For parents, introducing food to your baby is an exciting and thrilling time. It can also be nerve-wracking and full of self-doubt: Am I doing it correctly? Will I taint my child’s taste buds with my own eating likes and dislikes? How do I know what to do and when? These are all understandable questions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently updated their recommendations on the transition to solid foods. Traditionally, it has been recommended to start with a single grain cereal, such as rice cereal, then progress to vegetables, fruits and meats. However, there isn’t scientific evidence that proves the advantages of following this order. Speak to your pediatrician, it’s likely he will tell you that you may introduce foods in whichever order you wish.
The two keys to a smooth transition are to make sure that your baby shows signs of readiness for starting solids and to wait at least two to three days between each new food to allow time to identify any signs of an allergic reaction, such as vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. Speaking of food allergies, new evidence shows that delaying introduction of foods considered to be highly allergenic (eggs, fish, peanuts, etc.) does not protect against developing a food allergy, and may potentially be linked to an increased likelihood of developing an allergy. Talk to your pediatrician if you are concerned or have a family history of food allergies.
The next piece to the solid food puzzle is to figure out not just what foods to feed your child, but if you are going to buy your baby food or make your own. Making your own baby food is not always the economical route, but it can be extremely simple. Homemade food also tastes fresh and you know exactly what went into your baby’s food. Of course, you can always do a combination of keeping some purchased baby food on hand for emergencies and making the majority yourself. You really don’t need any fancy equipment either. A food processor, steamer basket, an ice cube tray and freezer storage bags are what you’ll need for the majority of homemade foods. A potato masher also comes in handy.
Here is the basic procedure for making your own baby food. For most foods, you can steam them (retains more nutrients than boiling), then purée in the food processor or mash with a fork or potato masher to reach the desired consistency. If you need to add some liquid, you can use breast milk, formula or some of the cooking water. Any food that is not going to be used within three days should be divided up in the ice cube tray. Freeze the tray, and then pop out the cubes to store in a freezer storage bag or container. Be sure to label the bag with the type of food and the date it was made.
Right now is the perfect time to try your hand at applesauce since apples are at their peak. You really won’t go back to the store bought kind when you see how simple and tasty it is for the whole family, not just baby!
- 5-6 apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- ½ cup water
- Dash of cinnamon (optional)
- Place all of the ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until apples are soft.
- Remove from heat and mash with a fork or potato masher.
- Allow to cool and store in refrigerator. Place what you will not use within 3 days in ice cube trays, freeze and then remove to a freezer storage bag or container.
Here are some great resources for making your own baby food:
The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet by Karin Knight and Tina Ruggiero
The Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Karen Ansel and Charity Ferreira
Baby Bites by Bridget Swinney