Baby’s First Foods
As a baby approaches her 6-month mark, many parents are excited at last try to feed solids to their little one. It’s important to remember that six months is just a guideline to begin solids. Know some babies may not be ready to eat right away. Honestly, if your baby doesn’t seem like she is receptive to solids it’s better to wait. It’s a good idea to let your baby dictate the pace that they are ready for solid food, instead of you changing up her diet too soon. Most babies are developmentally ready for solids somewhere between 6 and 8 months.
Signs that indicate your baby is ready for solids
- Baby can sit up well without support
- Baby is developing a ‘pincer’ grasp
- Baby has lost the tongue thrust reflex
- Baby is ready to chew and is showing interest in eating foods.
Many parents are opting toward the ‘baby-led’ approach to introducing solids food to their little one. ‘Baby-Led’ means skipping the traditional parent, spoon-fed purees and going instead for nutritious, healthy, age-appropriate foods your babe can pick up with her own fingers.
Choosing your baby’s first food can seem overwhelming. There is a lot of different information out there on what is and is not ok to chow down on.
The AAP recommends breastfeeding exclusively for about the first 6 months of baby’s life until your baby starts solids. Then continue to breastfeed for at least one year or more, or for as long as is mutually desired by mother and baby.
In the first year, baby is just learning about food, experimenting, tasting and playing with this new and wonderful stuff. Nutritionally, solids are a means to complement breastmilk and should never take the place of a nursing session. Always nurse your baby before and after offering her solid foods.
Baby’s first meal
Start with small amounts of food and gradually increase the amount and frequency by following your baby’s lead. When starting out, it’s a good idea to use only single ingredients and wait a few days before introducing something new. Then, if something doesn’t agree with your baby, you’ll know exactly what the culprit is.
Just because your baby doesn’t seem to like something you’ve given her to eat – don’t give up. Just put the food away and try again another day. She might surprise you. The key to expanding your baby’s pallet is to be patient, keep serving good stuff, and keep it positive. Never force your baby into eating something she doesn’t want.
Great first foods for babies
- Bananas cut into slices and then halved or apples cut into chunks and softened.
- Plums, peaches, pears, avocados, sweet potato, butternut squash cut into small soft chunks all make great nutritious first foods for baby to try.
- Baby carrots, peas, and green beans steamed until soft are also all healthy choices.
- Unseasoned beans and legumes with the skins removed.
If you plan to use cereals, make sure they only have one ingredient, such as organic brown rice and use your own breastmilk for mixing it.
As baby ages to 8 months or older, other healthy first foods are mango, quinoa, small tofu cubes, whole plain yogurt and mild cheeses such as ricotta or mozzarella.
Investing a big, reusable bib is a good idea but ditch the plates and just place the food on the table or high chair. And expect a big mess!
It takes time to learn how to eat.
Remember food before the age of one is just for fun. Let baby enjoy this new culinary world. Their tiny palates will thank you.
-Jennifer Lezak, IBCLC