Beginner baby food: 5 first foods for babies
HERE WE ARE AGAIN. I’m thrilled to say that Estelle is now officially an eater. A foodlet, I don’t know but she’s eating solid food and that’s good enough for me. We started her on the classic “beginner” foods and once she got the hang of it her reaction went from eyes-closed shuddering to an open mouth impatiently awaiting the next bite. Feed me please!
Before her, big sister Phoebe was a champion baby food eater. Opening her mouth like a little bird as wide as she possibly could, you just couldn’t feed her without cracking up. What a pleasant surprise, and maybe one of the reasons why Phoebe continues to be good eater. It’s a pleasant experience. Usually. My hope is to one day spend time together in the kitchen, cooking and chopping (all of us), drinking wine (one of us) then crowding around a table to laugh and tell stories over a plate of deliciously fresh food. Not only will our girls learn about nutrition but also manners, community and another important thing: they matter greatly to us. (Did you know that a survey of National Merit Scholars revealed one thing in common? A habit of eating together with their parents.) But first we’ve got to get past the point where food must be ground up. And everyone needs to be able to speak. So, we’re not quite there yet.
In the meantime my favorite resource for baby food is Super Baby Food. A friend passed on her copy of the book, which I loaned to another friend in between babies, and continue to recommend to other new moms every chance I get. A comprehensive volume with hundreds of recipes, tips and nutritional facts it’s the perfect companion for what can be a nerve wracking experience. Feeding your baby is as primal as it gets so its no wonder that some of us get worried about doing it right. Fortunately parents have been feeding babies for many (many, many) years and we’ve got all that insight to lead the way. With that said, here are my favorite five foods to start babies on:
- Rice cereal. This is usually a baby’s first food. Rice is typically less prone to produce an allergic reaction than its counterparts: wheat, oat, etc. The powder is virtually flavorless which makes it easy to blend with breast milk or even formula for a familiar taste. It’s also easy to make as thin or thick as your baby/your floor requires. Organic varieties are available in most grocery stores, if not health food stores but these grains are still processed so if you’re set on keeping your baby on a non-processed diet, just skip the cereal for now and start with fruit and veggies. (After about 6 months your baby will be able to digest whole grains that you can grind yourself.)
- Bananas. They’re sweet, easy to mash up with just a fork and available year-round. Bananas are another mild flavor, packed with potassium and delivered with very little chance of allergies. For beginners, add enough water so the puree easily pours off the spoon but know this: very ripe bananas are good for slowing things down in the diaper department. If your baby seems constipated, try an under ripe banana or move on to number three…
- Pears. Even if it’s not the season for fresh pears, pureed pears are ubiquitous on the baby food aisle. And for good reason. Sweet, juicy and packed with vitamin C and fiber to spare, pears are another diuretic so introduce them next if your little one is plugged up. (Conversely, add rice cereal to help offset diarrhea.) For beginners under 6 months its best to steam pears first then puree. This extra step is gentler for tiny tummies.
- Sweet potatoes. Yams are a perfect combination of sweet, soft and simply bursting with nutrition. From beta-carotene to potassium and magnesium, these orange fleshed veggies are a powerhouse first food. They’re also easy to prepare: coat thinly with olive oil, prick a couple times with a fork and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. When the yam comes out, the skin will be wrinkly and easy to pull right off. Mash with a fork and add water.
- Ripe avocado. Another easy-t0-mash food, avocados offer the second highest amount of “good” fat of any fruit (olives are number one and yes they’re both fruit.) If you have an older kid–or you enjoy eating lunch yourself–use some of the mashed avocado as a sandwich spread. Paired with turkey and cheese, it’s a tasty and nutritious alternative to mayo.