Now that you have assembled your tools, it is time to go out and forage some produce from the untamed wilds of your local grocery store. What you choose will depend on your baby’s age, eating abilities, and what he or she can safely tolerate. I tend to shop at Whole Foods or other higher-end grocery stores for Søren so he can have organic, pesticide free food because, like most moms, spending more money on smaller fruits and vegetables makes me feel that I have done my Earth Mother best to provide him the best start possible in life. Huzzybee and I are content to eat cheap, cancer-causing veggies. If a Whole Foods is not close by, or if you don’t feel like taking out a second mortgage on your house in order to purchase those locally sourced, cruelty-free beet greens, just go to your local grocery store or fruit stand.
As a good rule of thumb, try to buy produce that is in season, and if not close to you (hey Minnesota, I know you can’t grow anything at this time of year), then at least from the U.S. or your home country. The point is, don’t buy your baby produce that has had to travel more than 3,000 miles to get to you. Why? For one thing, it shouldn’t take more gallons of gas for your avocado to make it to baby’s high-chair tray than it does for you to take a beach vacation. For another, produce that travels too far is often picked before peak ripeness and then kept in refrigerated storage for too long, which doesn’t taste very good. Local, in-season produce will taste better and if you want jr. to like turnips it is in your best interest to find the best-tasting turnips that you can.
(A note on CSA produce: CSAs are a really great way to get organic veggies delivered to your door, and many of them even let you place your order online, but don’t believe that everything in your CSA box is local. If you live in Idaho and you order mangoes in your CSA box, don’t be surprised if there is a “product of Chile” sticker on the fruit).
Allergic reactions are always a concern when trying new foods with baby, so I keep a checklist on the fridge of the foods Søren has tried and the ones he has yet to try.
Stage 1 Foods
Some great foods to start a new eater on are carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, regular potatoes, squash (butternut, spaghetti, pumpkin), beets, apples, pears, apricots, bananas, and peaches. These foods are less likely to give baby gas. I moved Søren on to gassier foods in stage 2 and we didn’t experience any problems, but at stage 1 he still had a delicate digestive system. Because peas are rarely available except in summer (and it takes forever to shell them) I bought organic frozen peas.
Stage 2 Foods
At stage 2 I started to give Søren some more adventurous ( i.e. gassy) foods, such as: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beet greens, lentils, turnips, and most significantly for him, spices.
Stage 3 Foods
Now that we are in stage 3 he has been enjoying proteins, such as chicken and tofu, yogurt (which is very easy to make at home), cottage cheese, breads, pasta, and rice. He’s also had more acid foods, like orange, lemon, and tomato (all cooked). Buying organic is especially important in meats and dairy because you don’t want to expose your little one to hormones and antibiotics. When buying dairy products for baby, make sure that it is made of nothing less than whole milk.
I feed my little guy a lot of yogurt because he had a very large and extended dose of antibiotics when he was less than 2 weeks old, and his doctor wants him to have plenty of lactobacillus acidophilus to repair damage done to his GI system. I always encourage people to make their baby’s yogurt instead of buying it at the store. Most conventional, store-bought yogurt contains sugars, milk that is not hormone-free, or other chemicals. My little guy also seems to like the milder taste of homemade yogurt. If you do buy yogurt from the grocery store look at the ingredients. It should say “milk, powdered milk, live cultures”. Nothing more. Don’t feed your baby flavored yogurts. She doesn’t need the sugar.
You usually have to add a lot of liquid to baby food in order for it to puree properly. Instead of of adding water all of the time, try using a little bit of apple juice to sweeten veggies that baby doesn’t care for, or use chicken stock with vegetables for a little protein boost. Just make sure you’re not choosing liquids with added sugar or salt.
Dried beans are a good thing to keep around your house, and they can be soaked overnight in a bowl of water and then cooked and pureed the next day. If your baby’s tummy can handle it, try red lentils, split peas, or garbanzo beans. Don’t feed your baby canned beans because many canned food brands still use BPA (for more information check out list of BPA in canned goods).
You are all very intelligent Matrons, so I know that you have checked with baby’s doctor before introducing solids to your baby, and especially before introducing dairy, meats, and anything that could be a potential allergen (tomatoes, strawberries, etc). I also know that YOU know that until 18 months old, babies should not be eating tree nuts, honey, or egg whites. If your baby has breathing problems, severe stomach pain, or abnormal behaviour after eating a food take him/her to the doctor immediately. But you already know that 😉