Move over, rice cereal. Forget about one dimensional flavors like pureed carrots or mashed banana. Instead, how about caviar? Or bone broth. And did you know babies can totally handle a little spice?
It turns out that starting with something bland, like our moms did with us, may not be the best, most nutritious way for your little one to start solids. In fact, that’s not what babies are used to at all. Breastmilk is rich and flavorful, jam-packed with nutrients, and many experts say that what you should be feeding your baby is the exact opposite of that sad, slimy looking rice cereal.
Many baby food brands now experiment with baby’s first solids and really work the gourmand angle. Nourish Baby, a new baby food subscription service in the West Village, New York, starts babies on super unique and intriguing flavor blends — we’re talking James Beard caliber food for babies, with a menu that includes Korean black rice congee with ginger, tamari and ghee. The menu is a conversation starter for sure, but founder and registered dietician, Marissa Lippert, says the reason why their ingredients are so diverse is important. Most advice parents get about weaning baby onto solid foods has been more myth than science. It turns out, babies need lots of protein, iron, complex carbs, good fats, vitamins and minerals that aren’t necessarily in the “first foods” that they so commonly get.
So to help parents navigate the flavorful world that baby’s first food could (and should) be, we’ve teamed up with Marissa from Nourish to tell you the truth about your little one’s tastebuds. Here are five major myths on baby food, busted.
1. Don’t rely on purees. Not everything has to be pureed! Mashed, chunky textures and even roasted, softer fruits and vegetables are perfectly ok to feed your babe as they’re exploring solid foods.
2. Forget rice cereal. Rice cereal actually isn’t your baby’s ideal first food! Babies are better off transitioning to solid foods with items that match the nutrient profiles of breast milk – fat, protein and cholesterol. Look to things like bone broth, egg yolk, chicken liver, ground lamb, salmon roe, avocado and ghee.
3. It actually is all fun and games. Let your babe play with his or her food! Seriously. When babies attempt to hand-feed themselves, they build dexterity and pincer grasp, and they start to self-regulate their own hunger and satiety cues – one of the most important building blocks of a healthy eater!
4. Try, try again. It may take your babe up to 20 times to like a newly introduced food. Don’t give up on those Brussels sprouts or poached wild salmon or roasted pears. Sometimes it just takes a while, and multiple tries, for infants to come around to particular foods or even spices.
5. Bring on the spice. Babies can and should eat subtle spices and flavors. If you start a baby off with a bland palate that’s what they’ll get used to and often gravitate towards. Adding subtle notes of spice and flavor components to foods is absolutely ok and will help your child build an adventurous palate! Different cultures across the global have been feeding infants their ethnic, spicier cuisines for centuries. Go ahead and experiment!
Photography by Stylish & Hip Kids Photography.