There is more than enough to think about when preparing for the arrival of your baby, and nutrition is certainly one at the top of the list! Babies need more calories and protein per pound than any other age group, and their nutrition is key to their growth and development.
As an infant, the mother’s milk is the number one way to obtain the needed nourishment and caloric intake. This is not always possible for a variety of reasons, or it may require tremendous support from doctors, mid wives, or doula’s. La Leche League is also an option for wonderful support and encouragement.
The introduction of solid foods can begin after the age of six months, one at time and continue for 5-7 days. If there are no adverse reactions the next food can be introduced. The age at which you introduce certain foods will vary depending on when you start solid foods, but the order is what is more important.
Starting with pureed vegetables, followed by soaked and cooked whole grains, and then fruit. Feeding babies fruit first may lead to a baby preferring the sweet taste!
The recommendations below are based on a baby getting most of their calories from breast milk for the first 12 months. In the case of using baby formula then more calories from food are recommended as well as the introduction of protein foods between 8-10 months such as legumes and egg yolks.
Food #1: Vegetables
- Start with pureed beans, peas, pumpkin, squash, potatoes
- At nine months introduce spinach, beets, turnips, carrots (which require a more mature digestive system)
Food #2: Grains, no wheat yet
- Rice, oats, barley, quinoa, millet
- Soak for several hours in purified water, then cook
- You may add breast milk or formula as liquid
- Start with thin cereal and gradually thicken over time
- Read labels to ensure there are no additives
- If possible, buy grains whole and grind them
Food #3: Fruits
- About a month after starting vegetables try; applesauce, peaches, apricots, pears, and plums
- Start with cooked fruit and then move to uncooked and mashed fruit
- As much as possible stick to organic to reduce the amount of pesticides
- Imported fruit is higher in pesticide residue
- If not organic, locally grown fruit is wonderful
Food #4: Vegetables (that require more chewing!)
- Once your baby has conquered fruits, try zucchini, cauliflower, asparagus tips, kale and tomatoes
- You can steam or puree these
- You can add potatoes or rice cereal
Food #5: Protein (10 Months)
- The digestive system and kidneys are ready to handle some protein
- Options include; meat, poultry, beans, egg yolks (whites can be left for a few more months as they are more difficult to digest), nut butters
As we try to with ourselves, it is ideal to avoid sugar, salt, refined flours, processed foods, additives, preservatives, dyes, and hydrogenated fats. Fruit juices should also be avoided!
Having an easy to follow list and options to choose from will take the guesswork out of the equation. Starting our children off on the best possible path we can, will allow for a healthy, happy, thriving baby (and parents!).