I had my three children in the span of three years.
When I had my first son, after six months of breast feeding or formula, the recommended first solid food for him was iron-fortified cereal. After various grains, it was suggested he try vegetables, fruits and meats, in that order. Egg whites, strawberries, peanut butter and honey were off limits.
I had my second son 14 months later. Surprise! Things had changed! Now, egg yolks were an acceptable first food, and vegetables and fruit could be thrown in too. Hmmm.
After him, I had my daughter. 18 months later. Now, MEAT is being suggested as a first food. In fact, the recommendation seemed to be no recommendation at all! Feed them whatever!
And I have to say, as a Nutritionist, I love this. At my first son’s nine month check-up, I told the nurse what he had for breakfast: scrambled eggs, toast with natural peanut butter and strawberries on the side. She actually plugged her ears and said: “I don’t want to hear it!!” I’m not entirely sure why. There was my healthy, babbling, growing baby boy in front of her…not dying.
I have always believed that if there is no reason to fear an allergy (like a family history or other symptom that could be a sign like eczema), you can feed your children whatever real food they want to eat (within reason). Honey is the exception. No honey until one for the fear of botulism…which is a real thing. And I wouldn’t want to take the chance.
But otherwise, go ahead! Not only can you feed your child whatever you want, there’s also no need to puree the first foods either. IF YOU ARE COMFORTABLE, you can overcook some carrot sticks and let your children gnaw away.
Let me be clear. I am not suggesting you feed your baby anything and everything. I am a huge advocate for making your own food. It’s incredibly simple and at first, babies don’t eat very much. A couple of tablespoons, and you’re good to go. Basically put a few pieces aside of whatever you’re making for dinner and let them eat it!
Also, there is no need to shy away from spices or herbs. Babies love flavour too! Just stay away from sugar and salt. Food is delicious enough…especially when you’re eating it for the first time!
The bottom line is this (and I’ve said this before): Stay in your comfort zone. If you’re going to lose sleep all night because your sweet child gagged on a cucumber stick…maybe baby-led weaning is not for you. You can still give your baby purees! It’s just a matter of learning chewing first or swallowing first. They’ll eventually learn both. Don’t worry about the trends and go with your Momma-Bear instinct. It’s usually right.
As for which order of foods to feed your baby? Again, do what feels right and feed them what they like. Maybe don’t bombard their little systems with sweet fruit first, as they may resist eating less sweet foods such as vegetables or grains, but do what is right for you and your baby. Want to feed them chicken first? Great.
Oh-and peanut butter? GO FOR IT. The latest studies have shown that exposing your baby to peanut butter can prevent them from developing an allergy. I believe this goes for any and all foods-don’t avoid; introduce! There couldn’t be a simpler way for their bodies to recognize a possible allergen (or NOT) than exposure. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve been saying this for YEARS!
Just stick to real, whole foods. Steam a sweet potato. Make your own rice cereal with organic brown rice. Blend up an apple. Have fun exploring new foods with your baby. There is never another time like this one, when they will experience taste, texture, flavour, FOOD for the first time!
Oh-and invest in some bibs…a lot of bibs. The messiness is part of the fun!
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