Best First Foods For Baby
This article is based on my experience alone and should not be taken as medical advice. Please use the links at the bottom to reputable sources for more information.
I know I'm rehashing something that is already all over the internet, but something I found overwhelming about this topic was just how different everyone's story was. So I thought, why not add to that. That's not quite what I thought but I did find different people's personal stories and explanations really helpful and I thought I'd also add in some links that I found more reputable and useful especially in regards to safety and nutrition.
I have mentioned in previous posts (Why I did not do Baby-Led Weaning) that I did not go down the baby-led weaning road when I first introduced solids to my little man. I definitely looked into it and did a lot of research around it but I chose to go a different direction. I also considered a combination of purée and baby led weaning but I didn't find that worked for us early on so we started just on purees.
One thing that is always important to remember with introducing solid foods for the first time is to make sure your child is actually ready for them and to always check with their GP or paediatrician first. Another important safety aspect to remember before you start is only introduce one food at a time and wait three days before introducing anything else new. This gives you time to work out if there will be any allergic reactions. When trying a new food it's safer to test in the morning rather than the evening so you can observe during the day for any signs of a reaction.
One more thing to mention before I get on with it is that kids often reject new foods the first time they try them. It can be a taste or a texture thing but it can take time for them to get used to new foods. Always persist because they get used to it over time. One food our little man rejected a lot early on was avocado, he couldn't stand it to start with. Now he can't get enough of them.
Handy tip for storing purées for later is freeze them in an ice cube tray. They are perfect baby sized portions and easy to keep in the freezer in labelled bags or containers once frozen. You can thaw them in the fridge or microwave. If you do heat them in the microwave be sure to stir them thoroughly to evenly distribute heat and test their temperature before serving to a baby. Always be overcautious with testing heat and leave to cool if you have to before serving.
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First Foods For Baby
We started with the real basics and went with iron fortified rice cereal. Since we were exclusively breastfeeding I chose to make the cereal with expressed breast milk, but as a first food it can also be mixed with prepared formula or boiled water that has been cooled. It was just easy for me to use expressed breast milk because I had it on tap.
We started out once a day about an hour after his morning breastfeed so he would be hungry but not too hungry. It's an interesting balancing act in the beginning, you want them eating the new foods you give them but they are still so heavily reliant on the nutrients in milk that you have to make sure you don't skip feeds for food.
To start with we made it very runny, it was mostly milk with a small amount of cereal. With this he was able to slowly get used to the idea of taking food from a spoon and adapt to a new way of eating. Over time I was able to slowly thicken it up. I waited a week just doing this once a day before I introduced anything new.
The next food we introduced was pear. There is a bit of contention on the internet about whether you should introduce fruits or vegetables first. Some people believe if you do fruits first, because they are so sweet, they won't take to vegetables second. This may be the case for some children but we had no problem at all.
We cooked these with water to make sure they would be smooth enough for him to handle and then blitzed them in a food processor. Each food we introduced, we started on their own, not mixed with other foods so he could get used to the flavour of it before we started to mix flavours.
Purée Sweet Potato
Again we cooked the sweet potato in water and used this water during the blending process to create the desired texture. This way baby still gets any nutrient that may have been lost into the water during the cooking process. I found it easiest to cook this in a ceramic microwave container until very soft. I have posted about these before but I'll post it again, the incredible food processor I use which works so amazingly well and so fast too. It has been fantastic and you can get the smoothest consistency.
Sweet potato definitely took a little more persistence before he would take it but we got there. By this stage we were doing a small amount of cereal in the morning an hour after his first milk feed and a small amount of food around 5:30pm in between milk feeds.
From here it's more of a list of fruits and vegetables I cooked, puréed and introduced, one by one:
Being an exclusively breastfed baby, insufficient iron was a concern for us so we introduced meat into the mix fairly early on. I cooked the chicken on the stove top in water, I know it doesn't sound all that appetising but I wanted to keep things pretty bland early on. I cooked it for quite a while because I am extra paranoid about under cooked chicken and then I puréed it in my amazing food processor, again using the water I cooked it in to create the desired texture.
Once I had added meat in on its own to get him used to the taste I was then able to mix it with the vegetables I'd already introduced. Having them frozen as ice cubes was great for being able to mix and match flavours and give him variety each day.
I introduced Greek yogurt next and surprisingly he loved the tangy taste. This became a huge advantage for us because if he was being a little fussy with something and I couldn't get him to eat it I'd just add a teaspoon of yogurt and it would go down a treat. Thankfully he's grown out of needing this now and I don't have to use yogurt for everything but it has also helped us with giving him medication over time too. I just mix it with some yogurt and he'll take it with no complaints. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than other yogurts which is really important for growing bodies and always go for the full fat option because their brains need fats for development.
Honestly banana was a huge failure for us. He hated it until very recently and even now it seems to depend which way the wind might be blowing as to whether he will eat it or not. On it's own it is a very different texture to the others foods we'd introduced, quite slimy, I will say yogurt helps combat this a bit to make it easier for them to take.
This was a tricky one to introduce early because the texture is also a really hard one for a baby mouth which is still trying to get used to moving food around and he wasn't a big fan of the taste to begin with either. I found to make it easier for him to eat I'd add an ice cube of pear purée and some yogurt to the avocado and he loved it. Most people think it sounds a little strange but it's honestly delicious. It was one of the foods I didn't mind if he couldn't eat it all because I'd grab a few corn chips and finish it off myself.
He absolutely loves avocado now and I just cut it up for him and he can easily demolish half an avocado as a side to his main meal. As expensive as they can be sometimes, it is one food I love giving him because they are so packed full of good nutrients and healthy fats.
These are the foods we started with but I'm sure there are others you could use as well. I hope this helps to give a few ideas on ways to prepare and introduce some purées. There is so much information out there you can refer to but here are some of the resources I used and found useful, informative and the least confusing:
Women's and Children's Health Network - There is a pamphlet called First Foods which is really useful
Check with you your nurses and doctors for more information too, most will have access to resources they can give you to help.
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