Your baby is inching closer to 6 months old and you are wondering how this introduction of food thing is supposed to go. Mainstream advice says to give them iron-fortified rice cereal when they reach 6 months old, and advance from there, spooning jarred baby food into their cute, delighted mouth. However, some babies aren’t into the spoon…meaning not interested in using it as a utensil to get food to their mouths. They want to feel the food with their hands, maybe smear it in their hair, or bang it (or said spoon) on the table. There are various approaches to feeding a baby. Purees are most socially acceptable, but Baby-Led Feeding (also known as baby-led weaning) is gaining traction. I recommend not being dogmatic about either one, and do what works for your family. I encourage you to think of this stage in gastronomic advancement as an ADVENTURE! It is not just about physical nourishment; it is about exploring food with all the senses, being included in the family’s meal rituals, as well as developing physical skill in bringing hand to mouth and using the tongue to get food to the esophagus. It is a messy stage of life, and the more you, lovely adult caregiver, can enjoy the mess, the better. In terms of what foods you feed your baby, please consider a different path than the mainstream rice cereal highway. Here’s why: the type of iron used in fortified cereals is harder to digest than the iron naturally found in foods, and processed fruits and vegetables in jars have lost a lot of their nutrients compared to the freshly prepared organic variety made with a caregiver's love. Below are a few great starter foods. If you are interested in learning more about when, how, and what of introducing food to baby (and getting pumped up for the adventure of it all, maybe with a glass of wine in hand) please join me for a Baby’s First Foods class. 1. EGG YOLK Egg yolk is a great source of iron, choline, cholesterol (which is good for developing brains); Grass fed yolks are rich sources of vitamins A, D, and folic acid. To prepare: boil an egg in water for 5 minutes, cool, peel, discard the white (which can cause allergic reaction in some babies, but is excellent nutrition for adults if you don't want to waste it!), and mash the yolk. It should be soft, but not runny. You can add a pinch of unrefined sea salt, or a healthy fat (see below) if you'd like. Salt provides sodium (activates an enzyme that aids neurological development) and chloride (aids in the digestion of meats) 2. SWEET POTATO/ APPLE Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene (vitamin A), magnesium, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals. Organic is best as root vegetables
really soak up pesticides. To prepare: wash and peel sweet potatoes/apples, slice in 1/4 inch rounds and steam. If you want to mash them, steam for 20 minutes, then check consistency. If you want to cut in small chunks that baby can pick up and eat, check after 10 minutes, cook until desired softness. 3. HEALTHY FATS Healthy fats include grass-fed butter, ghee, cod liver oil, coconut oil, and cold- pressed olive oil. All of these are wonderful for baby's growing brain and body. Butter and ghee contain wonderful fat soluble vitamins, iodine and other minerals. All fats lubricate digestion and support immune function. To prepare - add a bit of any of these oils to the other foods on this list, or simply give baby a small spoonful daily. Do not heat olive oil as the structure of the oil changes and health benefits decrease. 4. ZUCCHINI Zucchini is a good source of potassium, Vitamins B and C, antioxidants. They also have a lot of water and fiber which makes them gentle and helpful to the digestive tract. To prepare: Wash zucchini and cut off the ends. Cut long ways in spears and steam for a 8-10 minutes. Let cool. Baby can hold a whole spear and gnaw on it, or you can chop it up in smaller pieces for them to pick up, or you can puree it to serve by spoon.
Life Beyond Birth provides support for expectant parents, and new babies & their families, online and in-person. Find a class or contact Molly at www.lifebeyondbirth.com.