Client’s often ask me when is best to start their baby on solids, and, which ones? Best is to observe your baby’s interest and his developmental characteristics. Every baby is different so go on intuition and clear sign of interests rather what a book or an ‘expert’ has told you. We now know that is recommended not to feed solids before six months and some pediatricians even suggest we can wait till nine month. If your baby displays great interest in your food I’d go ahead and dip a finger in and let her try and taste what you are eating. Start slowly; your breast milk is still the best source of nutrition for your child.
When I speak of developmental characteristics I mean your baby’s ability to swallow. Babies are born with a tongue thrust reflex. When their lips are touched, their tongue moves out of their mouth. This reflex helps them to be able to suck from a breast. They also have a gag reflex that pushes any objects from the back of the mouth back out. At about four to six months of age, both of these reflexes begin to diminish.
Typically between seven and nine months, the appearance of her first tooth, signals her physiological readiness for food. Continuing to breastfeed, you can slowly introduce other foods, one at a time. Babies do not need complicated gourmet meals, one food at the time is the best path to the introduction of solids and will helps you identify any allergic reaction to a particular food.
Thus far the food your baby has been eating everyday (your milk) is protein-rich and high in both fats and easy to digest carbohydrates., not to mention it is fresh, unprocessed and additive-free. Please don’t believe that the overtly advertised rice cereal is indeed the best food. In fact, to my knowledge is one of the least nutritious and quite filled with empty calories. Go organic, wild, pastured, and grass-fed whenever possible.
Ideally, your baby’s food should be like your milk—utterly unsullied, with easily-to-assimilate carbohydrates, protein and fat.
So what is baby’s best food? Avocado, yams, pears, potato, green beans, winter squash, carrots applesauce, peaches, apricots, pears, nectarines, & plums. Start with cooked fruit. Once cooked fruit is accepted try raw mashed fruit. . Somewhere between 9-12 months add grains. Try to use whole grains versus refined baby cereals, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, barley, millet. Buy commercial whole grain cereals or make your own by toasting the grains and grinding in a mill. Twelve months and after add protein either from egg yolk or beans and, if you must, from lean meat. A note on animal flesh, you do not need to feed meat to your baby for protein intake, there are plenty alternatives and your milk is rich in protein already. Animal products are hard to digest and live in the stomach for a long time before they are processed, versus fruit and vegetables which are quickly absorbed. High omega-3 egg yolk provides protein and essential fatty acids.
Do not offer honey, spinach and soy products during the first year as they’re potentially toxic. Avoid the common allergens in her first year which are wheat, milk, corn, egg white, citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries and nuts and nut butters.
I used to place a cooked egg yolk in a food processor with some banana and mother’s milk for added moisture or water and offer it to my baby in a cup. Mashed egg yolk actually makes a great thickener for over-runny purees. And there is some evidence that eating egg yolks contributes to the development of your baby’s brain. So add a little to your baby’s meals here and there for an extra, nutritional boost!
Do not give fish the first year. Because the very young are most vulnerable to chemicals and toxins in food, limit your consumption of fish while pregnant and breastfeeding.
Here are some recipes for baby’s very first foods:
Avocado is a great first food for baby, avocados burst with essential fats and nutrients that a growing baby needs! Smooth and creamy, avocados are easily digested and well tolerated. Avocado is rich in vitamins: A, C, Niacin, Folate and has the following Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium
· Peel and take out the pit of a ripe avocado - do not cook. Mash with fork and add mother’s milk for creamy consistency
Yams and Sweet potatoes are one and the same. I prefer the rich colored yams for they are richer in vitamins and minerals then the white or yellow ones. Vitamins: A (24,877 mg ), C, Folate. Minerals: Potassium, Sodium, Selenium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Calcium
· Wash and poke holes in sweet potato with fork then wrap sweet potatoes in tin foil - do not /microwave. Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes or until soft. Peel yam and add either some water or mother’s milk to reach creamy consistency, and watch your baby smile.
