For the first month or so Baby M’s solids diet consisted of occasional “meals” where he’d sit in his highchair and we’d give him bits of this and that from the fridge. His very first solid food was half of an apple, which he creatively used his bib to hold in his mouth.
Contrary to my intuition, big pieces of food worked best in the early stages. Babies don’t have a pincher grasp at 6 months nor can they open and close their fists to shovel food into their mouth; so food that’s big enough to stick outside of both sides of their fist and firm enough not to get crushed works best in the early stages of BLW.
Some of our early successes included toast fingers (a slice of oatmeal bread – you want to avoid super high fiber grains as they can hinder absorption of nutrients), toasted and cut into three slices, roasted sweet potato rounds, halves of ripe fruit with the skin on, and bananas with a bit of the skin left on to act as a handle.
With all fruits make sure to scrub them very well before serving – including melons, mangoes and other things you cut or peel since salmonella can contaminate your knife or peeler.
After a few weeks of BLW we discovered that Baby M had a possible gluten allergy. The AAP doesn’t recommend delaying most foods unless you have a family history of food allergies and we do not. There are early studies that show delaying food could result in more allergies! However, never give babies honey before age 1. Not raw, not baked, not cooked. Honey can contain botulism spores that are fatal for babies; heat doesn’t always kill the spores. Also, avoid whole nuts as they are a choking hazard, and minimize salt as much as possible. Babies’ kidneys aren’t developed enough to handle a lot of sodium so keep their intake below 200mg a day – it’s very, very little, so make sure you read labels.
Around 6.5 months we started to do breakfast every day and at 7 months Baby M really started to consume his foods as evidenced by his diapers. His pincher grasp developed around 7 months too, which opened up a whole new world of food. The blueberry obsession started right around this time as did the one for fresh mozzarella cheese.
I started to get really adventurous with food this summer, offering different textures and flavors. It turns out Baby M likes his food spicy! Puffs dipped in salsa? Yes please! Curry lentil? Spicier the better!
Baby M's first tooth just popped through, but having no teeth never seems to get in the way of his little vacuum cleaner belly. Here are some of the things we’ve tried during his first few months of BLW:
- Apples, halved – these work best when zapped in the microwave for a few seconds to soften them up. Make sure to cool them well before serving, or prepare the night before and store in the fridge overnight
- Ripe peaches, plums, pears, etc. – I quarter them for him and sometimes remove the skins. If you keep the skins on, just watch for when most of the flesh of the fruit is gone and then take the skin away. I’ve found that he’s really good at spitting out the skin when he’s done with the fruit
- Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries – I crush the blueberries slightly to break the skin and have only used frozen blackberries and raspberries so they’re already soft
- Cherries – pitted and quartered
- Melon – very ripe and cut into big wedges, not cubes
- Mango – very ripe, peeled and cut into strips
- Prunes – chopped into several small pieces – Baby M has two prunes every day
- Oranges, quartered
- Strawberries – I waited until he had a pincher grasp and cut them into very small pieces – watch for a reaction from strawberries and tomato
- Tomatoes – again, like strawberries I cut these into little pieces. Baby M spit up after having a lot of tomato once and I haven’t given them in large quantities since – mostly because I hoard tomatoes for myself. Selfish mommy.
- Sweet potatoes – cut in rounds, drizzled with olive oil and cracked pepper, roasted at 350 until soft, still firm enough to grasp. French fry / “finger”size pieces work well too
- Avocado – cut into wedges – at first we gave them to him with the skin on so he’d have something to “grip” and now he eats them without skins
- Mashed potatoes – I mash ours with a touch of cow’s milk and add spices
- Turnips – mashed
- Squash – mashed with spices
- Grilled salmon – a huge hit and great brain food! Baby M has salmon once a week
- Turkey meatballs
- Pasta - we chose a gluten free variety for Baby M
- Fresh mozzarella cheese – I cut off a 1oz round from a log of mozzarella and cut it into chunks – mozzarella is one of our go-to proteins in the morning
- Pancakes – try a whole grain variety instead of white flour and try adding ground flax to the mix
- Waffles – ditto whole grain pancakes
- Breakfast sausage – remove the casings before offering sausage and watch the sodium levels of the rest of the day’s food
- Smoke salmon – also watch the sodium levels
- Hummus – Baby M likes his hummus on puffs – he’s a big fan of zesty lemon flavor
- Yogurt – whole milk yogurt is great for babies because their developing brains need more fat than we do – I load the spoon for Baby M and let him hold it
- Applesauce – unsweetened – yummy, but messy
- Chicken – strips are easier to grasp and suck on – Baby M isn’t a huge rotisserie chicken fan, but he does like chicken in curry
- Lentils – we make curried lentils and let Baby M go to town with his hands. It’s messy, but he shovels every last bit into his mouth!
- Chickpeas – straight from can (rinsed well) and crushed a little to take the “round” out of them. Sometimes I crush them in my hand, sometimes with the back of a fork
- Steamed Broccoli – broccoli is one of the only things Baby M isn’t interested in eating. I imagine if I put spices on it, he’d like it
- Zucchini – cut into thick rounds, drizzled with olive oil and sautéed with onions and garlic
- Corn, lima beans, peas – fresh or frozen – avoid canned because of extra sodium
- Watermelon – cut into a wedge – Watermelon is one of the only things Baby M had trouble eating. He gags a lot with it no matter how I cut it, so I’ve taken off the menu this year. I think he likes it so much that he eats it too quickly and doesn’t mash it around in his mouth enough before swallowing. However, friends in my due date group say their babies have no problems with watermelon
- Eggs – We started whole eggs early, but Baby M didn’t start to love them until 8 months. Make sure the yolks are cooked through
- Rice crackers – we spread them with hummus or sunbutter (like peanut butter but made from sunflower seeds)
- Lobster – in tiny pieces since it’s a little hard to chew
- Steak – cut into strips – it’s hard to chew, but the flavor is there. I have minced it into little pieces, which Baby M was able to consume a bit better
- Ribs – Baby M really liked ribs. I tore the meat off the bone and shredded it from one rib and then let him gnaw on the second. Super treat!
- Oatmeal – I cook ours with raisins or craisins and share with him – of course he usually ends up eating most of it and I’m left hungry!
- French toast – served without syrup for baby, but with syrup for mommy ;)
At 9.5 months old we’re still doing one meal a day together at breakfast and breast milk for the rest of the day. Baby M is smaller but still sticking to his growth curve and sleeps really well at night, so we’re sticking with that routine for now. However, very occasionally we’ll offer a snack, if we’re eating out at lunch or S and I are having our dinner early, before Baby M goes to bed. On hand we have the following commercial “baby” snack foods:
- Belle’s Biscuits – available at Whole Foods
- Puffs – a great vehicle for dipping in hummus, salsa, tzatziki, etc.
- Yogurt drops – I keep a package in my purse
What have been some of your baby’s favorite early foods?