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:
- Raw carrots
- Egg whites
- Cherry tomatoes
- Gum and Popcorn
Suggested first foods in order:
- Sweet potato
- Avocado (raw)
- Pureed spinach
- Melons (raw and pureed)
- 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 PTPA Winning WEAN CUBES 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.