First foods for your baby
Baby rice has traditionally been the first choice for parents to start their transition onto solids but baby rice is highly processed and very high in carbohydrates. It's much more beneficial to start weaning with very small amounts of naturally nutritious foods.
Baby Cereals are fortified with Iron which makes it a better source of iron than any natural foods but your baby's iron levels only start to deplete at 6 months - they do not suddenly disappear so you can start to build up your baby's taste for natural sources rather than relying solely on fortified cereals.
In these early weeks of weaning when baby is trying their first tastes, feed mostly Vegetables and Fruits. Avoid soft eggs (unless they carry the British Kite mark)*, berries and citrus fruits, Honey, salt, sugar, nuts, seeds, unpasteurised cheese and wheat based foods or other foods containing Gluten. All of these items are either known allergens or just not good for your baby straight away. I also wouldn't worry about meat, fish and lentils in these early couple of weeks. There's plenty of time to expand their tastes as they progress through weaning.
Prepare small batches of vegetables and fruits by blending or mashing into smooth purees or serving as fingers foods. At this stage lumps should be avoided. Food can be prepared and fed immediately or you can store fruit and vegetable purees in the fridge for up to 48 hours before feeding or store for 6 weeks in the freezer. We love this article from Made For Mums that has detailed instructions regarding storing and freezing your purees.
We have selected the below foods due to their nutritional value and how well they mix with other foods as weaning progresses.
Avocado – Avocado is low in sugars and high in Omega 3 brain boosting fats. It's really easy to digest and contains high levels of Antioxidants and Vitamin E which are great for little one's immune systems.
Prep - Mash ripe avocado flesh with a little of your baby’s usual milk (breast or formula). Avocado is best served fresh. Serve cool. Banana can also be mixed with Avocado. Note that avocado and banana do not freeze well so serve these freshly mashed (or see my tip here for keeping avocado fresh for 48 hours!)
Finger Food - Slice the avocado to allow baby to pick them up. It can be a bit slippery for really little fingers so pre-loaded spoons of mash may be easier at first.
Sweet potato – Full of antioxidants, beta-carotene and minerals including manganese, which is crucial for bone health. They also contain a range of all the B vitamins that support baby’s brain and growing nervous system as well as Vitamin C.
Prep - bake a medium sweet potato in the oven, scoop out the flesh and blend with a little of your baby’s usual milk. Serve warm.
Finger Food - roast small chunks or chip sized pieces of sweet potato in olive oil or coconut oil.
Carrots – Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. A good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium.
Prep - peel and slice, steam for 15 minutes and blend with a tablespoon of breast milk or formula, serve warm.
Finger food - chop carrots length ways and steam to give as finger food for baby to try
Apple – Apples are high in Vitamin C and soluble fibre. They are probably the most popular fruit in the UK so a great food to get baby to enjoy. It won't be long before they are munching on a whole apple.
Prep - peel, core and chop an eating apple. I choose a soft sweet apple such as royal Gala or pink lady. Cook in a covered pan on a low heat with a few table spoons of water for 5 minutes, blend with a little of the water. Serve warm or cool. recipe here
Finger food - for very first tastes chop the apple into large slices without skin. even without teeth babies can have a good gnaw on an apple slice.
Pear – Pears are a really good source of dietary fibre and Vitamin C. Pear is another handy fruit to encourage little ones to love.
Pear - peel, core and chop. Cook on a low heat with a few table spoons of water for around 5 minutes, blend with a little of the water. Serve warm or cool.
Finger food - for very first tastes chop the pear into large slices without skin. even without teeth babies can have a good gnaw on pears
Banana – A very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of manganese, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, potassium, biotin, and copper. They are one of the easiest baby foods as they can be transported easily and then fed whole or mashed.
Prep - simply mash the banana and mix with a little of your baby’s usual milk.
Finger food - You can also cut your banana in half and partially peel to allow your little one to grasp the skin covered base and chew on the exposed banana flesh.
Parsnip – A very good source of vitamin C and rich in dietary fiber. Parsnips are naturally sweet but low in carbohydrates making them an ideal first food.
Prep - simply wash, peel and chop the parsnips into 1cm chunks and steam for 15-20 minutes. Blend until smooth with a little of the water from the steamer or add some of your baby's usual milk to blend.
Finger Food - roast small chunks or chip sized pieces of parsnip in olive oil or coconut oil.
Egg Yolk – You may think that eggs should be avoided in early weaning due to them being a possible allergen*. The white of the egg is the part that most frequently triggers a reaction. The yolk is full of essential nutrients for your baby and can be fed with caution from 6 months. Egg yolk contains cholesterol essential for your baby's development, Vitamins A, B, D, E and K! They also contain antioxidants and Omega 3 fats. From 6 months your baby's iron reserves start to deplete so it's important to add Iron to your little ones diet. Eggs are a great start and other iron rich foods can be added in the coming weeks as weaning progresses.
*If there are any egg allergies in your family do not give egg in early weaning. If any reactions occur, stop giving egg to your baby.
Prep - Place an egg in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. To cook a hard boiled egg - Simmer for around 6 minutes and then run under cold water. Remove the shell and then remove the egg white. Mash the egg yolk with baby’s, normal milk and a little coconut oil.
Runny Eggs - British lion Marked eggs have now been declared safe for everyone to eat runny. Runny egg can be quite messy for a first food but it can be spread on toast or you can dip vegetables into a runny boiled or poached egg. To create a soft boiled egg, simmer for 3 minutes.
Broccoli - Full of Vitamin C and K, folic acid, potassium and fibre Broccoli is full of nutrients. Florets are soft and easy to grasp which makes broccoli an ideal finger food for little hands.
Prep - Steam individual florets until they are tender. Allow to cool before serving to baby as a finger food. Find further advice on feeding Broccoli as finger foods here
For more detailed recipes and more first food options take a look at Annabel Karmels website or get one of her hugely popular weaning books.
Read our full article on Baby weaning - First tastes here. It's full of helpful information about starting weaning and some of our top tips on making weaning fun.
As your baby starts to eat a little more you can start to store and serve your own home made foods in our reusable food pouches so you can take out your own versions of store bought baby pouches. We have reusable food pouches in 2 sizes for storing your baby's meals and later on their puddings, snacks and smoothies. We also have reusable snack bags that are perfect for carrying finger foods and snacks.
Check out our weaning recipes, pudding and smoothie recipes here
* British Kite marked eggs have now been cleared of Salmonella and approved for consumption in pregnancy and from 6 months onwards. In other countries please refer to the guidance given by your local health authority.