You’re ready to brave the stinky-a*s poops, the f*cked up amounts of laundry, and the crusty food on every surface. You’re doing it; you’re starting solids.
But, wait. What the hell do babies even eat? Here’s our guide to the best first foods for babies.
Before we get this purée blending, there are a few things to keep in mind when getting ready to start solids:
- Unless directed by your healthcare professional, there’s no one food you must introduce first. However, it’s recommended that you begin with single flavors at a time (e.g., a carrot purée, or fingers of roasted pumpkin) and wait a few days before bringing in new foods so you can identify any foods that might upset your baby or cause a reaction.
- Your baby’s primary source of nutrition before one will still be breast milk or formula. At this age, food is for supplemental nutrition, and to introduce your baby to flavors and textures.
- Always feed your baby safely. So make sure they’re ready to start solids, avoid known choking hazards, prepare foods appropriately, and feed them sitting up and under supervision.
Now onto the main course: the first foods
Vegetables and fruits
These are nutrient-dense, easy to prepare in a variety of ways (e.g. they’re great no matter what approach to feeding you’re following), and provide a range of flavors and textures for your baby to explore. So, what might you serve?
- Sweet potato
These are just some ideas, and you can serve them puréed, oven-roasted (for the vegetables), fresh in a silicone feeder (for the fruits), or steamed (for both).
Meat – such as strips of steak, chicken mince, and beef liver, for example – is packed with iron, which is an essential nutrient when starting solids.
There are two reasons why iron is important:
- It helps your little one’s brain and body grow.
- Until six months of age, your baby will get most of their iron from either breast milk or formula. But, by the time your baby is starting solids, they need more iron and begin to get some of it from food.
Time to make friends with your local butcher.
We should also flag that:
- While animal sources of iron are easier to absorb, you can find iron in plant sources, too, like spinach, kidney beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, and potatoes.
- Pairing iron-rich foods with vitamin-c rich foods can help your little one’s body better absorb said iron. Vitamin-c heavy foods include vegetables like peppers, cabbage, and brussels sprouts, and fruits such as oranges, kiwifruit, strawberries, and grapefruit.
Grains and legumes
These foods can provide your baby with nutrients like carbohydrates, minerals, zinc, omegas 3 and 6, calcium, B vitamins, magnesium – the list goes on. Sign us up.
Ideas for first grains and legumes include:
- Lima beans
On the topic of wheat, we should also discuss bread. It can be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, and for me it’s been the vessel onto which I’ve piled new foods to get my son to try them. But, look for bread that’s made using whole or sprouted grains and is as free from additives and sugars as possible.
Where to go for inspiration
Knowing what foods to feed your baby is one thing. But, as their appetite grows, knowing how to put the foods together into something tasty that (in an ideal world) your little one will devour is another.
The following sites are great resources for recipes:
A few final pointers for you before you start on your baby’s first foods adventure:
- Introducing solids can block your little one up (yay). Be sure to offer them plenty of fiber-rich foods like pear, prunes, peaches, apples, whole grains, and oats.
- Don’t stress about the amount your baby eats, start with just a few spoonfuls or bites and build up the amount over time (this will help give their digestive system time to adjust).
- Have fun with it! There will be times where you’ll feel frustrated (when your baby throws the food you lovingly prepared on the floor), but there’ll also be moments where it’s exciting (when you watch them discover a flavor they love).
For those that have started solids, what foods did you introduce first? And what was the first food your baby loved? Tell us in the comments.