When it comes to starting the little one on solid foods, everyone is suddenly an expert in the field of infant meals. Seasoned mothers everywhere swear that they have the precise path that new moms should take in regards to what first enters a baby's mouth via spoon. While the advice is likely all well-meaning, it can be overwhelming to sort through.
Do you start with rice cereal, like your mother in law suggests, or is that stuff the devil, as your middle-aged neighbor Patty swears it to be? Will spoonfuls of avocados turn your baby into a budding Einstein, does applesauce have too much sugar for small tykes?
The truth is there is not an exact science behind how to start feeding your infant solid foods. There are some general guidelines to follow, like don't start with dairy products or surgery snacks, but honestly, all you need is a full dose of common sense, a bib, and a spoon. If you are finding yourself overwhelmed over what you should feed your growing baby during his introduction to solid foods, check out these 20 starter foods that pediatricians are big fans of. Some foods on this list will surely surprise you!
20 A Bowl Of Cereal
Iron-fortified infant cereals are probably the most common starter food for youngsters who are making the bottle to solids transition. This bland stuff is easy to make, easy for babies to digest, and is rarely the culprit behind infant allergic reactions. Breastmilk and formula are commonly added to the cereal to create the right consistency. Younger, less experienced babies will likely slurp up thinner bowls of the stuff while older babies can take it down when it's a bit thicker. It is recommended that babies eat their fortified cereal with a bowl and a spoon, not out of a bottle.
You can't go wrong in feeding your child avocados ever. They are nature's wonder vegetable and are packed with nutrients that will benefit your small fry. Avocados contain tons of healthy fats as well as magnesium. They also contain vitamin B, K, and E, niacin, potassium, folate, and fiber. All you have to do in order to get this green goodness into your tot is to mash it up and possibly thin out the consistency with a bit of breastmilk or formula. Some parents get really saucy and create an avocado-banana puree with equal parts of the fruit and veggie.
18 Sweet Potato
Yummy, healthy sweet potatoes often make the cut when moms are deciding what the first foods their baby should eat will be. The sweetness of the potato, maybe even with a pinch of cinnamon, will be something that your baby will naturally be inclined to scarf down. Little ones come with a predisposition to favor the sweeter foods. The other great thing about this orange delight is that is purees and even freezes beautifully. With a bit of breastmilk or formula added to the sweet potato paste, you will easily find a consistency that is perfect for your new foodie.
17 Pureed Beef
At roughly six months of age, breastfed babies will start running low on their iron supplies. This natural iron deficiency is one of the reasons that many pediatricians will suggest that mothers dole out the iron-fortified rice cereals. While this food choice is perfectly acceptable, it isn't the only solution to the iron conundrum. Beef can be pureed and fed to babies at six months of age. Because beef is naturally stocked with iron, your little guy's body will readily absorb it. Beef is also very high in selenium and zinc, both of which are great additions to your kid's growing body.
New mothers and fathers go bananas for bananas, (see what I did there guys.) There is a good reason as to why parents reach of the yellow bunches when it comes time to spoon feed their babies. Bananas are an excellent carbohydrate source for your baby as well as a fantastic source of potassium, magnesium and vitamin C. The sweetness from the popular fruit is bound to be a favorite for babies, as they are programmed to like sweeter foods anyhow. You can puree your baby's banana with a bit of breastmilk, and it basically becomes a baby smoothie. Yum, yum!
The great thing about applesauce is its versatility. Pureed apples, or applesauce, can be blended with sweet potatoes, other fruits, rice cereals and grains to create culinary masterpieces for kids. Apples are generally mild in flavor and do well with spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Seriously, what kid doesn't like apples? Apples are rich in fiber and vitamin C, making them a nutritious choice for tots too. Make sure to thoroughly wash fruits such as apples because they are part of the "dirty dozen." Apples tend to be exposed to pesticides, so cleanse them off before working with them.
Whipping up a warm squash-based meal during the chilly Autumn months makes me feel like a better parent. I must be something deep down inside my Northerner genes. Squash makes a fantastic first food for babies whether they are experiencing their first foods in the fall months or otherwise. Squash is low in nitrates, but high in Vitamins A and C, manganese, potassium and magnesium. Go ahead and add a bit of butter or ghee to your squash in order to convert the beta-carotene into usable Vitamin A. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon and you are good to go!
13 Egg Yolk
My children all loved themselves some eggs when they were first getting the hang of solid foods. The incredible, edible eggs are soft, tasty and full of fat-soluble vitamins, choline, and minerals. The egg yolk, in particular, is a fantastic source of iron to boot. Before you go ahead and fry up a frittata or whip up an omelet, talk to your pediatrician about your planned menu. Eggs are a known allergen and he or she may suggest holding off on the yoky goodness until your kiddo is older if egg allergies run in your family. If they don't, then get cracking!
12 Bone-Free Fish
Once upon a time, feeding babies fish was a big, old heck no because of the risk of allergies, but all of that is changing. Back in 2008, the Amerian Academy of Pediatrics stated that there was no evidence that withholding fish from babies until they were one-year-old prevented allergies. If your family has a good allergy track record, then allowing your baby to experience fish is perfectly fine. Fish is an excellent source of DHA! Just make sure you steer clear from fatty fish that tend to hold onto dangerous metals, such as shark, king mackerel, and swordfish. Also, make sure the fish you are feeding your little one is bone free.
