50 Healthy First Foods – Hassle-free, healthy ideas for baby’s journey into real food

Finger Food Babies Honeydew

It’s such an adventure to figure out what to feed a baby sometimes; but the older the baby gets, the more the kitchen and pantry options seem to expand. I find it so much fun to experiment with new foods and recipes. Many of the foods in this list, Raquel has been eating since she was 8 months old. So here it is… the list of 50 healthy, simple, first foods!

Once you’ve graduated to more food combining, check out some of my toddler-friendly recipes (some teeth help) or if you’re just beginning to give your baby real food, check out my earlier posts on how we started Raquel on food, using a “no-puree” method sometimes called baby-led weaning. <– The name is dumb. It could also be called “eating food.”  

Finger Food Babies Honeydew
Raquel at about 6 months old, eating honeydew.

Here’s a picture of us last summer, with her eating (more like sipping and gumming, at that stage) some fresh honeydew.

50 Healthy Baby Foods for the First Year:

  1. Honeydew
  2. Hummous
  3. Watermelon
  4. Avocado (a good very first food)
  5. Cheese
  6. Mango (In the winter we use the frozen, already chopped. Blanche and Dice.)
  7. Green peas (First Food) (Blanche, steam, or boil)
  8. Halved Grapes
  9. Hearts of Palm (Dice) 
  10. Artichoke hearts (From Jar. Dice, hearts only, with olive oil)
  11. Brown rice (Well cooked – 2 to 1 water to rice or 45 – 50 min.)
  12. White rice (but brown rice is healthier, for the record.) 
  13. Raisins (7+ mos.) 
  14. Puffed wheat/rice cakes (7+ mos.) 
  15. Almond butter on toast (7+ mos.) 
  16. Israeli cous cous (7+ mos.) 
  17. Pear (Soft, Diced)
  18. Broccoli (Well steamed or boiled til mushy)
  19. Banana (First Food) 
  20. Spaghetti with pesto, olive oil, cheese sauce or tomato sauce  
  21. Rotini, same as above .
  22. Soba noodles 
  23. Rice noodles
  24. Cottage cheese 
  25. Pita and cream cheese (7+ mos.) 
  26. Scrambled/Chopped egg (7+ mos.) 
  27. Sweet Potato 
  28. Green Beans (Pre-cut, frozen – blanche, steam or boil)
  29. Carrots (Blanche, steam or boil)
  30. Bluberries (Organic is best for thin-skinned fruits) 
  31. Chicken pieces
  32. Fish pieces
  33. Steamed Squash (Diced.) 
  34. Strawberries (Diced.) 
  35. Clementine/tangerine pieces (7+ mos. Diced and Deveined.) 
  36. Yoghurt (Also great as dressing or dip) 
  37. Cheese Curds (big hit) 
  38. Papaya (Diced) 
  39. Plum (Skinless, Diced.) 
  40. Apricot (Diced) 
  41. Asparagus tops (Blanched, Boiled, or Steamed until ‘gummable’.) 
  42. Beets (Boiled til soft) 
  43. Cauliflower (Boiled or Steamed until soft) 
  44. Zucchini 
  45. Spinach (Blanched or steamed. Chopped.) 
  46. Tofu (Raw. Mashed or Cubed) 
  47. Black beans (slightly mashed) 
  48. Kidney beans (slightly mashed) 
  49. Mashed Potato
  50. Turkey! With cranberry sauce! — Ok, this one might take a little work ; ) 
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5 BBQ ideas for babies and toddlers

Can babies eat BBQ? The short answer is yes. (Yay!)

My concern was about carcinogens found in charred meat, but the solution to that is pretty simple. Don’t give your little one any food with black bits on it. But those parts generally accompany the tough parts of food anyway. Baby BBQing is all about keeping foods soft and juicy. For achieving this, we use foil and ‘slow and low’ heat to make sure food is cooked-through and not dried out on the grill.

Extra-precautions: Use FOIL to cook food that’s being BBQ’d for baby – especially on a less-that-super-clean BBQ (hey, it happens) safe away from char, dirt and grunge, BBQ brush wires or other stray objects.

Some starter ideas:

  • Super checked, double-checked, 100% boneless/deboned white fish or salmon pieces (cooked in foil with a little butter or olive oil and dill or light seasoning).
  • Portabello mushrooms in foil (cooked until juicy and soft)

If your BBQ is clean and you trust the surface doesn’t contain any hazards, here are some other no-foil ideas we’re trying out this season:

  • Grilled Fruit (Pineapple, apple, pear, banana, kiwi) Cook on a skewer or tray and then de-skewer (obviously) , cool, and dice up. *If you haven’t tried grilled fruit, you will love it! It gets caramelized and sweet and juicy.
  • Blueberry-stuffed peaches (OMG. baby food? Mommy Food!) Here’s a recipe (drop the sugar though, not necessary at all)
  • Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers with Spinach (How awesome do these sound?!)

