Baby Food Universe: Raise Adventurous Eaters with a Whole World of Flavorful Purées and Toddler Foods by Kawn Al-jabbouri, PDF, EPUB, 1592337473

April 21, 2018

Baby Food Universe: Raise Adventurous Eaters with a Whole World of Flavorful Purées and Toddler Foods by Kawn Al-jabbouri

  • Print Length: 192 Pages
  • Publisher: Fair Winds Press
  • Publication Date: October 3, 2017
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B075Y9JKTF
  • ISBN-10: 1592337473
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592337477
  • File Format: PDF, EPUB

 

 

”Preview”

BABY FOOD UNIVERSE

RAISE ADVENTUROUS EATERS WITH A WHOLE WORLD OF FLAVORFUL PURÉES AND TODDLER FOODS

KAWN AL-JABBOURI, WITH GEMMA BISCHOFF, R.D.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

1 GETTING STARTED

2 BASIC PURÉES

One-Ingredient Recipes

3 COMBO PURÉES

Two- and Three-Ingredient Recipes

4 COMPLETE MEAL PURÉES

Recipes with Three-Plus Ingredients

5 BEYOND PURÉES

Finger Food and Toddler Recipes

Acknowledgments

About the Authors

About the Photographer

Index

INTRODUCTION

HELLO, MY NAME IS KAWN, AND I AM MOM TO A BEAUTIFUL, SMALL FAMILY BASED IN DENMARK, AS WELL AS FOUNDER OF THE WEBSITE KIDS FOOD UNIVERSE. I AM VERY EXCITED TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THE EXCITING WORLD OF WEANING (INTRODUCING BABY FOOD), WHERE COLORS AND FLAVORS BURST OVER YOUR BABY’S TASTE BUDS ON A DAILY BASIS. INTRODUCING YOUR LITTLE ONE TO AMAZING TASTES AND TEXTURES AT AN EARLY AGE IS THE BEST WAY TO RAISE HEALTHY, ADVENTUROUS EATERS.

There are so many benefits of cooking your own baby food, and I am honored to guide you along this journey and share all that I have learned with my babies. Homemade baby food made from fresh foods you eat yourself is a far healthier, more nutritious choice than premade baby food. It gives you the chance to control what your baby eats while avoiding unnecessary sweeteners, food additives, and processing, which all compromise food’s nutritional value.

Real, quality food does not have a six-month shelf life, but that is not something you will have to worry about when you make the food using fresh, trustworthy ingredients. Plus, believe it or not, this is the most economical way, by far, to feed your children. It is also a great way to instill healthy eating habits in your children for life. With all these benefits, be assured that your efforts to enhance your baby’s diet and health are very wise ones, indeed.

When you first start feeding your baby food other than breast milk or formula (a stage known as weaning), you’ll feed whole foods puréed for easy eating, which is exactly what most people think of when they think “baby food.” But contrary to popular belief, puréed food does not have to be plain and distasteful. Just think of what you like to eat, and you’ll realize a lot of it is great for your baby, too. And making these purées does not have to be difficult. I started my website to show parents that making homemade baby food is a much easier process than they might think! I was a first-time mom myself once, and if I could do it, so can you!

In the beginning, I spent every one of my first child’s nap times studying nutritional facts and techniques on how to introduce solid food. For me, it was never an option to leave my son’s diet up to someone else and pick jars from a supermarket’s shelves. Over the course of my journey, I met and talked to many parents. None of the ones who make their own baby foods have ever regretted the time they spent in the kitchen (when they could have been resting) creating delicious, wholesome food for their children. While it can be hard finding the time, I love cooking, and I love to experiment with different types of food—exotic foods and superfoods—and I am on a mission to spice up the traditional bland baby-food experience with a more adventurous approach, while still following the guidelines for optimal nutrition.

Through my time, research, and kitchen experiments, I have come up with tons of easy-to-make, kid-approved recipes, and I’m thrilled to share them with you. This book is a collection of all my efforts, which, I think, will make it easier for you to discover the joy of cooking for your children. I hope you and your little one enjoy this journey just as much as my husband and I have.

ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL

The recommended age to start the weaning process is six months; please consult your child’s health care provider if you wish to start earlier than this. Babies are different, and so are their needs. Some babies have a sensitive stomach (especially if born prematurely) and, therefore, need more time before they can start weaning. You will have to wait longer before you can introduce certain foods.

This book was examined by a dietitian and follows the global recommendations for nutrition, but if your health professional’s advice conflicts with information in this book, follow her advice, as recommendations can change over time and your health professional has knowledge of any specific needs relating to your child’s health and nutrition. Please let your doctor know if you have any concerns.

GETTING STARTED

Getting ready to start solids is less time consuming if you own the right tools and plan ahead. There is no need to buy expensive, fancy kitchen gadgets; you probably already have most of what you need. Of course, online websites are a great place to look if you need something, but do not forget your friends with older babies!

COOKING UTENSILS

FOLLOWING IS A BASIC LIST OF ESSENTIAL AND OPTIONAL TOOLS TO KEEP ON HAND.

COOKING EQUIPMENT

• Paring knife and two cutting boards

• Saucepan or pot

• Steamer attachment, such as a steamer basket or a sieve, or steamer machine

• Immersion blender, food processor, or countertop blender

• Masher or just a fork

• Ovenproof baking dish

• Baby food freezer trays and single-portion containers or an ice cube tray

You might like owning these, too:

• Apple divider to core fruits like apples and pears

• Reusable pouches for meals on the go or for toddlers who like smoothies—I have made good use of reusable pouches and know many other parents who loved them as well. Search “reusable pouches” online and you will find hundreds of brands.

ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT FOR BABY

• High chair

• Feeding spoons (not made of metal to begin with, as metal spoons can hurt your baby’s gums)

• Bib

• Bowl and plate (made from nontoxic silicone)

THE BEST COOKING METHODS

HOMEMADE BABY FOOD ALWAYS TASTES BETTER WHEN YOU USE SEASONAL FRESH PRODUCE, AND IF YOU PREPARE IT THE RIGHT WAY, THERE WILL BE MINIMAL LOSS OF NUTRIENTS AND FLAVOR.

This section teaches you about the best cooking methods—steaming, roasting, and baking—to help keep your baby’s food as nutritious and tasty as possible. Eating raw fruits and veggies is thought to be the best way to retain most nutrients, but raw foods require considerably more chewing than cooked food, especially for babies, which can increase the workload on the digestive system, so it’s recommended to cook baby’s food gently until his digestive system is well developed.

COOKING AND NUTRIENT LOSS

Temperature: Most fruits and vegetables are heat sensitive, which can lead to the damage and loss of significant amounts of nutrients when they’re cooked. If you buy processed baby foods, look for those enriched or fortified—such as cereal fortified with iron—to make up for any nutritional losses during processing.

Water: Some fruits and vegetables lose nutrients, such as vitamins C and B, when exposed to water. The longer the produce is submerged in water, the more nutrients will wash out. A combination of heat and water submersion means an increased risk of nutrient loss.

DIETITIAN TIP

Cooking some vegetables actually increases the availability of certain nutrients our bodies use. Examples of this are lycopene in tomatoes and carotenoids (antioxidants) in carrots.

STEAMING

Steaming is a very gentle cooking method. It is one of the best methods for cooking baby food as it prevents nutrients from washing away in the water. Any type of steamer equipment will work, such as a steamer pot, steamer basket, a sieve, strainer, or colander.

If you use a bit too much water when steaming, you might notice the water changes color. This is because it had contact with the vegetables and some of the water-soluble nutrients have leached out. In this case, the best thing to do is use this water to thin purées or create broth to use for other meals, such as soups.

APPROXIMATE STEAMING TIMES

Vegetable

Cook Time

Asparagus

8 to 12 minutes

Broccoli florets

5 to 7 minutes

Brussels sprouts

10 to 15 minutes

Carrots, diced

5 to 7 minutes

Cauliflower florets

5 to 7 minutes

Green beans

6 to 8 minutes

Greens

5 to 10 minutes

Kale

7 to 10 minutes

Okra

6 to 10 minutes

Parsnips

8 to 10 minutes

Peas

2 to 4 minutes

Potato

10 to 20 minutes

Spinach

2 to 4 minutes

Sweet potato

8 to 12 minutes

Turnips

8 to 12 minutes

Zucchini

5 to 8 minutes

ROASTING AND BAKING

These methods are the easiest and, at the same time, some of the best ways to preserve the food’s nutrients and flavor. Be wary of roasting in oil, however, as this significantly increases the calories in your child’s meal.

BOILING

Boiling has a big disadvantage when it comes to cooking your baby’s food—nutrient loss into the cooking water. However, this can be drastically decreased by using a small amount of water that only covers the bottom of the pot. You can also take advantage of the leftover boiled water, as it contains lots of nutrients and can be used to cook pasta or rice or to add flavor to purées.

KITCHEN HYGIENE

PROPER KITCHEN HYGIENE IS A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF MAKING HOME-COOKED BABY FOOD. WHILE IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO CREATE A COMPLETELY STERILIZED OR GERM-FREE ENVIRONMENT, FOLLOWING THESE SIMPLE STEPS WILL HELP PREVENT BACTERIAL GROWTH.

1. Wash your hands with soap and water.

2. Wash kitchen utensils properly.

3. Wash all produce thoroughly.

4. Use different cutting boards for different types of food. Never cut produce and meat on the same cutting board.

5. Change kitchen towels often.

6. It is best to store the meal in the refrigerator or freezer immediately after it cools to avoid bacterial growth. (Bacteria grow fast at room temperature.) You can freeze baby food that has been refrigerated for 24 hours, but do not freeze it if it has been in the fridge for longer than that.

7. Do not reheat a meal more than once.

8. Never refreeze food that has been defrosted or reheated.

9. Leftovers from a meal should be thrown away, as food that has been in contact with saliva might be contaminated with bacteria.

PREPPING BABY FOOD

MAKING HOMEMADE BABY FOOD IS SO MUCH EASIER THAN MOST PEOPLE THINK—ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU PLAN AHEAD. BEING PREPARED HELPS MAKE COOKING NOT JUST A LOW—STRESS AFFAIR, BUT ALSO AN ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCE.

Batch cooking and prepping one to two weeks ahead will save you a lot of time and ensure a good, nutritious meal is always on hand.

1. Schedule a couple of hours in your calendar to do the cooking—maybe during your baby’s nap time.

2. Choose a few recipes and write down the ingredients.

3. Shop for all the ingredients one day in advance.

4. Prepare the ingredients by peeling, cutting, pitting, and coring everything at once.

5. Cook as instructed in the recipes. Take it one recipe at a time.

6. Blend the ingredients and leave them to cool to room temperature.

7. Pour the mixture into clean baby food containers sized for individual meals. Do not overfill the containers, as the food expands when frozen. For younger babies that are just beginning the weaning process, freeze the meal in ice cube trays.

8. Seal the containers and label them with the date and the type of purée.

9. Reheat whenever you want to serve the meal (see here for reheating methods).

These simple steps make it easy to keep a supply of healthy, delicious baby food that will last a few months in the freezer.

MASHING

When preparing your baby’s meal, make sure the cooked produce is soft and easy to blend or mash—it should cut easily when stuck with a fork or knife. Blend the food according to your baby’s ability to chew; if your baby can handle more than fluids, then try and mash the food with a fork or with a food masher, that way, you will give your little one something to chew on so they can practice the chewing motions.

BABY FOOD CAN BE KEPT IN THE FREEZER FOR THREE MONTHS; IT CAN BE KEPT FOR THREE DAYS IN THE FRIDGE.

