The first time you give your baby food can be fun, but scary, experience. Most parents are worried that they are doing something wrong. What if they are offering the wrong food? What if they have an allergic reaction? There are so many questions!
There are some first foods for babies that are better choices than others. The first thing that a parent needs to know is when to start solid foods. If you talk to your friends, you are sure to get a huge variety of answers.
Your grandma is more than likely going to tell you to start your baby on solids immediately! Years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for children to be offered baby food as early as six to eight weeks old. Science had yet to discover the appropriate time to begin.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents exclusively breastfeeding their child until the age of six months old. This advice has changed recently. If you have older children, your pediatrician might have recommended starting as early as three months old. However, experts have since found some compelling reasons to delay solid food.
- Between four to six months old, your baby loses their tongue thrust that causes them to push food out of their mouth. Introducing food before they lose this reflex can lead to a higher risk of aspiration.
- They gain the coordination to move food from the front of their mouth to the back.
- Their digestive tract has higher levels of enzymes that help with the processing of starches.
- Introducing food too early can lead to greater risk of obesity.
- Babies have delicate tummies, and baby food can cause an upset stomach. You may notice your child is constipated more frequently with higher levels of gas.
- If you wait too long after six months old, you could delay the oral motor function.
- Breastfed babies should have solids introduced around six months old to increase their iron levels.
There are other indicators, besides age, that your child is ready for food. While age is a good thing to go by, every baby is ready at their own time. There are some common signs of readiness.
- Baby is interested. If your child has no interest in food, there probably is no point in offering food to the content Some kids aren’t interested, even at six months old, and they are satisfied with the breast or bottle.
- Tongue Thrust Reflex is Gone: Remember trying to keep your baby’s pacifier in his mouth, but he kept pushing it out with his tongue? Luckily, that reflex goes away after four months old. It makes your life easier if you wait for this period.
- Developing Pincer Grasp: Soon, your baby will learn to pick up items between his forefinger and thumb – including all of the little pieces of lint on the floor! At this age, he can start picking up food that he should eat.
- Sitting Up Independently: It isn’t a good idea to offer your child food before he can sit up alone. You want your child to sit firmly in his high chair, which decreases the risk of choking.
- Opens Mouth for Food: Have you ever noticed that your baby opens his mouth at the sight of your food? Is he hoping that you put the apple in his mouth rather than yours? This sign is classic for babies who are ready for food.
- Doubled Birth Weight: Pediatricians recommended waiting for your baby to double his birth weight before you start solids. Or, he should be at least 13 pounds.
The Best First Foods for Your Baby
It is finally time to offer your baby food! This time is so fun, but nerve wracking. It is best to provide only single ingredient foods. The guidelines offered by pediatricians tell us to offer a new fruit or vegetable every three or four days. During this time frame, you watch your baby for any signs of sensitivities to food. Offering one food at a time makes it easier to pinpoint the culprit.
Signs of sensitive to foods
- Sneezing, runny or stuffy nose
- Swelling in hands and face
- Rash around anus
- Mucous in stools
- Spitting up
Once your baby has made it through the single ingredient foods, you can start the mixtures. If you know, your child can handle sweet potatoes and apples separate, offer them together!
1. Raw Avocado
One of the best first foods to offer to your baby is an avocado. They have a high amount of essential fats and nutrients. The texture is smooth and creamy, plus it is easy for their tummies to digest.
Parents need to offer their children foods that are full of good vitamins. Avocados have Vitamin A and C, Niacin, Folate, Phosphorous, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. All of these are perfect for the development of your baby.
Serving avocados is simple. First, make sure you pick the right one by looking for extras bumps with a dark green color. However, it shouldn’t be too squeezable. When you go to serve it to your baby, all you need to do is scoop out the flesh and mash it up with a fork. Some parents like to add breast milk to the avocado to make it a bit thinner.
It is an almost guarantee that your baby will love bananas! They are delicious, smooth, creamy and easy for babies to digest. Just like avocados, they are full of fabulous nutrients like Vitamin B6, Manganese, Vitamin C, Potassium, Dietary Fiber, and Potassium.
Bananas are easy to serve; all you need to do is dice it up. Your baby may have some issues with picking it up. However, he will have a fun time squishing them in his hands.
You can also use bananas for a great base for other mixtures or as a sweetener. There are recipes for pancakes with bananas or banana muffins. Bananas can sweeten up tart fruit blends.
Introducing your baby to vegetables is important. Some parents prefer to offer veggies first before fresh fruit, so that their baby doesn’t get too used to the sweetness.
