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Baby's First Foods

You have noticed that your baby seems very interested in what you’re eating, tracking every bite on your fork all the way to your mouth and even mimicking chewing. Maybe they have even started grabbing at your plate if they are in your lap. Your baby is ready to try their first foods! This is a fun, exciting and messy time!

Evolutionarily speaking humans are drawn to sweet flavors, mother’s milk is sweet, people love sweet foods such as fruits and how many of us are addicted to processed and sugary foods that are literally engineered to appeal to our taste buds. Nutritionally speaking, iron is a baby’s first nutritional requirement beyond breastmilk. Very little iron is passed through breastmilk, the iron baby needs for the first 6-12 months outside the womb is stored up in the final weeks and months of gestation. That is why anemia and getting enough absorbable iron is so important in pregnancy. Ultimately, the baby will take what it needs from the mother, so it is very important that she replenish her reserves. Indigenous peoples would offer their babies organ meats as a first food, knowing it was rich in easily absorbable iron. Iron can also be found in plant foods. If asked, I am inclined to suggest that parents introduce iron rich, savory foods to start. Babies will take sweet tasting foods later, but a palate that is primed for sweets, might be hard pressed to start snacking on a spinach and green bean puree. Plant foods containing iron, such as spinach, lentils, peas, beans, oats and broccoli can be cooked, pureed and mixed with water to a pretty thin consistency and offered at meal times. Before the gag reflex is completely gone, a thicker consistency can cause a baby to gag and you may interpret this as baby not liking the food. Offer a food many times, prepared many ways before proclaiming that your baby does not like a certain food.

Another way to introduce foods is with Baby Led Weaning, where you give your baby big pieces of food to play with, bite, chew, suck. This could be anything from a cooked piece of broccoli, to a pear or a drumstick. The sensory part of food exploration is important too. Though it can be very messy, it is irresistible to a small child. Prepare properly with a drop cloth on the floor and a bib. And plan to strip your baby down and pop them in the bath after some fun food exploration.

Like all things parenting, there is no one right way. We all grow and learn how to eat and have our preferences. A former client of mine summed up first foods for her kids like this: First baby, 8 months, in a highchair at the table, mashed avocado mixed with breastmilk. Second baby, 5 months, whatever she could grab off my plate. Third baby, 4 months, blueberry muffin crumbs off the floor. Another former client fed their baby strictly purees well beyond the first year. So parents give yourselves a break, it may seem like a huge endeavor-what, when, where and how are we going to feed our kids? Trust me, it will be fine, whatever you choose. For reassurance, ask your pediatrician before starting and check the list of common allergens and new exposure guidelines here…

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