FREEZING

Frozen baby food portions are the best way to ensure you always have nutritious meals on hand. When you cook a big batch of something and freeze it into small portions, you will be able to mix it with other vegetables you’ve prepared the same way. That way, you can mix, match, and vary the food your baby eats throughout the day, so your little one gets all the vitamins that different types of produce offer.

HOMEMADE BABY FOOD STORAGE GUIDELINES

Baby food meals can be kept frozen for three to six months. For optimal quality and nutrient retention, keep baby food cubes in the freezer no longer than three months. If you store your baby food in freezer bags, make sure the air is completely emptied from the bag so that it does not crystallize.

Keep in mind that some produce, such as pears, apples, bananas, and avocados, can change color once frozen.

DIETITIAN TIP

Submerging hot, just-cooked vegetables in cold water before puréeing is a process called “blanching and chilling.” This inactivates enzymes (proteins involved in processes that result in food browning, mushiness, and off flavors) and helps ensure a better result when storing or freezing.

INCLUDING BREAST MILK AND INFANT FORMULA IN HOMEMADE BABY FOOD

When you start making purées, you will quickly discover that certain fruits and vegetables need a little more help than others to blend smoothly. Many recipes suggest adding plain water to make blending easier. I recommend using something much more nutritious, such as breast milk, formula, or a homemade broth for savory meals because it adds flavor to your baby’s food as well as vital nutrients. Adding breast milk or formula also gives food a familiar flavor, so baby may be more tempted to try it.

USING FROZEN BREAST MILK AND FORMULA

Breast milk cannot be frozen twice. If you want to use it in a batch of food you intend to freeze, it has to be freshly expressed and only refrigerated before you use it in the recipe. Then, once mixed into your recipe, you can freeze it and defrost when required.

Most infant formula brands state they are not suitable for freezing as the formula separates in its frozen state. It is safe, it just changes texture when frozen. If you wish to add formula to your baby’s meals, do so at the very end, after you defrost the food and just before you serve it.

REHEATING METHODS

There are several ways to reheat frozen home-cooked baby food—some better than others for retaining nutrients.

THAWING

Thawing is the best way to preserve the nutritional content. Simply thaw the desired portion overnight in the refrigerator. Always use the fridge because thawing at room temperature can cause bacterial growth. It will take about twelve to twenty-four hours for a baby purée to thaw in the fridge, depending on the portion size.

STOVETOP

This is a quicker way to thaw baby food. Place the frozen baby-food cube in a saucepan and reheat it slowly over low heat while stirring until it is completely defrosted and comfortably warmed. Let it cool a bit and serve.

MICROWAVING

Healthy microwaving practices are important. Always use microwave-safe containers to reheat food, and never cover with plastic wrap unless the package states it is microwave safe. If you want to steam something in the microwave, use minimal water and ensure the food is covered well.

When you microwave a food to thaw it, be sure to stir the food after it’s heated and leave it to cool. Microwaving can leave hot spots in places and cold spots in others. The time it takes to thaw a food in the microwave varies depending on your microwave and the serving size.

LILLYPOTS

Lillypots are a unique product, specifically designed for heating baby food without compromising the nutrition. They are small easy- to-use pans, with separate compartments, that fit on top of a typical saucepan. It simply uses the heat from the simmering water below to defrost your small frozen portions of food safely and easily.

SHOPPING SMARTLY

MAKING HEARTY HOME COOKED MEALS FOR YOUR BUNDLE OF JOY ISN’T JUST HEALTHIER, IT’S LESS COSTLY IF YOU JUST KNOW HOW TO SHOP. HERE ARE SOME GREAT TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED.

SEASONAL PRODUCE

There are several benefits to buying seasonal produce: It tastes better, has a minimum loss of nutrients, and is usually less expensive. Produce that is frozen immediately after harvest retains its nutritional value, so buy fruits and veggies while in season and freeze them for later use.

CHOOSE ORGANIC

Babies eat much more food in relation to their body weight compared to adults, and, for that reason alone, it is best to introduce food that is free from harmful chemicals such as synthetic pesticides, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), synthetic hormones, artificial fertilizers, and antibiotics to provide the best nourishment for their fragile, developing brains and bodies.

There are some serious concerns about pesticides as many scientists have suggested links to a variety of long-term health problems, including hormone disruptions, cancer, and brain toxicity. Pesticides can be particularly damaging for babies’ sensitive brains and body development because children’s systems do not process toxins the same way adults do.

The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) creates the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists to show consumers which produce is highly exposed to pesticides and should, preferably, be purchased organic, and which fruits and veggies are least likely to hold pesticides.

DIRTY DOZEN (PLUS A COUPLE)

1. Strawberries

2. Grapes

3. Apples

4. Celery

5. Peaches

6. Leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and salad greens

7. Sweet bell peppers

8. Nectarines

9. Cherries

10. Blueberries

11. Cherry tomatoes

12. Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, etc.

13. Pears

14. Cucumbers

CLEAN 15

1. Onions

2. Avocados

3. Pineapples

4. Mangos

5. Asparagus

6. Sweet peas (frozen)

7. Kiwi

8. Bananas

9. Cabbage

10. Broccoli

11. Papaya

12. Eggplant

13. Cantaloupes

14. Sweet potatoes

15. Watermelon

DIETITIAN TIP

You must still scrub and wash organic fruits and vegetables well to remove any soil or dirt, which can contain harmful bacteria.

INTRODUCING SOLID FOOD

YOUR LITTLE ONE WILL GET MOST OF HER NOURISHMENT FROM BREAST MILK OR INFANT FORMULA FOR THE FIRST YEAR. INTRODUCING SOLID FOOD IS TO SUPPLEMENT THAT.

When your infant turns six months, the iron reserve your baby is born with starts to decrease. (If your baby was born prematurely, then his doctor may have prescribed an iron supplement. This shouldn’t be stopped when he begins on solids. Please follow the advice of your health care provider.) It’s at this point that breast milk and infant formula can no longer provide your baby’s developing brain and body with the energy and nutrients required, and you should, therefore, supplement his diet.

Another important reason to introduce solid food when your baby turns six months old is that postponing the introduction can make it harder for your baby to accept new foods.

IRON-RICH FOODS

• Red meats such as beef

• Chicken thighs

• Turkey meat

• Legumes

• Kale, spinach, and leafy greens

You can also mix in foods rich in vitamin C, as they help with the absorption of iron. Broccoli, red and yellow bell peppers, berries, and tomatoes are all high in vitamin C.

DIETITIAN TIP

If your baby wakes up at night and you think it is due to hunger, you can start weaning by offering just a little baby cereal as a supper before bedtime. This will keep him fuller longer than milk alone.

8 SIGNS YOUR BABY IS READY FOR SOLID FOOD

• Can hold her head up—Your baby needs to be able to maintain a steady, upright position to take her first mouthfuls.

• Can sit up supported—Not all babies can sit by themselves by the time they are ready to wean. In that case, it would be fine if your baby sits on your lap while eating. The high chair can be introduced when your baby is sitting up completely unsupported.

• Makes chewing motions and is able to move chewed food to the back of his mouth and swallow it—If all the food is ending up around his face, you may need to wait a little longer.

• Demands feedings more frequently

• Seems less satisfied after a milk feed

• Has good coordination of the eyes, hands, and mouth—She can see a food, hold it, and put it in her mouth all by herself.

• Seems interested in food you eat and tries to reach for it

• Grabs the food and feeds himself with it

There are also signs that some people mistake for being signs of readiness. These include the following:

• Chewing on fists (can also be a sign of wanting to feel safe or comforted or of teething)

• Waking up during the night when baby has previously slept through the night (very common during growth spurts)

• Wanting extra milk feeds

FIRST MOUTHFULS

The World Health Organization recommendations say you should breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby exclusively for the first six months of his life. After that, you can start introducing solid food into the diet. However, every baby is different, and some babies need solid food before then. For example, if she is not satisfied with milk supplies only; has certain health issues; is not gaining weight as she should; or shows early signs of readiness and acceptance of solid food. If you think your baby is ready for solid food before six months, ask a health professional for the green light to start.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME

It does not matter what time of day you offer the meal, but it is important that your baby is well rested and not too hungry when trying something new. Choosing the right time to introduce solid food is important for making the experience a positive one for both of you. A good time for your first try with solids is when your baby seems receptive and not cranky—after a naptime or 30 to 40 minutes before her usual feed time works well.

LIMIT DISTRACTIONS

Choose a place with limited distractions and make your baby feel comfortable. Try not to show signs of frustration, even if your baby refuses to eat the first mouthfuls. Babies tend to pick up on your feelings, and it can affect how they think and feel about the experience.

DIETITIAN TIP

Remember the saying “food before one is just for fun!” Let your baby feel the food—yes, it gets messy, but understanding first with touch and sight enables her to familiarize herself with different food colors and textures. Plus, you can take some great photos to document this milestone!

THE TRANSITION

All babies are different—and so are their reactions to solid food. It is completely normal if your baby eats only a couple spoonfuls at feedings for the first couple of weeks. Your baby needs to adjust to the idea of eating something solid and to practice the chewing and swallowing motions. Your baby might rather play, poke, and smear the food instead of eating it—that is very common! He is exploring the new textures. Your little one loves to sense the food—not just through tasting it—and should be allowed to do so as it stimulates a number of senses in so many ways. Some babies get used to the idea of solid food immediately and already eat one-quarter to one-half cup (55 to 115 g) of food from the very first feeding.

The point is that there is no right or wrong way for your little one to eat. She will tell you the amount she wants and when she has had enough by turning her head to the side or by simply closing her mouth tightly. It is important that you respect their appetite and not force-feed. Babies pushed to clean the plate or to eat one more bite tend to ignore their own body signals, which can lead to overeating and weight problems in the future. If your baby does not finish his food most of the time, scale back the portions and just add more to the plate as he eats. As long as your baby is thriving and gaining weight according to his curve, rest assured that everything is fine.

Begin by feeding solid food at one meal a day. Nurse or bottle-feed your baby before or after serving the solid food; however, be aware that if you serve a bottle before the meal, your little one might not eat much solid food. As your baby gets used to her new diet, increase the amount of food according to your baby’s appetite. Remember that teething and colds can also affect appetite. That is fine as long as her needs are met through milk feeds. When she is ready to try solids again, she will.

ALLERGENIC FOODS

SOME OF THE TOP ALLERGENIC FOODS ARE VALUABLE PARTS OF A HEALTHY DIET, AND THE NEW RECOMMENDATIONS DO ENCOURAGE PARENTS WITHOUT A FAMILY HISTORY OF FOOD ALLERGIES TO INTRODUCE THESE FOODS AT AN EARLIER AGE THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT.

Eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and gluten can be introduced as early as six months of age if you are careful—some of these foods can be choking hazards. For example, nuts should be ground or milled and peanut butter spread very thinly. Don’t give whole nuts to a child under the age of five, due to the risk of choking.

TOP EIGHT ALLERGENIC FOODS

These eight allergenic foods make up 90 percent of children’s food allergies. Unless otherwise noted, you can try introducing these foods as early as six months of age.

1. Cow’s milk: not recommended until after twelve months of age

2. Eggs: especially the egg whites; the egg yolk rarely causes allergies

3. Peanuts and peanut butter, sesame seeds, and tahini

4. Tree nuts, such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and walnuts

5. Soy

6. Wheat and gluten

7. Fish

8. Shellfish

INTRODUCING ONE INGREDIENT AT A TIME

When you introduce a new ingredient, wait four to seven days before you introduce another one. Once you are sure your baby is not allergic to a specific food, the coast is clear to include it with other ingredients you have also tested or are testing.

Children with a family history of allergies might be at higher risk of developing allergies themselves. If this is the case with your little one, it is better to wait until your baby gets older than the standard recommended age to introduce the top allergenic foods (see here). If your baby does have an allergy, do not be disheartened; most allergies are outgrown during early childhood. Your pediatrician will let you know when the time is right and safely guide you through the reintroduction to see if the allergy remains.

Myth alert! Eating nuts while pregnant or breastfeeding does not increase the risk of a child developing a nut allergy.

COW’S MILK

The recommendation to wait to introduce cow’s milk is not related to the risk of an allergic response; it is because as a main drink, cow’s milk doesn’t provide the nutrition your baby needs at a young age. However, dairy foods can be enjoyed as part of the weaning experience, such as full-fat natural or Greek yogurt, pasteurized cheeses, and whole cow’s milk used in cooking.

DIETITIAN TIP

If a child (or his immediate family) has been diagnosed with a food allergy, eczema, or asthma, there is a higher chance of that child having a peanut allergy. If you are concerned about this, speak to your child’s doctor before introducing foods containing peanuts.

ALLERGIC REACTIONS

Signs of allergic reactions can include the following:

• Nausea and vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Hives (red spots like mosquito bites)

• Flushed skin or rash

• Swelling, especially of the lips, tongue, or face

• Difficulty breathing

• Loss of consciousness

These symptoms can be serious and require immediate medical attention. If you feel your baby may have a food allergy, inform her doctor and write down all foods your baby has eaten prior to the symptoms appearing. This will help the doctor recognize any patterns.

COW’S MILK ALLERGIES AND BREASTFEEDING

If your baby is diagnosed with a cow’s milk allergy and you use infant formula, you will be prescribed a new, special formula. If your baby is breastfed, the mother will have to avoid all dairy food and switch to a milk alternative. There are many different plant and nut milks available. The most important thing to look for is a milk alternative that has been calcium enriched; otherwise, a supplement will be required for the breastfeeding mother.

As with introducing all new foods, the best practices for introducing allergenic foods are similar:

1. Introduce only one allergenic food at a time.

2. Introduce the food early in the day, so you can detect any symptoms during the child’s waking hours.

NON-ALLERGENIC REACTIONS

SOME FOODS DON’T TRIGGER ALLERGIC REACTIONS BUT CAN CAUSE DISCOMFORT DUE TO SENSITIVITY TO CERTAIN FOODS, MANIFESTING IN THE FORM OF RASHES, CONSTIPATION, OR DIARRHEA. IF YOUR BABY HAS A REACTION TO A PARTICULAR FOOD THEN IT IS BETTER TO HOLD OFF WITH THIS FOOD UNTIL HIS DIGESTIVE SYSTEM IS WELL DEVELOPED.

DIAPER RASHES

Apart from teething periods, some food types do trigger diaper rash, especially acidic foods like citrus fruits. So, if your little one has a bout of diaper rash, avoid these foods:

• Kiwi

• Tomatoes and tomato-based foods

• Citrus fruits and juices

• Watermelon

• Strawberries

• Pineapple

• Sour apples, plums, and peaches

• Grapes

CONSTIPATION

Constipation in babies can be caused by several things. First, babies who are exclusively breast-fed can undergo a phase of constipation when first being introduced to solid foods. A diet low in fiber contributes to constipation as well. This is a big part of why it is important to vary your baby’s diet.

Some other reasons can be the following:

• Diets low in fiber (as noted)

• Diets high in fiber but low in fluids

• Calcium-rich diets (yogurt, cheeses, and milk)

• Bananas, apple purée, and starchy foods such as breads, pasta, and white potatoes can also cause constipation.

If your baby is constipated, try to stimulate his bowels by “bicycling” his legs around while he lies on his back or gently massage his tummy. If older children suffer with constipation, give them more whole-grain foods to increase their fiber intake.

Foods that can help relieve constipation and act as a natural laxative include the following:

• Apples

• Apricots

• Flaxseed/flax oil

• Grapes

• Prunes, peaches, plums, and pears

• Raspberries

• Strawberries

DIARRHEA

If your baby experiences diarrhea, probiotic yogurts and starchy foods like bananas can help regulate that. During this time, make sure that he gets enough fluids (especially in hot weather).

IMPORTANT!

It is essential to watch for dehydration in babies and children who have persistent diarrhea. Keep offering their milk feeds as usual—focus on fluids rather than solids if they lose interest in eating. Don’t dilute formula, but you can offer sips of water between feeds.

If you are worried that your baby is getting dehydrated (signs include sunken eyes, a sunken soft spot on a young baby’s head, a dry mouth, fewer wet diapers, or dark yellow urine), contact the doctor. You can also consider an oral rehydration solution to help rehydrate baby (available from most pharmacies).

FOODS THAT CAN CAUSE BLOATING AND GAS

Some foods may cause gas and be a bit hard for your baby’s tiny tummy to digest. If you find that’s the case with certain foods, cut them from baby’s diet for now and reintroduce them in a couple of months. If your baby has persistently painful or extreme gassiness, consult a pediatrician, as it might be a food intolerance. Here are some foods that can cause gas and bloating:

• Artichokes

• Beans and legumes

• Bran

• Broccoli

• Brussels sprouts

• Cabbage

• Cauliflower

• Garlic

• Onions

• Prunes and plums

Sometimes, mixing spices and herbs with gas-producing foods can ease the effects of bloating or help get rid of them. For instance, ground cumin is often added to meals that contain beans and legumes, as it can help reduce indigestion.

FOODS TO AVOID IN THE FIRST YEAR

• Honey can contain bacteria that cause botulism in babies under the age of twelve months.

• Whole milk as a drink—Babies cannot get the nutrition they need from cow’s milk; breast milk or infant formula should remain the main drink until the age of one. When you introduce milk, offer whole milk, not reduced-fat milks, as your baby will need the extra calories and nutrients.

– At the age of two, slowly switch to semi-skimmed milk if your baby is eating a balanced diet and is growing well.

– Between ages one and three, your baby/toddler will need around 350 milligrams of calcium per day. This is equal to about 91/2 ounces (280 ml) of whole milk. If you also offer cheese or yogurt during the day, this also contributes to calcium intake.

– Don’t offer one-percent milk until after five years of age, as it doesn’t contain enough calories or vitamin A.

• Salt should be avoided. Babies’ kidneys do not process salt well and it can harm their kidneys.

– Between one and three years of age, your baby/toddler should consume no more than 2 grams of salt per day (or 800 mg sodium). To ensure your baby doesn’t consume too much salt, do not offer processed meats, takeout meals, chips, packet soups and sauces, or add stock cubes or bouillon to meals.

• Whole nuts should not be introduced until five years of age, as they pose a choking hazard.

• Soft/blue cheeses—Gorgonzola, Brie, Camembert, and other mold-ripened soft cheeses are best avoided for the first year, as they are usually made with unpasteurized milk.

• Liver pâté—Liver can be introduced after six months, but it is recommended that infants and young children do not have liver or liver products more than once a week for the first year, and, when they do have them, it should only be in limited amounts. Liver is very high in vitamin A, which can be harmful if eaten in excess.

• Caffeinated drinks—Tea and coffee are not suitable for babies or children. Even if you feel tempted to add tea to your baby’s milk bottle to warm the milk, do not do it as tea may prevent the absorption of iron. However, some herbal drinks, such as those containing fennel but no caffeine, can have a calming effect if your baby is having tummy aches or gas and are fine in small quantities.

• Sugar—Avoid using sugar or any artificial sweeteners. They are not nutritious and are not good for your baby. Always check food labels for these hidden sugars: white sugar, honey, glucose/maple/corn syrups, fructose, unrefined brown sugar, cane sugar, nectar, fruit juices, and smoothies. Instead, use natural sources to sweeten purées, like dates, stewed or dried figs, apricots, prunes, or mashed ripe banana. You can even sweeten purées with infant formula and breast milk, as they have a naturally sweet taste. Babies under two years of age should consume no more than 2 grams (about 1/2 teaspoon, or 3 cubes) of sugar per day.

• Certain additives—The additives E102, E104, E110, E122, E124, E129, and E211, often found in sweets such as lollipops, cakes, juice drinks, baked goods, biscuits, and some canned food and yogurts, have been linked to an increase in hyperactive behavior and should be avoided.

• Raisins—These should be avoided for the first year, and children under the age of three years should not have more than 50 grams (about 2 ounces) of raisins a week. Raisins can have an increased amount of ochratoxin, which can be carcinogenic.

CHOKING HAZARDS—ALWAYS BE PRESENT

A golden rule when serving your little one a meal is that you should ALWAYS be present during mealtime, even throughout toddlerhood. In case your child chokes, you need to be there to help. Avoid letting your little one run, walk, or lie down while eating. A further caution is to avoid giving your little one food in the car seat while you cannot supervise. Teach your baby or toddler to sit down during mealtimes—it can reduce the risks of choking.

When an infant or toddler chokes, it happens silently—even if you are next to him but on the phone, you could very easily not notice. Coughing or gagging is not a sign of choking. If your baby is choking—he won’t be able to cry or make much noise.

Choking-hazard foods include the following:

• Hot dogs and sausages—cut these into long noodle-like strips until your child is four years old. (I avoid them completely, as they aren’t very healthy—or buy the nitrite- free types.)

• Popcorn—not until three years of age

• Whole nuts or chopped nuts—not until the age of five. (Ground nuts are fine from six months on.)

• Whole grapes—cut lengthwise until your child is four years old.

• Sticky, soft foods such as peanut butter in large dollops—make sure to thin out these foods when using as a spread; it can stick to the roof of a child’s mouth and form a glob.

• Marshmallows, chewing gum, and hard candies

• Large chunks of meats and cheese—shred or cut these up. Cut meats no larger than your fingertip or slow cook them until very tender.

• Produce that is hard and solid, such as apples, carrots, and celery—either shred or cook them and cut them up. Raw apples can be given at two years old and raw carrots after the age of three.

BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL

FAMILY MEALS TOGETHER ARE A GREAT TIME TO MODEL GOOD EATING HABITS BY PUTTING PHONES, LAPTOPS, AND EVERYTHING ELSE ASIDE AND CONNECTING WITH EACH OTHER. IN FACT, KIDS WHO EAT FAMILY MEALS TOGETHER PICK UP BETTER EATING HABITS THAN THOSE WHO DO NOT SIT TOGETHER AT MEALTIMES.

If your little one sees the adults in the home eating a varied and healthy diet, they will most likely follow your lead—maybe not straight away, but eventually! Therefore, be present and eat at least one meal every day with your little one to teach the values and enjoyment of eating together at the family table.

OFFER A DIVERSITY OF FOOD

Your baby might not like the taste of cauliflower or other foods the first couple of times, but do not get discouraged. This is completely normal. Your baby needs to adjust to the new flavors he is exposed to. Keep offering the food for eight to ten weeks as part of a varied diet, and your little munchkin will eventually learn to accept and like that food. Do not force it; it can easily become a control game.

A good way to entice your little one to accept new foods is to eat that food yourself. Show him you like eating greens by saying things like, “Mmmm. This Brussels sprout is delicious!” This creates curiosity and tempts him to try it. Letting your baby eat with children the same age or older can also help him become more adventurous with foods. Weaning is a new experience, and it takes time, so do not get frustrated—it is all part of the journey.

AS LONG AS IT IS HEALTHY

Babies and toddlers eagerly strive to gain their independence, and may be insistent about which foods they want to eat. It’s great to ask your child for his input on what he wants to eat (he’ll be more than happy to eat something he chooses himself), but open-ended questions like “What do you want for breakfast?” can lead your little one to become demanding at mealtimes. Instead, try offering a couple of healthy options: “Do you want scrambled eggs or oatmeal for breakfast?” This allows your little one to satisfy his need for control while still nourishing his small, developing body.

TEXTURES

Always encourage your little one to try different textures. Once he masters thin purées and cereals, gradually thicken their consistencies by reducing the amount of liquid added. It will help your baby practice the chewing motion (also essential for speech development) so he can transition to increasingly solid food, and then table food, which is our main goal.

There are several ways to introduce solid food, but most infants go through these stages in this order:

1. Thin or runny purées the consistency of yogurt

2. Semi-liquid purées that contain some small lumps

3. Mashed foods

4. Small finger foods

In the beginning, make sure the meals don’t contain any large pieces of food. Blend ingredients well, at least until your little one masters the chewing motion and can handle bigger chunks or lumps of food. When your baby gets used to one texture, move to the next stage. We want the end result to be table food, but always offer the food according to your little one’s readiness.

TEETH FOR SOLID FOOD

THE NUMBER OF TEETH YOUR BABY HAS IS NOT A FACTOR WHEN DEALING WITH SOLID FOOD-YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED BY HOW WELL BABIES CAN CHEW SOLID FOOD USING THEIR GUMS!

Many babies are ready to eat more substantial food than just purées around seven to eight months of age and should not be stopped if they do not yet have any teeth. As long you make sure the food is soft finger food—like hard-boiled eggs, steamed carrots, or ripe fruit—they can chew on it and it will dissolve easily.

Delaying the introduction of finger foods into toddlerhood can make toddlers develop an aversion to whole pieces of food and textured food, which may make them fussier and selective toward whole foods. A one-year-old should be able to handle soft, cut-up table food regardless of the number of teeth she has. If you are still uncomfortable serving finger food by that time, I suggest consulting a health professional to guide you through moving to more solid foods or even be present when you serve the food if choking hazards are your concern.

INTRODUCING FOOD: FOUR TO SIX MONTHS

AS ALREADY NOTED, IT IS BEST TO WAIT UNTIL YOUR BABY TURNS SIX MONTHS OLD TO INTRODUCE SOLID FOODS. ONE REASON IS THAT YOUR SIX-MONTH-OLD’S IMMUNE SYSTEM WILL BE STRONGER AND MORE RESISTANT TO FOOD-BORNE INFECTIONS.

Not all food is suitable for babies that young, though, as their digestive systems cannot process certain kinds of food. Most babies younger than four to six months will also push food out of their mouths due to the tongue-thrust reflex. However, it often only takes a few spoonfuls for babies to learn to keep the food in their mouths, but a six-month-old baby will do it with more ease as she is more developed.

If your health care professional suggests introducing solid foods earlier than six months, it is important to know which foods are not suitable at that age. The following foods should be avoided for four- to five-month-old babies:

• Foods containing wheat and gluten: bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, etc.

• Eggs

• Fish and shellfish

• Meats

• Citrus fruits

• Nuts and seeds (The small pieces can irritate their delicate gut lining.)

• Liver

• Soy products (tofu, soy milk)

• Dairy foods, especially soft and unpasteurized cheeses and cow’s milk

• Honey

Take the introduction of solid foods slowly. Use simple ingredients and wait at least four days between the introductions of each food, so you can check for allergies along the way.

BABY-LED WEANING

Baby-led weaning essentially skips the traditional purée stage and immediately starts with soft finger foods that babies can handle themselves. This way, you give your baby full control of what she eats and how much she wants to eat, while experiencing food in its original form. You can find recipes that are great for baby-led weaning in chapter 5.

Parents typically start baby-led weaning around the age of six months; before then, baby simply will not have developed the necessary motor skills to feed himself. In the very early stages, baby is given steamed stick pieces of food, typically about the size of a large chip. They need to be this size so baby can easily pick them up and get them to his mouth. The softness of the finger food can vary, but, generally, you should be able to squish the pieces between your thumb and forefinger easily, much like, say, a slightly overripe avocado.

While this technique suits some babies more than others, there is no right or wrong way of introducing solid food as long as the food is healthy, varied, and age appropriate. Many parents do a mixture of both baby-led weaning and purées.

Parents can often be undecided about baby-led weaning due to the worries about choking. However, if food is prepared correctly and baby is well supervised, then the choking hazard is no greater than if your baby eats purées.

It is important to follow baby’s lead and not be too disappointed if it does not go according to plan. Weaning of all varieties is a messy, but very fun, affair and should be treated as such.

FOUR TO SIX MONTHS: GOOD FIRST FOODS FOR EARLY WEANING

Babies who are introduced to solid food at four to six months should usually be served easily digested food that is thin and puréed and ranked very low on the allergy scale. More solid, chunkier foods, like soft, cooked bits of age-appropriate foods, can be eaten by most babies at six months. Follow your baby’s lead; see what he is ready for when it comes to textures.

Babies can start food as early as four months if they no longer seem satisfied by just milk alone. If this is the case with your baby, then follow the guidance of your pediatrician for early weaning. At four months old, your baby only has a very small stomach, so he will only be able to eat small amounts of food at a time (try Baby’s First Apple Purée, Sweet Potato Purée, or Butternut Squash Purée). Milk should remain the primary source of nutrition, and your baby should be consuming around 2 to 3 ounces (60 to 90 ml) of milk per pound (455 g) in weight. (This is a guide; if your baby takes much more or less than this, please speak to your health care provider.)

When your baby starts on solid food at six months, some good first foods can be grain porridges and vegetable purées with a little meat. Fruit purées are great as snacks between meals or as toppings to breakfast cereals. You can use fruit pulp to sweeten the porridge and vary the taste, or give fruit purées as dessert after a savory meal. The content of vitamin C in fruits and vegetables makes it easier for the body to absorb iron from other foods.

Avoid using fruit purées as a main meal, though. They are usually very light and do not satisfy for as long as vegetables and proteins do. Also, fruit does not contain enough calories to support your baby’s needs—and babies tend to prefer sweet flavors over vegetable purées. Do not focus on fruits until vegetables are an established part of your baby’s diet, just in case the sweet flavors make them turn his nose up at healthier, heartier veggies.

If your baby is under six months of age, avoid serving grain porridges that contain gluten. This can, potentially, lead to a gluten intolerance. When you cook porridges, vary the grain types, and once you do introduce porridges with gluten at six months, continue varying the porridges, serving ones with and without gluten. Cornmeal, millet, rice, buckwheat and amaranth are all gluten-free options, while rye and wheat contain gluten. Oats are naturally gluten-free but are often contaminated with gluten during production, so be sure to look for a gluten-free label on the packaging. Also avoid using too much high-fiber food, like brown rice and cereals with a lot of bran, as they can cause diarrhea.

FOODS FOR FOUR+ MONTHS

Fruit

Vegetables

Cereals and Grains

Apples

Avocado*

Buckwheat

Banana*

Butternut squash

Cornmeal

Peach*

Hokkaido pumpkin

Millet

Pears*

Sweet potato

Oats

Rice (once per week)

*May be served raw if very ripe

LIMIT RICE: ALL TYPES

Rice contains inorganic arsenic, which has been linked to long-term health effects.

• Limit rice-based porridges.

• Only serve two or three servings per week, especially for infants.

• Cook rice in a large volume of water, using the ratio of 1 part rice to 6 parts water.

• Rice milk should not be given to children under the age of three years old.

MEAL PLAN FOR FOUR TO SIX MONTHS

Breakfast

• Breast milk or infant formula

• Baby cereal or cooked and puréed apple or mashed banana or mashed avocado

Lunch

• Breast milk or infant formula

Dinner

• Breast milk or infant formula

Before bed

• Millet or oat porridge made with breast or formula milk

• Breast milk or infant formula

DIETITIAN TIP

Leave oat porridge to soak overnight in the milk, and then it can just be gently warmed in the morning. You can also serve it cold if you like, which is great for the summer.

FOODS TO LIMIT OR AVOID

Certain foods, while very nutritious, should be offered only sparingly because they contain high amounts of nitrates, a chemical that occurs naturally in vegetables but may cause a rare but serious blood disorder called methemoglobinemia (a type of anemia, also known as “blue baby,” that inhibits the blood’s absorption of oxygen) in infants.

VEGETABLES HIGH IN NITRATES

It is recommended that you not feed your baby green beans, squash, spinach, beets, fennel, celery root, or carrots under the age of six months. After six months, you can feed these veggies to your baby, but spinach, beets, fennel, and celery root should still not make up more than one-tenth of a meal and should only be served a few times a month.

FISH WITH HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY

Fresh tuna and other oily fish with high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tilefish, have many nutritional benefits, but, due to environmental toxins like methylmercury, they should be limited or completely avoided for babies and toddlers under the age of three years. The content of methylmercury is easily absorbed by the body and can affect babies’ and toddlers’ brain development and nerve system.

Salmon is good for babies, but buy wild salmon rather than farmed salmon. Even frozen wild Alaskan salmon is a healthier option than salmon bred in fish farms, as wild-caught salmon contains fewer toxins and are less polluted because they live and eat in the open water of their natural environments.

APRICOTS DRIED WITH SULFUR DIOXIDE

Most dried fruits are chemically treated with sulfur dioxide to prevent spoiling and to preserve their color. It is an air pollutant and can cause severe health problems. Buy the ugly brown organic dried apricots; these are untreated and natural.

AVOID BEFORE SIX MONTHS

LIMIT TO ONE-TENTH OF A MEAL AND SERVE ONLY A FEW TIMES A MONTH

Beets

Green beans

Celery root

Carrots

Spinach

Fennel

Celery root

Squash

Spinach

Beets

Fennel

IMPORTANT PARTS OF YOUR CHILD’S DIET

CHILDREN NEED A BALANCED DIET THAT WILL HELP THEM MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT AND NORMAL DEVELOPMENT. ENCOURAGING YOUR CHILDREN TO EAT FROM THE DIFFERENT FOOD GROUPS IS A GREAT WAY TO MAKE SURE THEY GET ALL THE NOURISHMENT THEY NEED. PROTEINS, CARBOHYDRATES, AND FAT ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT TO YOUR CHILD’S DIET AS FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.

PROTEINS

Proteins are important for your little one’s growth and development. Do not just offer red meats, though; offer a variety of lean meats, like fish and skinless chicken and turkey. Also, protein does not only mean meat. You can also get it through dairy, legumes, meat alternatives (tofu/soy), eggs, and some plants.

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates provide your little one’s cells with energy and are your baby’s main source of energy. Starch is the most important part of carbohydrates, which you find in bread, dried beans and lentils, grains, pasta, potatoes, white rice and brown rice, and sweet potatoes.

DIETITIAN TIP

Take great care in ensuring all bones are removed when serving fish. Also, where possible, buy responsibly caught fish. Look for the blue Marine Stewardship Council label on packaged fish for assurance the fish comes from a certified sustainable fishery.

DAIRY

When it comes to drinking milk, stick to breast milk or formula until your little one turns one. Cow’s milk does not contain the essential nutrients your baby needs in the first year. However, it is completely fine to cook your baby’s food with cow’s milk from six months of age on. It adds a creamy, familiar flavor and calcium to porridges and provides more nutrients than water. Remember to always offer your baby the full-fat version, as she needs the calories. Do not feed low-calorie spreads, yogurts, and reduced-fat cheeses to baby.

Milk Substitutes

Plant and nut milks (soy, almond, rice, and coconut) should not be given to babies or toddlers (unless advised by a health care professional) as a substitute for drinking milk, as they do not contain anywhere near the nutrients required to grow and develop properly. These can, however, be used for cooking and in smoothies if no allergies are present.

IRON

Iron affects brain development and is also important for the blood and muscles. Anemia, which is iron deficiency, is one of the most common nutritional diseases and can cause weakness and tiredness in your infant. Great sources are oily fish, red meats, turkey and chicken thighs (dark meat), apricots, egg yolks, leafy greens, and legumes like lentils and beans.

DIETITIAN TIP

It is recommended that babies not be given soy-based formula or soy milk due to the phytoestrogen content of these milks. Phytoestrogens mimic female sex hormones, and there are concerns that exposure to phytoestrogens can affect the development of male reproductive organs in young babies.

For older children consuming a balanced diet, the amount of phytoestrogens is significantly lower in relation to their body size.

KEY FACTORS FOR RAISING VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN BABIES

If you are vegetarian or vegan and want to raise your baby using the same diet, then there are several important nutritional factors to consider. Here are a few keys for raising robust vegan or vegetarian babies:

• While breastfeeding, a vegan mom should continue to take vitamin B12 and vitamin D supplements, as she did during pregnancy.

• Then during late weaning, vegetarian and vegan children even more so need special attention paid to their iron and calcium intake.

• Also pay close attention to your baby’s energy level. Diets that rely heavily on plant-based foods tend to be much higher in fiber and lower in energy than diets that contain animal proteins, so it is essential that vegan and vegetarian babies are offered foods rich in healthy fats and plant proteins and that they consume fortified cereals (for iron and vitamin B12) as well as calcium- enriched plant milks. (Babies who are given formula milk do not require additional vitamin supplements as the formula milk is already enriched.)

FAT

Fat plays a very important role in a child’s diet and should be incorporated into meals to help fuel rapid growth—not to mention fat helps the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Breast milk and infant formula both contain lots of fat, and, for the first twelve months, these should be your baby’s primary fat source. According to pediatricians, babies and toddlers under the age of two years should get 50 percent of their total energy (calories) from a variety of fat types. As you prepare food for your baby or toddler, incorporate healthy fats into the diet. It is recommended to focus on omega-3 fats that are found in salmon, flaxseed, cold-pressed canola oil (also known as rapeseed oil), kale, and eggs.

A generous helping (about 1/2 teaspoon, or 3 g) of fat should be added to each meal that does not contain infant formula, breast milk, or meat. Do this starting with the very first home-cooked meal you prepare for your baby. You will find most of my recipes say to add a fat of choice. Here are examples of what I like to use:

• Cold-pressed canola oil (non-GMO)

• Grass-fed dairy butter (It contains more nutrients.)

• Extra-virgin olive oil

• Coconut oil

• Avocado oil (or just avocado)

• Nut butters (from six months if no allergies present themselves)

HERBS AND SPICES

Once your little one is introduced to each food separately to determine whether there are any allergies, you do not need to create a special menu for him. Just cook food that the whole family eats and set a portion aside before adding any seasonings. Most pediatricians recommend introducing spices at eight months of age, not because of allergies, but because they can cause tummy aches and heartburn.

Herbs, on the other hand, can be added to baby’s meals as early as six months.

DIETITIAN TIP

Certain oils don’t respond well when heated due to their chemical makeup. For example, extra-virgin olive oil, melted coconut oil, and avocado oil should be added to your baby’s food after it is cooked because if heated to a high temperature, they start to break down and release toxins called free radicals that can attack our body’s cells.

HERBS, SPICES, AND THEIR POSSIBLE BENEFITS

HERBS AND THEIR BENEFITS

Start introducing herbs at six months.

Basil: has antibacterial properties, calms the stomach, and helps with loss of appetite and gas

Dill: boosts digestive health; gives relief from insomnia, hiccups, and diarrhea; and has high amounts of vitamins A and C

Oregano: helps with coughs, asthma, croup, and bronchitis; also used for stomach disorders such as heartburn and bloating

Rosemary: helps with loss of appetite and digestive problems including heartburn and intestinal gas; also used for coughs

Thyme: is an appetite stimulant; helps with cough, sore throat, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, bedwetting, dyspraxia (a movement disorder in children), and parasitic worm infections

SPICES AND THEIR BENEFITS

Start introducing spices at eight months.

Cinnamon: aids digestion and is a good antioxidant; helps with muscle and stomach spasms; prevents nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, infections, colds, and loss of appetite

Cumin: effective against diarrhea and gas problems in babies and children; a pinch in gassy food like legumes will help your baby get rid of gassiness more easily; helps treat colic and bowel spasms; and is also used to increase urine flow to relieve bloating

Curry (a mixture of other ingredients): boosts bone health and protects the immune system from bacterial growth; increases our liver’s ability to remove toxins from the body

Nutmeg: helps babies sleep better and aids easy digestion; treats stomach problems like gas

SIX TO SEVEN MONTHS

AFTER THE FIRST TASTES OF SOLID FOOD, YOUR BABY WILL BE READY FOR MORE FLAVORFUL COMBINATIONS AS WELL AS THICKER CONSISTENCIES. YOUR BABY’S DIGESTIVE SYSTEM IS NOW READY FOR MORE SUBSTANTIAL AND APPETIZING FOODS.

After doing a four- to seven-day test for allergies, you can start combining more foods that your little one has not shown any reaction to, such as millet with mashed banana or cooked egg yolk or sweet potato and kale.

At six months you can now introduce the following:

• eggs

• fish

• gluten (wheat and rye)

• lean meat

• nuts (ground)

• small amounts of dairy products (cottage cheese, cheeses, and full-fat yogurt as well as other dairy products)—For children under the age of three, avoid curd and quark because they contain high amounts of protein that can be difficult for small children to digest.

MEAL PLAN FOR SIX TO SEVEN MONTHS

Breakfast

• Breast milk or infant formula

• Buckwheat porridge topped with date purée

• Fruit/vegetable purée, such as carrot and banana

Lunch

• Breast milk or infant formula

Dinner

• Savory meal such as mashed broccoli and white potato purée

• Breast milk or infant formula

Before bed

• Breast milk or infant formula

SEVEN TO NINE MONTHS

BY NOW, YOUR BABY WILL LIKELY HAVE STARTED ON A RANGE OF PURÉED AND MASHED FOODS, AND MAYBE EVEN SOME FINGER FOODS. SHE WILL BE GETTING NECESSARY FATS AND CARBOHYDRATES FROM THESE FOODS AND HER BREAST MILK OR FORMULA FEEDINGS.

Your seven- to nine-month-old baby will now need approximately four hundred calories from the food she eats each day, which should also provide the following:

• 6 grams of protein

• 200 milligrams of calcium

• 3.5 milligrams of iron

• 2 milligrams of zinc

MASHED FOOD AND FINGER BITES

Most babies are ready for soft finger foods at this age as their hand-to-eye coordination is more developed. Some babies master this earlier; follow your baby’s lead. His appetite is likely to have increased by now, and he likely eats bigger portions of solid food. Interest in self-feeding has probably grown, which is a step toward independence and eating table food—encourage this behavior. Most babies’ digestive systems are ready for spices at this age, which means you have more opportunity for adventurous cooking—and eating.

Some examples of finger foods suitable for this age are soft ripe fruits (such as melon, mango, kiwi, banana, peach, or steamed apples), cooked vegetables (such as carrot, parsnip, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper), raw but ripe avocado, bread, potato, or pasta. Read more about finger foods shown here.

MEAL PLAN FOR SEVEN TO NINE MONTHS

Breakfast

• Cereal, such as Oatmeal Porridge, with cow’s milk

• Fruit, such as mango, pear, and steamed apple, as a finger food

• Breast milk or infant formula

Lunch

• Savory course, such as Creamy Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sticks

• Breast milk or infant formula

Dessert

• Cut-up ripe figs

Dinner

• Savory meal, such as Pasta with Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes

• Breast milk or infant formula

Before bed

• Breast milk or infant formula

TEN TO TWELVE MONTHS

BY THIS AGE, MOST BABIES MASTER THE CHEWING MOTIONS AS WELL AS SELF-FEED FINGER FOODS AND CHUNKIER FOOD BITES. THEY SHOULD BE EATING THREE MEALS A DAY THAT INCLUDE A VARIETY OF MINCED AND CHOPPED FOODS.

Each meal should contain about 4 to 6 tablespoons (60 to 90 g) of these foods. They should also have a small nutritious snack between meals, as well as at least three feedings of breast milk or infant formula.

DINING WITH THE FAMILY

Most ten- to-twelve-month-old babies can eat what the rest of the family is eating, but baby’s food should be cut into small bite-size chunks. She may be enjoying a wide range of flavors and several textures at each meal, though some can be fussy eaters. Even if that’s the case, fear not—more on that later (see here).

Make sure the food you offer is suitable for self-feeding and that baby can pick it up with his tiny hands or start practicing with a spoon. Allow your child to practice as much as he wants using cutlery; this helps him use these tools properly later on. It is messy, but that is the best way to practice and learn. Slippery foods like avocado can be cut with a special cutter that forms a zigzag pattern so it gives a better grip.

Continue breastfeeding or bottle-feeding on demand or give your baby his usual milk feeds per day. For a balanced diet, a ten- to twelve-month-old baby should get at least 14 ounces (425 ml) of infant formula or breast milk and about six hundred calories each day from the foods he eats, which should also provide the following:

• 9 grams of protein

• 300 milligrams of calcium

• 5 milligrams of iron

• 3 milligrams of zinc

Babies at this age also continue to need fat, carbohydrates, and other vitamins and minerals from their diet.

MEAL PLAN FOR TEN TO TWELVE MONTHS

Breakfast

• Cereal, such as Creamy Millet Porridge with chopped banana topping

• Fruit, such as kiwi and raspberries, as finger food

• Breast milk or infant formula

Lunch

• Savory meal with finger foods, such as bread spread with Humble Egg Mash with avocado and some sliced cucumber and corn bites

Dessert

• Sautéed pears

• Water in a cup

Dinner

• Savory meal with finger foods, such as Salmon Patties with Root Vegetable Mash

Dessert

• Watermelon and blackberry bites

• Breast milk or infant formula

Before bed

• Breast milk or infant formula

DIETITIAN TIP

It is recommended that babies from six months to five years old are given vitamin D supplements (except babies receiving more than 17 ounces, or 500 ml, of infant formula per day, as this is fortified with vitamins).

TODDLERS: TWELVE MONTHS TO TWENTY-FOUR MONTHS

BY THE AGE OF TWELVE MONTHS, YOUR LITTLE ONE OFFICIALLY BECOMES A TODDLER! SHE WILL ONLY NEED ABOUT 12 OUNCES (355 ML) OF MILK A DAY NOW. THIS CAN BE VARIOUS TYPES OF MILK, SUCH AS BREAST MILK, FORMULA, COW’S MILK, GOAT’S MILK, OR SHEEP’S MILK.

As exciting as toddlerhood sounds, it also brings challenges. Toddler mealtimes differ a lot from baby mealtimes. Finger food is still a very important part of feeding, but when your toddler reaches the age of eighteen months, his hand-eye coordination will likely be developed well enough for him to spoon-feed himself carefully. Be forewarned: He might just discover those utensils also work well as a food catapult.

While your toddler’s growing mobility leads to asserting more desire for independence, this, of course, means he is much more active. One of the most challenging aspects of having a toddler is getting her to sit still, especially at mealtimes. For anyone who has never seen the personification of the phrase “ants in your pants,” look no further than your friendly toddler.

At this age, her appetite might change as well. Unlike babies, toddlers do not gain weight quite so quickly because, by now, they are very mobile and burning off lots of the energy that your wonderful food has provided!

“FUSSY EATING”

“Fussy eating” is basically a term made up especially for toddlers. While it can be frustrating to continually throw uneaten food into the trash can, it is normal for your toddler to love a certain food one week, only to refuse it the next or hurl it over his shoulder if it’s not to his satisfaction. All you can do is try again in a couple days or weeks. Your little one’s taste buds change all the time and so does his love for certain foods. Fussy eating is simply a phase most toddlers go through, typically in their second year.

Picky eating is also a way for your toddler to show independence. She might be testing how far she can push your limits of authority by controlling what comes in and out of her mouth. Try not to get all worked up if she refuses to eat. Just accept it and give her as much control as possible over her own appetite. Your job is to provide a variety of healthy foods to choose from every time. If your toddler is more likely to eat something she chooses herself, let her pick from a small selection of healthy foods that includes at least one thing she likes, instead of overwhelming her with too many choices.

Your toddler may often refuse lunch and eat nothing much at all for dinner. If that is the case, give him a healthy snack between his main meals. That way, he will have eaten something. And if he doesn’t eat the entire plateful for dinner, so be it. If allowed to do so, most toddlers are generally pretty good at regulating their food intake. Do not worry, your toddler will not starve to death if he skips a meal; he’ll generally eat just enough to meet his needs. Focus on the bigger picture and evaluate how he has eaten during the week instead of each day. If he has been eating well-balanced meals for a couple of days and has a “purple patch” of not eating, it is probably nothing to worry about. So long as he is hydrated and taking snacks, these periods often sort themselves out over time. If you are concerned about your child’s appetite or weight, please speak to his pediatrician.

However, more important than what your toddler eats is the environment she eats it in. I cannot emphasize enough about how important it is to keep stress out of mealtimes. Toddlers absorb and react to stress in a way that can affect them over their formative years and into later life. If you, the parent, place a ton of importance on—and are really stressed over—broccoli, your toddler will grow up associating broccoli with that experience, which could lead to a lifelong aversion. This scenario doesn’t just apply to traditionally “unwanted” foods like broccoli; it can be true of any food. So please, whatever you do, try not to make mealtimes a heated affair. Offer and re-offer foods. As you will discover, it is not possible to reason with a toddler (if you do find a method that works, please write to me and tell me how!). So keep it simple and look at the bigger picture when it comes to mealtimes with your toddler. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was a plate of greens eaten in one either.

I hope you and your bundle of joy enjoy the recipes in this book!

WHEN CAN I INTRODUCE…?

Following are general guidelines for when it’s okay to start introducing baby to certain foods.

Fruit

Months

Apple

4–6 months

Apricot

6–8 months

Avocado

4–6 months

Banana

4–6 months

Blueberry

6–8 months

Cherry

6–8 months

Citrus

8–12 months

Coconut

6–8 months

Cranberry

6–8 months

Fig

6–10 months

Grapes

6–10 months

Guava

6–8 months

Kiwi

8–10 months

Mango

6–8 months

Melon

8–10 months

Nectarine

4–6 months

Papaya

4–8 months

Peach

4–8 months

Pears

4–6 months

Persimmon

6–10 months

Plum

6–8 months

Pomegranate

7–8 months

Prune

6 months

Pumpkin

4–6 months

Strawberry

7–12 months

Vegetables

Months

Asparagus

6–8 months

Beans

6–12 months

Beet

7–10 months

Broccoli

6–10 months

Carrot

6–8 months

Cauliflower

6–8 months

Corn

6 months

Cucumber

8–10 months

Eggplant

8–10 months

Green beans

6 months

Kale

6–10 months

Leek

6–10 months

Onion

6–10 months

Parsnip

6–8 months

Peas

6–8 months

Peppers, bell

6–10 months

Potato, white

6–10 months

Spinach

7–12 months

Squash, butternut

4–6 months

Sweet Potato

4–6 months

Tomato

6–8 months

Turnip

6–10 months

Grains

Months

Barley

6 months

Buckwheat/kasha

4 months

Flax

8 months

Kamut

6 months

Millet

4–6 months

Oatmeal

4–6 months

Pasta

6 months

Rye

6 months

Rice

4–6 months

Quinoa

8 months

Wheat germ

8 months

Meats & Proteins

Months

Beef

6–8 months

Chicken

6–8 months

Eggs

6–12 months

Fish

6–12 months

Tofu

8 months

Turkey

6–8 months

Dairy

Months

Cheese

6 months

Cottage cheese

6 months

Cow’s milk

12 months as a drink, 6 months in food

Cream cheese

6 months

Greek yogurt

6 months, limited amounts

Quark

3 years old

Ricotta cheese

6 months

Yogurt, natural

6 months

BASIC PURÉES

ONE-INGREDIENT RECIPES

YIELD

Each recipe includes an approximate yield for how many meals it will make, and most recipes make a few. You may find you get more or less depending on how much liquid you use to reach the consistency you like and how hearty your little one’s appetite is. The recipes also tell you how long they keep in the fridge or freezer, which will help you keep nutritious meals on hand.

USING BREAST MILK AND FORMULA

For most recipes in this book, you can use a little breast milk or formula to create the consistency you want. Either will help smooth a purée and give food a little more creaminess and nutrition. It is important to remember that breast milk can only be frozen once, so if you are going to freeze a recipe after you cook it, use freshly expressed breast milk. Formula can be frozen but the texture will change; it’s best to add formula at the very end, after you defrost the food and just before you serve it.

STEAMING AND MASHING OR BLENDING

Many recipes call for steaming and mashing or blending the ingredients. It’s a good rule of thumb to steam all ingredients until they are soft and you can cut into them easily (see here).

You can also reserve the steamer water to thin the consistency of a purée when you mash or blend it while giving it a little vitamin/flavor kick. You can use a fork, food processor, blender, or other method to blend the food—there is no “one way” to do it. The goal is to make the consistency of the purée as thin or as chunky as your little eater is able to eat and enjoy.

PRODUCE

It is very important to wash all produce. Regardless of how you cook the ingredients, and even if you peel the produce, everything should be cleaned thoroughly to make sure it is hygienic and safe for little bellies. Though most recipes instruct you to peel fruits, once your baby gets used to eating lumps, start to leave peels on foods you normally eat with peels. I recommend buying organic and cleaning with a produce scrubber.

CHOOSING FATS

Many recipes call for a fat of choice. I recommend the following:

• Grass-fed dairy butter (It contains more nutrients than non-grass-fed.)

• Olive oil

• Coconut oil

• Avocado oil (or just avocado)

• Cold-pressed canola oil (non-GMO)

• Nut butters (for six months and older if no allergies present themselves)

◁ OATMEAL PORRIDGE

* * *

6 months and older

2 to 3 meals

Keeps in the fridge for 24 hours

* * *

Oats are a wholesome food high in calcium, soluble fiber, and iron—and perfect for little growing bodies. They aid digestion, can improve the immune system, and are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are also much easier to digest than rice and are one of the least likely grains to cause an allergic reaction in babies.

Not all babies can handle a coarse porridge, especially if they are under six months of age. For a smoother texture, grind the oats to a fine powder in a blender. Cow’s milk adds a sweet, creamy flavor, but you can also add infant formula for a similar flavor.

Add Simple Pear Purée or mashed banana to sweeten the porridge, or top it with applesauce or berry sauce (pictured). It is also delicious on its own with just a bit of unsalted butter.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (40 g) oats

11/2 cups (355 ml) water, milk, or formula

1 teaspoon (5 g) unsalted butter

1. MIX.

In a small or medium saucepan, stir together the oats and liquid. Break up any lumps.

2. COOK.

Heat on medium heat while stirring until it reaches a thick consistency and large bubbles form.

3. SERVE WITH BUTTER FOR YUMS!

You can also top the porridge with a fruit purée, as mentioned above.

DIETITIAN TIPS

• Overnight oats are a great way to prepare oats without cooking. Soak your oats in milk or, even better, breast milk, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, you will have a cold, hearty porridge. Gently heat the oats if you prefer; it just cooks much faster!

• Leftover oatmeal can also be spread one-half inch (1.5 cm) thick on a lined baking sheet and baked at 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4) for 20 minutes. Slice it, let cool, and you have handy snacks! Refrigerate in a sealed container for 24 to 48 hours.

CORN PORRIDGE

* * *

6 months and older

2 to 3 meals

Keeps in the fridge for 24 hours

* * *

One of the great things about corn porridge is that it ranks low on the allergy scale and is gluten free, which makes it a good first food for your little one. It satisfies and can be added to lots of purées to make them more filling.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (70 g) cornmeal

2 cups (475 ml) water, or milk

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula (optional)

1. BOIL THE CORNMEAL AND WATER.

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cornmeal and water to a boil, stirring continually.

2. SIMMER.

Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes while stirring.

3. ONCE THICK, ADD THE FAT AND BREAST MILK (IF USING).

If needed, add breast milk or formula to thin the porridge until it is the consistency of a creamy soup.

4. COOL AND SERVE.

CREAMY MILLET PORRIDGE

* * *

6 months and older

2 to 3 meals

Keeps in the fridge for 24 hours

* * *

Millet has a high protein content similar to rice and wheat that, therefore, satisfies a baby’s appetite well into the morning. It is also one of the least allergenic grains, which makes it a great first food, especially if your baby is ready for solid food before the age of six months, because it is gluten free, nutritious, easily digested, and versatile.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (100 g) millet, ground in the blender for a softer texture

11/2 cups (355 ml) water, or milk

1 teaspoon (5 g) unsalted butter

1. BOIL THE MILLET AND WATER.

Stir for about 7 minutes until it reaches a porridge-like consistency and large bubbles form.

2. ADD THE BUTTER.

Remove from the heat and add the butter.

3. COOL AND SERVE.

TIP

Top this porridge with applesauce for more flavor and added nutrients.

COZY SEMOLINA PORRIDGE

* * *

6 months and older

2 to 3 meals

Keeps in the fridge for 24 hours

* * *

The comforting texture and mild taste of semolina is easy on the stomach and, as it is made from durum wheat, it’s digested slowly, making it a great comfort food. It will help your child feel full for a long time and is a great meal to sleep on if he tends to wake up hungry in the night.

Semolina can improve kidney function and is a good source of vitamins E and B, which are essential for good immunity. It also contains minerals beneficial for the health of your baby’s bones and nervous system.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (38 g) semolina

11/2 cups (355 ml) water, or milk

1 teaspoon (5 g) unsalted butter

1. BOIL THE SEMOLINA AND WATER.

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the semolina and water to a boil while stirring continually.

2. KEEP STIRRING!

Stir for 5 to 7 minutes until it reaches a porridge-like consistency and large bubbles form.

3. ADD THE BUTTER.

Remove from the heat and add the butter.

4. COOL AND SERVE.

TIP

You can also top this porridge with applesauce or a mashed banana for more flavor and added nutrients.

HUMBLE EGG MASH

* * *

6 months and older (if no egg allergies in the family)

1 to 2 meals

Keeps in the fridge for 24 hours

* * *

Egg protein contains all the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks for hormones, skin, tissues, and more. They are considered an essential part of any diet because our bodies cannot make them on their own. Eggs, especially the yolks, are filled with essential vitamins such as vitamins D, A, E, and B12. They contain nutrients like choline and cholesterol, essential for babies’ brain development. You can also buy eggs that contain omega-3 fatty acids, depending on what the hens are fed.

If you are worried about allergies, use just the yolk, as it rarely causes any reactions—it is usually the egg whites that do that.

INGREDIENTS

1 free-range egg

1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 ml) breast milk or infant formula

1. HARD-BOIL THE EGG.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and then slowly add the egg and boil for 10 to 12 minutes.

2. COOL, PEEL.

3. MASH IT ALL.

4. COOL AND SERVE.

TIP

Add a puréed vegetable to the mash for extra nutrients.

◁ BABY’S FIRST APPLE PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

6 to 8 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Apple purée is nutritious, easy on baby’s tummy, and helps guard against constipation as it is filled with fiber. Apples rarely cause allergic reactions and make a wonderful base for many other purées. While the bulk of the apple’s nutrition is in the peel, until your little one is used to a lumpier consistency, it is safer to remove it. If you want to leave the peel on, blend the cooked apples in a food processor to ensure no large, fibrous bits of peel remain.

INGREDIENTS

6 sweet apples

1 tablespoon (15 g) fat of choice

1. PEEL, CORE, AND CHOP THE APPLES.

2. STEAM.

Place the chopped apples into a steamer pot or a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Steam or boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until soft. Add more water if the pot begins to dry out.

3. BLEND IT ALL!

Use the leftover steamer water or breast milk to thin the consistency, if desired. Or, add baby cereal to thicken the purée and make it a more satisfying meal. A food processor or blender works best here.

4. COOL AND YUM!

TIP

Add frozen apple-purée cubes to your toddler’s or baby’s hot morning porridge to help cool it quickly and add nutrients and flavor. You can also use the frozen apple cubes with other fruit or vegetables prepared the same way. Apple goes with many flavors, which means you can mix and vary the purées.

AVOCADO MASH

* * *

6 months and older

1 meal

Eat immediately

* * *

Avocado contains healthy fats and vitamins such as C, K, E, and folate, and it does not require cooking! The healthy monounsaturated fats are a great energy source for your rapidly growing baby. If that’s not enough, avocado helps with the absorption of other nutrients!

As avocado contains a lot of healthy fat, you do not need to add fat, breast milk, or infant formula to this dish. However, you can add breast milk or formula for extra softness and creaminess. Serve this in small amounts with a main meal as it is very energy dense and filling for your baby’s small stomach—which also makes it a great choice if your baby needs to gain a little weight!

INGREDIENTS

1 ripe avocado

1. SLICE THE AVOCADO. REMOVE AND DISCARD THE PIT.

2. SCOOP OUT THE FLESH.

3. MASH!

You can purée the mixture with a blender if your baby cannot handle small lumps yet.

4. SERVE AND ENJOY!

DIETITIAN TIP

Avocado is best served ripe, especially for reducing the chance of indigestion in babies. To check the ripeness of an avocado, flick off the small, round stem on top. If you see a lovely green color it is perfect (yellow means it is underripe and brown is overripe). If the avocado is not ripe, place it in a paper bag with an overripe banana. The chemical reaction between the two will ripen the avocado much faster. I’ve tried this, and it really works!

HOKKAIDO PUMPKIN PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

6 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

The easy-to-work-with Hokkaido pumpkin is creamy and naturally sweet. Its vibrant color makes it a great first food for babies. It is a real vitamin bomb, rich in calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, B, and C. It can even help with stomach, kidney, and heart problems. The skin is edible and becomes wonderfully soft when baked. I recommend buying organic Hokkaido pumpkins so you can use the whole squash with confidence.

INGREDIENTS

1 medium-size Hokkaido pumpkin (substitute acorn squash if unavailable)

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400°F (200°C, OR GAS MARK 6).

2. HALVE THE PUMPKIN. REMOVE THE SEEDS AND STRINGS.

3. BAKE.

Place both halves face down in a baking dish. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the dish. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and tender.

4. PEEL.

Note: Peeling is difficult and not necessary if you use organic pumpkin.

5. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

6. COOL AND SERVE.

TIP

Steam the Hokkaido pumpkin to retain the maximum amount of nutrients (though baking enhances color and flavor). To steam, prepare the pumpkin the same way as in step 2, but slice it into smaller parts and steam for 15 minutes, or until soft.

◁ SWEET POTATO PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

6 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Sweet potato is one of those tastes babies rarely reject. It is an excellent first food because it’s easy to digest and rarely causes any allergic reaction. It is filling, high in fiber—which helps prevent constipation—and promotes regularity for a good digestive system. It is also filled with nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium, to name a few.

INGREDIENTS

2 medium-size sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400°F (200°C, OR GAS MARK 6).

2. POKE.

With a fork, poke holes all over the sweet potatoes’ skin

3. BAKE.

Place on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the flesh turns soft and tender when pierced with a fork.

4. COOL.

5. SKIN.

You can remove the skin with your fingers or halve the sweet potato and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

6. MASH!

Add in fat and mash with a fork or immersion blender.

7. COOL AND SERVE.

DIETITIAN TIPS

• As your baby gets used to lumps, leave the skins on to increase fiber intake. Just make sure the sweet potatoes are thoroughly washed and diced into small pieces before cooking.

• Use frozen cubes of sweet potato purée in your baby’s or toddler’s hot purées, porridges, or pasta sauces to add nutrients and flavor. It will also cool the meal faster.

• Instead of baking, steam sweet potatoes to retain the maximum amount of nutrients. However, baking enhances the sweet flavor and creamy texture.

◁ BUTTERNUT SQUASH PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

6 to 8 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Butternut squash doesn’t just taste great, but is also good news for babies’ vitamin and mineral intake as it’s filled with vitamins A and C and other nutritious goodies such as beta-carotene. Baking winter squashes, like acorn squash and Hokkaido pumpkin, enhances their naturally sweet flavor.

INGREDIENTS

1 medium butternut squash

1 tablespoon (15 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400°F (200°C, OR GAS MARK 6).

2. HALVE THE SQUASH. REMOVE THE SEEDS AND PULP.

3. BAKE.

Place both halves face down in a baking dish. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the dish. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the squash is soft and tender.

4. COOL AND PEEL.

5. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

6. EAT AND LOVE!

TIP

Picking a ripe butternut squash: Visually, the squash should be beige all over—the darker, the better, with no green patches. The skin should be matte, not shiny, and free of cuts and blemishes. Feel the squash; it should feel heavy for its size. Tap it gently with your knuckles. You’ll hear a hollow sound if it’s ripe.

BROCCOLI PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

6 to 8 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

INGREDIENTS

1 head broccoli

1 teaspoon (5 g) unsalted butter

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. CHOP THE BROCCOLI.

2. STEAM.

Place the chopped broccoli into a steamer pot. Steam for 10 minutes or until you can cut through it easily with a knife.

3. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

4. COOL AND SERVE.

Serve a little and freeze the rest to mix with other vegetables to vary the flavor.

TIP

For older kids, add a little grated cheese to boost the flavor as well as add calcium, protein, and healthy fats.

DATE PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

3 to 4 small meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

INGREDIENTS

10 pitted dates

1/2 cup (120 ml) water

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. BOIL THE DATES.

Place the dates in a saucepan with the water and boil for a couple of minutes.

2. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

3. MIX A LITTLE INTO OATMEAL OR PORRIDGE.

Use only 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 g). Freeze the rest in ice cube trays.

CARROT PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

6 to 8 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Carrots also boost the immune system, improve digestion, and are rich in pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and vitamins A, C, K, and B6. Half-steamed carrots are ideal for babies to gnaw on and can be very helpful in easing the discomfort of teething. They also make a super tasty purée. Once your little one moves on to snack foods, cooked carrots are ideal snacks for between meals.

INGREDIENTS

6 large carrots

1 tablespoon (15 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. PEEL, TRIM THE ENDS, AND SLICE THE CARROTS.

2. BOIL.

Place the sliced carrots in a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Boil for 20 to 30 minutes or until you can easily cut through the carrots with a knife. Add more water to the pot if needed.

3. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

4. COOL AND ENJOY!

DIETITIAN TIPS

• Unlike other vegetables, carrots increase their nutritional value when they’re cooked. Though babies can get constipated from too much carrot—don’t let that deter you from trying them. Just be aware of changes in digestion and have some prune purée at the ready!

• Avoid using baby carrots, as they are just regular carrots cut by a machine into smaller pieces and cleaned with chlorine so the color doesn’t change during packaging.

◁ EASY-PEASY PEA PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

3 to 4 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Peas go with just about anything, and they are super healthy considering their tiny size. They are a good source of vegetable protein and calcium, vitamins A, B6, and C, and iron.

The skins can be difficult to blend completely smooth. If you run into that issue and your baby is not used to textures yet, run the blended peas through a strainer or sieve to remove the skins.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (130 g) frozen peas

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. STEAM.

Place the peas into a steamer pot. Steam for 4 to 5 minutes.

2. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

3. COOL AND SERVE.

SIMPLE PEAR PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

4 to 6 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Pears rarely cause allergic reactions, are easily digested, and rich in soluble fiber that can help prevent constipation. They are a source of vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption, so they pair well with iron-rich grains such as oatmeal.

Ingredients

6 ripe pears

1 tablespoon (15 g) fat of choice

1. PEEL, CORE, AND CHOP THE PEARS.

2. STEAM.

Place the chopped pears into a steamer pot. Steam for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add more water if the pot begins to dry out.

3. MASH!

4. COOL AND ENJOY.

MASHED POTATOES

* * *

6 months and older

2 to 3 meals

Does not freeze well

* * *

The iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and zinc in potatoes contribute to building and maintaining your baby’s bone structure and strength. Try blending them with carrots, parsnips, broccoli, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, spinach, or beef.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups (220 g) peeled and diced potato

1 teaspoon (5 g) butter

Breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. BOIL.

Place the diced potatoes over medium heat with enough water to cover. Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes (time can vary depending on the type of potato) or until soft and easily mashed with a fork. Drain the water.

2. MASH IT ALL.

When you blend potatoes, they can get a gluey consistency. Stick to mashing and use plenty of milk.

3. COOL AND SERVE.

COMBO PURÉES

TWO- AND THREE-INGREDIENT RECIPES

After doing simple purées and testing for allergies by introducing one food at a time (see here), it is time to get creative with baby food combinations! The mix-and-match concept comes in handy to ensure your baby has a varied diet and with the different nutrients produce offers. These recipes give you total control over what your little one eats, and you can make sure her nutritional needs are met by combining things like iron-rich recipes that include meat, spinach, or kale with vitamin C–containing ingredients like broccoli and red bell pepper, which maximize iron absorption.

Combining foods is really where the fun begins! Get adventurous and try combinations you normally wouldn’t think of. Just make sure the combinations are age appropriate for your little one.

◁ CREAMY AVOCADO AND BANANA PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

2 meals

Keeps in the fridge for 24 hours (The purée will brown but is still edible.)

* * *

This easy, quick, no-cook recipe is totally portable! All that’s required is to mash the ingredients with a fork—and you can do that just about anywhere. This one is an easy win. Trust me.

INGREDIENTS

1 ripe banana

1 ripe avocado

1. PEEL AND SLICE THE BANANA.

2. SLICE THE AVOCADO IN HALF.

Remove and discard the pit.

3. PEEL AND CHOP THE AVOCADO.

4. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

5. SERVE.

TIP

This is a good meal to use up a ripe banana, and it makes a great toddler smoothie if you just add some coconut water or milk and mix in some baby spinach. It’s so delicious, both of you can enjoy it!

APPLE AND PEAR PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

6 to 8 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Jarred food just does not taste this fresh and good. This combination is soft, easy to make, and filled with fiber. You can serve this light fruit purée as is or use it as a topping to add flavor and nutrients to baby’s morning porridge. Given that pears and apples very common in older kids’ diets, it makes sense to introduce them early and offer them at least a few times a week.

INGREDIENTS

4 apples

4 pears

1 tablespoon (15 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. PEEL, CORE, AND CHOP THE FRUITS.

2. STEAM.

Place the chopped apples and pears into a steamer pot. Steam for 10 minutes or until soft.

3. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

4. COOL AND SERVE.

SWEET POTATO AND PEAR PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

4 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Both sweet potatoes and pears are on the low end of the allergen scale, so this combo makes a great first food. You’d be hard pressed to find a baby who won’t get into this with some enthusiasm, and I hope it becomes one of your go-to dishes in the first stages of weaning.

INGREDIENTS

2 ripe pears

1 medium-size sweet potato

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice (coconut butter adds a delicious aromatic flavor)

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 450°F (230°C, OR GAS MARK 8).

2. PEEL, CORE, AND CHOP THE PEARS.

3. POKE.

With a fork, poke holes all over the sweet potato’s skin.

4. BAKE.

Place the sweet potato on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the flesh turns soft and tender when pierced with a fork.

5. COOL AND PEEL THE SWEET POTATO.

6. STEAM THE PEARS.

Place the chopped pears into a steamer pot. Steam for about 5 minutes or until soft.

7. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

8. COOL, ENJOY!

TIP

You can peel the sweet potato, cut it, and steam it with the pears for less work. I prefer baking, as that enhances the sweet flavor.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO

* * *

6 months and older

4 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

This super creamy and delicious baby meal is also filling and nutritious. If your experiences are anything like mine, there will be little need for washing up after this lip-smacking combo.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (100 g) arborio rice, or other risotto rice

1 cup (235 ml) Homemade Broth (shown here), or water

1 teaspoon (5 g) unsalted butter

1 cup (245 g) butternut squash purée

1. COOK THE RICE.

Cook the rice in the broth according to the package directions. Stir occasionally so it does not stick together.

2. STIR IN THE BUTTER.

3. ADD THE SQUASH PURÉE AND COMBINE.

4. COOL AND ENJOY!

BUCKWHEAT AND FIG PORRIDGE

* * *

6 months and older

2 meals

Keeps in the fridge for 24 hours

* * *

INGREDIENTS

1 dried fig, chopped

3/4 cup (175 ml) water, or milk

1/4 cup (43 g) buckwheat

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 g) fat of choice

1. BOIL.

Place the chopped fig in a saucepan with the water and boil until soft.

2. STIR IN THE BUCKWHEAT.

Keep stirring while the buckwheat and fig cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes more and continue stirring.

3. REMOVE FROM THE HEAT.

4. MIX IT ALL.

5. SERVE.

PEAR WITH RYE BREAD PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

4 to 6 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

This is a satisfying fiber-packed baby meal. The rye bread contains the highest level of bran and provides the most satiety of any bread. It improves digestion and relieves constipation as it is rich in fiber. Just be sure to look for a loaf that has only natural ingredients. Add infant formula or breast milk to the purée for a creamier flavor.

INGREDIENTS

1 slice seedless rye bread (or with seeds, but blend it well)

2 cups (475 ml) water, or milk

4 ripe pears

1 teaspoon (5 g) butter

1. SOAK THE BREAD.

Soak the rye bread in the water for 15 minutes. Break it apart with a fork.

2. PEEL, CORE, AND CHOP THE PEARS.

3. STEAM.

Place the chopped pears into a steamer pot. Steam for 5 to 7 minutes or until soft.

4. BLEND IT ALL.

Blend everything—including the boiling water—until you reached the desired consistency. A food processor or blender works best here.

5. COOL AND ENJOY!

◁ APPLE AND SWEET POTATO PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

4 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

This super delicious beginner purée—sweet and vibrant in color—is a big hit with babies. Adding some infant formula or breast milk gives it a creamier flavor that many babies like.

INGREDIENTS

2 small sweet potatoes

1 apple

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. PEEL AND CHOP THE SWEET POTATOES.

2. PEEL, CORE, AND CHOP THE APPLE.

3. STEAM.

Place the chopped sweet potatoes into a steamer pot. Steam for 5 minutes. Add the apple and continue to steam for another 5 to 10 minutes or until soft.

4. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

5. COOL AND ENJOY!

SWEET POTATO AND KALE

* * *

6 months and older

6 to 8 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Kale is known as the king of greens for a good reason—it is one of the healthiest vegetables around. Even spinach cannot compare to the number of nutrients that kale provides. To maintain the maximum amount of nutrients, it is recommended that you steam it for 5 minutes.

You can sneak any veggie your little one is refusing to eat, including bitter kale, into his diet if you mask it with sweet potato. This creamy, tasty combo is filled with nutrients and is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as iron.

INGREDIENTS

2 large kale leaves

3 small sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 450°F (230°C, OR GAS MARK 8).

2. REMOVE AND DISCARD THE KALE STEMS. CHOP.

3. STEAM.

Place the chopped kale into a steamer pot. Steam for about 5 minutes or until soft.

4. POKE.

With a fork, poke holes all over the sweet potatoes’ skin.

5. BAKE.

Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the flesh turns soft and tender when pierced with a fork.

6. COOL AND PEEL THE SWEET POTATO.

7. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

8. COOL AND SERVE.

SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

4 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Protein sources do not always have to be meat. Adding beans to your baby’s diet provides variety while ensuring she gets some needed protein. This, though, should not be one of the first purées you feed baby, as the protein in the black beans can be harder to digest than other foods.

Organic canned black beans are equally yummy, and make for a quicker option. If you use dried beans, soak them for at least 10 to 12 hours before boiling in fresh water.

Sweet potatoes are filled with vitamin A and fiber. Their creamy, sweet, natural taste is highly appealing to most babies.

INGREDIENTS

1 large sweet potato

1/2 cup (125 g) dried black beans soaked overnight in water, or (120 g) organic canned black beans

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. PEEL AND CHOP THE SWEET POTATO.

2. STEAM.

Place the chopped sweet potatoes into a steamer pot. Steam for about 15 minutes or until soft. Reserve the cooking water to use for thinning the purée, if needed.

3. BOIL THE BLACK BEANS.

If using dried, soaked beans, boil them for at least 30 minutes or until soft. Drain the beans and discard their cooking water.

4. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

5. COOL AND ENJOY!

DIETITIAN TIP

Including plant-based protein sources such as beans and lentils in your weekly diet has many health benefits. Plant proteins contain fiber and are significantly lower in fat (in particular saturated fats) and cholesterol, unlike animal protein sources. You should, however, continue to offer animal protein sources as they provide key nutrients in forms that are far more readily available to our body (for example, iron and the protein “building blocks” called amino acids).

◁ ZUCCHINI, CARROT, AND FIG PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

4 to 6 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

This summer purée bursts with flavor and color. Figs have many health benefits for infants, such as boosting the immune system, aiding digestion, and protecting the liver. They are also a good source of vitamins A, E, and K, as well as the minerals calcium, potassium, and manganese, and they are a great source of dietary fiber.

INGREDIENTS

3 ripe fresh figs

3 carrots

1/2 zucchini

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. PEEL AND CHOP THE FIGS, CARROTS, AND ZUCCHINI.

2. STEAM THE VEGETABLES.

Place the chopped zucchini and carrots into a steamer pot. Steam for about 15 minutes or until soft. You might want to add the zucchini 5 minutes after the carrots, as they cook faster.

3. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

4. COOL AND SERVE.

TIP

If your baby is eight months or older, add a pinch of cinnamon to give this purée a boost of flavor.

◁ CHICKEN AND APPLE PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

4 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

Chicken can be hard to introduce on its own, as many babies, initially, dislike the flavor. If you gradually introduce it in combinations like this, which give it a bit more of a moist texture, your little one will love it in no time.

Chicken goes equally well with fruits or vegetables, giving you endless serving possibilities. While I always recommend using organic produce when possible, I know that sometimes it is easier said than done. For chicken, though, I must insist there is a world of difference between the taste of your standard supermarket bird and a quality organic one. Some things are just worth the extra money, and you will be doing your baby so much good by choosing the tastier, cleaner option.

INGREDIENTS

1 apple

1/4 small organic boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

1/2 cup (120 ml) water

1. PEEL, CORE, AND DICE THE APPLE.

2. CHOP THE CHICKEN.

3. SAUTÉ.

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the fat and sauté the chicken breast for 5 minutes or until it is no longer pink.

4. ADD THE DICED APPLE AND WATER.

5. BOIL.

Boil for 10 minutes until everything is cooked.

6. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

7. COOL AND SERVE.

DIETITIAN TIP

The darker thigh and leg meat is richer in iron, so if your baby was born prematurely or suffers with low iron, these are good to use instead of breast or wing meat.

HOKKAIDO PUMPKIN AND MANGO PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

6 to 8 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

It’s nice to experiment with different fruits and vegetables, such as the Hokkaido pumpkin here, as they all have slightly different flavors—and who doesn’t want a baby with a well-developed palate? Hokkaido pumpkin is a great first food as its sweet, creamy taste and texture make it a favorite among babies. It is a wonderful source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, B, and C. The peel is edible and delicious once cooked.

INGREDIENTS

1 small Hokkaido pumpkin (Substitute acorn squash if unavailable.)

1 ripe mango

1 teaspoon (5 g) fat of choice

Small amount breast milk or formula, for blending (optional)

1. HALVE THE PUMPKIN. REMOVE THE SEEDS AND STRINGS AND CHOP.

2. PEEL, PIT, AND CHOP THE MANGO.

3. STEAM THE PUMPKIN.

Place the chopped pumpkin into a steamer pot. Steam for 15 minutes or until soft. Once cooled, peel it or if it’s organic leave the peel on as it is edible.

4. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

5. SERVE. DELICIOUS!

TIP

Instead of steaming the Hokkaido, you can bake it, which enhances its naturally sweet flavor. Steaming retains the maximum nutrients.

◁ ASPARAGUS, CHICKPEA, AND SWEET POTATO PURÉE

* * *

6 months and older

6 meals

Freeze for up to 3 months

* * *

This makes a protein-rich, creamy, satisfying baby meal. Asparagus adds a nutty taste, and the chickpeas create the sustenance, which is rounded out nicely with the sweetness of the sweet potato.

I have noticed that, from time to time, asparagus can cause little ones to have a little extra wind. It’s generally nothing to worry about, but make a mental note in case you notice some unwanted side effects.

INGREDIENTS

1 large sweet potato

1 handful asparagus, fresh or frozen

1 to 2 tablespoons (10 to 20 g) cooked chickpeas, or (15 to 30 g) canned organic unsalted

1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400°F (200°C, OR GAS MARK 6).

2. POKE.

With a fork, poke holes all over the sweet potato’s skin.

3. BAKE.

Place the sweet potato on a baking sheet in a baking dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the flesh turns soft and tender when pierced with a fork.

4. COOL AND PEEL THE SWEET POTATO.

5. REMOVE AND DISCARD THE WOODY ENDS OF THE ASPARAGUS.

Chop the asparagus into 1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths.

6. STEAM.

Place the chopped asparagus into a steamer pot. Steam for about 15 minutes or until soft.

7. BLEND IT ALL.

A food processor or blender works best here.

8. COOL AND ENJOY!

DIETITIAN TIP

I LOVE chickpeas! Not only are they a source of protein, but as a legume, they also contain fiber, so they are filling and nutritious. If there are chickpeas leftover after making this recipe, make Homemade Hummus Dip.

 

Cultivate adventurous eaters right from the start, when your baby begins eating solid food, with some help from Baby Food Universe. This guide is filled with instruction, timelines, recipes and more.

Starting your baby on solids is such an exciting time. But where do you begin? Are some foods better to start with than others? Is it easy to make yourself? And when can you start combining different foods to develop your baby’s palette?

Learn all of that and more with Baby Food Universe. Author and mom Kawn Al-Jabbouri, founder of the widely popular Instagram account of the same name (@babyfooduniverse) will walk you through everything you need to know for feeding your babyin the first year and beyond, including:

  • All the basics: equipment, cooking methods, how to get started
  • What foods to introduce when—including charts and timelines
  • Recipes for 1-, 2-, and 3-ingredient purées for those first months of weaning
  • Recipes for textured meals and toddler foods full of flavor (including ingredients such as healthy fats, gentle spices, and more)
  • Step-by-step photos so you can make recipes at a glance
  • Information on baby-led weaning and how to follow whatever method works best for you
  • Tips and advice fromregistered dietitianGemma Bischoff
  • Suggestions on how to overcome fussy eating and cultivate a lifetime love of new and different foods

Up, up, and away with Baby Food Universea world of flavor and fun awaits!

sth | sth

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