Although it is referred to as a solid food, your baby’s first foray beyond the breast or bottle will be anything but. Thin infant cereals and pureed fruits and vegetables are not really solid, but they are the best place for your baby to get started with food.
Does It Have to be Cereal?
Although most people do start baby on an infant cereal as his first baby food, there is no real reason why it has to be the only choice. The benefit of choosing cereal, usually rice, as baby’s first food is that it is unlikely to be allergenic and is also easy on baby’s digestive system. Other foods fit the same description as well, and in many cultures it is more common to start babies on fruits such as bananas than on grains.
You may have heard that starting baby on fruits will cause him to develop a taste for sweet and result in refusal of vegetables later in life. The truth is that babies are born with a taste for the sweet already, as breast milk is sweet. Giving fruit as a first food will encourage baby to try it, as it tastes familiar. There is no reason to think that it will affect his willingness to eat vegetables later.
Home Made or From a Jar?
The decision to make your own baby food or to buy it in a jar is purely a personal one. For some moms, home made is the way to go. It is cost-effective, wholesome, and provides the freshest possible food for your baby. Making baby food can be time consuming, however, and not every mom can fit it into her busy schedule. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, however. You can choose a mixture of home made and purchased foods to match your time and budget.
Some foods just make the most sense to provide fresh at home. Bananas are a great first food, and they don’t need to be cooked before serving, unlike most fruits and vegetables. Choose a very ripe banana, mash some with a fork, and serve. The downside is that banana turns brown fairly quickly when exposed to oxygen, so you might want to consume the rest yourself! Avocadoes are another option that doesn’t require cooking. Some other fairly easy foods to puree for baby (these do need to be cooked) are apples, pears, and sweet potatoes.
Foods like peas might be a good choice to purchase as they are very time consuming to make at home. For baby’s first peas, you will need to strain them to remove the shells, which takes a good deal of time and effort. Other foods that can be difficult to make a very smooth puree of at home include green beans and carrots.
When making food at home, try to make a large batch and freeze it for later use. Ice cube trays are a great way to freeze small servings that can be thawed as needed. Simply spoon the puree into a tray, freeze, and then dump the frozen cubes into a zip-top bag and label with the contents and the date.
Whatever you choose as baby’s first food, be sure to introduce new foods slowly, allowing several days in between each addition to watch for any signs of an allergic reaction. If you add more than one food at a time, it may be difficult to know which one is causing the problem. Also, remember that a baby may take many tastes of a food to decide she likes it, so if she refuses at first, don’t give up on the food. Keep offering it, and you might find she changes her mind.