When Do Pediatricians Recommend Starting Solid Foods?
According to the Mayo Clinic as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies aged 4 to 6 months show signs that they are ready to begin eating solid foods as a complement to breast-feeding or formula-feeding. However, new research shows that it's generally better for baby's immune system and over all digestion to wait until at least 6 months. Keep in mind that some babies will not be ready to transition from breastmilk until even later. This is perfectly normal, as long as their pediatrician agrees they are healthy.
What are a Few Signs Your Baby is Ready for Solid Foods?
Babies will typically stop using their tongues to push food out of their mouths and begin to develop the coordination to move solid food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing. They also have very strong gag reflexes as a form of protection, so you can rest assured knowing that your baby is not as likely to choke as you may think they are. In addition to age, if you answer yes to the questions below and have the OK from your pediatrician, you can begin supplementing your baby’s diet with solid foods:
●Can your baby hold his or her head in a steady, upright position?
●Can your baby sit with support?
●Is your baby mouthing his or her hands or toys?
●Is your baby interested in what you're eating?
Unique First Foods for Baby
In her book Real Food for Mother and Baby, Nina Planck talks about feeding her baby tons of foods right from the start—meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, fruits and vegetables. She gave him grated Parmesan mixed with olive oil. She stirred salsa into eggs. She added cinnamon to mashed banana. She gave him dark chocolate. She let him gnaw on lamb chops. Some things you can try at home that a 6 month old baby might be ready to eat are:
-Dried Mango Slices
-Green Pepper Slices
-Broccoli (add garlic and lemon to it when your baby is older than 12 months)
-Soft chunks of cheddar cheese
-Pieces of grilled salmon
-Pieces of steak
The Benefits of Homemade Baby Food Over Store Bought
Now don't get me wrong - there are moments in every mother's life where a quick jar or pouch of baby food can be a sanity saver! But there are a lot of fun and worthy reasons to consider making your own baby food, including:
●You know exactly what you are feeding your baby!!!
●It’s more economical and environmentally friendly than buying pre-packaged foods
●You can choose your own fruits, vegetables, and other foods for purees, instead of relying on the flavors chosen by manufacturers. You’re not typically going to find melons or avocados in the baby food section of the supermarket!
●It gets the baby used to eating the same food as the rest of the family -- just in puree form.
●Jarred baby food is cooked at extremely high temperatures to kill bacteria for longer storage, at the same time taking out many of the food's vitamins, nutrients and taste. It also includes preservatives and is often high in salt.
●By spending one weekend cooking, you can prepare a month’s worth of food for your baby at a time.
●Making your own baby food allows you to think more about what you’re feeding your child, paving the way for them to be healthy and adventurous eaters!
Baby Food Makers
One of the easiest ways to make your own baby food is just by mashing whatever you are eating with a fork. It doesn't get much easier than that! This simple piece of kitchen equipment found in every kitchen does a great job with easily mashed foods such as a very ripe pear, sweet potatoes, avocados, or bananas. However, sometimes when you are making large batches, some more advanced equipment can be helpful. Here is a run down of a few common options:
●Hand-powered food mill with different blades for various textures of food. Many parents say this portable, non-electric gadget is their favorite tool. (Search online for "food mill.")
●An all-in-one baby-food maker - a device that first steam-cooks and then purees fruit, vegetables, and meat for your baby. Some models also defrost and reheat previously prepared food. (Search for the Baby Brezza, Beaba Babycook, or "baby food maker.")
●A baby food grinder, a very inexpensive and simple way to break down chunks of food for your baby, non-electric and portable, but you don't have a choice of textures. Read the reviews online before ordering. The grinders don't always work as well as they promise, but some parents swear by them. (Search for "baby food grinder.")
●A hand blender, a useful electronic gadget that purees food like a blender does, but works in the opposite way: You place it into the food rather than vice versa. (Search for "hand blender.")
