You made it! The point which every mother longs for, when she can have her body back and her infant can finally feed her sweet self. It starts slowly and it’s messy but it is the road to independence. And, when the baby is ready to eat, look out! It is a quick gallop through the food forest. So, where to start?
Many will suggest that you start with a “baby cereal” and suggest rice is the “least allergenic” but that method doesn’t factor in all sorts of other issues. If you can forecast to school aged food concerns and ask yourself “what do I think I will have the most trouble getting my kid to eat?” and start there I think you will be further ahead. I have never experienced a parent saying “I just can’t get him to eat more processed white cereal grains!” It is usually…”she won’t touch a vegetable!” So laying the foundation for the tasty and nourishing veggies first can be a better bet.
Remembering that what we are really doing at this point is setting the stage for a healthy relationship with food. Over the next six months we will introduce a host of tastes and textures and lay the foundation of a budding palate. It really isn’t about how much nourishment they get from the foods at this stage. A child needs time to learn how to chew, swallow, explore, taste and smear your walls and clothes with sticky gunk.
What not to serve:
For the purpose of preventing/avoiding allergies…
- Cow’s milk
- Tree nuts
For safety sake:
- Carrots (raw)
- Egg whites
- Cherry tomatoes
- Gum and Popcorn
Suggested first foods in order:
- Sweet potato
- Carrots (cooked)
- Avocado (raw)
- Pureed spinach
- Bananas (raw)
- Melons (raw and pureed)
10. Green Beans
- Always peel, cook (in general it is best to steam at this stage), cool and mash. (You can, of course prepare a week’s worth in advance and store in the freezer in ice cube trays to reduce the work, just remember that each time you change the temperature of a food you are damaging some nutrients and increasing the risk of bacterial contamination.)
- Mix cooked food with breast milk or formula at a 1:4 Ratio (so, like, really thin, at first)
- Start with one food and serve the same one for 3-5 days to be sure there is no reaction. Reactions range from the things you would expect to see with seasonal allergies: sneezing, itchy watery eyes, runny nose to redness around the mouth and diaper rash. Once a food has been accepted, consider it part of your roster! Add the second food and repeat the schedule.
- Remember that baby is still getting most of his or her nutrients from the breast or bottle and this is a learning to eat stage, not a stuff ‘em till they are full stage.
We will get to those cereals which will add thickness, iron and bulk but much later in the process. From 6-8 months, the skills to acquire are use of the tongue, gaining repertoire and exposing allergies. That’s it! Baby steps, I know, but by age 1, we hope to have a child who will be eating modified and mashed foods from the family table who has identifiable (or hopefully no) reactions to good foods. Assuming, of course, that what’s on that family table is as healthy as possible.
Sweet Potato, Carrots, Parsnip, Apple or Squash First Foods
¼ cup filtered water
2 cups (organic if possible) fruit or veggie such as sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, apple or squash
In a small pot bring water to a boil while you clean, peel and chop into small pieces one of the fruits or vegetables. Add vegetable to boiling water and steam, covered until soft. Normally 5-8 minutes. Drain water but reserve for thinning vegetable if needed. Use a food mill or small blender (like a magic bullet) to completely puree adding only as much of the cooking water as needed.
- Choose one of the fruits or vegetables at a time and serve it daily for 3-5 days.
- Store in small portions in the fridge and only serve 1-2 tbsp at a time.
- No need to “reheat” it only kills nutrients. Simply warm formula or breast milk and stir it in to thin to a very thin paste at first, no thicker than, say, ranch salad dressing.
- Once you are sure that there are no allergic responses keep track of this vegetable and move on to another on the list.
- When you move through a couple, all of these go well together to increase and enhance flavor.
- Once you are sure that your baby is able to swallow, you can use less breast milk or formula to create a thicker texture more like hummus.
- Once you are sure that your baby likes a food and is not showing any sensitivity you can double or triple the amounts and store in silicon ice cube trays in the freezer.
- Once frozen, remove to a freezer baggie to maintain nutrients and avoid freezer burn. This also allows you to re-use the ice cube tray endlessly.
- To reheat from freezer, use a small pot or microwave and heat just enough to thaw for this meal.
To reach Theresa directly please go to www.theresaalbert.com