Best Foods For Your Baby (and What To Avoid)
Your baby’s first forays into solid food are so fun for you as a parent, but don’t forget that a baby’s first few years of nutrition can set them up for a lifetime of success, or failure! These first exposures provide nutrients, but almost more importantly, they teach your baby about taste and texture.
Exposing your child to new foods is a way to help them ease into the great big, delicious, world of foods!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solid food for most babies at 6 months, but be sure to discuss with your pediatrician. And if you don’t have time to shop at the grocery store with your little one, you can use a delivery service for babies.
Breast Milk or Formula
Just because your baby is ready to start trying some new foods doesn’t mean you should toss out the formula or begin the weaning process. Baby’s are not able to digest cow’s milk until at least 1 year old, so whatever has been working for baby (and you) up until now, whether that’s formula or breast milk, keep it up.
Breast milk has many benefits even well into the toddler years, with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending breastfeeding until at least 12 months, but that mothers should continue as long as they are comfortable.
Baby’s are born with their supply of iron, but this supply only lasts until about 6 months. At this point, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you begin your child on an iron-fortified cereal. In recent years the traditional rice cereal has come under question, due to possible pollutants, but oatmeal and barley are great fortified cereal choices.
Avocados are the perfect first food for babies. They’re chocked full of monounsaturated fats and vitamins. They have a smooth, creamy texture already. They’re practically natural baby food! Just mash a very ripe avocado with a little formula or breast milk until you reach a puree.
Sweet potatoes are another of nature’s perfect baby foods. Packed with beta-carotene, sweet potatoes help develop eyes, skin, bone growth and support immune health. Just bake a sweet potato, and mash with formula or breast milk until smooth. Babies love the slightly sweet taste, and the texture is just perfect too. These also freeze very well, so cook up a few on the weekend!
Meat is rich in protein, iron, vitamins and minerals. It’s also important to expose your baby to a taste and texture that isn’t a vegetable! Just make sure they meat is of high quality and pureed to a paste. You can mix it with one of your baby’s favorite vegetable purees at first, too. Try this food around 7 months and older.
Beets are one of the most nutrient dense foods we have. They’re also a relatively sweet vegetable, which makes it more likely that babies will like them. Steam or boil them until very soft, and then mash into a paste. These are a great addition to a meat puree. Try beets at 11 months and older.
High in calcium and probiotics, yogurt is a great way for your baby to learn to use a spoon! It’s a great way to get calcium into their diet without giving them cow’s milk, as the lactose is already broken down in the process of culturing the yogurt. Make sure you buy plain (not vanilla-flavored) whole-milk yogurt. Try yogurt after 9 months.
Some Foods to Avoid in the First Year
- Nuts and nut butters
- Cow’s Milk