Monday, July 5, 2010

First Foods - Intro

I always get asked what foods to start baby on, so I thought I would blog about what I think the first foods should be, with brief cooking descriptions for each. I chose five foods plus cereal which will give baby a new food every 4 to 5 days that first month. Check back each week as I will give in-depth cooking descriptions, photos and cost analyses for each food!

I started both my girls on rice cereal mixed with breast milk. I gave that to them once a day for 4 or 5 days. Those first 4 or 5 days I watched to make sure they were ready to eat and able to move food from the front of their mouth to the back. Also, this was a time to look for any allergic reactions such as diaper rash, mouth rash or eczema. Rice cereal can be constipating, at least it was for my girls, so I switched them to whole grain or oatmeal baby cereal after those first several days.

However, you don't have to start with cereal! I have a friend who is gluten intolerant so she started her son on butternut squash first, skipping cereal all together. Choose the food that works with your family's food history and has been agreed upon by you and your baby's pediatrician.

Butternut Squash
This is a classic on most doctors' and baby food professionals' lists. It is mild in flavor and easy on the gut. Also, it is easy to cook (trust me - I will explain how) and purees up very smooth. This is very important - first foods should be as smooth as pre-stirred yogurt.

To cook: take one squash, rinse, chop off both ends, then quarter it as well. Depending on how big the squash and how big your cooking pot you may need to halve those quarters. Place in a steamer basket, in your big cooking pot with water just up to the bottom of the steamer basket. Steam until tender - start checking after 20 minutes but be forewarned it could take up to 45 minutes. Make sure that the squash falls apart when you prick it with a fork all the way through the pieces. Using tongs, take out the pieces and let cool on a cutting board. Once you can touch them, peel off the skin, put them in your blender (food processor, immersion blender) and puree. Add cooking water as needed to get that yogurt smoothness. See not difficult at all!

Sweet Potatoes
Another classic, slightly sweet veggie which baby will love, and it is easy on the gut.

To cook: cook these the same as the butternut squash. Start checking your pieces after 10 minutes of cooking. You will probably need to add cooking water to get a smooth puree.

Here is a green veggie for baby to start eating. I like to give baby a variety of veggie and fruit colors to start - I think variety is healthier. Zucchini has a mild flavor and isn't known to trigger allergies, unlike peas, which are a legume and can be allergenic.

To cook: rinse 5 small zucchini, cut off the ends, and slice into 1/4 inch rounds. Steam and start checking for tenderness after 5 minutes. You may not need to add cooking water to get these pureed smooth.

These are sooooooooooo yummy. I like to start baby off with veggies and fruit. Applesauce is easy on the tummy and when mixed with other foods, adds sweetness. After the first month, baby should start on chunkier purees so you can stop making applesauce and buy a store brand. Look for one that contains only apples - make sure it is unsweetened. I like Trader Joe's Unsweetened Applesauce.

To cook: to get really smooth applesauce you are going to have to peel and chop the apples. Use 4 apples, peeled and chopped. Add to a sauce pan with about a 1/4 cup water. Cook, checking to make sure the water hasn't boiled off. Start checking for tenderness after about 10 minutes. Puree, adding the cooking water and more water if needed for a smooth puree.

Another sweet fruit that purees really smooth and is easy to cook.

To cook: peel and chop 4 pears. Add to a sauce pan and cook, checking after 5 minutes for tenderness. Stir frequently and turn down the heat if they start to brown. Puree.

You may ask why I didn't pick any of the following:
Carrots: they can be constipating, so I save them for the following month.
Green Beans: I have never been able to puree them smooth enough for baby, so I save them for a first finger food - just boil and then cut into small pieces.
Avocado: these are not cooked, just pureed for baby but I can't get them smooth enough so I save them for the following month to counter act the carrots.
Banana: I hate bananas - yuck! These don't need to be cooked, just pureed for baby but I can't get them smooth enough so I save them for the following month. Warning: these are constipating like cooked carrots so serve with avocados.

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