Food introduction can be so much fun. After months of breastfeeding or the repetitive formula making, finally, some real food. As a parent, you get to witness the awakening of one of the senses: taste. It’s an exciting time for baby too. Your baby’s world is about to expand, but don’t be overwhelmed by the task.
Naturopathic doctors like Dr. Michelle Peris recommend introducing foods that are easy to digest, nutritionally dense and hypoallergenic.
When Is Baby Ready?
At six months old the nutritional requirements of a baby change, which is why most solid food is introduced at this time. You can start earlier if you think your baby is ready, but not too early. Premature introduction of some foods is linked to food allergies.
First, your baby must be able to sit up independently and hold small food items between the thumb and forefinger. If your baby is watching you eat and reaching for your food, this is a good sign that he or she is ready and motivated.
Where Do I Start?
Select foods that are easy to digest and least allergenic. Contrary to many pediatric suggestions, Peris does not recommend fortified grains like rice cereal and instead recommends starting with organic fruits and vegetables only. Look for iron-rich foods since your growing body is now in need of more iron.
- At six to nine months: Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and beets. Fruits like pear, apple, avocado and banana.
- Nine to 12 months: Oatmeal, quinoa, egg yolk, beans and pureed meats.
- 12 months and older: Wheat, nut butters, whole egg, goat’s milk before dairy since structurally it is more similar to breast milk.
How Do I Do It?
Select one food at a time and have your baby eat that for four days before introducing a new food. This way you can check for food sensitivities. Peel the skins since these are too fibrous for baby to digest. Lightly steam to soften the food. Make sure purees are very smooth to start.
As your baby gets older, vary the texture with larger chunks. Your baby needs only a small amount: two to three teaspoons one or two times a day for the first six to nine months. After the baby has established a food taste, vary it by adding spices and herbs. You can also vary with temperature.