You can start introducing your baby to solid foods when they hit six months of age. Some babies can even start eating solid foods as early as four months. This is when they reach some developmental stages. According to a study by ACAAI, babies that start eating solid foods by six months of age have reduced risks of asthma and allergies.
The baby should have started to sit upright by this age. They should also start showing interest in solid food. Talk to your pediatrician and see if it is okay to start feeding solid food to your baby. Once your pediatrician has given the green light, you can start introducing solid food at mealtimes—this supplements breastmilk.
Babies eat only tiny quantities, which is a point to keep in mind while making baby food. Usually, they eat only about one to two tablespoons. You should also look out for allergen. Many foods contain common allergens. The baby is unaware of the allergens. It is good to stay aware of the ingredients. This way, you can avoid any allergic reactions.
Common allergens include wheat, soy, eggs, peanut, fish, and shellfish. Vegetables and fruits will also likely contain pesticide residue. Foods like apples, celery, spinach, potatoes, and grapes may have many residues. This is why some people prefer to go organic when introducing these foods to babies.
Baby foods that are available in the grocery store usually are allergen-free. They are for babies that are four to six months old. We can split baby foods into levels based on their ages. Stage 1 baby foods are for early eaters as they are very thin and easy for a baby to move around in the mouth. Stage 2 baby foods are thicker and may include more than one ingredient. We can give stage 2 foods once the babies have mastered eating the thinner purees. This is an excellent time to test for allergens as there are various ingredients.
The usual food items are porridge made from broken rice, ragi, and wheat. At later stages, millets and grains become a staple. However, till the baby has teeth, purees are the way to go. New parents, here are a few recipes to try for your baby.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Purees (Stage 1)
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. These are easy to puree and need only a blender and some water to get the job done. To make it a little more flavourful, you may substitute breastmilk instead of water. Some basic fruit and vegetable purees to try are-
Bananas are very good antacids and are gentle on the baby’s stomach. They are rich in potassium and fiber. Bananas should not be overdone. They are one of the best foods for babies, but too much banana can lead to constipation.
The recipe for banana puree is simple. Mashup a small banana with a fork, and add water as needed to whip it into a puree. When first weaning the baby, it is important to add milk instead of water to add a familiar taste.
Peas are very nutritious and pack a healthy serving of vitamins A and C, iron, protein, and calcium. The skin of peas might make them a little less appealing for your child. It is advisable to strain them before serving.
To make a pea puree, you need a steamer. Fill a saucepan with water and place a steamer above the water. Bring the water to a boil. Add the required amount of peas into the steamer. Put the cover of the saucepan on and steam until the peas are tender, which will take about 15 minutes. Place the softened peas with breast milk or water into a blender and pureed until creamy. Strain the puree through a sieve to make sure no lumps remain. Remove the skin.
Baked Sweet Potato Puree:
Sweet Potatoes have many health benefits. They are a superfood for adults. The same goes for babies. This tuber is full of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
Potatoes are starchy, and putting tenderized ones in a blender can make a sticky texture. Sweet potatoes are not so. The best way to make a sweet potato puree is to bake them. Preheat the oven to 200 C. Clean the sweet potatoes and prick them all over with a skewer or fork. Place them on a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes. They will become wrinkled and tender. Remove them from the oven, scoop out the flesh, and puree in a food processor until smooth. You can add milk can to get the desired consistency. You can also use a microwave to make sweet potatoes to quicken the process. The same roasting process in the microwave will only take about 10 minutes.
Like the recipes listed above, you can make other simple purees with a single ingredient. Some of the vegetables and their benefits are-
|Carrot||Beta carotene, Vitamin A|
|Strawberry||Vitamin C, potassium|
Stage 2 Purees:
These are a little thicker than Stage 1 purees. You can introduce these purees when the baby is 7 to 9 months old. They contain more than one ingredient. So they introduce the baby to different flavor profiles.
Avocado and Banana Puree:
Avocados are a great source of good fats and are high in calories. Bananas are rich in potassium and fiber. Both have a similar texture, and mixing both gives a sweet flavor.
To make the baby food, cut the avocados and remove the pit. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Peel a small banana and cut it up into pieces as well. Place into a blender and blend until smooth. Squeeze a little lemon or pineapple juice to prevent the puree from going brown from the bananas. If needed, add some water to get a thinner consistency. You can add sugar if needed. Strain the puree through a strainer to get rid of any lumps.
Whitefish, Carrot, and Leek Puree:
Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and makes for a great puree. The choice of fish to start babies off on should be white to avoid an overpowering smell, which could put them off. For this reason, it is best to start with a fish like a tilapia, cod, or sea bass. When they are older, you can introduce other fish like salmon or tuna to their diet. Poach or bake the fish. Then make a puree. Add the baby’s favorite vegetable puree to this. In this way, you can make it a well-balanced meal for the baby.
To make a white fish puree, cook the fish first. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add about 150 grams of fish, two small carrots, and one leek into a steamer basket. Wash all the ingredients, clean them, and cut them into small pieces. Steam the ingredients covered for about 15 minutes or until the soft vegetables. Take them off the heat and allow them to cool. Transfer all the steamed ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth, adding water as necessary. Once you get the desired consistency, your puree is ready for the baby.
Quinoa and Banana Mash:
Quinoa is a great way to introduce protein to your baby. This tastes different from rice porridge. This simple grain cooks easily and is nutrient-dense. Pair them with bananas for a mash that is healthy and wholesome.
To prepare the mash, cook the quinoa as per the instructions. We usually boil them for a stipulated amount of time. Mash a small banana with a fork. Add a pinch of cinnamon powder to the mash to add extra flavor. Combine the mash with the cooked quinoa. Use fresh yogurt to thin out the consistency of the mash if needed.
Blueberry, Mango, Avocado, and Mild Chilly Puree:
This puree is delicious and nutrient-dense food for babies. It combines the creaminess of the avocado, the tanginess of mango, and a hit of spice from green chilies.
Blend half a cup of blueberries, quarter mango, and quarter avocado to make the puree. Peel and dice the mango and the avocado and dice up before blending. A pinch of green chilly will add an exciting flavor to the mix, as babies are not usually fed any spice. For Stage 2 baby food, blend all the ingredients. For a Stage 3 baby food, you can mash up all the ingredients in a bowl and serve.
You can also use traditional recipes like Amaranth porridge, multigrain mix, or khichdi with local grains and pulses. You can feed these to your baby in Stage 2 of their development. If your baby is ready, you can also introduce idli with buttermilk.
We hope the above recipes give you an idea of what food to introduce to your baby. Use this as a starting point, and feel free to experiment with foods you think will go together. Choose ingredients with the most health benefits for your baby.