The Best First Foods for Babies Beyond Cereal

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

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Ready to introduce your baby to their first taste of food? While infant cereal is one of the most common first foods for babies in Western culture, it doesn't have to be your starting point. From veggies and fruits to meats, there's a variety of first foods that can help set the stage for healthful eating and enjoyment of the eating experience.

If you're using purees, you'll want a super smooth, runny texture (dripping off the spoon) at first, so dilute whatever food you choose with breast milk or formula. As your infant becomes more experienced, you can cut back on the liquid to thicken the texture. If you're using the baby-led weaning technique, you'll serve foods that are soft enough for your baby to break apart with their gums, and avoid choking hazards.

How to Determine If Your Baby Is Ready to Eat Solids

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

  • Hold his head up
  • Sit well with assistance
  • No longer push food or his spoon away with his tongue (called the tongue thrust reflex)
  • Shows interest in grown-up food (reaches for other people's food, dishes, or utensils)

First Fruits for Baby

All fruits are recommended for babies, as long as they are prepared in a developmentally appropriate way. You might want to try the following (but they are not the only fruits that are okay for babies):

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Pumpkin

First Vegetables for Baby

Your baby is trying flavors and textures for the first time, so let them have this experience without judgment. They may make faces, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying what they’re eating. It also might take several exposures to a food for a baby to accept it. Try to stay calm and non-judgmental, and continue to offer a variety of foods. Any vegetable is okay to try (and keep trying).

Preparing your own homemade fruit and vegetable baby foods isn't as difficult as you may think. With the right baby food equipment, a good blender or food processor, it really is quite simple and more cost-effective. And baby-led weaning is an option that requires no special foods or additional equipment.

First Grains for Baby

Finally, if you prefer to keep to the standard, you can choose any grain cereal as a first food. Delaying wheat is no longer recommended. Mix a small amount with some formula or breast milk for a soupy consistency.

First Meats for Baby

You might be surprised to know that some groups also advocate meats as a great starting point especially for babies who need an increase of iron. Red meats like beef or lamb are high in iron (they have more than twice the iron that chicken has). Meats can be puréed to the needed consistency or cooked until very soft if you're using baby-led weaning.

4 Sources
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By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.