Love me Peas
The nutritional value of one cup of peas is outstanding. Full of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium and heart healthy folate, peas are a great first vegetable for baby and perfect for children. Toddlers love them frozen, but be sure they are over 1-year-old if you are going to try to give it to them whole. For babies here’s what you can do
· 3 cups peas (I use organic frozen, with the least amount of sodium) 2 Tbs of water ot mother’s milk. Steam frozen peas for 2 minutes. (An easy way is to put peas in a large microwave safe bowl, cover with water, and heat for 2 minutes). If thawed, reduce time to 1 minute. You want peas to be plump and bright green. Place the peas and 2 Tbs of water in a food processor or blender. Puree for 2 minutes or until the texture is smooth and creamy. if necessary, add more water and continue to puree to reach desired texture. Peas are a little difficult to achieve smoothness for baby due to their skins. If desired strain puree for a silky smooth puree for stage 1 baby food. Serve immediately or spoon puree in a BPA free ice-cube tray and cover with plastic wrap. Place in freezer and once frozen remove cubes and store in a freezer bag. Each cube is 1 ounce. Will keep for 3 months in a freezer. If using immediately this will store in refrigerator in an air tight container for 3 days. Enjoy!
Blueberries and beets cooked together then pureed comes out to a gorgeous deep purple color, and it’s packed with some of the best nutrients for your baby. It has the perfect amount of sweetness.
· 2 medium organic beets, scrubbed well with water, peeled and chopped into
· 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
· If you’re using a baby food cooker, like the Beaba or Baby Brezza, follow instructions accordingly.
· If you’re cooking baby food without a baby food cooker, follow instructions below.
· Rinse beets well with water and remove skin with a potato peeler or knife. Chop into one inch cubes and place into a medium sauce pan, along with the blueberries. Add just enough water to cover the tops of the beets and blueberries and cook on a medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, or until beets are tender.
· Pour into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Or Use an immersion blender, and blend right in the pan (works great!).
Sweet Orange Mush
I love combining sweet raw fruit with a compatible color steamed vegetable. Try butternut squash and pear. Steam pieces of butternut squash till they are mushy, add raw pear and put in blender with a little water, or mother's milk to get a creamy consistency.
Going Bananas with protein (nine months or older)
Bananas are another great first food for your baby. Rich in vitamins: A, C, Folate with great minerals such as: Potassium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Magnesium, Calcium Research indicates that bananas and their mucosal properties actually help coat the tummy and help aid in digestion. Bananas are sweet, which may help baby more readily accept the first food experience.
Peel ripe bananas - do not cook. Place banana in a food processor/food mill or blender and puree. Serve. Add a cooked egg yolk for added protein (only once your baby is 9 months not before) thin out with mother’s milk or water.
Juicy Apple Sauce
I rather do this myself then buy ready made apple sauce. But if your must then choose an apple sauce that comes from organic apples, in a glass container with no sugar added, nor preservatives. Apples are rich in vitamin A, C, Foliate, and have the following minerals: Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium
· Wash, core and chop and peel an organic apple. Place in a small pot with enough water to cover the surface of the apple. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 4 minutes or until the apple is soft. Puree in a blender or mash with a fork. Use the residual water to create a puree.
These are just ideas that are meant to inspire you, try different combos. At the beginning try one or two foods at the time (for three days) to make sure baby is not allergic to them, then combine. Remember babies do not need variety as much as we do, they have been eating your milk every day for months and love it, so don’t go crazy with spices, and variety, go more for color and texture and simple taste.
Yogurt is safe for babies. Try to stick to natural, unsweetened yogurt coconut or even goat milk yogurt are great. Do not sweeten with Honey.
Avoid sugar, salt, refined flours, processed foods, foods with additives, preservatives, colors, and hydrogenated fats. Avoid cows milk, chocolate, gluten, refined sugars and meet. Prepared fruit juices (especially concentrated) should be limited or not given as they overly high in natural sugars and are proportionally low in nutrients compared to total calories. About spices, babies really do not need spices for a freshly steamed or raw food is already an explosion of taste in their mouth, there is plenty of time to become gourmet and forget just how good an apple by-it-self tastes before we must add a little cinnamon to the equation.
The most common methods used to give babies their first solids has long been to offer a puree or mash using a spoon. This helps parents make sure their babies receive adequate energy and nutrients for their development – something many are often anxious over. However, placing even the pureed food in trays in front of the baby allows the child to have a good relationship with the food, and this method, called baby-led weaning can improve a baby's dexterity and confidence. Research has associated baby-led weaning with their ability to recognize when they are full and being less fussy with their food. This makes it an appealing choice for some parents.
Trust your child will eat as much or as little as he/she needs. Some babies love food and go for it, a lot of it, while others take time to get into it. No need to play games and feed more than they want, trust in their natural ability to self regulate. Once solid foods are well established offer solid snacks every three hours or so (this around 12 months.) Enjoy this amazing time, and remember my son’s favorite toy was a wooden spoon he used to make sweet music with as I was cooking him his first meal.