I got a question by email about starting solids with babies; I don’t consider myself an expert in this area by any means (we only did it with one so far!), but anyway, here’s what we did.
We never bought ready-made baby food. I don’t see why anyone would buy those tiny, overpriced jars (unless you’re on a trip). We never thought to look up recipes, either – we simply improvised. As you dive into it, you’ll see making baby food is easy and fun.
We started giving tiny tastes of mashed or blended fruit and veggies at around five months, though solids didn’t make a full meal until around 6-7 months. First food was mashed banana. After introducing each new food, we waited several days to make sure there was no adverse reaction. After we tried an array of foods, we started making mixtures and smoothies using a blender.
I know it is often recommended to give the baby cooked fruit, but generally, we gave it raw (apples, pears, plums) and only cooked/baked her veggies (sweet potato, zucchini, pumpkin). I never saw that it disagreed with her.
Many grandparents and pediatricians think that cereals are a good choice for baby’s first food at 5-6 months, but at that point, the amylases in our digestive system aren’t fully mature yet and it doesn’t do good to overload baby with starches. Fruit and vegetables are far better as first foods.
As our baby grew older, we felt more and more comfortable to simply take a fork, mash whatever is on our own plate and give it to her. However, we avoided foods that are considered allergenic (such as fish, eggs, peanut butter etc) until she was close to one year old.
When we made foods particularly for our baby, we didn’t add salt or spices because we wanted her to experience the natural taste of different foods, but when we fed her off our plate we didn’t avoid salt, though we did avoid very spicy foods and artificial taste additives. As much as possible, we avoided (still do) giving her foods with added sugar, and fake foods such as morning cereals.
Gradually, our daughter grew out of baby foods. Bit by bit, she moved on to soft finger foods, and now, at almost two, she sits at the table with us and eats what we eat. She is not as picky about her food as most toddlers I know, and will generally agree to try almost everything. Her diet is healthy and balanced.
We look forward to repeating this adventure, in a few months, with our second daughter.