The first morsel of food for your baby constitutes a huge developmental step for your baby. Until now, your baby has been nourished by milk, whether breastmilk or formula. At 4-6 months, your baby is ready for solids, and for the caregiver, this can seem like a very daunting task.
The same questions plague everyone – what do I feed my baby? How much? How often? What are the best foods to begin with? How do I prepare the foods?
This first foods sections deals with feeding techniques, preparation, preserving the food, selection of ingredients, quantity and timing questions, allergy issues, as well as the kinds of foods that can be introduced monthly. For all questions on when to start your baby on solids, which foods to begin with, and what your baby might be allergic to, please consult your pediatrician first.
For the first few months, Smart Bites for your baby is about providing the freshest organic, and preferably locally produced foods, cooked at home without any preservatives.
Yes, it is easier to get it straight from a jar.
Indeed, it requires a bit more effort than opening a jar and spooning out the contents.
But if you can make the extra effort, it means you will be providing your baby with fresh food, rather than pre-pureed foods that have been sitting on a shelf for weeks. It is no secret that freshly cooked and pureed food is tastier. And many times, it retains more nutrients.
And while it may seem overwhelming at first, it is a joyful routine that you will quickly get used to, and you can make large batches that you can keep in your freezer for quick use.
First foods are such an important developmental step for your baby. It is an entire new sensory universe that is opening up to them. But for many parents, this can seem overwhelming. Take a deep breath. It is going to be ok.
Even if it seems like a big deal, making home make baby food is not so hard. And if you make large batches and freeze them for later, you are only spending time every few days to actually cook the food. And the quality of what your child is getting is so much better.
If you have the choice of feeding your baby commercial dry cereal or making your own single grain cereal, you should opt for the latter. You know exactly what is going into the food, and it is actually very simple. My mother always made our foods, and even with me and my brother being only one year apart, somehow managed to never buy anything pre-made. I don’t think there was a whole lot of pre-made foods for baby available in those days in Japan. And in our case, she simply loved making all of our foods. But she was a full time home-maker and had the time to do it. Today, mothers like me have to find the time to make these foods – making a bunch at a time and storing for easy use later.
These recipes below are some of the easiest first foods to make – rice porridge, brown rice puree, apple puree and sweet potato puree – and all of these can be blended with any of the recommended first foods (apples, pears, peaches, squash, potatoes), and loaded with iron, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals. In this recipe I paired it with apples, but you can pair it with any of the fruits/vegetables in the list of first foods.
1/4 cup short grain rice
1. Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear.
2. Put the rice and water in a small pot and bring to a boil; lower the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. If a film develops on top, remove it using a spoon.
3. When the rice has been cooked until it has a soupy texture, remove from heat and let cool.
4. Puree in a food processor until completely smooth.
5. Serve at room termperature.
Brown Rice Puree with Apples
1/2 cup short grain brown rice
1. In a food processor or spice grinder, pulse the brown rice until finely pulverized.
2. In a pot, bring 1 cup water to a boil and add 4 tablespoons of brown rice. Whisk constantly on low heat until it becomes smooth. Set aside.
3. In a steamer, cook the apples until soft, about 5-8 minutes.
4. Put the apples in a blender and puree until smooth.
5. Mix a serving of the brown rice puree 1-2 tablespoons with the same portion of the apples and serve.
[You can freeze the remaining brown rice puree and apple puree for serving later].
For the 4-6 month-old baby, you can serve the brown rice puree with: pureed pears, mashed bananas, pureed butternut squash, pureed peaches, pureed sweet peas.
2. Wash the sweet potatoes; wrap them in oil; and bake them for 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a toothpick or knife.
3. Scoop out the flesh of the sweet potatoes and puree in a food processor until completely smooth. Add breast milk or water to thin, as appropriate.
4. Serve at room temperature.