rye bread, whole-grain multi-grain bread, sourdough bread, and flax bread, after consulting a pediatrician.

Tasty Bread Recipes For Babies

You can feed bread to your baby as a simple toast or by soaking it in a small quantity of warm milk. Alternatively, you may use the following recipes.

1. Jammy bread fingers

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock 

The easy-to-prepare finger food recipe can be a part of your baby’s breakfast meal.

You will need:
  • 1 whole-wheat bread slice
  • 1tsp blueberry jam (or any jam of choice)
How to:
  1. Slice the whole-wheat bread into thin fingers.
  2. Apply jam to these slices of bread and serve immediately.
  3. You can slightly toast the bread before slicing.

2. Buttery banana bread slices

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A perfect finger food recipe made with nutritious ingredients, like fresh fruits and peanut butter. This is suitable for toddlers.

You will need:
  • 1 banana bread slice
  • 1tsp plain peanut butter (without peanut chunks)
  • 1tbsp tiny mixed fruit pieces (mango and strawberry)
How to:
  1. Spread the peanut butter on the banana bread slice and decorate with tiny mixed fruit pieces.
  2. Serve immediately with a cup of warm milk or fresh homemade veggie juice.
  3. You can add toasted sesame seeds and flaxseeds to this recipe.

3. Multi-grain French toast

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French toast is a delicious traditional treat for babies above 12 months of age.

You will need:
  • Multi-grain bread slice
  • ¼tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • ⅛ cup whole milk
  • 1tsp maple syrup
How to:
  1. Add cinnamon, sugar, egg, and milk in a small bowl, whisk well and set aside.
  2. Keep a skillet over medium heat and put butter onto it to melt.
  3. Dip the bread in the egg mixture and then place it on the skillet to fry.
  4. Fry the slice until it turns golden brown from both the sides.
  5. Drizzle some maple syrup and serve the French toast while still warm.

4. Cheesy mini sandwiches

Image: Shutterstock

Mini sandwiches are a healthy snack option for babies and toddlers.

You will need:
  • 2  whole-wheat bread slices
  • 1tsp mint sauce
  • 1tsp tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup cucumber (grated)
  • 1tbsp cream cheese
How to:
  1. Take a small mixing bowl and mix mint sauce, tomato sauce, and cream cheese in it.
  2. Spread a thick layer of the mixture to one slice, top with grated cucumber, and cover with another slice.
  3. Press the sandwich gently and cut it into four small squares.
  4. Serve immediately with fresh vegetable juice or a cup of warm milk.
  5. You can also add cooked cottage cheese to this recipe to intensify its nutritional value.

5. Bread upma

Image: Shutterstock

A healthy and delicious recipe suitable for babies above ten months of age.

You will need:
  • 1 cup crumbled whole-wheat bread
  • 2tbsp peanuts
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 1 small tomato (diced)
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1tbsp oil
  • 4-5 curry leaves
How to:
  1. Put oil in a thick bottom pan, add peanuts, and fry them for ten seconds.
  2. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, and onion and fry until onions turn golden brown.
  3. Now, add tomato, turmeric, and salt, and cook for five minutes.
  4. Add crumbled bread to the mix and give a nice toss. Cook for five minutes with the lid closed.
  5. Transfer the cooked bread upma to a serving plate, add lemon juice, and serve.

Alternatives Of Bread For Babies

Some food items that can be alternatives to bread for babies are:

  • Whole-wheat pancakes
  • Oats pancakes
  • Millet pancakes
  • Whole-wheat chapatis
  • Corn tortillas

Bread is a versatile baked product that can be a part of your baby’s well-balanced weaning diet. Feed 100% whole-wheat bread to the baby with various other foods as part of a balanced diet. Stay alert towards signs of sensitivity or allergy. For toddlers, introduce various types of bread made with different grains, pulses, and seeds to make their diet wholesome. 

References:

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