By Mariel Uyquiengco
Parents can’t wait to witness their children’s firsts: smile, tooth, word, and yes, even food. If you have determined that your baby is ready for her first bite of “real food,” roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn about baby’s first solid food. Current recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for when to introduce solids is at six months of age. Before that, milk should be your baby’s main source of nutrition.
While opting for boxed cereal or baby food jars may seem easy and yummy, preparing natural baby food is healthier and just as easy. The AAP recommends giving babies a variety of foods that may include fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and cereal, in addition to breast (or formula) milk.
Here are some ideas for your six- to eight-month-old’s first solid food. Introduce one food at a time and wait for four days to see if there is any kind of allergic reaction. If your baby seems to take well to a certain food, you can then use it eventually to mix with other food that she has tried and has not produced any allergies.
Brown rice, barley, and oatmeal are great first foods for baby. Ground them up into powder before cooking in water. Make sure to whisk while cooking to have a smooth porridge. Store the ground grains in an airtight container and put in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.
Avocado, apple, bananas, and mangoes are some of the best fruits to introduce to first-time eaters. Peel and core an apple then boil in a small amount of water. Mash it and you have applesauce! Avocados, bananas, and mangoes don’t need to be cooked at all! Just scoop, slice and mash.
Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, and peas are highly nutritious veggies for your baby’s first solid food. Baking is the best way to preserve the nutrients of sweet potatoes and butternut squash, while steaming or boiling in a bit of water works best for carrots and peas.
Some pediatricians recommend protein-rich food like chicken, turkey, and tofu to be babies’ first meat. These can be introduced around eight months. Great care must be taken when deciding to feed your baby these, as both are possible allergens. There are so many ways of preparing tofu, especially when mixed with previously introduced food. Try making a smoothie with it and a banana and other fruits.
While doctors say that parents should keep from introducing dairy to children younger than a year old, it is all right to let your child have some yogurt and cheese. These will not keep your child from stopping their intake of breast milk (or formula), which is what the medical community is worried about other forms of dairy such as cow’s milk. Buy plain yogurt and make smashing dishes for your baby with previously introduced food. For cheese, make sure to get real cheese and not processed cheese. Slice thinly and offer as finger food, or grate some to combine with other foods.
Natural baby food is the way to go, parents. Research, prepare, and keep it fun. Remember, however, to consult your child’s doctor for anything that has to do with her health, including what to offer for baby’s first solid food.
Mariel Uyquiengco hopes to inspire parents to be their children’s first and best teacher. She does this through her blog and online children’s book shop www.thelearningbasket.com and by giving parenting seminars about early childhood development, preschool homeschool, and raising children to be readers.