- Babies may be allergic or sensitive to certain foods. Because of this, it is important that you only introduce one food at a time. I was careful to even change the water I steamed food in and to clean all of my appliances in between foods at first.
- When you're introducing a baby to solid foods, texture can be a huge part of their experience. To minimize their adverse reaction, make sure you get the first foods perfectly smooth, velvety, and thin.
- Certain foods absorb nitrates from the soil differently. For this reason, doctors recommend that homemade carrots and leafy greens be restricted until 12 months. This is a bit controversial, so ask your doctor and do what you feel comfortable with. We chose to use Gerber for carrots and spinach and other greens.
- Boiling fruits and veggies will cause them to lose their nutrients into the water. If you must boil them, make sure you use just a little bit of water and then puree that water with the food. When you steam a food, if the water is deep enough to touch the food, the same thing will apply.
- There are a few different theories out there on good first foods. I recommend that you do your research to find what makes the most sense to your family. For these tutorials I'm going to start with fruits and veggies then move on to proteins.
Making the food:
All steamers will come with directions on steaming certain foods. If you have trouble, there are some great Internet resources available. The basic instructions are to make sure the food in the basket is not touching the water, and steam until the veggies or fruits are tender enough to puree.
Let them cool slightly, dump them into the food processor, and puree for 1 minute. At this point, they may be too thick. I would recommend that you use the water used to steam to thin them as some of the nutrients will have dripped into it. This way you are adding back the nutrients that were lost. Other options are to use unsweetened fruit juice, water, or breastmilk. If you are making the food in batches to freeze, it is not recommended to use formula to thin the food. The proteins and nutrients in formula break down when frozen, so it will lose its nutritional value. You can use formula after you thaw the veggies or fruit to thin them. The desired consistency for babies being introduced to solids is a very smooth, runny consistency.
After the food is velvety-smooth, let it cool completely. Use a spoon to pour it into ice cube trays, and freeze overnight. When the cubes are frozen, put them into plastic zip-top food storage bags, label them with the food and the date, and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. (Again, this is debatable, so store them for as long as you feel comfortable.)When it is time to feed, grab a couple of cubes, thaw in the microwave, and enjoy! Once you have determined that your baby is not allergic to a particular food, it is okay to mix them and make yummy combinations like pear blueberry...
or mango, strawberry kiwi.
At this point, you may choose to combine foods before freezing. I found it easiest to just keep them separate, however, so I could make different combinations each meal.
Here are some helpful hints for these first foods:
- When you thaw the food, if it is too thin, it can be thickened with a little rice cereal or oatmeal.
- Save the water that you used to steam the fruits, and freeze it into ice cube trays. You have basically made your own diluted fruit juice. You can either melt these cubes to give to your baby in a sippie cup later on or use the cubes in a mesh feeder when your baby is teething as a very slightly-flavored ice cube. Some fruit juices are a natural laxative and may come in handy to have on hand.
- Lastly, do not overdo it with the perfectly smooth purees. It won't be long before your baby will be able to handle texture, so you want to keep the purees to the amount your baby would consume in just a month or so.