According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents can begin introducing solid foods to their babies at around 6 months of age. And while it used to be that white rice cereal was considered a standard first supplement to breastmilk or formula, there are actually many healthier, whole food options for parents to choose from. If your baby is ready to experiment with solids, the following foods are all excellent choices during her first year of life.
Soft, creamy, and high in the "good" brain-building fats, avocado is an easy and nutritious whole food to offer baby.
Offer small pieces of mashed banana for baby to pick up with her fingers, or thin some mashed banana with a bit of water or breastmilk if you prefer to start with a puree. Either way, baby is likely to love the sweet taste.
3. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are loaded with nutrients, including fiber, iron, and Vitamin A, and they are easy to prepare as a first food. Bake, boil, or microwave until the flesh is soft, and then puree or offer as a finger food in soft chunks.
4. Brown Rice
If you still want to start with cereal, brown rice — which hasn't been stripped of nutrition in the way that white rice cereal has — is a great way to go. Brown rice is a whole food that is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and brown rice cereal is incredibly easy to make at home.
Cereal doesn't have to be made from rice at all. Oatmeal (and many other whole grains too) can be cooked and pureed to a smooth consistency perfect for a meal for baby.
Ripe pears are usually soft and juicy enough that they can be mashed or pureed easily, or served as a finger food for older babies. If you're preparing pears for babies under 6 months of age, it is best to cook them first so they will be easier for immature tummies to digest.
Although fruits and vegetables are typical first foods, some experts recommend that shredded or pureed meats be introduced first, since they contain high levels of iron.
8. Unsweetened Applesauce
Whether you make your own or buy it from the store, be sure to avoid any added sugar. You can also serve small pieces of apple that have been cooked in the microwave until soft.
You may not think of beans and legumes as a first food, but black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils (as well as many others) can all be introduced between the ages of 6-8 months. They can be pureed or lightly mashed, but you may want to remove the skins, since they can be harder to digest.
What are your favorite whole foods to feed baby during her first year of life?