Food before one is just for fun! It’s true, it is very fun! It’s fun to experiment and expose your baby to a wide variety of flavours and textures. We are doing mostly baby lead weaning (blw) because it can offer baby a variety of texture right out of the gate, and it has been said that children are less picky if they were introduced solids via blw. In addition to blw, we are bringing some mashes and textured purees into the mix to get a bunch of flavours in there. Without much of a plan I decided to venture into the world of solids for my exclusively breast fed five month old. My only real rule was that I was going to stick with mostly vegetables ahead of fruits but incorporate some pears and other easily digestible starter foods at first and then work our way up.
I was browsing the baby food isle the other day and I decided to see what the store bought baby food had to offer. I was thinking about offering some jars or pouches to see what flavours my little one might like and to have on-hand for days I want to give him something quick to try. I realized very quickly that not only are there different store food brands but also that not all of these brands are created equal.
My top choices for store bought baby food are:
I like these brands because their ingredients are clear and straight forward. Some other brands offer products with an exorbitant amount of salt in a small jar of strained carrots, for example. Seriously, this is not necessary and could be harmful to baby! I am not sure why there is such a large discrepancy but I would strongly advise anyone to read the labels before purchasing. That said, I am not opposed to store bought food at all. I think it’s good to have a variety of flavours and textures and sometimes that’s easier to do with store bought food if you are a busy family and need a quick snack, just make sure you choose wisely!
Going into introducing food, I didn’t really have much of a game plan. I really liked the idea of baby led weaning and still do but I also realized I need to start slow and for me introducing some textured purees as well as offering some chunks of avocado, sweet potato or butternut squash was the way to go. I ended up purchasing some pre-made food from the above brands and I am trying out different flavours as well as offering my own organic produce and food from my plate. Like anything, there are so many different approaches to introducing solids. Some people like to space out offering different foods to make sure there is no reaction and offer foods that are easy to digest, initially. I am opting for a more trial and error approach as we don’t have any food allergies and baby is still mostly exclusively breastfed, I just didn’t want to offer too many sweet fruits right off the bat.
One book that I find super helpful is Sprout Right. It really gets into the nitty gritty of baby’s first foods and offers some great tips, suggestions and recipes.
I also stumbled upon this great article from Joyous Health. I was really debating whether to make any of my own baby food at all but, I am so glad I tried out some of the recipes that she recommended. I was also reminded by my friend over at http://www.northofbloom.com that there is a lot of nutrition lost from the store bought foods and so much more is in your control when you make your own. I decided to make some of my own after reading this Joyous Health article and let me tell you, the zucchini basil puree was a huge hit! I also like and as the article states, because zucchini has a high water content it can help prevent constipation in baby which can become a problem when introducing solids.
When I decided to try my hand at making some initial purees, I bought all of my ingredients for the baby food from my local farmers market from an organic and local producer. I found my immersion blender to be really helpful for this task. I wanted to make baby food that still had some texture so that he gets used to different flavours and textures in food. The zucchini basil puree has been the biggest food success so far.
Other foods we have tried:
- Avocado – This was the first food I offered and I offer this one quite regularly. He likes it mixed in with some baby oatmeal which i like to give periodically for some iron. He is still a bit unsure of eating is as chunks just yet. Avocado is the perfect first food for babies, because they are high in the good kind of fat (monounsaturated).
- Butternut Squash – I baked some butternut squash is small, square chunks, and he absolutely loved it. According to Sprout Right, butternut squash is one of the best first foods for babies.
- Sweet Potato/Yam – I offered my babe some sweet potato oven “fries.” He enjoyed sucking away on the crispy/soft disks of orange goodness. I wouldn’t say he loved it just yet but he was definitely getting used tot he different texture and I will continue to offer this to him.
- Zucchini Puree- This has been the slam-dunk of all the solids we’ve offered thus far. He absolutely loves it! It was so simple to make!
- Pear Puree – Went down fine but he wasn’t that interested in it, probably a little bland.
- Raspberry – I gave in and offered him a little treat with the sweet fruit. His reaction was quite interesting but, I think he enjoyed himself. I just gave him pieces of the fruit softened in a bit of water. He sucked on them and played around with them but was eager to have more.
This is just a start and we will continue offering these and other foods as well as he gets older.
The following is a very helpful guideline to introducing solids:
According to the article BABY FOOD INTRODUCTION on joyoushealth.com, these are some of the foods that are great for first baby foods:
• Chicken bone broth
• Mashed avocado
• Sweet potato
• Winter squash purees: sweet potato, acorn squash, butternut squash
• Mashed green peas
• Apple and pear sauce
• Pureed spinach and kale
• Pureed steamed broccoli
And, some foods that should be introduced early on:
• Peanuts (as soon as is safe, using a natural peanut butter)
• Potatoes (as soon as is safe)
• Carrots (as soon as is safe)
• Cabbage (as soon as is safe)
• Meat (as soon as is safe)
• Oats (as soon as is safe)
• Wheat (as soon as is safe)
• Rye (before seven months)
• Fish (before eight months)
• Eggs (before ten months)
All organic/non-gmo of course!
Joyous Health is a great resource!
The bottom line is as mothers, we are all just trying to figure this whole thing out. I am no expert but my goal is to expose my son to a variety of healthy foods so that he *hopefully* will enjoy healthy foods as much as possible! And while its so exciting to try new foods, it’s so important to remember that food before one is just for fun! Realistically, it’s probably all a crapshoot anyway and by the time they reach four they’ll mostly be interested in mac n’cheese… LOL.
What were your baby’s first foods!?