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Liza Huber, author of Sage Spoonfuls—Simple Recipes, Healthy Meals, Happy Babies and creator of the Sage Spoonfuls homemade baby food system, to shares tips for starting solids and family meal planning in addition to four recipes from her new book.
The best first foods for baby are either single grain baby cereals like brown rice and oatmeal or fruits and veggies like sweet potatoes, bananas, squash, pears, apples, peas or carrots, Huber said.
“My son Royce’s first food was pureed carrots, Brendan’s was a mashed banana, Hayden had apple puree first and my new baby, Mason, will most likely start on roasted butternut squash or sweet potato puree at 5 months,” Huber said.
Simple grain cereals or fruits and veggies make the best option for first solids because they’re easy to digest, non-allergenic and will taste delicious, Huber said. It’s also important to focus on how your baby experiences their first few meals, not how much they eat. Teaching your baby that mealtime is something to look forward to with foods that are healthy, appealing and tasty will make the transition easier on everyone.
Dry baby cereals can have breast milk, formula or water added to them to make them easier to digest and taste better. Whatever type of dry cereal you use, though, make sure that it’s made specifically for babies and iron-fortified. If your baby has been mostly breastfed, they may benefit from foods made with meat, which contain more easily absorbed sources or iron and zinc needed for growing infants, according to the AAP.
Herbs and spices can enhance the flavor and aroma of any meal, especially one that’s pureed or mashed. Huber recommends adding cinnamon to fruit purees and roasted butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potato and adding mint to peas, lamb, asparagus, green beans and eggplant. If you’re looking for something a little more ethic, Huber also recommends certain spices from South Asia.
“Mild yellow curry powder adds a wonderful flavor element and pairs well with chicken, hearty vegetables and rice,” Huber said. “I also love turmeric—not only does it add great flavor to foods like beef, lamb, lentils, cauliflower and rice, but it’s a powerful antioxidant that can help protect against childhood cancers, including leukemia.”