Your baby has started solids, and the world is her oyster! (Okay, more like spoonful of fish puree.) In the next several months, you’ll be introducing lots of different foods—but be sure you’re off to a healthy start by making these five regulars on her plate:
1. Veggies: Instilling an appreciation of and taste for veggies is important. Vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, so they should be mainstays of the diet for life. And don’t worry: Introducing fruit before veggies isn’t the deal-breaker you may have heard it is. If your baby gets the sweet taste of fruit before less-sweet (and sometimes slightly bitter) veggies, it doesn’t mean she’ll reject them. Just continue to serve them both every day.
Feeding Tips: Offer your baby different colors of veggies—including green, yellow, orange—and don’t be discouraged if your baby turns up her nose at a certain one. Simply offer it another time.
2. Meat or iron-fortified cereal: For years, iron-fortified rice cereal was recommended as the must-have starter food. Now, many pediatricians agree that the order you introduce foods isn’t crucial–but having a source of iron is. Iron is critical for kids, especially after six months when your baby’s natural stores of the mineral become depleted.
Feeding Tips: Be sure all meats are well-cooked (and well pureed at first). Though you should check with your pediatrician first, keep in mind that you can also introduce fish when babies start solids at six months.
3. Full-Fat Yogurt: Okay, we may be biased here–but the fact is, yogurt’s got a lot of what baby needs right now: fat for her developing brain, calcium and vitamin D for growing bones. It’s approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics for babies starting at six months.
Feeding Tips: Feed your baby straight-up plain yogurt or swirl in fruit or veggie purees or baby oatmeal. For older babies, try seasoning it with spices like cinnamon and ginger.
4. Fruit: Your baby will delight in the sweetness of fruit. And you’ll be happy knowing he’s getting vitamins, fiber, hydrating fluids, and lots of health-protective plant compounds.
Feeding Tips: If you’re making your own baby food, be sure to wash all fruits thoroughly, even if they’re organic. (Learn more about organic fruits and veggies here.) If you’re trying baby-led weaning, give baby handheld pieces of very ripe, soft fruit.
5. Whole Grains: Whole grains like whole wheat pasta and whole grain bread and cereal have more fiber, protein, and vitamins than refined grains like white bread do. Whole grains also tend to have a stronger flavor and chewier texture, so it’s smart to introduce them early on so your baby develops a taste for them.
Feeding Tips: Oatmeal is a natural whole grain you can serve plain or mixed with fruit purees. Pieces of whole wheat pasta (like rotini and bowties), and strips of French toast or pancakes made from whole grain bread and flour are all fun finger foods for older babies.