Baby's First Foods & When To Start Solids
I think a lot of new parents have hopes of making their child homemade baby food. In essence it's easy enough and of course saves money. The only real problem I came across was finding things my son would actually eat. What one child loves another may hate. What your child likes one day they may refuse the next (this doesn't change much lol). So it's important to just play around with different things and try not to get too fancy with your combos. I learned the hard way, the simpler the better!
This was one of the first combos we tried.
Chicken/Apple/Sweet Potato Puree- it was super easy and made 35 servings so that comes out to around .18 cents per serving- wow!
It's as simple as boiling or steaming apples and sweet potatoes, cooking chicken, and pureeing it all together with some water or chicken stock to thin it out. I chose to freeze it in these silicone baby food containers and ice cube trays (cover with foil and freeze overnight) then just pop them out and store in a freezer bag, when you're ready to use one just warm it up.
Broccoli- By the time Ezra was eating more foods we were lucky enough to have a huge garden that was supplying most of our produce. Steamed and pureed broccoli was a simple way to get his greens.
Green Eggs (no ham) - It's been suggested to wait until over the age of 1 to introduce eggs if there is an egg allergy in your family however egg YOLK allergies are very rare so you can start earlier with those if you'd like. They are a great source of vitamins, omega 3 fats, and protein. Ezra still loves this combo since spinach doesn't have a strong flavor you can blend a handful of spinach with raw eggs, then scramble them! Easy way to sneak veggies into your child's diet.
Carrots and Green Beans- These two ended up being Ezra's favorite foods. Plain carrots and plain green beans - cooked and pureed with a little water if they needed thinning out. Muffin pans also work great for freezing larger portions of food if you don't want to use an ice cube tray.
Roasted apples, strawberries, cinnamon- I tried to get creative with this one and it back fired! Ezra doesn't care for strawberries, I did taste this and it was amazing so I think he's crazy haha! Its worth a shot to try with your little one. Chop apples and strawberries and spread them out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon and roast at 375 until they are tender and the juices are coming out. Let cool slightly then puree, portion, and freeze.
A few other favorite first foods were mashed banana or avocado. He also really liked finely diced tomato mixed in with the avocado, kind of like guacamole, yum!
Something else to consider is WHEN to start introducing foods. This is something that I did a lot of research on and though there are conflicting views, I strongly encourage you to wait as long as possible before introducing any foods, and at the very minimum wait until 6 months. Babies are born with a "leaky gut" meaning the cell lining of their digestive system is open and permeable. These tiny gaps allow substances such as undigested food, bacteria and metabolic wastes that should be confined to your digestive tract to escape into your bloodstream -- hence the term leaky gut. Introducing foods too early increases the chance of allergies, gas, rashes, and medical issues. A baby's gut doesn't produce enzymes to aid in digestion until 3-4 months, and the ones that break down more complicated fats, starches, and carbohydrates won't be produced until 6-9 months, meaning lots of gas, constipation, vomiting, and wasted nutrients before then. It has even been reported that babies are generally more fussy later on when they're started on foods too early. I know it's exciting to see how they'll eat or what their reaction to food will be but you're only benefiting their long term health by waiting.
Bone broth is a great first food/drink for babies as it helps heal and close the gut lining since it's rich in healing collagen. Ezra was breastfed until 12 months so we didn't even start introducing purees until he was 8 months and even then it was more to "test the waters", his main source of nutrition and meals was still just breastmilk. Infants do not need solid food, they will get the nutrients they need from their milk or formula. He never suffered from gas or constipation and I can count on one hand how many times he ever spit up.
Another misconception is that babies should have rice cereal as one of their first foods. This couldn't be further from the truth... so why should you skip the baby cereals all together?
1. Babies Can't Digest It - the enzyme that is responsible for digesting grains is called Amylase and babies don't make amylase in large enough quantities to digest grains until at least the age of 1, sometimes age 2. Newborns don't produce amylase at all. Amylase found in saliva starts making an appearance around 6 months but pancreatic amylase (what's needed to digest grains) isn't produced until the molar teeth are fully developed which typically doesn't occur until at least 12 months. Undigested grains wreak havoc on your baby’s intestinal lining. It can throw off the balance of bacteria in their gut and lead to many complications as they get older including: food allergies, behavioral problems, mood issues, and more.
2. It holds very little nutritional value. You're essentially just filling their stomach, which is why it used to be suggested to feed infants rice cereal before bed or even put it in their bottle (which is a huge choking hazard!) so that they would sleep thru the night. Infants have tiny stomachs, it is completely normal for them to wake to eat every couple hours because their stomachs can only hold so much before they're hungry again. Trust me, I know that sleep is as rare as a unicorn when you have an infant but don't sacrifice your child's gut health just so that they'll sleep thru the night.
3. If they're full on grains it leaves less room for more important nutrients like fruits, vegetables, meats, and fats.
I know there are a lot of people out there who will say "I fed my baby cereal and they are just fine" and that may be the case right now, but do you really know how you're affecting their gut health unless you're looking at it under a microscope? No.
As Hippocrates said "All disease begins in the gut". Helping your baby start out their life with the healthiest gut possible will only lead to a healthier future.
What were your child's favorite homemade baby food combos? Share below! :)