+ Well Nourished | Babies First foods

Well Nourished Baby – Babies First Foods, Part 1

Exciting times; you’ve decided the time is right to introduce solids to your precious baby!  So where to start?  As food preferences are largely established in the early years and usually well formed by around two years of age, it is crucial to set off on the right foot.

As I’ve already discussed, reducing your babies chemical exposure is critical given their small body size and immature detoxification pathways.  For more on setting the foundations for good health, click here.  How you prepare your food is also important to make sure every mouthful, is indeed providing the nutrition they require.  For more on this, click here.

Culture governs choice
In every culture, tradition largely governs babies first foods.  Many cultures start with egg yolk, liver (often raw), fresh fish, brains, coconut cream or bone marrow as first foods.  When looking at these and other traditional first foods, the one thing they have in common is that they are nutrient and enzyme rich foods.  In India, babies are introduced immediately to aromatic spices like cinnamon, mint, cumin, coriander and mint (hot spices come later).

In much of the Western world, commercialised, fortified cereals are advocated as babies best start.  The problem is, that babies don’t make the enzyme (amylase) break down (digest) carbohydrate until around 8 months of age.  On top of this, there are many anti-nutrients in the grain which can strain babies digestive system.  Many experts in this field agree, there are better alternatives than a fortified grain for babies first foods.

What to choose and why?
To begin with, focus on introducing protein, vegetables, and good fats.  Always introduce one food at a time every 3-4 days to identify possible intolerance.  Fruit, with the exception of avocado, should come later.

Egg yolk
Egg yolk is a rich source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and choline for brain and nervous system development (organic eggs have the best concentration of nutrients).  The egg white is highly allergenic and should be avoided until 12 months of age.  To prepare, just soft boil the egg, remove the soft yolk (which you can mix through pureed vegetables).

Liver and brains
Should only ever be organic and grass fed.  They are a rich source of protein, brain and nervous system building fats, iron and a complex range of vitamins and minerals.

Bone marrow
Again, only from organic animals is a great source of fat and fat-soluble vitamins.

Bone broths
Bone broth is one of the most nutrient dense foods you could serve baby.  It is rich in collagen building nutrients, protein, and minerals.  For a baby with any digestive or immune issues, this is a critical inclusion.  For more on why bone broth is so amazing and a recipe to make it, click here. You can make it with just bone or add in vegetables already introduced.

Vegetables
Vegetables, always cooked, are a wonderful source of fibre and plant-derived nutrients.  Pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, beetroot, swede, and zucchini are good first vegetables and generally very easy to digest.  Introduce broccoli, cauliflower, and peas next.  After trying vegetable purees by themselves, once you are sure your baby is tolerating them, you can start to combine them in any way you like (including with avocado and the proteins above).

Fats
Fats such as butter, ghee (clarified butter) and coconut oil are essential additions to any pureed vegetables to ensure all of the fat soluble vitamins are easily assimilated by baby.  Coconut oil is an amazing source of  lauric acid – the immune protective fat found in human breast milk.    For every 300 gram of vegetables, add a teaspoon of butter, ghee or coconut oil.  Note – if baby is dairy intolerant, only use ghee or coconut oil.

Avocado
Avocado is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids and contains folate, iron, and beta-carotene.  Add it to pureed cooked vegetables for a nutrient hit.

Also, remember, it can take many tries before baby enjoys a new food.  Their acceptance of taste and texture constantly changes and evolves.  Try, try and try again.

 

Recipes

Carrot and cumin puree
300 gram of carrot, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon of ghee, coconut oil or butter
Tiny pinch of cumin powder

Steam the carrot for 15 to 20 minutes or until the carrot is just cooked through.  Add the fat of choice and cumin powder and puree until smooth.

Baked sweet potato
300 gram of sweet potato, washed
½ teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil
½ teaspoon of coconut oil, extra
Tiny pinch of cinnamon powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.
  2. Coat the whole sweet potato in melted ghee or coconut oil.
  3. Place on a baking tray and bake until it is cooked through (a sharp knife meets no resistance when inserted into the fattest part of the sweet potato).
  4. Cool, halve and scoop out the flesh.
  5. Puree with the extra coconut oil and cinnamon until smooth.

If your child has rejected steamed sweet potato, try it baked.  It has a different taste and texture when baked that many babies prefer.

For more on choosing babies first foods, click here.

For more on preparing and storing babies first foods, click here.

 

Part Two – Fruit and Grains are coming soon.  Any questions or comments you’d like to ask?  You can post a comment below…

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  • Kate

    My little one is just starting out on solids and we have tired rice cereal as per maternal health nurses suggestion a number of times. He screws up his little face & clearly doesn’t like it. We tried pumpkin yesterday afternoon & that was enjoyed. I noted your comments above on delaying grains & fruit, what do you suggest for a breakfast meal alternative?

    • Yes rice cereal is the traditional recommendation, though based on the knowledge that it is not digestible for young babies, it is best held off on. I understand that our culture sees breakfast as a time to eat cereals and fruit. But nutritionally this is just not best – for anyone, including babies. A little protein and a lot of veg is a good start for any meal. Anything goes at breakfast – just introduce one food at a time and then once you are sure they are being tolerated start simple combinations. I often combined vege and fruit purees in one meal e.g.; pumpkin and apple, avocado and anything. A little egg yolk is good too and can be mixed with vegetables. Part two to this post will go up on the site in a few weeks. I hope this helps – my two kids eat pretty much anything I dish up – from very spicy curries to big leafy salads. I know that giving them a variety of foods and flavour combinations have shaped their amazing palates and robust little bodies. Don’t be afraid of a little aromatic spice too. Hope this helps, G x

  • Pingback: Babies First Foods - Part two, Grains and Fruit | Well Nourished – Simple recipes, whole foods, inspired health()

  • such good info thank you! What about chicken? is it safe and is it a good source for babies?

    • Yes, absolutely introduce chicken after the above foods and as part of a scheduled introduction. I’d only consider organic chicken and obviously, make sure it is cooked through. Slow or pressure cooking it is a nice way to introduce a tender meat to babies. God luck, it’s such a lovely time. G x

  • ange

    for babies broth, you mentioned leaving out veges if they havent been
    introduced…i looked at your recipe – would you make as that for baby
    (ie with carrot etc in it or just used the chicken bones by themselves
    with apple cider vinegar? thanks, great blog

    • Hi Ange
      So for a babies broth, I’d make the broth from bones, ACV + any vegetables you have introduced to your babe already. You can also make it just bone based and then mix it with the veggies as you introduce them. Hope that makes sense G x

      • ange

        thank you, ok. got it to start just the bones and acv. in the meantime have started my wee one on CLO, just 1/4 tsp, will introduce egg yoke in a few days the same amount…then get onto the broth…am worried these rich foods will cause constipation but am guessing going slow will help avoid that…got to really trust when your going about it a different way to the “norm”!

      • ange

        thank you, cool have made it with just the carcus and ACV…tastes really light and am starting on that…kinda figure thats sealing gut before we start anything else

  • Just make sure vegetables are included one by one also – the best kind of digestible fibre x

  • Yes the carcass doesn’t have a lot of fat and fat = flavour. Good all the same, also nice to add to veg mash or even to cook in. Next time add some wings or other gristly bits G x

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