Opinions on when to start feeding a baby and what vary widely. My parents started me on vegetable baby food when I was six months, but then when my sister was born, we lived in England where the doctors recommended starting on rice cereal at three months. We both turned out okay. That’s not to say baby’s first food’s not an important decision; just one where there’s not a single right answer.
While you’ll want to decide what to feed your baby based on your own thoughts about nutrition, your baby’s tastes, and what you feel comfortable with, we’ve compiled a list of tried-and-true foods that babies love.
We’ve tried to include an age range where there seems to be a consensus, and note organic options for foods that are known for being especially high in pesticides or hormones, but you may want to do organic versions of all of these or none of them depending on your beliefs. And, as with anything regarding your baby’s health, we recommend that you consult with your pediatrician before starting your baby on solids.
Bananas are unlikely to be allergenic, and their soft texture and sweet flavor make them very palatable for baby. Mashed bananas are an excellent choice for baby’s very first solid foods.
For baby’s first cereal, think whole grains. Oatmeal, which has manganese, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, is a wholesome choice. For baby, simply cook oatmeal with more water then usual, dilute with breast milk, formula, or water, and mash with a fork to serve. For babies under 7 months, you may want to puree the oatmeal before serving.
3. Brown Rice Cereal
Make your own brown rice cereal by putting brown rice through the coffee grinder. Add water, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Continue adding water until a soupy, smooth consistency is achieved. You can also cook up brown rice normally, and then thin with water and puree.
4. Teething Biscuits
Teething biscuits are a great, fun first food. For a more wholesome option, you can even make your own. Teething biscuits are suitable for babies 8 months and older, though baby should be supervised closely while she’s eating.
Besides being high in healthy monounsaturated fats, recent studies have linked avocados with an increased absorption of healthful carotenoid antioxidants, lycopene, and beta-carotene, making avocados the perfect food to blend with vegetables like carrots, squash, or spinach to increase the uptake of nutrients. Babies as young as 6 months can be fed avocado.
6. Organic Apple Sauce
Apple sauce can be a great first food — just make sure you steer clear of apple sauces with additives like sugar and salt. For the purest apple sauce, consider making your own. Unsweetened apple sauce is great for babies 6 months and older.
7. Pear Sauce
There’s no reason apples should get all the notoriety, switch things up with some homemade pear sauce. Babies with love the mild, sweet flavor. Pear sauce is great for babies 6 months and older.
8. Winter Squash
Colorful and smooth, winter squash makes for a velvety, nutrient-rich puree. Once baby has progressed beyond pureed foods, small pieces of steamed squash are easily chewed. Squash can be enjoyed by babies as young as 6 months.
Earthy and sweet, beets are packed with valuable nutrients like fiber, vitamins A and C, as well as folate. Serve steamed and mashed, or dice and steam for more advanced eaters. Beets are perfect for babies 8 – 10 months old.
10. Sweet Potato Mash
This nutritious tuber is a terrific first food, and babies love this veggie’s mild sweetness and soft texture. Sweet potatoes are an excellent starter food for babies as young as 6 months.
Carrots are brimming with vitamins like A, K, and C. Besides that, they’re naturally sweet and have a texture that babies love. To serve, steam and puree for early eaters, or slice into small half moons and steam for more advanced eaters. Carrots are suitable for babies 6 months and older.
12. Organic Yogurt
With our own children, we’ve found plain yogurt is a terrific early source of protein, and makes a great transitional food when weaning. It’s also high in protein and calcium and the probiotics help keep your baby’s digestion healthy. Go organic to keep your baby from consuming hormones and chemicals that can affect your baby’s development. Yogurt can be introduced to baby between 7 and 9 months.
13. Organic Chicken
Chicken is a great way to boost your baby’s protein intake while keeping the fat relatively low. As with yogurt, this is an important one to get organic if your able as conventional chicken can be raised with a lot of nasty stuff. To serve, roast, saute, or boil, cool, and then shred small bits for baby. Chicken goes over especially well mixed into another baby food like avocado. Shredded or pureed chicken is suitable for babies 7 months and older.
14. Organic Blueberries
Sweet and easy to chew, superfood blueberries are a favorite of babies, kids, and adults alike. For early eaters, mash raw blueberries with a fork, and/or add a few to another baby food favorite. Once baby is better at chewing, cut blueberries in quarters or in half to avoid a choking hazard (whole blueberries are a choking hazard for babies and toddlers). Blueberries are best served to babies 8 months and older.
Get baby started on this super food early. Spinach, along with other dark leafy greens like kale or chard, is high in calcium, folic acid, vitamin K and iron. It’s also brimming with vitamin C, fiber, and carotenoids, ensuring that each bite packs a nutritional wallop. Spinach is a good option for babies 8 months and older.
Collards — for babies? Yep. These hearty cold weather greens are widely available for most of the year, and have loads of beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium, and fiber. Steam, and puree them with a time-tested favorite like bananas to get baby started. Collards can be served to babies 7 months and older.
Sweet and soft mangos have lots of vitamin A, carotenoids, and fiber. For baby, serve pureed raw mango, sliced into tiny cubes for a more advanced eater, or mix with another trusted food. Please note that mangos can be allergenic for some babies, so if you have a family history of food allergies, you may want to delay the introduction of mangoes. Otherwise, mangoes are good for babies 7 months and older.
18. Organic Cottage Cheese
Once baby has been cleared for dairy, cottage cheese is a great calcium-rich first food. For optimal reception, serve with a bit of pureed fruit. Cottage cheese can be given to baby between 7 and 9 months.
19. Shaved Raw Apple or Pear
Raw apples and pears are a major choking hazard, so steer clear of raw apple chunks for baby. Instead, use a metal spoon to “shave” or scrape the apple or pear into a quick puree — babies will love the unique texture and bright flavors! Shaved raw apple or pear can be given to babies 7 months and older.