Working with new moms, I get a plethora of questions. New moms are among some of the most interested and interesting people. They have helped to create this new life and bring it into the world. Now, she wants to do everything possible to protect and provide for this new little life.
I get asked lots of questions as a childbirth educator and a birth coach. Just when I think that I have heard it all, a new mom throws another newbie at me. This is one of the things I love about my job. I, myself, am a researcher so when a questions has me stumped, I always try to find an answer. I dig and shuffle through information to come to the best possible conclusion I can to answer the questions brought to me.
Majority of the questions I get asked before the arrival of the baby but sometimes, I get a mom that finds herself with a question that she just can’t seem to feel out an answer for. One such question is “What is the best first foods for my baby?” This is a great questions but a fairly easy one for me to answer.
First of all, think about what babies may have eaten before processed baby food. Babies, like all humans, should be eating food that can be naturally grown. Since babies don’t have teeth and are learning the swallowing reflex, soft foods are better for them. Some of the best soft foods to give a baby is mashed white or sweet potato, avocado, banana, and unsweetened applesauce. Not only do these foods mash easily without a lot of work, they are easy to incorporate into the rest of the family’s meal so that they can all be eating similarly as a family.
If the parents would like to do an extra step with any meal, they could puree whatever it is they are eating. As the baby gets used to eating something thicker than milk, they can start with foods that will easily break apart in their mouths. A good way to test this is to give a slice of banana or avocado and see if the baby can mash it with his/her tongue independently. Babies are quick to catch on and develop quicker than most parents are prepared for. Another great option is a smoothie. Smoothies are pureed fruits and vegetables that can be used as a great source of beneficial nutrition for the baby.
Another question I get is should I give my child silverware? It is fine to get some soft, small spoons to have the baby start to practice with. Yes, they are going to make huge messes. No, they don’t know what to do with it at first and may just gnaw on it but what does it harm? It is important to be monitoring the child while eating and using a spoon. You wouldn’t want the baby to choke when it could be avoided or stopped quickly before causing harm.
One thing to consider is keeping a food journal for baby in the beginning. If there is a food that causes stomach problems, hives, dislike, etc. the parents can keep track of those items and maybe avoid them for a few months. Honey is recommended to avoid for the baby’s first year as it could contain a bacteria that can cause serious problems for baby. It is also recommended to introduce one food at a time so that if there is any allergy issues, the parents know exactly which items are the culprits.
Ultimately, follow the baby’s lead. They will give you signs when they are ready for foods and they will show you what they are capable of eating and when. Follow the signs, watch closely and be proud of each of their steps. Do you have a new little one that is showing signs of desiring foods? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.