Here’s a little known fact: this blog’s original name was “Puree Gourmet.” That’s right, way back in the primitive days of food blogging (spring of 2007, to be precise), blogs that focused on feeding families were hard to find. The only site I was aware of at the time for baby food help was Wholesome Baby Food. (Which is still one of the most comprehensive resources out there, in my opinion.) Needless to say the baby food focus didn’t really pan out — the puree phase comes and goes so quickly that by the time I had a few spare moments to blog, the boy was well on his way to toddler foods. That’s not to say early foods aren’t important — there’s a window of opportunity around the 6-month mark where babies are naturally curious. I believe it’s important to introduce as fresh and varied tastes as possible before baby is old enough to talk back — er, assert her independence. Some foods my son loved at first he hasn’t touched in ages (avocado), while others are still favorites (bananas & tofu). You’ll never know what your child will grow to love if you don’t offer it, right?
The foodie bebe began her own adventures with solid foods at the start of the year (at 6 months). There is so much more information out there now; new books, new guidelines, and a brand new campaign to encourage parents to skip white rice baby cereal (launched by the esteemed Dr. Greene.) I was highly skeptical of baby cereal with my son, but he did have a little before moving on to sweet potatoes. I eventually cooked real oatmeal, barley and brown rice and pureed them with fruits and vegetables for a more wholesome meal. With the new baby, we skipped the plain rice cereal and started on squash. After a couple vegetables and fruits, I started offering a little organic brown rice cereal mixed with fruits — often applesauce or bananas — so that she gets the iron from the cereal. I still believe that it’s better to feed babies and older children alike iron-rich foods, rather than iron-fortified cereals.
What are iron-rich foods suitable for baby? Starting out, there’s sweet potatoes, spinach, prunes and beets. I actually bought an organic baby food that was spinach, apples and rutabaga — not a combination I would’ve thought of on my own, but the baby loved it. As you move into proteins, egg yolks, salmon, shellfish and of course red meat are the best sources of iron, as are whole grains. The baby’s first animal-protein was (wild Alaskan) salmon — mashed with butternut squash. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, so pair fruits like mango, papaya, kiwi and strawberries with iron-containing foods.
So far, the foodie bebe has worked her way through all the “starter” foods, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables: squash, sweet potatoes, avocado, banana, apples, pears, apricot, prunes, cauliflower, spinach, peas, green beans, blueberries, mango, carrots, parsnips, beets, yogurt, salmon, beef, turkey and tofu. We’re just starting on little bitty finger foods, and I’m working on introducing more variety into her purees. Stay tuned for some of our favorite “stage two” baby food recipes.
Any one have questions about feeding babies? What were your little ones’ first foods?