Starting solids for your little one is incredibly intimidating. I remember what it felt like to be confronted with the high chair, so here are some things I learned along the way to make this time a bit easier for parents. The truth is, it’s actually pretty simple, and there are no real rules! There is a lot of confusion surrounding what to introduce first as well as questions about flavors and allergies.
First, start with the set up. Get yourself and your baby comfortable with the process. I had my son test out his high chair a few days before we introduced food.
Next, the food! Pick a food to introduce first. I highly recommend a vegetable like sweet potato, carrots, or a less sweet fruit like avocado as the first bites. While your baby will surely love peaches and mango once they’re introduced, starting with a super sweet fruit early on may make it harder to take to vegetables. Let your baby surprise you with her love of green beans, peas, cauliflower, and more.
As for texture, puree it thinly so it slides off the spoon. I recommend mixing it with breast milk and/or formula at first so there is some familiarity in what your baby is consuming. The first bites are just that: a few bites (a baby spoonful or two) and isn’t intended (yet) to provide nutrition. The early stages are about exploration and getting comfortable (both for you and your little one) with the whole idea of eating solids.
As you progress, read your child’s cues. If she is leaning in with her mouth wide open, then it’s safe to say you can give her a bit more. If it’s the opposite reaction, don’t force it. Babies are the ultimate self-regulators. If your baby doesn’t like it, keep trying! It can take them up to 25 times for them to like a food. Try eating with them– babies love to eat what you’re eating.
After a few weeks of single food purees, you will be ready to move on to combinations, and this is where the real fun begins! Try adding spices and start mixing foods together to create fun flavor profiles and nutritionally dense foods.
Truly, making baby food is the easiest part of cooking! Find some recipe inspiration, cook each item thoroughly (steaming and roasting are the easiest food preparation methods), toss ingredients into a blender and blend blend blend! There really is not much more to it. You will become a pro in no time, and the most important piece of advice is to have fun with it and not take it too seriously! We all want to feed our kids the best quality and nutritious foods we can, and we want them to love everything. But let your baby play with the food, smile, and chat when you are feeding your little one, and most importantly don’t take it too seriously. Your baby will love something one day to reject it the next. It’s all part of the process and the one thing you can rely on is change. Every baby and parent is different, so enjoy the messes, the successes, the spit ups, and the smiles.