Carrots are a fantastic choice. If you steam them, they are an excellent choice for baby led weaning. If you puree them, they are just as good! Carrots are easy and gentle on their delicate tummies. They are loaded down with fantastic vitamins like Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A, and other minerals that are great for their development.
For years, pediatricians advised parents to wait until 9 to 12 months before introducing eggs. There are proteins in egg whites that are known to high allergens. However, like everything else, the recommendations have since changed!
The American Academy of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology now believes that there is no reason to wait longer than six months to introduce the whole egg to your baby. In fact, studies in Australia show that parents who introduce eggs around six months old decrease the risk of that their child will develop an allergic reaction.
Interestingly enough, their evidence shows that children who didn’t eat eggs before 12 months of age were five times more likely to develop an allergy! Unless you have a family history of an egg allergy, they are a fantastic first food!
Eggs are full of rich nutrients. They are a source of cholesterol, which your baby needs for their brain development. They have fat soluble Vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Your child won’t have any trouble digesting egg yolks. Egg yolks also have high levels of protein and natural fats.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Another common first food for babies is sweet potatoes. If you take a look at the jars of first foods at the grocery store, every brand has a sweet potatoes variety. Just like the other options, it is full of vitamins, has a great texture and is easy to serve.
Baby food companies offer sweet potatoes (and yams) for a reason. They are a natural source of Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene), Vitamin C, Manganese, Vitamin B1, B2, B6, Potassium and Dietary Fiber.
Serving sweet potatoes is pretty easy, but it does require a few extra steps. Typically, you want to bake them at a high temperature, around 400 degrees. Once they have cooked, you can easily puree sweet potatoes. If you do baby led weaning, cut them into chunks and let your child eat them up.
When your child is a bit older, you can make sweet potato French fries (always baked) with a dash of cinnamon. They are delicious this way. Some people even like sweet potato pancakes! You are getting your baby ready for Thanksgiving when they can chow down on some sweet potato casserole.
It is important for your child to have sources of complex carbohydrates in their diet. If you don’t want to offer oatmeal yet, squashes are a monosaccharide, meaning they are easy for babies to digest, rather than the more difficult polysaccharides.
Squashes have a wealth of vitamins to offer as well. In one squash, you get Vitamin A, C, and E, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Thiamin, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium, Manganese, and Potassium. Believe it or not, squashes have more Potassium than a banana, the most commonly thought of source for potassium!
Just like sweet potatoes, you have to bake squash before you can serve them to your baby. The best method is to cut it in half and cook it with the flesh side down in a baking dish. Once it is soft and fully cooked, you can puree or offer diced to your baby. The skin on squashes is edible, but you should skip it until your child is older. It could be too difficult to chew.
7. Apple Puree
When you have an upset stomach, you may resort to the BRAT diet (banana, rice, apples, and toast). These are foods that doctors believe are gentle on the stomach. Apples are easy to digest, so it makes a fantastic choice for a first food. Pectin, the fiber in apples, fight against constipation, which is why apple juice makes many babies have a bowel movement.
There are multiple ways to serve apples. You can cut them up and boil them, creating a puree. For baby led weaning, some parents like to steam apple chunks until they are soft enough to gum. Both approaches give your child an excellent source of Vitamin C.
Purchasing organic apples for your baby is important. There are dozens of chemicals found in ONE apple. Apples make the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list every single year. In fact, Europe has banned the use of chemicals on apples, worrying about the effects on humans.
8. Iron-Fortified Rice, Oatmeal or Grain Cereal
Most pediatricians will tell you that cereal is a great first food. Although, some parents don’t believe this advice and prefer to head straight to a fruit or veggie. Even so, iron-fortified cereal is the most common choice for your baby’s first food.
In the baby aisle at the store, you are likely to find a huge variety of cereals. Some are flavored, some are plain. There are ones with chunks, organic varieties and everything in between. Baby cereals are processed to be easily digested by infants. When combined with breast milk or formula, the texture is familiar, with no trouble swallowing.
Breastfed babies benefit from a source of iron because breast milk doesn’t contain as much as a formula. Even though iron deficiency is abnormal in an entirely, breastfed baby, your child does benefit from some extra provided in their diet.
Making Your Pick
If you are unsure about which option to give your baby, start with the iron-fortified cereal. It is easy to digest, and, when mixed with their milk, it has a familiar taste. You can make it as thin or as thick as your baby likes. Once you feel confident with the cereal, try applesauce or bananas next. They are sure to be a welcomed treat.