There is so much recent controversy regarding what and when you should feed your baby their first "solid" foods. While the choice is very individual based on the baby, their cues, and your feelings, it cannot be denied that a baby was not meant to survive on rice cereal alone. We're here today to bring you 3 recipes featuring first foods for babies that aren't rice, that you can mix into their early diet- and are packed with good vitamins to start them out on the path of healthy eating from the get-go.
Breast milk is the ultimate "perfect meal" for babies, and your child should still be nursing on demand at all times. However, around the 6 months of age, babies begin showing interest in food- your food, particularly- and you may notice your baby begin to mimic your chewing and tongue motion simply from observing you eat over the past few months. It's pretty spectacular, if you think about it.
Homemade Baby Food
Puréeing, or mashing up food into a paste, has been an accepted form of introducing food to your baby sometime around the 6 month mark. If you choose to use the purée method, you will not find a better, more convenient way to make your own baby food, than the Béaba Babycook Pro. With the Béaba Babycook Pro you can prepare fruits, vegetables, meat or fish for your baby at any stage in as little as 15 minutes- from start to finish. Steaming food is the only way to cook food and still maintain its nutritional properties, and with the Béaba Babycook Pro and their patented steam heating system, you can do it in one easy step. It sure beats busting out the pot, steamer basket, and food processor. Attention to detail is what makes the Béaba Babycook Pro outshine its competitors, boasting features such as a stainless steel water reservoir, BPA, lead, and phthalate free materials, and included spatula, mixing/smoothie lid, and included recipe booklet. Add-ons are also available, such as this handy Béaba Babycook Rice Cooker. The Béaba Babycook Pro is available in many different colors, sure to match your kitchen decor. You won't want to hide the Béaba Babycook Pro in your cupboard when it's not in use.
If you've decided to go down the route of puréed foods, you will likely be bombarded with opinions on why you should feed your baby puréed rice. While it's important to remember that brown rice is a whole grain, and whole grains are important to have in an adult diet, filling your child up with those "nutritionally empty" grains may lead to some other problems, such as gas, food allergies, gut bacteria imbalance, and constipation. The only true vitamin in whole grain brown rice is vitamin B3. (1) However, the likeliness of a baby showing sign of a food allergy to brown rice is low, so keep that in mind. If you choose to begin your child's food journey with a grain, you will love this healthier alternative below. But are there other options? Check out our 3 favorite baby recipes below- and a bonus recipe on the Béaba Blog.
Oatmeal and Quinoa Cereal:
Add 1/4 cup oats and 1/4 cup rinsed quinoa into the Béaba Babycook Rice Cooker and fill with 1/2 water on top and stir well. Fill the water line to level 3 in the Béaba Babycook Pro and steam until it beeps. When finished steaming, make sure that all the oats are cooked completely, and all the quinoa has "rings" around the edges, indicating it is fully cooked. Dump approximately half of the water from the large cup bowl, and add in the quinoa and oatmeal mixture. Mix and purée until desired consistency. Your thickness will depend on your baby's food experience, so if this is their first meal, make sure it is thinner by adding more water. Pour a serving into your baby's bowl, and mix further with expressed breast milk. Your baby will enjoy the food more if it tastes like something familiar- such as Mommy's milk or formula- and you'll also be adding those essential breast milk nutrients into this hearty baby cereal. Refrigerate or freeze excess cereal in individual baby food containers, such as these 4 oz glass containers from Wean Green.
What's In It?
- Quinoa is a protein packed super-grain and has superior, naturally occurring, nutritional benefits such as protein, natural fiber, and antioxidants. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, and its proteins are complete with essential and non-essential amino acids.
- Steel cut oats are milled from whole oats, and contain over 44g of whole grains per serving. They are an excellent source of protein and fiber, and the "germ" of the grain contains vitamin B, vitamin E and antioxidants.
Healthy Peachy Cream:
Thoroughly wash the peach and cut into 1/2 inch cubes and place into the Béaba Babycook Pro. Fill the water level to line 2, and steam until it beeps. When finished, pour out approximately half of the water left in the large cup bowl, and dump the steamed peaches and wheat germ into the bowl and purée until desired consistency. Before feeding to baby, add in a spoonful of natural yogurt and breast milk to thin.
What's In It?
- Peaches contain beta-carotene, and the more yellow/orange color the flesh of the peach is, the more beta-carotene is in it. Your child's body will convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, which strengthens his immune system. Additionally, peaches contain quite a bit of dietary fiber, which is successful in treating bouts of constipation.
- Wheat germ is packed with protein, vitamin E, folic acid, and zinc. It's also virtually tasteless, so adding it into the mixture is always a good way to "hide" nutritional ingredients.
- Yogurt is a great way to introduce good bacteria into your baby's diet. Make sure you use a natural yogurt that doesn't contain any thickeners, or artificial sweeteners. Aside from having calcium to build strong bones, yogurt may also be fortified with vitamin D. (2) If you do not wish to introduce cow's dairy into your baby's diet, many other alternatives are available such as goat yogurt or coconut yogurt.
Avocado and Black Bean Mash
We adore this recipe because not only is it the perfect nutritional food for baby, it can also be served chunkier for older kids and parents as a delicious snack on top of a whole wheat tortilla, or a baked potato. Additionally, it doesn't need to "cook" so it's a great instant meal -- so keep the ingredients on hand, in case you are running low on time. (Which never happens to moms, right?)
- 1 cup sodium free, organic black beans. (We prefer this kind from Jyoti Organics that comes in BPA free bags, instead of a BPA lined can)
- 1 or 2 ripe avocados
Combine black beans and avocado into the Béaba Babycook Pro large cup bowl. Add the mixing lid, and mix until chunky for adult "spread-like" consumption, and add a bit of filtered water to make into a creamy purée for baby. For another yummy option, steam some butternut squash in the Béaba Babycook Pro prior to adding black beans and avocado. Store excess in an airtight container to prevent avocado from turning brown.
What's In It?
- Black beans are a wonderful source of protein, and are very low in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fats. They are also very high in dietary fiber, and folates as well. Once again, black beans are also great for treating constipation, but should also not be fed to babies that suffered from recent bouts of diarrhea.
- Avocados: We had an entire post dedicated to the health benefits of avocados, and the healthy fats in avocados make them undeniably one of the best foods out there to feed your baby.
We collaborated with Béaba to give you one more, unique and healthy purée recipe! This recipe will leave you and your baby excited to explore more in the realms of eating solid foods. Make sure to check out our final bonus recipe:
If you're ready to begin the exciting journey of introducing puréed foods to your baby, we hope that you'll venture outside the rice cereal box and explore some different alternatives that are jam packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your growing baby will appreciate. While food should never replace breast milk or formula, (remember the mantra: "Food before one is just for fun!") there is no harm in experimenting with flavors, tastes, and textures in a healthy way, rather than a bland cereal. Who knows, maybe your baby will grow up to be the next big foodie blogger.
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Photo Credits: The Memoirs of Megan