Babies usually get their first taste of solid foods at around 4-6 months of age, or around the time they get their first teeth. By that time, their tiny tummies are ready for a wider variety of nutrients. However, eating is a skill, and babies are truly starting right at the beginning.
It’s important to introduce solids slowly so that babies learn how to chew and swallow. They also have to adapt their digestive systems. To make it easier, start introducing foods that have been cooked until soft and then pureed. You can try or draw inspiration from baby food subscription services that offer not only organic but nutritious purees as well. And as the baby grows, you can transition into mashed foods and larger chunks.
Many experts recommend starting babies with baby cereals, then vegetables and fruits and then moving on to crackers and similar finger foods when a baby is around a year old. If you’re interested in learning more, read through this list of the 12 best solid foods for babies. At the end of this article, I’ll share three tips for raising non-picky eaters.
Best Solid Foods For Babies
Baby cereals are designed to be easy to digest. These cereals generally come in boxes and appear as soft, thin flakes that can be mixed in the formula, breast milk, or water. It’s best to mix them with enough water or milk to make the cereal into a consistency resembling thin applesauce at first and make them thicker as the baby’s eating prowess develops.
One reason why parents could introduce their babies to baby cereals before any other solid foods are because they are often fortified with iron. Breast-fed babies usually need more iron by the time they are around six months old.
The best baby cereals to start with are made from rice, barley, or oats because they’re easy to digest. Later, parents may want to add in cereals made from quinoa or blended grains. When the baby is adept at eating, they could switch to oatmeal, cream of wheat, or even small finger-food cereals such as Cheerios.
Broccoli And Other Dark Green Vegetables
After a baby gets used to baby cereal, it’s important to introduce them to dark green vegetables. Broccoli is one of the best ones to start with because it’s rich in vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption, keeps the immune system high, and aids in the formation of body tissues.
Broccoli is also rich in folate, which is also important for the development of body tissues, and it contains several B vitamins and significant amounts of vitamin K. vitamin K is important because it aids in building strong bones.
Other great dark green, leafy vegetables to help a baby get used to are spinach, kale, and greens such as beet greens or Swiss chard. These vegetables may have a slightly bitter taste, and babies may like them better if they’re introduced before sweeter foods. Some sources also recommend waiting until the baby is around 12 months old before starting vegetables like spinach or kale, but the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that there isn’t any harm in introducing these foods as soon as the baby is around 6 months old.
Orange vegetables such as carrots, cooked butternut or acorn squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes or yams offer several benefits for growing babies. These foods are rich in vitamin A precursors, which help develop the eyes as well as boosting the immune system. Vitamin A could also play a role in supporting the healthy function of the heart, lungs, and other organs.
Many babies tend to like these orange vegetables because they have a naturally sweet taste, so they could be more palatable than broccoli or spinach. As a baby gets used to them, they could be alternated with green vegetables or even mixed with green vegetables for interesting flavors and nutrient-packed meals.
One interesting thing about green beans is that they don’t often cause food allergies. They’re also nutrient-dense food, containing fiber, vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, and minerals such as potassium, calcium, and iron.
The fiber in green beans could make them a little more difficult to puree, but they could be blended with a little bit of water or breast milk to get to a nice consistency. When a baby is used to eating with a spoon and ready for finger foods, green beans can be cooked until they’re soft and cut into small pieces that a baby can grab and chew on.
Avocados are as much a superfood for babies as they are for adults. Healthy fats are great for the baby’s developing brain, and the soluble fiber could help promote a healthy gut microbiome from the start.
Avocados are also a naturally soft food that mashes or puree into a nice consistency, and they have a mild flavor. Avocado cubes or slices can make fun, easy finger foods for growing babies, too.
Avocados are rich in vitamins E, C, K, and several B vitamins, including vitamin B6, riboflavin, and folate. They also provide important minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
One of the best things about peas is that they’re high in protein. This gives the growing baby plenty of amino acids for building strong muscles and other body tissues.
Peas are generally soft foods that are easy to puree, but they may need to be mixed with milk or water to get the right consistency at first. When they’re cooked from frozen or fresh states, they have a mild flavor that could appeal to babies. As babies get older, they could transition from mashed or pureed peas to whole cooked peas as finger foods.