●A regular kitchen blender or food processor. You probably already have at least one of these at home. A blender or food processor might work well for you, though you might find it less than ideal for small jobs. A Baby Bullet or Nutri Bullet is a good option you can try if you don’t have one already.
Other useful supplies:
●Storage containers and ice cube trays (or similar trays made just for baby food) for refrigerating and freezing extra portions. Freezing in small servings helps reduce waste and shorten thawing times.
Healthy Homemade: How to Make Baby Food in 6 Easy Steps!
So, you've decided to make your own baby food. Great! How do you actually do it???
Follow these easy steps:
●Wash and rinse your hands and equipment.
●Scrub and peel fruits and vegetables.
●Bake, steam, roast, or microwave until tender (steaming preserves the most nutrients).
●Puree in a food processor with a little liquid (water, breast milk, or formula), or mash if your baby can handle more texture.
●Store in the refrigerator or freezer, in airtight containers. (Packaged baby foods can be stored in the cupboard until they’re opened; because they’re fresh, homemade baby foods can’t.)
●Rewarm when it’s time to eat and allow to cool.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, you can puree foods such as cooked meats (fully cooked, with no pink, and remove fat, skin, and connective tissue), beans, and cooked eggs.
Time for Some Baby Food Recipes!
Baby's Little Pasta Soup
Babies will love this soup made with little pasta. It can be changed according to your baby's taste—try adding mashed carrots, creamy spinach or tiny bits of broccoli, chicken or turkey.
●11/2 cups (355 ml) low-sodium chicken broth
●2 (22 g) tablespoons uncooked pastina
Bring broth to a gentle boil and add pastina. Cook, stirring frequently, 7 or 8 minutes, or until pastina is cooked. Serve warm.
This recipe, covered tightly, will last for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, just add a bit of water.
High in vitamins A and C and fiber. Makes 1 1/2 cups
●1 yam, peeled and cut in chunks
●3 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
●2 Tbs water
1.In a pot, cover yam and carrots with cold water. Boil 25 minutes, or until very tender.
2.Drain and puree in food processor with water until completely smooth (no telltale chunks!), 1 minute. If necessary, add up to 1 tablespoon water to make puree smoother.
High in fiber, protein and iron. Makes 1 cup
●One 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
●1 Tbs water
1.Pulse cannellini beans and water in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Puree should be the consistency of peanut butter. If necessary, add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until there are no bean flecks visible.
First Avocado Baby Food - Sweet Potato and Avocado Dinner
1 small sweet potato
1 avocado, peeled
Bake the sweet potato in its skin for 45 mins - 1 hour until tender.
Cool, then remove the flesh from the skin and mash with the avocado.
Avocado also tastes delicious mashed with cooked butternut squash.
Easy Chicken and Veggies
2oz (1/4 cup) chicken, cut into small pieces
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
2oz (1/4 cup) broccoli florets
homemade chicken stock or water
Put all ingredients into a saucepan and just cover with the stock/broth.
Simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
Drain (reserving the broth) and puree in a food processor, adding back a little of the reserved cooking broth to create a thinner texture if necessary.
Perfect Pork Puree
4oz (1/2 cup) lean pork
4oz (1/2 cup) sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 small apple, peeled, cored and diced
6 fl oz (3/4 cup) homemade chicken stock, apple juice or water
pinch dried sage.
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the pork is cooked and the sweet potato/apple are tender.
Blend in a food processor and serve.
Thank you to the Following Sources!
Solid foods: How to get your baby started http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20046200
Motherhood Mondays: Baby food...an epiphany!http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2014/03/motherhood-mondays-baby-foodan-epiphany.html
Homemade Baby Food: Is It Right for You?http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-food-nutrition-9/making-baby-food
USDA Nutritional Needs
Baby’s Little Pasta Soup
Sneak Vegetables into Food
How to Introduce Meat to Baby
Avocado Baby Food Recipes