You want the best for your baby. That’s why you researched the right car seat, test-drove a dozen strollers, and battled it out on the breastfeeding front, sore nipples and all. Yet when it comes time for your little one to lose the all-liquid diet and start solids, moms and dads may grab a baby-faced jar without inspecting the ingredients. Even parents who whip up their own purées can make simple mistakes that short baby on valuable vitamins and nutrients. So read on for an alphabet’s worth of tips that will change the way you feed your baby — for the better!
A is for allergy Myth: Parents should avoid offering suspect foods like fish and eggs until after baby’s first birthday. Truth is, unless there’s a family history of food allergies, holding off won’t prevent allergies in your child, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Just watch closely and wait three days between introducing new foods to be sure there’s no allergic reaction.
B is for BPA If you’re freezing your homemade baby food in plastic ice-cube trays, beware of BPA, a hormone-disrupting toxin found in plastic that can leak into baby’s food, especially under extreme temps. Look for BPA-free freezer trays or choose stainless steel (naylanaturalcare.com offers both, with shipping across Canada).
C is for choking hazards Beware of foods that may pose a choking hazard (think dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter, popcorn), particularly before baby’s first birthday. Psst: Cut grapes, raisins and cherry tomatoes into quarters before serving, and never leave baby unsupervised while he’s eating.
D is for desserts Steer clear of baby desserts, which have added sugar. For example, a single jar of Gerber Spoonable Smoothie Fruit Medley contains 15 g sugar (31⁄2 teaspoons!). Offer naturally sweet pure fruit purées instead.
E is for eggs You may already know that eggs deliver protein, B vitamins, and choline, a necessary nutrient for brain development. Babies can eat egg yolks at six months, and the protein-packed white as well from their first birthdays. F-J
F is for fish Introducing fish follows the same rule as for egg yolks. Skip high-mercury seafood (such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, king mackerel) in favour of fatty fish (Atlantic salmon, canned light tuna). They’re rich in DHA, an essential fatty acid important for nerve and eye development, and infant brain growth. Bonus: New research shows that babies who start eating fish before nine months of age have a lower risk of developing eczema. (For a list of mercury-safe fish, see nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/walletcard.pdf.)
G is for garlic Bland is not better. Kick up potatoes with paprika, pears with ginger, and chicken with garlic. Herbs and spices, such as oregano, turmeric, cinnamon and vanilla, stretch baby’s taste buds and add antioxidants. Psst: Spices can start at nine to 12 months, but hold off on the hot ones.
H is for homemade Do-it-yourself baby food is easier on purse strings and the planet, and more nutritious than store-bought, which may lose nutrients in processing. Plus, you control what goes in. Steam fruits and veggies, rather than boiling, to maximize nutrients. For how-to, see Todaysparent.com/DIYbabyfood.
I is for in-season For peak flavour and nutrition, along with the lowest prices, purée in-season produce (see eattheseasons.com). Going local also cuts down your carbon footprint.
J is for juice Too much juice can lead to tooth decay and diarrhea, and dampen baby’s appetite for more nutritious foods. Offer only breastmilk, or formula if bottle-feeding, for the first six months; after that, start offering a bit of water to quench baby’s thirst. Reach for the cold-water tap, as hot water may contain contaminants. K-O
K is for kiwi Think beyond apples and bananas. You’ll expand baby’s palate and nutrient intake by offering a wider variety of fruits and veggies, including kiwi, papaya, persimmons, figs, beets and bok choy.
Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners