Best First Foods for Babies: Beyond Cereal

Start your little one on solids with these fruits, veggies, meats, and more

Family shopping for groceries in supermarket.
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Ready to introduce your baby to his first taste of food? While infant cereal is one of the most common first foods for babies in Western culture, it doesn't have to be your starting point.

From vitamin-charged veggies and fruits to protein-packed meats, there's a variety of first foods that can help set the stage for healthful eating. Just be sure to introduce one new food at a time, waiting at least three days in between new foods.

This will alert you to any symptoms of food allergies.

You'll want a super smooth, runny texture (dripping off the spoon) at first, so dilute whatever food you choose with breast milk or formula. As your infant becomes more experienced, you can cut back on the liquid to thicken the texture.

Is My Baby Ready for Solids?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies start out on solid foods at around 6 months of age. At this age, your baby's digestive system has likely developed the enzymes necessary for proper digestion. You'll also know your little one is ready for this exciting (yet messy) milestone when he can do the following:

  • hold his head up
  • sit well with assistance
  • no longer push food or his spoon away with his tongue (called the tongue thrust reflex)
  • shows interest in grown-up food (reaches for others people's food, dishes, or utensils)

First Fruits for Baby

The selection of first fruits is pretty diverse and includes the following yummy foods:

  • apples
  • avocados
  • apricots
  • bananas
  • mango
  • nectarines
  • papaya
  • peaches
  • pears
  • plums
  • prunes
  • pumpkin

First Vegetables for Baby

While there's no set rules, some experts recommend serving your little one veggies before fruit. The theory: Your baby will be more likely to accept them if he's never tasted the sweet stuff. Either way, don't give up if the food is rejected the first time; it can take 10 to 15 tries for your little one to accept a new food.

Consider these mild-flavored choices:

  • carrots
  • green beans
  • peas
  • squash
  • sweet potato

Preparing your own homemade fruit and vegetable baby foods isn't as difficult as you may think. With the right baby food equipment – a good blender or food processor – it really is quite simple and more cost-effective.

First Grains for Baby

Finally, if you prefer to keep to the standard, you can choose from one of these three grain cereals as a first food. Mix a small amount with some formula or breast milk for a soupy consistency. Hold off on wheat, however, which is a common allergen for many babies.

  • barley
  • oatmeal
  • rice

First Meats for Baby

You might be surprised to know that some groups also advocate some meats as a great starting point. La Leche League International suggests that iron-rich chicken is especially appropriate for breastfed babies, who need an increase of iron. Meats can be puréed to the needed consistency.

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