The nice thing about feeding a baby—especially in those first few months after starting solids—is that most munchkins happily accept most of what you put in front of them (babies are very open to trying new flavours and textures—this is called “flavour plasticity”). So as parents it’s important to take advantage of this “honeymoon stage of feeding” and introduce a nice, wide variety by about nine months of age. This will not only benefit them nutritionally, but it will also increase the chances of them continuing to accept these nutrient-rich foods throughout toddlerhood and childhood.
Here are my top 8 nutritious foods (in no particular order) to introduce within the first few months of starting solids:
Eggs are easily our top go-to ingredient, not only because they’re chock full of high quality protein and other important nutrients like iron and vitamin B-12 (nutrients that are so important for a growing baby), but also because they are cost-effective and so darn easy to work with! For babies, I recommend making scrambled eggs, hard boiling eggs and cutting them into halves or quarters, or making muffin-tin omelets (great for freezing and re-heating).
We always have a steady supply of yogurt in our house because it’s one of our go-to snacks (on its own or with fruit), and an ingredient that we often include in breakfasts (think fruit smoothies and yogurt parfaits), or in baking (check out these delicious Raspberry Greek Yogurt Muffins). Babies as young as six months can enjoy whole milk yogurt! Plain is best here—you can flavour naturally by combining it with fresh or frozen fruit, or a Baby Gourmet organic fruit and veggie pouches. Yogurt is packed full of nutrition – protein, calcium, magnesium and healthy bacteria (probiotics) – and the advantage of Greek yogurt (over regular), is that it contains double the protein, which keeps tummies full and energy levels stable.
Lentils are so easy for me to love. And easy for babies to love too! They’re a form of “pulse” (the pulse family includes chickpeas, dried beans, lentils, and dried peas). Not only do they boast a stellar nutritional profile (they are loaded full of protein, fibre, iron, vitamins, and minerals), they’re also economical, super easy and versatile, and provide a nutritious meatless protein alternative. Serve them to baby on their own (simply throw a bunch of lentils on their tray), or make these easy baby-friendly lentil bites that my kids love (and are easy for them to pick up!). Lentils are great for adding to healthy snacks, salads, omelettes, casseroles, soups, chili and—surprisingly—desserts and baked goods. I often use canned lentils (I rinse them thoroughly), because they are just. So. Easy. Dried lentils are super easy to use too though—you don’t even need to soak them before using them!
Anti-oxidant-rich berries (such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries) are not only jam-packed full of nutrition (vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals), but also great for boosting the immune system! They’re a yummy snack for babies and toddlers, and are easy to for them to grasp onto.
I’m a huge fan of oats (or oatmeal) for breakfast because they’re versatile, easy, and high in soluble fibre, which is a type of fibre that keeps your child fuller longer. They are also a source of B Vitamins, Vitamin E, Potassium and Zinc which help our babies’ developing brains function well. Iron-fortified infant oat cereal is a great alternative to rice cereal because it offers more nutrition and fibre (I love Baby Gourmet’s Banana Raisin Oatmeal).
Cooked salmon was two out of my three kids’ first foods, and for good reason. It’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are key for your baby’s brain and eye development, it’s high protein and loaded full of other key nutrients too such as iron, Vitamin D and vitamin B-12. No need for any sauces here (babies don’t need them!), but simply adding a little bit of garlic and lemon juice will add lots of flavor.
Nuts and/or seeds:
We now know that—based on the current evidence—that there’s no reason to delay the introduction of common allergens such as nuts, seeds, eggs and fish, because it doesn’t increase the risk of a child developing a food allergy. So right from six months of age, you can introduce your baby to natural nut and/or seed butter (thinly spread on toast to avoid choking), or very small seeds such as chai or sesame seeds. Other ways to incorporate nuts and seeds are to add natural nut or seed butter to oatmeal or iron-fortified infant cereals, throw them into baby-friendly smoothies, or use nuts or seed butter in baking.