Best First Foods
I know that what you want is a simple list of foods and maybe some recipes. Instead I am giving you an essay. I am sorry. I am, truly. But I think part of the problem with health care for infants these days is that we're giving one-size-fits-all recommendations. And when it comes to first foods that is definitely the case. Whether or not the recommendation is rice cereal, vegetables, fruits, or even meats, our healthcare providers are emphatic about it being one of these options across the board for all babies. But with millions of babies out there, each with a different genetic make up, temperament, and home environment, there is no possible way that one idea will work for all.
Often parents are surprised to hear that there may be more than one right choice for first foods. We assumed there is one right way and that's what has been recommended to us. Not so! Rather than a mediocre one-size-fits-all recommendation, parents need tools to make the best decision possible for their family and individual baby.
That's what I want to offer in this post- guidance. Rather than 2 or 3 foods, which might be best for me and my child, but totally off for your baby, I'm going to give you ideas to consider in order to get at what will work best for you when choosing the best first foods.
1. Consider what you and your partner's favorite foods are.
2. Think about which foods are important to your culture and family.
3. Take into consideration which foods are local and seasonal.
4. Of course take into account your baby's nutritional needs (is she exclusively breastfeeding or is she taking formula? Iron needs may be higher in the baby who is fed formula, as an example. Or maybe intense allergies run in your family. Discuss your baby's unique needs with the pediatrician or a dietician.)
5. Consider your baby's temperament. For example, if your baby is spirited and likes to do things for herself, a "finger foods" approach, such as baby led weaning might be a good option. If your baby is content to be fed or is a really hungry baby that likes to eat quickly, a puréed and spoon-fed approach might be the more ideal way. Pick foods that lend themselves to the approach your child prefers.
6. Gear your food choices and approach towards your baby's developmental readiness. If your baby is not sitting up independently yet but you have started introducing solids, purees are probably your safest bet, not finger foods. If your baby is just discovering his fingers and is loving to pick up small objects, finger feeding small bites might offer maximal enjoyment and motivation for feeding. Again, pick foods that lend themselves to the approach that best fits your baby.
Once you've taken all this into account, it should be easier to pick certain first foods that will best suit your baby and your family. Run those ideas by your child's pediatrician and then bon appetit!