You’ve probably noticed that bread can be tricky for babies…
Bread has a tendency to glom up in the mouth, forming a large, mealy mass that your babe then has to spit out. And because it can stick to the back of the tongue, it can also cause a lot of gagging.
But our main beef with bread is that it can steal the show from other more nutritious foods. I know if bread is on the table it’s the only thing my kids will eat (particularly if it’s processed white bread.)
That said, there are many wonderful breads to explore with your little one, and each offers distinct benefits—from nutrition, to expanding your baby’s palate, to oral development.
Nutrition: From a standpoint of nutrition, it’s hard to beat sprouted grain bread. (Common brands are Ezekiel bread, Dave’s Killer bread, or Silver Hills.) Sprouted grain bread does not use flour but rather whole grains that have begun to sprout (which can increase nutrients and make them easier to absorb as well). Sprouted grain breads often contain legumes as well, giving them a good boost of iron and protein. And unlike many sliced breads you see on the shelves, sprouted grain breads often boast they are made without refined sugar, softeners, or artificial preservatives.
Palate: For those focused on expanding their baby’s palette, go for a variety of flavor-forward breads that don’t have a lot of sugar or sweeteners added. Arepas, buckwheat, chapati, chickpea bread, corn bread, dosa, injera, lavash, lefse, naan, sourdough, soda bread, pumpernickel, roti, and spelt breads are all fun to try, though there are so many more.
Oral Development: Bread can be terrific for strengthening the jaws and learning how to tear. Crusty boules, sourdough, baguette, bagel, bialy, ciabatta, filone, flat breads, ka’ak, pretzel bread, and roti will all challenge your little chewer. These breads will be the hardest to consume, so try giving them to your baby or toddler after they’ve already got some food in the belly.
And there’s no need to stop there. From Jamaican bammy to Chinese laobing, to arepas and corn bread, there are more than 150 types of bread to explore. And many are easy to make at home.