Last week we discussed how you could tell that your child is ready to start eating solid foods (read that post here). So the next question is, if the signs say she's ready, what foods should you start introducing?
To start, the foods you introduce to baby should have a texture not too different from the breast milk or formula he's used to. Foods should be pureed, and possibly blended with some of the breast milk or formula. This will help him figure out how to swallow this new sensation. As he's getting the hang of it, you can start to introduce thicker or chunkier foods.
The importance of an iron rich baby diet has long been emphasized, especially iron fortified single grain cereals. But if your family has adverse reactions to grains or you'd prefer to wait to introduce grains, consider feeding iron reach real foods instead (like beef, chicken and/or iron rich veggies such as sweet potato or broccoli). Fats are also important, so opt for full fat versions of foods like yogurt and cheese, once baby is ready for them.
It is recommended to start with one food at a time. Giving just that one food for 2-3 (or some say 4) days and watch for any adverse reactions like changes in stool or rashes. After a few weeks, you can start including several foods in a day, and combine foods for more complete nutrition absorption.
Some great options to start with:
- Meat pureed with milk or formula
- Avocado, raw and mashed
- Sweet potatoes
- Other veggies like green beans or peas
- Mashed banana
There are certain foods that are considered likely to cause allergic reactions, and some recommend you wait to introduce these types of foods until baby is at least one year old. But of course, you are best to discuss this with your family's doctor and take any family allergies into consideration:
- Tree nuts
- Dairy (yogurt and cheese can be introduced earlier)
While honey is not an allergenic food, you should also wait to give baby honey until after her first year, as it may contain spores that can induce botulism.
Babies already have a taste for sweets, as the breast milk is naturally sweet. But there is no need to keep feeding the sweet tooth. Instead opt to introduce as many flavours as possible as baby grows and expand his food choices. Give him water, breast milk or formula to drink, not fruit juice. By all means don't exclude fruits and berries, but try to keep veggies the main star. By introducing a plethora of tastes from the beginning, chances are your child will be more willing to try a range of foods as she grows older.
Make your own or store bought?
Making your own baby food is of course best (just like cooking our own food from scratch is best for us) because you can control what goes in it. Many parents subscribe to the "baby eats what we eat" philosophy which makes meal prep easier (just add the pureeing step for baby's portion). If you do go the store bought way, because of time constraints, just keep a close eye on the ingredient list to make sure you are not feeding baby something you weren't intending to.