10 First Foods for Baby – No Rice Cereal!
Did you know that your baby’s first food doesn’t have to be rice cereal? Rice cereal used to be recommended – and in fact, often still is – as the first baby food, because it is fortified with iron, and babies are thought to need a lot of iron. The problem is, rice cereal has no other nutrition, so it’s fortified with a whole bunch of… stuff. Also, it’s bland.
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When we were given the okay to start solids with Camden, our pediatrician told us we didn’t have to start with rice cereal if we didn’t want to (before I could even ask her!). She said there are a lot of great fruits and vegetables to start a baby off with. There are a couple of goals when baby starts eating solids: practicing taking food from a spoon (or putting it in his mouth, if you’re doing soft chunks). and getting used to/enjoying different tastes and textures.
It’s really important to me to help Camden be an adventurous eater, and rice cereal is not part of adventurous (or nutritious) eating. My goal is also not to feed him jarred baby food, for the most part. There might be times where it is the easiest/best/only option, but I’d like him to eat homemade baby food as much as possible. That way, I can also introduce spices as he gets a little older and interest his taste buds even more.
We started with mashed banana, which is a great first food because it doesn’t have to be cooked, it mashes easily, and it has a pleasing flavor. Camden loved it, obviously.
Here’s my list of 10 great foods to start baby on. There are so many more choices out there, and as long as your baby is enjoying solids, pooping regularly, and still taking in enough milk, you’re probably doing it right.
*I am not a pediatrician. This is simply my experience in introducing my child to homemade solids. Please check with your pediatrician before introducing solids into your child’s diet.*
Mash with a fork and serve. Easy-peasy.
Peel the sweet potato. Steam or bake it, then mash it up or puree it. Alternatively, cut it into small, soft chunks for baby.
Note: Camden didn’t love sweet potatoes by themselves at first, so I mixed a little banana in. He loved that, and I slowly just cut the banana out, and now he loves his sweet potatoes. And they are SO SO healthy.
Cut your avocado in half. Scoop out some flesh. Mash and spoon feed, or cut into small bites for baby.
I wanted Camden to love avocado, because I do and because it’s so healthy. However, he didn’t really care for it. He just left it on his tongue and held his mouth open, waiting for us to take it out. HA. We’ll keep trying.
Steam your peaches and peel them. Puree the flesh. We also use frozen peach slices (just peaches, no sugar added!!), and steam them and puree.
Peaches are Camden’s favorite food. They’re sweet, and the texture is easy. We use these to follow any foods that he doesn’t love – like peas – because then he remembers the peas as a pleasant experience and will eat more the next time.
Steam or microwave your peas, then blend them in the blender or with an immersion blender. Peas often get wrinkled faces when first eaten, because the texture is strange.
Camden didn’t like peas at all at first. He made faces and then started pushing them back out of his mouth with his tongue (so cute 🙂 ). But we tried every couple of days and always followed a small amount of peas with peaches, and now he’ll eat peas with no problem. He doesn’t inhale them the way he does with peaches and bananas, but he eats them!
Pour dry old fashioned (not instant) oats into a high-powered blender (like a ninja) or food processor. Process the oatmeal until it is in small bits. I processed a whole container of oats and then just stored them in an Oxo airtight container.
To make: add 1 tablespoon of processed oats to 1/4 c. water. Microwave 20-30 seconds, until thickened. If desired, add a tablespoon of mashed banana and a dash of cinnamon.
Camden is okay with oats, but oatmeal with bananas and cinnamon are a definite favorite! Oatmeal is a great way to introduce a spice (cinnamon) into baby’s diet!
Peel your apples and slice them. Steam them and mash them with a fork or blend with a blender. Alternately, fill crockpot with sliced apples, a dash or two of cinnamon, and 2-4 tablespoons of water. Cook on low until soft. Blend with immersion blender or mash with potato masher for more texture.
Snap off the ends of your beans, steam until very tender, and blend. Done.
I wouldn’t start off with beans very first, because the thick skins can make a pretty heavy texture, but they can definitely be one of the first few foods you feed baby. These are also a great veggie to season with a little (a little) garlic powder (not garlic salt!) as an introduction to spices.
Steam or slow cook your carrots until tender. Either slice or blend, depending on preference. Season with a bit of basil, garlic powder or even cinnamon.
If pumpkins are in season, you can make your own. Purchase a sugar pumpkin (sometimes also called a pie pumpkin). Slice it in half and remove seeds. Cover each half with foil and bake it at 325 for 50-60 minutes, until tender. Scrape out flesh and blend in blender or food processor. If it is too stringy, press through a fine mesh sieve to remove stringy bits.
You can also use canned plain pumpkin (make sure it says ‘pure pumpkin’ and not ‘pie mix’ – the pie mix is full of sugar!). I prefer to buy organic when I’m buying canned, and you can feed it to baby as soon as you open the can (and put it in a bowl, obviously).
I actually really like to eat pumpkin straight from the can. It has a good flavor to me, and babies usually enjoy it too. It’s also great with a little cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to introduce spices to baby! Camden loves his pumpkin just plain!
To store homemade baby food:
I use these freezer molds to freeze the baby food in 2 oz portions. Then I pop them out and store them in a labeled ziploc freezer bag in the freezer. Then every night or two, I pull out one or two days worth of cubes and let them thaw in the fridge overnight so they’re ready the next day.
These molds are also great for traveling, because you can freeze food beforehand, then put each 2 oz portion into a travel container or baby bowl (like these – so cheap, too!), and then food is ready on the go!
Did you feed your baby rice cereal as his or her first baby food? If not, what were your baby’s first foods? OR what will they be?
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