You’ve done a great deal of work either nursing your baby around the clock, preparing bottles after bottles, or a combination of both. Most parents look forward to introducing solid foods to their baby because it means finally getting to try a new way of feeding. Also, it is a lot of fun! Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a picture or video of a baby responding to a new flavor and texture for the first time?
There are so many options out there for feeding your baby solid foods. Whether you plan to go strictly organic, stick with the least expensive prepared foods, or make your own, there are endless products out there to help you achieve the feeding goals you have in your mind for your baby.
Can my baby start having his first food from 6 months old?
There are two leading recommendations about when your baby will be ready to try solid foods.
It is common to hear that a baby should wait to try solid food until they turn 6 months old. This philosophy stems from the idea that babies should exclusively be breastfeed or bottle feed until 6 months of age. The main reason for this is because of vitamin D deficiencies in babies. In theory, filling up on solid foods means filling up less on the milk or formula that has essential levels of vitamin D, and more on the foods that are fun and tasty for baby, but do not satisfy true nutritional needs.
Watch for Signs of Readiness
The second philosophy is watching for signs of readiness in your baby. These signs usually happen between 4 and 6 months of age, but of course, vary by an infant. The signs of first food readiness are:
1. Baby is able to hold his or her head up
2. Baby sits up with (or without) assistance
3. Baby acts interested in food, especially your food
4. Baby has doubled his or her birth weight
The philosophy that will work best is ultimately up to you and your baby. Always follow the advice of your baby’s pediatrician, of course. Especially if your baby has any kind of developmental delays, digestive issues, failure to thrive, etc.
What Foods Should I Introduce First?
Keep in mind that a baby has very few or no teeth when being introduced to solid foods for the first time. For this reason, it is always important to make sure that the texture of the food, no matter what actual food it is, is a smooth and lump-free as possible. This is to prevent choking or aspiration.
A Word About Food Allergies
Many parents are worried about food allergies and wonder if there are any foods to avoid. There seems to be a lot of information out there on this but it is all so conflicting.
The most common food allergies are often referred to as the "Top 8". While a person can develop an allergy to just about any food at any time in his or her life, the top 8 are the most common among all people. Not one allergy is any "worse" than the other in regards to the Top 8, though media and culture have certainly made it seem that way.
Top 8 Allergies
The current approach is that not only should you introduce all kinds of foods to your baby, including the Top 8, but also that doing so before baby's first birthday could prevent the development of food allergies.
On the flip side, there is data to support that introducing solid foods too early, usually earlier than 4 months old, can increase your baby's risk of developing food allergies.
If your baby has fed well on either breast milk or formula thus far, and you have no other reasons to be concerned he or she might have an allergy or sensitivity to certain foods, then by all means, let him or her have it all! Simply know what the signs of food allergies look like prior to introducing foods to ease your mind.
Top 10 First Baby Foods
What are the Different Kinds of Rice Cereal?
Baby cereal comes dry and is mixed with either milk, formula, or pureed fruits or vegetables. It is bland and mostly smooth in texture. There are different kinds, the most popular being rice, oatmeal, and barley cereals. There are differences between each of these cereals, mainly the protein content and how intact the grain is, which affects digestion.
Rice is popular because it is the easiest to digest. White rice and brown rice cereals are also wheat and gluten free. Oatmeal and barley and popular because of the nutritional benefits of added proteins and being more filling for baby. However, both oatmeal and barley are whole grains, which contain both wheat and gluten.
Cereals, while easy to digest can cause gas and constipation. If the baby has any of these symptoms it is no reason to stop giving the cereal. There are other alternatives such as mixing the cereal with fruit/ vegetable purees, or giving baby gas and/or probiotic drops with meals.
Apple sauce is widely available in most grocery stores because even adults enjoy it as a snack. It is a great first food because it is sweet and easy to digest. Apples are a binding food, meaning they do not cause much stomach upset. Apples are also inexpensive and available year-round. They are also one of the universal mixers for other pureed foods, even foods such as turkey and chicken!
