Top 10 first baby foods
Is your baby ready to transition to solids? Unsure where to start? Thanks to some slick advertising, many think jarred baby food is the only way to provide your baby with a good nutritional start. So, not true! You can quickly and easily make your own baby food. Here is a collection of ten easy starter foods for your baby, from the moms of Mothers' Support Network.
First, why make your own baby food?
Increased nutritional value: When you cook the food fresh, you preserve the nutritional content of the food. Canned baby food contains water, sugars and starchy fillers that actually dilute the nutritional quality of the food. The living enzymes have been cooked out of jarred (preserved) food.
Elimination of additives: If you choose organically grown produce, you know that your baby is not receiving any harmful chemicals, pesticides or herbicides.
Improved freshness: Have you seen jarred baby food? It looks, tastes and smells different than fresh because it's been heat processed (cooked) twice. Why not give your baby the very best.
Added variety: You choose what fruits and veggies to feed your baby. You can create your own food combinations and you can expose your baby to all kinds of foods.
Enhanced control: Preparing baby food at home provides you with control of your baby's diet and knowledge of exactly what goes into your baby's food.
Lower costs: The average baby in the United States will consume 600 jars of baby food. Parents who use processed baby food spend an average of $300 or more on baby food during their infant's first year of life. Making baby food at home is extremely cost-effective. Baby food prepared at home can cost as little as $55 in the first year. (Source: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers, Fresh Baby)
Ease: For most of these foods you can simple steam, mash with a fork, and mix in breast milk or water to the consistency your baby prefers. This will vary from baby to baby, so experiment to find your baby's favorite preparation. Some babies are more sensitive to textures and might prefer food that has been through the blender or food processor to reach a nice creamy finish. Other babies are ready right away for foods they can pick up or that is thick enough to stick to their fingers.
Controlled stages: As your baby matures, simply process the food less and less, mixing in less liquid, then none at all, then giving small pieces to pick up instead of mashing.
NOTE: Be sure to start solids slowly and watch for allergies. We don't recommend starting solids until 6 months of age. However, some babies are ready to start before then. Some signs your baby might be ready are: first tooth, sitting up by themselves, grabbing at food on your plate.
1. Rice cereal or oatmeal. Pediatricians recommend starting with an iron-fortified cereal, however you can make your own out of whole grains whose nutrients are intact and don't need fortification. Simply take brown rice, rolled oats or barley flakes and use a blender or food processor (or even a clean coffee grinder) to grind the grains into a powder. This powder then becomes your baby cereal. Cook this powder for 15 minutes until a thin soupy consistency is achieved. It's best to mix with breast milk to begin. You can also try adding blackstrap molasses for extra iron.
2. Avocado. Sodium free, avocados contain such valuable nutrients as fiber, potassium, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid, in addition to beneficial phytochemicals such as gluthathione, beta-sitosterol, and lutein. Avocados are also full of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which are important for your baby's brain and neurological development. Simply take a fork and mash up a ripe avocado and spoon into mouth. Easy.
3. Sweet potatoes. Besides just tasting good, these root vegetables are an excellent source of vitamin A. In addition, they are a very good source of vitamin C and manganese and a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. To prepare for your baby, simply boil, steam or bake potatoes (with skin on) until they are very soft. Peel and mash with a fork. You can add water or breast milk for a smoother consistency. You can freeze leftovers in ice cube trays and then transfer to airtight containers.
4. Bananas. Bananas are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese. Bananas are also VERY easy to serve to baby -- simply mash, add breast milk if needed to thin, and serve! We do caution you to not overdue it on bananas, as it can constipate baby. Also, banana skins are very porous, so be sure to buy organic bananas.
5. Apples. Apples are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K. Babies love apples and they are easy to prepare. Here's a basic recipe: Combine 1/2 cup water, 5 medium apples, cored, peeled and diced in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. You can add a pinch of cinnamon for flavor (if desired). Lower heat and simmer until you get the consistency you want. Then puree the sauce to remove any large pieces, cool and serve. You can also bake an apple in the toaster oven with a sweet potato.
6. Peas. Peas are a great finger food for babies that want to do it themselves. They are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, zinc, and vitamin A. Simply steam and serve, cutting larger peas in half. For added convenience you can keep peas in the freezer.
7. Peaches. Peaches are high in vitamin C and vitamin A and they contain a great amount of fiber. Peaches are known to have a diuretic affect and also are a natural laxative. The peach is a great fruit to give to your baby in the summer if constipation has become a problem. Peaches may be poached, steamed or baked and then mashed or pureed. Peaches tend to loose their nutritive value with prolonged cooking so baking or steaming them may be the best choice of cooking for optimal nutrient retention.
8. Pears. Pears are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and copper. Serving pears is as easy as mashing with a fork! However, if using for a very first food, you might try steaming and straining to get a smoother consistency.
9. Acorn/Buttermilk Squash. Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A. It is a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and manganese and a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, niacin and copper. To prepare squash, cut into small pieces and steam or boil. Puree, mixing in water or breast milk if desired, and serve.
10. Carrots. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin K. In addition, they are a very good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber and potassium. When preparing carrots, steaming is the very best method for cooking as it allows the beta-carotene to be more bio-available and readily used by the body. You should peel, cut into small pieces and steam until soft. Puree, add water or breast milk, as desired, and serve.
and The George Mateljan Foundation