20 Foods to Feed Your Baby Before Age 1
How to Introduce Solids
There are no hard-and-fast rules anymore about what to feed your baby first (except to steer clear of honey and choking hazards). Whether you choose to give your baby a vegetable puree, rice cereal, pureed chicken, or a wedge of watermelon to gnaw on, offer him just one new food every three days, and watch closely for signs of allergic reaction.
Babies eat with their eyes, just as grown-ups do, and what's more beautiful than bright red or dusky blueberries? Serve small or chopped berries as finger foods, or blend them in the blender for a scrumptious puree that's as good spread on toast as it is off a spoon.
Babies' growing brains crave DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is essential to cognitive development. Happily, salmon is packed with the stuff. Aim to feed your baby salmon at least once a week. Mash some cooked, flaked fish into a puree, or bread it and bake it for salmon nuggets—a delicious finger food for older babies.
A recent landmark study showed that feeding peanuts to babies—even those at high risk of allergies—before age one can actually prevent peanut allergies. Never give your baby whole peanuts or a spoonful of peanut butter—both are choking hazards. Instead, spread a little peanut butter on toast sticks as finger food or stir a bit into a puree. Start on peanuts after your baby has tried and tolerated other more traditional foods, and, as always, consult your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns.
Onions and Garlic
Think outside the baby-food box by including small amounts of onion, leeks, scallions, and garlic into your baby's diet. When cooked, these flavor-boosters add a mellow, savory quality to purees and chunkier baby meals. After all, if you want to raise an adventurous eater, feeding your baby food with flavor is a smart start.
Spinach and Other Leafy Greens
Most babies are open to trying new foods. Sometimes they'll make a funny face, or even refuse a new food once or twice (or more!). But don't give up offering, especially when it comes to leafy greens, truly some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Let you baby become accustomed to the earthy taste of spinach, kale, and chard, and you'll go a long way toward building a more adventurous eater in the future.
If your family eats meat, don't shy away from beef. Full of protein and zinc, it's an ideal early food. Serve it pureed on its own or mixed with potato, sweet potato, or a green vegetable puree.
There's no reason to limit your baby's starches to old-fashioned rice cereal. Try cereals made from oats, quinoa, brown rice, or other whole grains. These choices generally have more fiber, and often more flavor.
Mashed butternut squash is a baby food classic for good reason. The flavor is sweet, so it's usually an instant hit with little ones, and it's packed with Vitamin A. And if you have any extra, you can eat it yourself with a little butter and a sprinkle of salt. Delish.
How to Make Baby Food: Butternut Squash Puree
Eggs are one of those foods pediatricians used to recommend waiting to introduce, but no longer. With six grams of protein per egg, plus healthy fats and choline for eye health, they are an almost perfect food. And they're also perfectly easy to prepare. Just blend a scrambled egg with a vegetable puree, cut up an omelet as a finger food, or chop a hard-boiled egg for easy eating.
When we think of good sources of iron, our minds often leap to meat, but did you know lentils are packed with the stuff? Unlike dried beans, they require no soaking, and they combine well with a variety of savory add-ins, such as veggies, mild curry powder, and fresh herbs. See how to make Red Lentil and Spinach Puree, an í¼ber-nutritious meal for baby.
Plus 10 More!
Continue to expand your baby's food horizons with these foods:
- Basil and other herbs