Pears, like apples, are sweet and mild on the tummy. Pureed pears are an excellent first food for your baby and could be an alternative to apple if your baby prefers the taste of sweet over tart. Pears have a slightly grittier texture but they mix well with other fruit or vegetable purees to add sweetness.
Prunes are a great first food because they are sweet like apples and pears, but they have a more distinct flavor and color. The number one benefit of adding pureed prunes to your baby's food regimen is to combat the constipation that some babies experience when adding solid foods to their diets.
Sweet, but not too sweet pureed peaches are another great food. The flavor difference between pre-made and home-made will be quite different, so keep that in mind when introducing this food. You can even find peach slices frozen, and introduce them in a feeder teether. It is a great tool to have and works with other frozen fruits and veggies and even purees.
Carrots, either prepared or home-made, are a great first food. They are one of the sweeter vegetable options especially when cooked. Try peeling and steaming fresh carrots to prepare for a yummy puree.
The sweetest of all pureed fruits are bananas. If your baby likes nothing else he or she tries, I'm wagering to guess the flavor of this fruit will do the trick. Creamy in texture, bananas are a great mixer. Bananas, like the other fruits mentioned, come prepared or you can mash it yourself for a fresh, inexpensive, and delicious food your baby is sure to love. Mix the fruits your baby did not favor banana and minds can be changed.
Banana: How to prep as baby food
Its easy to turn a fresh whole banana into baby food puree. All you have to do is take a ripe banana, not too green and not too brown, peel and either mash or blend. There are a variety of tools available for this. My favorite way to do it is using a food mill or ricer, but not everyone has one of those. Putting a banana into a blender or food with a few teaspoons of water is a quick and easy way to do it as well. You can even simply mash a banana with a fork, just be sure that the texture is smooth and free of any chunks.
8. Sweet Potatoes
A great first food because they are sweet enough while offering the nutritional profile of vegetables. Available prepared or you can make your own with a few simple steps.
Peas seem to be hit or miss for babies. My son loved prepared peas but my daughter was not impressed. I was able to get my daughter to eat them eventually by mixing with one of her favorites, peaches. The taste of prepared green pea puree is wildly different than a puree made from fresh or frozen peas. Of the green vegetable purees available though, peas are the sweetest, and arguably the most palatable for a baby.
Speaking of green baby foods, avocados are a super food and great as a first food. Technically, avocados are a fruit. However, they contain a lot of the same nutrients as other green vegetables, plus they have Omega-3 fatty acids and even fiber. They are very mild in taste, but the texture can be difficult for some babies, even in a pureed form. Its pretty rare to find prepared avocado puree since the flesh of an avocado oxidizes quickly, turning it brown and mushy when exposed to heat or air.
Avocado: How to prep as baby food
Source: Verywell Family
Avocados can be pureed into baby food in the same way you would prepare a banana. They might require a little bit more liquid to get a nice, smooth and even texture. Avocados contain a lot of fat, which is hydrophobic, or "water resisting", so getting the fruit's flesh to mix with the water requires some power or elbow grease.
Yummy Puree Recipes to Tickle Your Baby's Taste Buds
Banana Pumpkin Puree
1/2 cup Pumpkin (pureed in a can or fresh cooked) and 1 ripe banana - Puree the ingredients adding water as necessary to get a smooth consistency
Peanut Butter Banana Swirl
Peanut Butter Banana Swirl
2 tbsp peanut butter and 1 ripe banana - Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon water to the peanut butter and puree. Add banana and puree until smooth.
Mixed Berry Smoothie
Mixed Berry Smoothie
1 banana and 1/2 cup berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or a combination) and 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt - Puree all ingredients together until smooth.
There are many different things your baby can enjoy for his or her first food when ready. A baby's readiness depends on the signs of readiness your baby is showing, and also your baby's age. Unless there is an existing reason why you think your baby may have food allergies, there is no need to hold off on introducing your baby to the spectrum of foods out there. Start simple with cereal or a sweet fruit or vegetable puree, and add things such as yoghurt and peanut butter as your baby gets the hang of this eating thing. Prepared foods come in many varieties, and making food is something many mothers do as well. You are only limited by your own creativity when it comes to feeding your baby.