Soft, sauteed veggies can be blended for a smooth pureed baby food or set out in a bowl for Baby to handle herself. Once children have been cleared of wheat allergies or intolerances, pasta becomes a staple finger food or textural component to Stage 2 foods. Set aside a few cooked vegetables from this ratatouille for Baby and add plain cooked spirals for her to nibble while you enjoy the complete dish.
Provided your baby is free of egg allergies, meatballs are a terrific baby food. Cut into small pieces, they're ideal for perfecting the pincer grasp, which leads babies straight into the independence of finger foods (9-12 months). Meatballs can be mashed into lumpier chunks as Baby gets his mouth around textures (7-9 months). Or puree the meatballs into an iron-rich first food (about 6-7 months). Prepare this soup just as you would for the whole family, and then spoon out an age-appropriate serving of meatballs and pasta for Baby.
Chicken is a good source of protein, vitamin B12, and healthy fat for your baby. In this recipe, it's best to cook some of the ground chicken and vegetables for Baby separate from the chorizo, since it is typically salty and often smoked (smoked foods are not recommended for babies because of nitrates that are typically part of the smoking and preserving process). After you construct your own taco, try mixing some of the cooked chicken and squash with mashed avocado and sour cream for Baby. Research shows that chewing and swallowing lumpy foods, such as this concoction, helps with speech development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) nutrition committee added pureed meat to its list of recommended first foods in 2009 because of its iron-richness. At around 6 months, Baby's natural iron stores start to dwindle so supplementation is critical (hence, iron-fortified rice cereals). Iron from animal proteins is most efficiently absorbed. This stew is full of iron and protein from turkey and beans, and vitamins and minerals from the vegetables. Some turkey, beans, and carrots can be pureed for Baby, or strained out as finger foods, while the rest of the family benefits from a hot, filling bowl.
Breakfast for dinner is a treat, and Baby will love it, too! These fruit-flecked pancakes made with whole grains are an excellent finger food for babies who are exhibiting self-feeding prowess. Cut the pancakes into strips or bites, or let Baby pick up a small cake and nibble. Served whole, blueberries are a choking hazard for early eaters, but here they heat and burst into the pancake, offering their nutritional benefits without the risk. Be sure you have already introduced your baby to wheat, eggs, milk, and citrus -- all allergens -- before serving a stack of these pancakes.
As the only plant-based food that contains all essential amino acids, soy is an excellent vegetarian protein option. Introduce edamame as a single ingredient to confirm Baby doesn't have a soy allergy. For Stage 1 eaters, puree the cooked edamame alone or with cooked mushrooms for a multi-ingredient puree. Mash the edamame to reduce choking hazards if Baby is onto more texturally complex foods. Its soft texture and spoon-stickiness makes risotto an excellent baby food option. Use low- or no-sodium broth and hold off on seasoning the adult portion with salt until you have taken some for Baby.
Babies like fish because it is mild, soft and flaky, and easy for them to eat. Salmon is an excellent choice because of its omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in the brain development that is in full effect the first year of life. Fish is also a nutritious source of protein, the body's building blocks and a helpful defender of infections. Avoid fish that is high in mercury, such as king mackerel, swordfish, shark, and tilefish. Puree the roasted salmon from this recipe by itself or with a little cooked brown rice, or let Baby feed himself flakes of the fish.
Sweet butternut squash, apples, and carrots puree smoothly into popular Stage 1 foods. Mashed into a lumpy paste, they introduce babies to more textural complexity. To adapt this soup for the family, puree a bit of roasted squash and carrots for Baby and proceed with the rest of the recipe for adults. For Stage 2 eaters, follow the recipe through Step 4 (add salt after removing Baby's portion and use low- or no-sodium broth), remove a few apples, and mash with the roasted squash and carrots. Or mix some of the pureed soup with rice cereal to thicken for Baby.
Ground beef Sloppy Joe filling is an ideal texture for baby food. Red meat is the most abundant source of the iron your baby needs. It also lends texture in a mouthful of food and it purees easily for Stage 1 eaters. Mash some of the meat with the soft cooked squash in this recipe to make it easier to swallow. A good barbecue sauce, void of additives and preservatives (try homemade!), moistens the meat and veggies, and helps Baby manipulate it onto a spoon and into her mouth. You're on your own for keeping things neat with your sandwich!
Check out our collection of homemade purees and recipes for beginner eaters.
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