Although new parents have varying views about when and how to start solids, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends introducing foods beyond breastmilk or formula to your baby around 6 months of age. Once your baby begins to show interest in food and can sit up independently in a high chair, your pediatrician will likely give the OK to start healthy finger foods. These are some of the 10 best baby foods that provide the vitamins and nutrients little ones need for growth and development.
1. Cooked Carrots
Parents magazine recommends choosing a vegetable rather than a fruit for your baby’s first food. Carrots are an excellent option because their naturally sweet taste is pleasing to infants and they are packed with beta carotene, a form of vitamin A that promotes eye health. Carrots are full of fiber that makes them easy for little tummies to digest and also contain calcium, vitamin C and iron. If you’re concerned your child might choke, cook them. They’ll still be full of vitamins and flavor.
This foodie favorite is a good choice for babies because of its smooth and buttery texture. What’s more, avocados have a similar fat composition to breast milk, which can facilitate the weaning transition. The unsaturated fats in avocados promote healthy brain development for your baby.
3. Butternut Squash
Like carrots, squash is rich in beta carotene and easy for babies to digest. It’s also rarely an allergan, so parents who are worried about food sensitivities might want to start here. The vitamins and minerals in butternut squash are known to support healthy skin, hair, blood pressure and digestion.
This fruit favorite has an appealing texture and taste for babies. In addition to providing the benefits of iron, calcium and vitamins B6 and C, bananas are a rich source of potassium. This essential mineral supports the health of the muscles, bones and cardiovascular system.
Sweet, mild apricots are a valuable source of fiber, potassium, iron and beta carotene. These nutrients boost your baby’s brain, muscle and immune system development. This fruit is also full of disease-fighting antioxidants, including flavonoids that lower the risk for heart disease. Apricots control inflammation and protect eyesight.
Mashed blueberries are full of antioxidants known as flavonoids, which benefit infant brain, eye and urinary tract health. In fact, these baby blues have more antioxidants than any other fruit. Anthocyanin, the pigment that gives blueberries their brilliant color, helps fight certain forms of cancer. It’s no wonder that these berries, which also boast beta carotene and vitamin C, are often considered a so-called super food by nutritionists.
Broccoli for a baby? If you answer yes, you could bolster your child’s love of green veggies for life. Many babies prefer the taste and texture of cold broccoli, or you could mix it with a sweeter veggie or fruit. Either way, this tree-like vegetable is bursting with calcium, fiber and folate, an essential building block of healthy development.
Like broccoli, beans might not be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to baby food. But not only are lentils easy for your baby to chew and digest, they are also one of the most nutritious and affordable foods you can buy. Lentils are rich with fiber for healthy digestion and lean protein for growth.
9. Sweet Potatoes
Like carrots, sweet potatoes have a natural sweetness that appeals to an infant’s palate. It also provides them with much-needed nutrients and vitamins for healthy growth. Sweet potatoes offer your baby the benefits of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin C and iron. A 3.5-ounce serving of sweet potatoes includes 90 percent of recommended daily allowance of vitamin A for infants.
Although babies shouldn’t have cow’s milk before age 1, most doctors give yogurt the OK. It provides plenty of calcium and vitamin D for the development of healthy teeth and bones. Choose a whole-milk variety in a plain flavor with no added sugar. You can mix in a puree of any of the fruits or vegetables above for a nutritious treat. When introducing solid foods to your baby, most doctors recommend trying just one new food at a time and waiting about a week to check for an allergic reaction before adding another new item to the menu. Providing your child a variety of nutritious foods gives them a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating.