Baby’s First Foods, part 1

Second Friday of the month: Babies

Baby’s first smile, first coo, first time to ‘close-open’ his fist…these are just a few of our baby’s many ‘firsts’ that we don’t want to miss. And getting a taste of his first ‘solid food’ is another milestone that parents, most especially moms, prepare for and tend to obsess with.

What’s healthy, what’s safe, when to feed certain foods…these are just some of the questions I had in my head when I had my first born. And just recently, these same questions pop up as I am surrounded by new moms who are preparing for this somewhat daunting milestone of baby eating his first foods.

Comfy babies on the bouncer, the boy and the girl had their first taste of rice cereal at 4 months. I used Nestle Cerelac Rice Cereal (plain white rice).

Several months ago, I had posts about breastfeeding and the baby boom in my circle of friends.  Back then, I knew about twenty or so expectant women. Before 2009 ended, I already counted past 30, and most of whom are first time moms!

As we ushered in the new year, breastfeeding joys and woes were the hot topic, and then questions and conversations were moving towards baby’s first foods. So I thought now is the best time to share this food chart given to me by our pediatrician almost seven years ago. This chart proved useful for me as a very practical guide on the stages of feeding for my baby’s first 12 months.

I took the liberty of re-creating the chart for a quick and easy reference. Take note of the general rules.
Feel free to print out a copy. Leave me a note with your email if you wish for a bigger copy.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is best to introduce solid foods when your baby is between 4 to 6 months. Both my children had their first cereal at 4 months. For some babies who are not yet developmentally ready, it is fine to start a little later until 7 months.  Most doctors advise solid feeding at 6 months, especially for babies with a family history of allergies.

Babies only require breast milk or formula until about 6 months, which can provide all the nutrition that they need, after which certain nutrients from solid foods are required. In the first six months, water and juice is generally unnecessary as baby gets all the water he needs from breast milk or formula. By the time he starts eating solid foods, you can offer a few sips of water between feedings.

I did my share of homemade baby foods for my boy and girl, and here are a few of their favorites which any busy mom or care taker can prepare for the curious, the difficult, or the ravenous infant.

MASHED RIPE BANANA
Start with half a banana
Cut and mash on a sterile plate or bowl, with a clean fork
Serve immediately

This is a favorite among babies since bananas are naturally sweet, fragrant, and has a soft texture when mashed. I don’t see the need to prepare in advance nor stock up on this since mashed bananas will turn brown quickly. Besides, this is the most simple, instant “super food” that anyone can have. Widely available and most easy to prepare.

By 10 months, chop up bananas and serve as a great finger food!

PUREED SWEET POTATOES (Camote)
Peel, wash and cut in cubes, around 1 cup
Boil in a pot of 1 cup water, cover
Simmer until fork tender, around 15 to 20 minutes (add a little water when it’s getting dry)
Transfer to food processor or blender and mix until you have a thick, smooth consistency.
Cool and transfer to a clean jar or food keeper.
Spoon a portion on baby’s bowl
Mix breastmilk or formula just before feeding

For a thinner, smoother consistency, simply add milk, as needed.

There are a few varieties of camote in the market and I prefer the orange variety which has a sweeter taste. Squash, carrots and potatoes can also be used for this recipe. By the time my babies reached 8 months, I have already combined carrots with either potatoes or squash.

This mashed butternut squash tastes like camote (sweet potato)

Aside from the blender, I also used this Braun submersible hand blender, and a manual baby food mill / food grinder (the brand escapes me at this time) — Munchkin is the brand, I have the exact one below. Just grind, detach the mill, and serve without transferring to another bowl.


APPLESAUCE
Peel, wash and cut in cubes, around 1 cup
Boil in a pot of 3/4 cup water, cover
Simmer until fork tender, around 15 to 20 minutes (add a little water when it’s getting dry)
Transfer to food processor or blender and mix until you have a thick, smooth consistency.
Cool and transfer to a clean jar or food keeper.
Serve warm or cold.

Pears can also be used for this recipe. The texture will not be a smooth as apples though.

Whenever possible, choose fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables in season. You may refer to the chart for the right time to start.  In my experience, buying jarred baby food didn’t hurt either as it offered more variety for baby, and the convenience when traveling.  I just made sure I alternate serving homemade and store-bought foods.

A few things I learned while preparing baby food:

1. Make sure you use sterilized utensils, cutting boards, plates and bowls.  Assign an exclusive set if possible to avoid cross contamination of raw food bacteria to the prepared baby food

2. Have a set of small, clean plastic food keepers or glass jars on hand. When I buy jars of baby food, I keep the glass containers and reuse them as I portion the prepared food in each jar. I saved on buying new food keepers and I don’t even have to transfer the food to a bowl anymore ‘coz I just feed directly from the jar. Unfinished portion are kept in the fridge only until the next feeding, after which, leftovers from the jar should be discarded.

