Clients 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 until nine months. 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.
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, and plums. Start with cooked fruit. Once cooked fruit is accepted try raw mashed fruit. Somewhere between nine to twelve 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, 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 sippy cup.
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 tolerated. Avocado is rich in vitamins: A, C, Niacin, Folate, and has the following Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron, Magnesium, and 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 thirty minutes or until soft. Peel yam and add either some water or mother’s milk to reach creamy consistency, and watch your baby smile.
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 nine 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, and Calcium.
Wash, core, 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 four minutes or until the apple is soft. Puree in a blender or mash with a fork. Use the residual water to create a puree.
Avoid sugar, salt, refined flours, processed foods, foods with additives, preservatives, colors, and hydrogenated fats. 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.
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.