Peas are rich in vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin B6, and iron. Vitamin B6 is important because it helps the brain and nervous system develop properly, and it aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins.
When it comes to getting protein, tuna is another great first food for babies. Tuna also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help feed the brain so it can develop properly.
Many people recommend using light tuna and cooking it before pureeing it. It could be mixed with some of the more bitter greens, such as spinach or broccoli, for interesting meals.
Other meats that babies could try are canned chicken or sirloin steak. All meats should be tender cuts, cooked thoroughly, and cooked until they’re soft enough to puree.
Potatoes could be a great source of energy for a growing baby, and they’re nutrient-rich, too. Home-made mashed potatoes contain vitamins A, B6, C, K, and several other B vitamins, including folate. They’re also rich in minerals, including potassium and magnesium.
Mashed potatoes could be made from scratch or mixed from dried potato flakes. If the consistency is too thick, they could be mixed with milk or water. Mixing a little bit of mashed potatoes with pureed vegetables or meats could offer the baby an interesting meal.
Mashed potatoes are also a great food once babies are able to start using a spoon on their own because they can be a little bit on the sticky side. This could make it easier for babies to get the food into their mouths and learn to eat on their own.
Because bananas are a soft food, they make a perfect puree or mashed baby food, and sliced bananas make easy finger food for adept little eaters. They’re also loaded with nutrients that help tiny bodies grow, and they’re easy to mix with other, less palatable foods.
Bananas are rich in potassium, but that’s not their only claim to fame. Bananas contain a type of soluble fiber called inulin that acts as a prebiotic in the gut. It helps build a strong microbiome and impacts the immune system positively, too.
Bananas are also good sources of vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, and magnesium. Magnesium is interesting because it calms the nervous system and could have a sedative effect on babies. It could be that having some mashed banana before bedtime helps the baby sleep well so parents can rest, too.
Applesauce is a great first food because of its thin, easy-to-spoon consistency. Apples are a naturally sweet food, too, so many babies enjoy them. Pear sauce is another good choice. Both these foods are naturally high in vitamin C.
Like bananas, apples contain a type of soluble fiber. The soluble fiber in apples and in pears is called pectin. Some sources indicate pectin from raw fruits could be irritating to a baby’s stomach, but the pectin in cooked applesauce is broken down so it’s easy to digest. It could help build the baby’s microbiome while providing other nutrients.
Peaches And Apricots
Besides being sweet, bottled peaches and apricots are soft and easy to strain. They’re also rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, several other B vitamins, and potassium. Apricots are also rich in iron, which many breast-fed babies need by the time they’re ready to start eating solid foods.
Besides the combination of vitamins A and C, peaches contain several other nutrients that act as antioxidants and help develop eyesight in growing babies. These antioxidants include beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and lutein.
Both fruits are rich in fiber, and they both have a slight laxative effect. Peaches are known to have a diuretic effect, too.
Many babies begin teething at around six months old. When they’re teething, their gums are sore, and they often want something to gnaw on. Older babies who are used to eating with a spoon and are beginning to pick up small pieces of fruits and veggies with their hands might enjoy chewing on foods such as arrowroot biscuits.
Arrowroot biscuits are made for teething babies. They’re hard, so they don’t break off and cause a choking hazard, and they’re not likely to cause food allergies, either. Later, toddlers could enjoy other chewable foods such as graham crackers or vanilla wafers that dissolve easily in their mouths.
Three Tips For Raising Non-Picky Eaters
Tip #1: Begin With The Bitter
Once your baby is used to baby cereal and you’re ready to try new foods, start with the most bitter or sour foods first. Give the baby time to get used to those foods before introducing sweet foods like fruits.
Tip #2: Make It Familiar
If a baby doesn’t like the food at first, don’t give up. Add other foods in, too, but continue to give the baby at least one or two bites of the food he or she doesn’t like. Children like what is familiar to them, and as the taste becomes familiar to them, they may learn to like it.
Tip #3: Fabulous First Finger Foods
When your baby is ready for finger foods, follow the same routine as with pureed foods: start with strong-tasting vegetables like peas, cooked diced carrots, and shreds of cooked spinach. Move on to avocado cubes, banana slices, and other soft foods with interesting textures and tastes.