Are you a mom of a young baby wondering what is the best first baby food for your little one? Questions start popping on your mind as soon as you know that your baby is ready to try something different than the breast milk. What’s very important to understand here is that processed food from a factory is not a healthy food for your baby. Healthy food for babies is a topic we can’t ignore. Baby’s small body can be more affected by bad food than a body of an adult person.We all agree with the fact that the healthiest baby food is the breast milk full of fatty acids, antibodies, nutrients, and proteins. Studies also show that breastfeeding is not only good for the baby, but also for the mother. It decreases the risk of cancers (breast, ovarian, cervical, endometrial) and lowers the incidence of postpartum depression.
There are lots of healthy first baby foods available out there, but we can talk about the ones who are highly recommendable for the health of the babies. Before introducing solid food to your baby talk to the pediatrician about your baby’s readiness for solids, when to start and which foods are the best. When start feeding the baby with a new food, wait at least three days between each new product. Waiting between two new foods is needed to check if your baby has any allergic reaction.
Best First Baby Foods
Banana is a classic first baby food used the world over. Bananas are rich in potassium, magnesium, Vitamin B6, calcium, and iron. Also, the banana is a soft-meat fruit easy to mash and serve. Its nutrients are more than useful for the growth of your baby. However, there is solid research into the benefits of banana as the first solid food your baby should try.
In the research, a little less than five hundred bottle-fed infants who were either underweight or had complicating illnesses were fed mashed banana as a compliment to their bottle feed. The feeding started at six weeks and improvements in the weight and health of the babies were considerable. While the reasons are still unknown, the researchers argued that because the banana is so easily digestible, it acted as an ideal first food to train the gut to adjust to solid foods, and improved the gut’s ability to absorb nutrients.
The researchers also noted a fall in gastrointestinal upsets and that infants fed banana after a bout of diarrhea digested the fruit with ease without stomach issues returning. (1)
Suggestion: Make a banana puree. Or even better, make a smoothie out of banana puree, peach chunks, and yogurt.
More and more mothers all over the world are advised to feed their babies with avocado because of its nutritional values that help the development of the brain.
The avocado is among those rare foods that contain more healthy fats than carbohydrates. Likewise, the fruit has plenty of essential minerals such as potassium and calcium. The fatty fruit-vegetable is rich in healthy unsaturated fats very similar by its composition to the breast milk. This super food boosts the baby’s immune system and helps it grow faster.
Avocado provides the body with niacin, Vitamins K, B, and A.
Suggestion: Mash the avocado and make a baby guacamole.
Blueberries are another great first baby food. The deep blue color of blueberries comes from flavonoids that benefit your baby’s brain, eyes, and urinary tract. Blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits full of antioxidants that help the body develop properly and keep it healthy.
Suggestion: Blend blueberries and add a spoon full of the purple juice in a yogurt. Don’t give your baby a pure blueberry juice because it’s too strong for its stomach.
Broccoli may not sound like a perfect baby food to you, but the fact is that all cruciferous veggies contain big amounts of fiber, folate, and calcium and all of these nutrients are crucial for your baby’s health. The best thing you can do is to introduce broccoli to your little one since the early age and develop his taste for green vegetables. This way you’ll make sure your baby grows into a healthy person with healthy eating habits.
Suggestion: Steam the broccoli until it becomes soft, cut it into small pieces and let it cool. Some babies prefer the taste of cold food.
From the age of five or six months, you can start feeding your baby one egg yolk per day. Egg yolk is full of essential nutrients such as amino acids, Vitamin A, and iron. Also, egg yolk is an excellent source of healthy fat, cholesterol, and choline which is good for the eyes and the brain development.
Suggestion: You can crush a hard boiled yolk and mix it with yogurt. For even tastier option scramble the egg yolk in a pan with a 1/3 table spoon of coconut butter.
Red meat is rich in protein, zinc, and iron, which is crucial for its growth. Lack of iron in the blood causes anemia, and you don’t want that for your baby. Dark meat poultry is also a healthy food choice for your baby.
Suggestion: Cook 1/2lb of turkey with three tablespoons of water until it becomes very soft. Blend the meat to make a puree and serve it with sweet potato or apricot puree.
Dried plums or prunes are soft, sweet, and contain fiber good for the baby’s intestines. Prunes will help baby’s stomach keep going and avoid constipation, which is very common in babies after introduced to solids. As the food changes, the baby’s system changes too, so add pureed prunes in the diet to avoid stomach problems.
Suggestion: Serve pureed prunes as a sweetener to oatmeal or applesauce.
Research conducted into low-income households and the diets of the infants showed that most infants were given cereal based foods to compliment their bottle or breast feed. The research argued that solely relying on cereal based foods restricts the availability of certain nutrients such as iron, calcium and zinc which are crucial to development.
The researchers found that by substituting sweet potato as the initial complimentary food for the infant, the macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate), gross energy, and fructose in the sweet potato diet was far superior to the cereal based foods (2).
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and minerals, including iron and copper. They are soft and sweet, and babies love their texture. Sweet potatoes are a perfect example of a healthy baby food full of nutrients.
Suggestion: Make a sweet potato puree and serve it alone or with a meat puree.
Yogurt is known for being a probiotic. This means that it contains many different types of ‘good’ bacteria. When a baby is born, its gut bacteria is effectively a clean slate with very little biodiversity. Over the first few months, the babies gut soon becomes colonized by the bacteria that the baby is exposed to.
The gut bacteria slowly develops into a thriving ecosystem that has huge benefits for the body’s general health as an infant but also later on in life. In fact, there are many diseases associated with poor gut bacteria. Indeed poor quality gut bacteria has also been linked to adult obesity as well as other environment related ailments.
Adding certain probiotics such as yogurt to a baby’s diet is a great way of setting the infants gut bacteria off down the right track and giving your infant the best head start in life.
Babies can start eating yogurt from the age of 4 months. Yogurt is rich in calcium and Vitamin D that help in bone and teeth formation. It’s recommendable to give your baby full-fat yogurt before you start feeding it with cow milk. Opt for yogurt brands with no sugar added.
Suggestion: You can serve yogurt on its own or mix it with fruit purees or mashed avocado.
The American Academy of Pediatrics conducted research into which fruits American children most prefer to eat and the clear winner was the apple. (3)
If you are introducing solids for the first time, few babies in my experience have ever turned down/refused apple puree and as such, it makes a great first food for baby.
The health benefits of apples are numerous and this wonderful fruit is packed with rich nutrients such antioxidants, minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium as well as fiber and vitamins (4). It really is a superfood for your baby.
However, there is a word of caution. The popularity of apple as a first baby food is probably because it is sweet and all humans naturally prefer sweeter foods at such a young age. If you want to ensure your child has a broad pallet and likes to eat more savory foods, then restricting the number of apple meals is probably wise.
- Do start feeding your baby with avocado as the first solid food.
- Do make sure you puree well the food. The baby likes it almost liquid.
- Do store the purees in ice cube trays
- Research conducted into food high in nitrates recommends that foods such as green beans, carrots, spinach, squash, beets, be avoided before three months of age.
- Don’t compare your baby’s reactions to solid foods to another baby.
- Don’t rush with food preparation.
- Don’t give your baby a new food every day.
Remember, your baby will develop a taste for healthy food depending on what you’re feeding it. So, be a responsible parent and do your best by following these tips.