Kiwi is sweet, juicy and jam-packed full of vitamins K and C as well as potassium. As long as your infant has not shown any signs of tummy troubles or a tendency to develop frequent diaper rashes, give kiwi a try. Kiwi is not a highly allergenic fruit and can be mashed up or even made into little fruit popsicles for teething babies in need of something cold. Kiwi pairs well with other favorite baby foods such as bananas, chicken, apples, and avocados. It is not a fruit that we instantly consider when making the change to solids, but it perhaps should be assuming your baby is allergy free by eight months old.
10 A Small Amount Of Butter
Here is where that whole common sense part comes into play. Clearly you should not hand a stick of butter over to your teething infant and let him go at the thing while strapped into his high chair. That being said, some small quantities of butter can be helpful when applied in baby foods. pasteurized butter is an excellent source of"activator x." It sounds like a superhero, and it kind of is. Activator x is a fat-soluble vitamin that has been proven beneficial for growth and development. So a bit of butter is good, a lot of butter is wrong, again use your common sense.
9 Beans And Legumes
By the time I welcomed my third and fourth daughters into our family, (thirty seconds apart mind you,) I had let go of many of the solids introduction rules and aimed for common sense and convenience. If I could feed the pureed food that was to be the twins' dinner to the rest of the family, then all the better. Beans became my best friend. We ate lentil or white bean soup at least twice a week for months along with cooked carrots, onion and spices. The twins had theirs turned into a liquid, while the other family members slop theirs up with crusty bread.
8 Broccoli, Kale, And Brussels Sprouts
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, turnips, cauliflower, kale, bok choy and brussels sprouts. We don't often think of baby foods when we think of this particular group of power packed foods, but there is little reason why we shouldn't be mashing them up and feeding them to our babies. Cauliflower and turnips can be seasons and pureed very smoothly, and broccoli is an excellent food for older babies to grasp and gum. This classification of mustard greens is packed with nutrients, but have also been known to cause gas, so watch out for signs of belly discomfort in your baby if you give these foods a whirl.
7 Nut Butters
For many years no moms fed their tiny babies nut butters in fear of severe allergies developing. Even though the thought on this has shifted, there are undoubtedly mothers out there right now who are gasping and shaking their heads while reading this. The introduction of nut butter depends mainly on risk. If allergies run in the family, then hold off, but if not then go for it. Nut butters are excellent sources of proteins and healthy fats. They can be mixed in with other baby-friendly foods such as apples or pears. Always puree your nuts, never serve them whole as those are a significant choking hazard for infants.
6 Whole Grains
Lots of moms don't consider whole grains a part of the starter food diet mostly because when we think of grains, we think of breads, pastas, and bagels. These aren't foods that six-month-old babies can tackle right off of the bottle. Grains such as millet and quinoa are great for babies, however. The exposure to this new world of texture is essential for your baby's oral development. Eating mashed grains will allow little ones to figure out how to better control their mouths and tongues and might even give them a leg up in the speech department. Don't shy away from seasoning when working with grains. Throw in some cooked onions and a bit of bone broth. Now that's a meal!
5 Cooked Carrots
Cooked carrots have long been a steadfast friend of new mothers everywhere. Carrots are very high in beta-carotene as well as vitamins A and C. They are also loaded with calcium. Carrots are easy to cook and puree and even have a hint of sweetness to them, which babies adore of course. There is always a bit of a concern about nitrates when it comes to carrots, but the actual chances of your baby getting nitrate poisoning from carrots is zero percent. As long as you aren't feeding carrots, or other foods that tend to be higher in nitrates, to a baby younger than three months old, everything should be just fine.
4 Green Beans
I won't lie to you my good friends of the internet when it came to baby food the green beans were all four of my kids' arch nemesis. Nobody liked those suckers, and to this day I can't get a single one of my darling to come within ten feet of a cooked green bean. It's a shame too because they are healthy additions to any dinner plate. Give them a try, but stay away from the ones that come in cans. Not only can chemicals from the cans leach into the food, but canned beans tend to be high in sodium.
If you are aiming for a green food that tastes better than green beans and spinach and is still heavy on the vitamins and minerals, then reach for the peas! These guys might be small in size, but they pack a powerful punch. Peas are known for their high levels of Potassium, Sodium, Selenium, Phosphorous, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium and Zinc. They also contain folate, niacin, and vitamins A and C. The only drawback to peas is that the skins are more difficult to thoroughly puree compared to other foods like avocado and squash. If the skins bother you, push the peas through a strainer to get rid of the buggers.
Pears are a pretty perfect food to start with when you are gearing up for your solids food journey with your baby. They are mild in flavor with enough sweetness to attract your baby to them like a moth to a flame. You can steam them, or if you happen to fall upon some very ripe pears during their peak season, you might be able to mash them up and throw them directly on the table for your little one to scarf down. Pears are an excellent food to mix with other fruits and veggies once you have determined what your baby can and shouldn't have during the initial stages of solids.
Zucchini has been known to occasionally cause mild stomach discomfort in infants, so this one might be more of a stage two food depending on your child's tummy sensitivities. You only need to add a bit of water to zucchini to cook it up because its water content is already so high. If you happen to have a backyard garden, you might want to consider throwing a few zucchini plants in. Gardens usually produce a heavy yield, so you can puree your backyard zucchini up and freeze massive batches of them for about six months. Cheap, easy and nutritious.