Adventurous first foods for babies

Adventurous first foods for babies

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  • Photos by Thayer Allyson Gowdy

    Baked sweet potatoes, banana puree, and mashed carrots are perfectly fine, but baby food doesn't have to be bland. Many babies actually enjoy a much wider range of flavors. And learning to like nutritional powerhouses now may prevent future fixations on "kid foods" (like crackers, chicken nuggets, and sweet drinks) that aren't especially healthy.

    Here are some ideas to help you escape the baby food rut and get your child eating the world's healthiest and most flavorful foods. Even if some of these aren't your personal favorites, your baby might love them, so try not to let your own tastes get in the way at this stage. And of course, depending on your baby's chewing and swallowing ability, chop, grind, or puree as needed.

    Note: The advice to wait until at least age 1 to introduce allergenic foods no longer applies to most babies, but it's still a good idea to introduce new foods gradually. Feed your baby one new food at a time, and wait at least three days before offering another new food. That way, if your baby has an allergic reaction, it will be easier to tell what's likely causing it.

  • Sour fruits

    Surprisingly, many babies really like sour fruits. Try serving pureed sour cherries (after removing the pits), or cut cherries into pieces small enough for your older baby to eat safely. You can also try plums, which are pleasingly tart. Once your baby has more advanced chewing skills, mandarin oranges are the perfect snack – easy to pack and bursting with juicy vitamins and minerals.


  • Dark greens

    Dark leafy greens are considered superfoods because they have a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes. Swiss chard, kale, spinach, collards, and other dark leafy greens have more chlorophyll than lighter greens like lettuce. Chlorophyll blocks carcinogens and helps the body detox.

    Children are particularly susceptible to environmental toxins, so any amount of dark greens will benefit your child's health. And it doesn't get easier (or healthier) than blending kale or spinach into soups or smoothies.


  • Stewed meat

    As soon as your baby is ready for solid foods, you can introduce meat, which is a complete protein and provides nutrients such as iron and zinc. Meat is an excellent alternative to traditional first foods like iron-fortified cereals because babies can absorb iron from it more easily.

    Tip: Some babies may be more likely to accept meat when it's mixed with a favorite fruit or vegetable.


  • Cruciferous vegetables

    Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts are chock-full of important nutrients. And just because they may not be typical baby foods doesn't mean babies won't enjoy them. Try mashed turnips, store-bought sauerkraut, or pureed brussels sprouts. Roasting cauliflower or broccoli in the oven might even convert adults who thought they didn't like these cruciferous veggies.


  • Fish

    Fish is rich in protein, vitamin D, iron, and DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that's crucial for children's health and development. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends serving fish low in mercury levels such as "light" tuna, salmon, trout, and herring.

    Fish used to be considered off-limits for babies because of the risk of allergies, but this thinking has changed. The AAP says there's no evidence that withholding fish and other common allergenic foods from babies for the first year prevents allergies. If your baby has a family history of asthma or allergies, it may still be safe to introduce allergenic foods after your baby has tried and tolerated a few non-allergenic foods, but be sure to check with the doctor first.


  • Earthy vegetables

    The greater variety of vegetables you offer your baby, the more likely you are to find something nutritious that she loves. Toss beets, carrots, and parsnips with olive oil, then put them under the broiler before pureeing to maximize flavor. Or, if you follow baby-led weaning, steam vegetables until they're extra soft.


  • Whole grains

    Whole grains expose your baby to new textures of food, which is important for oral development. The variety of textures encourages babies to use their mouths and tongues, which will help them form sounds.

    Many grains taste better with a little something extra. So if a recipe calls for seasoning, don't feel you have to make it bland. Cooking with broth instead of water or throwing in a few chopped onions could transform wheat berries or bulgur into your baby's all-time favorite meal.


  • Warming spices

    Can babies really eat chili peppers? Yep. Young children all over the world eat – and enjoy – spicy food because that's what their parents feed them. You may want to start with mild spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, without adding salt or sugar. Or try offering milder peppers, such as Anaheims and poblanos (available in most supermarkets), rather than super-hot types, such as habaneros and jalapeños, which can irritate the skin and mouth.

    Spices are rich in unique plant compounds and are linked to numerous health benefits. But start with small amounts because spicy foods can cause digestive pain for some babies.


  • Savory seasonings

    Babies and chefs across the earth agree: Food tastes better when flavored with aromatics, such as onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives. These veggies, called alliums, can be practically unnoticeable in everything from soup to stir-fry, but they pack a big nutritional punch, boosting immunity and reducing inflammation.


  • Herbs

    Since ancient times, humans have used herbs as medicine and food. Compounds called polyphenols – found in plants, including herbs – have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. They also add flavor without extra sugar, salt, or fat.

    The options for adding herbs to your baby's food are practically endless: Try basil pesto on pasta, fresh mint in green pea puree, cilantro in coconut rice, pureed rosemary chicken, mashed sweet potatoes with sage, and finely chopped parsley with anything.


  • Watch the video: WHAT MY 6 MONTH OLD EATS IN A DAY (August 2022).

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