3. Ice cube trays are also handy in portioning your homemade baby food. Just pour and freeze. Put frozen the food cubes in plastic bags and they are ready anytime you need them. You can also check out my friend’s tips on making and storing baby foods here.

4. Prepare enough food to last at least 3 days, or 3 individual servings per variety. Since it is advised to wait 3 days before introducing a new food, I thought this is a practical solution to monitor, at the same time control the portions. I keep them refrigerated up to 3 days only to maintain freshness. If you are able to produce more, stock them in the freezer.

Feel free to share your food and feeding tips. It’s always nice to learn something new from each other.

Part 2, continued here.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=mymomfri-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B00004S9GX&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=mymomfri-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000GB0NZA&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
Note:
Braun product photo from Braun.com
Munchkin product photo from Amazon.com

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Comments
7 Responses to “Baby’s First Foods, part 1”
  1. Divina Pe says:

    I would say six months is still the best to feed babies their first solid food. My sister diligently prepared the food that you have written above. She made sure her son ate natural and whole foods. She steams them. But then someone gave him a French fry and that ruined everything. I can't remember at what age he was given that forbidden food. But my sister was irritated because that person didn't ask permission. My sister in law regretted giving her son store-bought food all the time. Now, her son is eating foods that is bad for him and that includes instant noodles for breakfast twice a week. Thanks for sharing all the tips. This will be easier fo moms to feed their babies natural food. Although I am still skeptical regarding formula feeding. I guess it's because of the technology involved in producing the baby formula.

  2. jen laceda says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for creating the food chart! I will be printing this for sure, to remind me of all the baby stuff I have to go through once again! It's been 3 years! Parang hindi na ako ulit sanay! I can't believe I'm going to have to go through all these again! I'm just counting down until I give birth. I hope soon! Ideally sana, by 38 weeks. I'm in my 37th week already. I don't want it to go farther than 38…LOL! Will let you know when I give birth.

    My fave “catch up” book now is Dr. David Perlmutter's “Raise A Smarter Child By Kindergarten” – this was my bible with G. We also buy Dr. Perlmutter's DHA from algae sources to supplement diet. DHA is important for brain growth, so I would highly recommend supplementing from infancy. Of course, infants get the their DHA through breastmilk (or DHA-enriched formula). If breastfeeding, then mommy's diet should have minimum 400 mg. Infants should have 19 mg. Children 6 months to 2 years, 100 mg. Children 2-5 years, 200 mg.

    P.S. Keeping the baby food jars is a great idea! It helps with recycling and it save money, rather than buying new mason jars all the time! Good practice!

  3. Mom-Friday says:

    Divina – i had the same dilemma when other relatives give food that i don't approve of. The burden of 'undoing' falls on my shoulders and i become the “bad cop”…sigh…
    I'm happy that more moms are very conscious of the food and its sources, and go organic as much as possible.

    Jen – i already forgot about DHA for infants! 🙂 thanks for sharing. My kids now take Nordic arctic cod liver oil, the best. It's rich in DHA. Now I think you gave me an idea on a future post — supplements 😉

  4. Very informative post. I am sure all the moms-to-be and new moms will certainly benefit from this. Although, all the baby talk makes me thankful I am not having one. lol! 🙂 After three kids, I am done with my share of “baby duties.”

    It would seem that most pediatricians nowadays recommend to start solids at six months. All my kids started at six months due to their numerous allergies.

  5. jen laceda says:

    Yes, I alternate Dr. Perlmutter's Algae DHA (from vegetarian sources) and Nordic Naturals DHA Junior! Nordic Naturals is one of the best brands. The cod live oil is molecularly purified and has both omega-3's and omega-9's (omega-6 is easily obtained from diet anyway). Nordic Naturals is my trusted brand also!! Yes…that's a great post idea – supplementing! Can't wait to read that!

  6. joey says:

    Thanks for sharing all this info! Definitely taking notes here 🙂 My pedia also recommended waiting until six months so that's what I did. We are waiting 3-4 days between each food and honestly I'm the one getting impatient because I want to buy and prepare all kinds of things for her, hehe 🙂

    I love that Munchkin grinder…so cute and works well 🙂

  7. Mom-Friday says:

    Joey – happy to help, it's really an exciting stage when baby starts on solids. Don't miss the part 2! 😉

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