So how do you feed a baby anyway? When do you start? What do you start with? What should they avoid? Here are a couple of things I have learned along the way and I hope you will find them helpful too.
How do I know when my baby is ready for food?
Typically the average age is around 6 months, but there are a few signs you can watch for to know when your baby is ready:
-sitting up; holding up their head
-the appearance of teeth
-grabbing for food; ability to hold small objects; watching others eat with interest
Before this time, exclusive breastfeeding is highly encouraged in order to build a strong immune system, digestive system, and to prevent allergies and multiple other health concerns (such as asthma, eczema, ear infections, obesity, etc.). For the same reasons, cow’s milk, soy, wheat, and formula are discouraged until they are 12 months to 2 years old.
What should I avoid?
-Anything small and hard that your baby could choke on.
-Sugars, flavourings, colours, additives, processed foods, dairy, wheat…
How do I introduce their first foods?
The most important thing to remember, is that your child’s taste buds are developing in their first 2 years of life – they don’t have the same tastes as you do! Use this time to build a healthy foundation from the start by introducing a variety of healthy whole foods from the get go.
Example first foods (steamed & pureed with purified water): sweet potato, squash, turnip, parsnip, zucchini, carrot, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, melons, avocado.
As they grow and get comfortable with these foods, you can add in some whole grains – soaked overnight and then cooked and pureed. Examples: quinoa, millet, brown rice.
Once they are 9-12 months you can add some virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil into their stews and try giving them small soft chunks or just lightly mashed food. You can also introduce oatmeal for breakfast with blackstrap molasses and cinnamon.
If your baby has had no food reactions by this time, you can begin to slowly one by one introduce more fruits, vegetables, legumes, proteins and grains as they grow. In some, it might be necessary to continue to avoid wheat, dairy, corn, shellfish, and nuts and eggs until they are at least 2-3 years old and they have had no allergic reactions.
Keeping your baby’s food choices as pure, simple, and whole as possible in these early months will help your child to develop a strong gut and immune system that will get them off to a strong start from the beginning.