By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk
Letting your baby taste some food for the first time is such a special moment. To see the reaction on their cute little faces as they try to figure out what just happened is pure entertainment! I remember watching my own boy grabbing his pear and sweet potato sticks and chewing away on it with his bare gums.
So then comes the question too – what should I feed my baby?
In this context it’s important to mention that the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 5-6 months and supplemental breastfeeding (nursing as well as other foods) until 23 months.
What foods should I feed my toddler?
For the first few months of introducing foods it’s all about letting the baby explore and experience some new flavors, textures and even mild spices. I love the Baby Led Weaning approach where you just present your little one with easy-to-hold foods and let them pick and eat it themselves, rather than having to make our buy special baby food and purees. Because the main bulk of baby’s nutrients still comes from the milk at this point, you don’t have to worry so much about making sure they eat enough or the ‘right’ foods.
I also truly believe that babies are intuitive and know what their bodies need. If my son prefers to just eat sweet potato one day, and then turn only to chicken the next, I just go with it. In fact, younger toddlers tend to want, and need, more protein and then once they get a little older they often turn to more carbohydrates.
After you’ve made sure there are no food allergies and your baby is eating pretty much anything (usually after their first birthday) go ahead and give them the same food you’re eating. There’s no need to cook multiple dinners as long as you focus on real, whole, nutrient dense foods.
Here are some of my son’s favorite breakfasts:
- Scrambled eggs (make sure to get pastured eggs)
- Bacon (organic bacon that is…)
- Sourdough rye toast with grass-fed butter
- Coconut butter
- Oatmeal or other porridge with lots of butter, coconut oil and applesauce
- Coconut yogurt
- Sweet plantains cooked in coconut oil
And lunch and/or dinner:
- Turkey burgers
- Baked sweet potato fries
- Roast chicken
- Sweet Italian Chicken or Turkey Sausage
- Lentil pasta
- Wild salmon (he LOVES salmon!)
- Roasted winter squash
- Roasted root vegetables (I roast mine in coconut oil!)
- Steak (grass-fed and cooked in butter or on the grill)
- Ground beef with onion
- Meatballs (he loves these from Elanaspantry.com)
What about those cereal O’s, drinkable yogurt snacks & apple juice boxes?
Many of the foods that are marketed as kid friendly or even marketed directly to kids are full of sugar, highly processed and lacking in nutrients.
Cereal is not a healthful choice as it’s highly processed, contains barely any nutrients and, let’s face it, is often used purely as a distraction. It also contains gluten, which we know can cause gut issues, food sensitivities and even behavioral issues in some kids. Instead, offer them some real food like a piece of fruit. And, if you’re on the go and want some mess-free snacks, try some freeze dried fruit snacks.
Drinkable yogurts and fruit flavored yogurts of all kinds are everywhere. They contain lots of sugar and are generally highly processed, especially if it’s a low-fat yogurt. Instead, if you want to give your child yogurt, try plain whole milk yogurt (organic or grass-fed whenever you can) and add some fresh fruit or applesauce to it. My son loves the unsweetened coconut yogurt I buy for him and it’s an easy way to make sure he eats some fermented foods with good-for-him probiotics.
If nuts is not an issue for your little one, you can even try some homemade nut milks.
What are great snacks on the go?
Those small baby bellies fill up fast, so they do tend to get hungry more often than us. Smoothies are easy to make and generally very popular amongst kids. The best part is that you can sneak in some good food with all the fruit and they won’t even know it. Baked sweet potato fries are so easy to make and perfect snack foods to bring a long. Hard-boiled eggs and fruit are other simple, easy ideas.