Your baby is growing up and is ready to enjoy some solid foods. Where to start? Here are a few hints on preparing healthy baby foods for your little one.
With an increased awareness of pesticides, insecticides and antibiotics as well as other supplements given to farm animals, there is a growing trend toward organic food. Opt for organically grown fruit, vegetables and free-range meat whenever possible.
Your young child hasn’t yet developed the antibodies needed to fight off illnesses so be proactive and remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Wash hands thoroughly; then, be sure to use a clean work surface, equipment and storage containers in order to protect your baby from a foodborne illness. Always wash and peel fruits and veggies, remove seeds or pits and, with meat, ensure it’s without bones, skin or cartilage.
Ways to prepare baby food
- Use a fork to mash cooked food to the desired consistency.
- Puree your cooked ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree to a fine texture.
- Chop the food finely, until the desired texture, then blend it with a little liquid.
- Blend different foods together to create a pureed mix of tasty foods.
- Store in an airtight glass or food-grade plastic container for a maximum of three days.
- Freeze your baby food for up to three months. Thaw as needed. A common trick is to freeze baby food in ice cube trays and then transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag or plastic container.
Some foods to try
Probably after the age of four or five months your baby has started eating baby cereals and, a month or two after that, is ready to take on other foods. A good rule of thumb is to start with vegetables, then fruit, followed by meat, dairy and finger foods.
- Start with pureed veggies, such as carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, beets and other favourites. Cook until they are soft; then, mash or puree until a very smooth consistency is attained. Cool and store.
- After your little one is accustomed to their veggies, add some fruit to the mix. Mashed peaches or bananas and cooked pureed apples make great choices.
- Meat comes next, so offer cooked, mashed and strained chicken, beef or turkey. Mix with veggies for a different taste.
- At approximately eight to ten months your child is ready for bigger food challenges. Think of such items as cut-up pasta with simple sauce, crumbled hamburger, soft cooked veggies, small chicken cubes and well-cooked, soft casseroles or stews. Introduce easy-to-soften finger foods such as oat cereal and melt-away cookies.
- After the age of eight to ten months your baby is ready to take on chunkier foods. Instead of mashing or pureeing everything to a fine texture, make their food a little thicker. This is also time to think about introducing finger foods such as small bagel bites; cubed, seeded and peeled soft fruit; par cooked-veggies and tenderized meat pieces.
- Between the age of ten to twelve months of age your child is probably accustomed to many semi- solid foods. Keep introducing new flavours and textures but be wary of food allergies. By a year old your baby is almost certainly ready to take on dairy (unless lactose intolerance or an allergy has been identified) so keep the the previous guidelines in mind and help your child develop a positive acceptance of all foods.