Baby’s First Foods

July 28, 2011
Categories: Baby Food

The first six months of a baby’s life – feeding is pretty simple – as babies nutritional needs will be met by breastmilk or formula exclusively. Some parents will want to begin feeding the baby solids sooner than six months, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed (or fed formula) exclusively for at least four to six months.  One of the main reasons to not begin solid foods too soon is the baby’s digestive system is immature making it more susceptible to potential allergens.  This is especially important for babies that have a family history of food allergies.

If your baby is older than 4-6 months and is not satisfied or happy on just breastmilk or formula, or the feeding times are getting more frequent – it might be time to start solids.  Other ways to tell that your baby might be ready for solids:

  • Has head control and can sit upright in a high chair
  • Does not stick out his tongue to push out food
  • Has gained significant weight – often doubling birth weight
  • Shows interest in your meals
  • Mimicks your eating motions

Baby’s first meals will be likely very tiny – maybe a spoonful. As baby gets more used to eating solids, gradually s/he will eat more.  So don’t worry about quantity at first – just start with “introducing” flavors and get baby used to all the different motions that go into eating solids.

Good First Foods to Introduce:

When introducing foods for the first time, you will want to introduce them one at a time, allow 3 days before introducing a new food to make sure there is not a sign of an allergy to that food.  The following foods are less likely to cause allergic reactions, and so are good “first foods.”

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Peas
  • Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Rice Cereal and other grains like quinoa, barley, oatmeal, and amaranth

What foods should I avoid in Baby’s First Year?

  • Honey – can cause botulism in babies
  • Cows Milk – baby’s digestive system can not handle the proteins in cow’s milk, and the mineral content (sodium, potassium, and chloride) can be too high for baby, which can be harmful to kidneys.  Cow’s milk also does not have all of the key vitamins needed for baby’s fast growth the first year (vitamin E, zinc, and iron). Stick with breast milk or formula for first year (although milk products like cheese and yogurts are usually okay for most at around 8-9 months).
  • Foods that are most likely to cause allergies or are hard on the digestive tract such as peanuts and other tree nuts, eggs, wheat, soy, shellfish

Should I always buy organic produce and baby food?
When choosing foods for baby, selecting organic is definitely best – as it has no pesticides, hormones, or additives.  Buying organic all the time is ideal – but the following foods are more likely to have high pesticide contents, so you absolutely want to go organic with these foods:

  • apples
  • carrots
  • celery
  • cherries
  • grapes
  • kale & leafy greens
  • nectarines/peaches
  • pears
  • spinach
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes

Signs of a Food Allergy or Sensitivity:
Allergies are on the rise, so it is important to know the signs. They can range from mild to severe.  The CDC says that 4.6 % of kids have food allergies (up from 3% in 2000).  When introducing foods to a baby you want to introduce 1 food at a time waiting 3 days in between introducing any new foods to look for signs of allergies.   Severe symptoms are trouble breathing, hives, swelling of lips or tongue, or face, vomiting- these can show up minutes to hours after the food is eaten.  If your baby is showing signs of swelling, breathing problems or other severe symptoms, call 911.  Other symptoms can be more chronic – such as eczema, gastrointestinal issues, colic, diaper rash.   It is possible to be allergic to almost any food, but 90% of allergies are to the following foods:

  • cows milk
  • eggs
  • wheat
  • peanuts & tree nuts
  • soy
  • fish & shellfish

Make Your Own or Buy It

Making your own Baby food is a great way to save money and ensure your baby is getting the freshest baby food.  There are some great tools for making your own baby food such as the Magic Baby Bullet – it easily makes purees, and has convenient storage containers with a “date dial” so you know when you made it.  Foods that are already soft can be put right into the Baby Bullet with a little water or formula/breast milk.  Other foods will need to be steamed before pureeing, such as apples, sweet potatoes, etc.  If you are not able to find organic fresh produce, or want a quick packable alternative to homemade, there are lots of great companies such as Happy Baby that offer high quality, nutrient dense organic baby foods in convenient “take along” packaging.  Happy Baby includes DHA in many of their products, which helps with baby’s eye and brain development.  Many Happy Baby products also have probiotics to help baby’s digestive system develop and strengthen.

Baby’s first year is full of excitement and milestones – enjoy this special time!

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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