Food is not just eating energy, It’s an experience.
– Guy Fieri
I couldn’t help but feel bad as Baby J writhed in pain after eating baby cereal for the first time. I had heard so many contradicting messages about when to start solids that I just went with my gut instead of Baby J’s. I thought that since he was interested in my food that he’d enjoy eating and that’s all there was to it, but I didn’t consider the possibility that his digestive system may not be ready. His gas pain could have been a fluke so a few weeks later I tried baby cereal again, but the same thing happened. Fortunately I had gas drops on hand. After these two incidents I decided that maybe four months was not the best time for my baby to start eating solids even though other babies might do great with that timeline. I also decided that baby cereal was not the best choice for him as a first food. Instead I opted for steamed vegetables and vegetable purees.
Because each child is different, and I’m not an expert, I will just share some of Baby J’s favorites and the approximate order I introduced them. Please consult with a doctor and/or nurse before making changes to your child’s diet.
First Foods (5-6 months)
- Pureed Baby Food – Favorite flavors were sweet potato, green bean, butternut squash and carrot. I started with single ingredient purees first to help identify any allergens. Prunes did not agree with Baby J.
- Hummus – Favorites are original, red pepper, pine nut, and black bean
- Baked Sweet Potato/Yam mashed or cut into spears for easy grabbing
- Apple Sauce plain with no sweetener
- Banana cut into spears
- Peaches very ripe and cut into spears
- Avocado cut into spears – Sometimes this is too slippery for small fists. Be patient. Your little one will eventually figure out how to get it to their mouth.
Second Foods (7-8 months)
- Dolmas – These rolls of rice wrapped in grape leaves are perfect for little fists. You can buy them fresh or in a can at most grocery stores.
- Celery sticks for teething dipped in hummus or peanut butter. If trying peanut butter or any other common allergen for the first time watch for hives or any other reaction. Contact a doctor for instructions on how to treat a possible reaction. A nurse told me to keep liquid benadryl on hand and that hives are the most common first reaction in infants. By the way, baby probably won’t be able to eat the celery but just its toppings.
- Oatmeal – Throw in quinoa, barley, cinnamon, banana, berries, etc. Try making it with water, milk, even formula.
- Eggs – Try scrambled, omelette, fried, boiled. Eggs are soft so they are ideal for babies with or without teeth.
- Banana spears dipped in peanut butter or yogurt
- Cucumber spears dipped in hummus
- Cottage cheese with our without apple sauce or chopped veggies added.
- Baby food pouches. By 7 months Baby J understood the concept of eating from a pouch. If he even spotted a pouch in our grocery cart he would start kicking.
- Almost anything from my plate! By seven months Baby J wanted to explore any and every plate of food. Why not make it easy on yourself and give them what they want! Just make sure that firmer foods are cut in small pieces or smashed into a mush and that soft foods are cut into shapes and sizes that are easier to handle. Shredded chicken, ground beef or turkey, meatballs are all fun to try at this time.
Third Foods (9-10 months)
- Toast cut into strips that are easy to handle. I like to top the toast with peanut butter, hummus, butter, or cream cheese for something a little extra.
- Baby puff snacks. Easy on-the-go snacking. Read the ingredients and don’t make them into entire meals, but they are good for keeping little hands and mouths busy in restaurants or airplanes.
- Bambas from Trader Joe’s are peanut buttery puffs that melt in your mouth. Baby J loves them. They were great on our vacation, but now I use them as a special treat for him.
- Raspberries – Baby J wasn’t into tart foods when he was younger, but now he explores the texture and tartness of the raspberries I give him with his morning oatmeal.
- Zucchini grilled in strips – Baby J sucked this down at a BBQ right after he turned 9 months old. We’d tried steamed before, but he wasn’t a fan.
- Shrimp – He loves holding a shrimp in one hand and toast in the other. It’s soft enough for him to bite off a little at a time with his two and a half teeth, but hard enough that he really has to work at it. I love this one because it’s not as messy as the rest.
- Really…if you haven’t just let them dig into your plate, you need to give them a chance. It will bring you both joy, if not now, sooner or later.
I hope you enjoy my suggestions. We’ve had a lot of fun watching Baby J try a number of different foods, even poke when we recently vacationed in Hawaii. Let me know what worked and what didn’t.