And a little more labor intensive and ambitious, but SUPER healthy:

  • Sunshine Burgers “Raw or Cooked” *Substitute the celery and carrot in this recipe for cooked/soft green peas and green beans *the recipe is about half way down the page. What I was looking for was a burger recipe that is fine even if it doesn’t cook through and through, so that you don’t need to char it or overcook it. These burgers are fine even they are basically raw inside, because the ingredients are cooked brown rice, ground flax, and ground sunflower seeds. For a less labor intensive meatless burger, any of the “just add water” quinoa variety are worth trying, or pre-packaged sunshine burger mix!

And then last of all, below is a picture from about 5 or 6 months ago (which would make RZ about 9 months old) trying out her first fried chicken…. not the healthiest option, but she sure loved it! We’ll be experimenting with BBQ chicken, but probably will shred it! Also, leftover BBQ chicken is good for a BBQ chicken pizza the next night ; )

Diggin' a drumbstick with Daddy
Diggin’ a drumbstick with Daddy

 

 

 

She eats everything….

I wouldn’t have guessed my 10 month old would be eating these things, but she has a mind (and flavour palette) all of her own. And growing up in our house, there will be no shortage of interesting things for her to try. Here’s a few of her oddest choices:

1. Pickled burdock root.

We get it from Sanko (Japanese food store in Toronto) and she gnaws on it like it was licorice. She doesn’t bite into it or swallow, but for gumming it has been her favorite teething food. Bizarre! (The vinegar level is probably higher than recommended, but burdock itself is a reputed calming herb, and she had no bad reaction)

yamagobo

2. Hummus.

I’m not a huge hummus fan myself but I wanted to try something with veggie protein since I don’t cook with many beans or lentils. Lo and behold, she loves it. Particularly with pita and cheese.

Hummus

3. Jambalaya. She went nuts for this clam-juice and tomato soaked rice. (I left out the meats for her portion.)

creole jambalaya

4. Cranberry sauce It was her favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. She loved the turkey quite a lot too.

cranberry sauce

5. Mango. This might not sound strange, but my kid isn’t a fan of apples really, or bananas, or strawberries. Her pick is mango. Eats it for breakfast 7 days a week. Funny little monkey. I buy the Europe’s best frozen mango, blanche it, and cut it up small.

mango

The best baby shower activity

Pinterest, Baby Shower, Activity, Onesies, Decorating, Baby Game, DIY Pinterest
Pinterest, Baby Shower, Activity, Onesies, Decorating, Baby Game, DIY Pinterest

I was lucky enough to not have other people decide my shower games for me, so there was no eating chocolate bars out of a diaper or guess how fat the mom-to-be is… no, it was quite civilized, and the shower activity that we agreed on was SO ADORABLE!

What we did was design onesies using cutouts of flannel fabric, fabric adhesive, and stencils. They results were fantastic and left me with a few dozen very unique baby outfits for my daughter.

The only labor intensive part was washing all the flannel first and then sticking it to the adhesive squares — this part my mom and I did before the shower. Then your shower guests just have to choose a square of material that already has adhesive on it, so all they have to do is cut the shape they want then peel off the backing and stick it on — voila!

Everyone who made one had a great time doing it. We just had a sort of craft table set up so people could do it if they liked, or skip it if they didn’t. It was really, really fun, and as you can see, the results were surprisingly … wearable!

One of a kind onesies beat any baby shower game!

They wanted to induce me… I said no.

9 months pregnant, belly

It’s strange to look back on pregnancy now. It seems like a distant dream even though it was less than 2 months ago.

As with most labor stories, mine was not without a little bit of drama.

I was 8 days late, my amniotic fluid had been pronounced “low” and the OB was basically ordering me to be induced. I told the doctor I wouldn’t do it, and he was not pleased! But I had done my research and I knew that Low Amniotic Fluid scenarios are over-diagnosed and imprecise. I just KNEW my baby was fine and it made no sense to me that my body would be running out of fluid. That being said, I was not going to let it go beyond 48 hours, and my midwives agreed. Monday was the cut-off for a natural labor.

As much as I was glad I had gone with my own instincts, the doctor HAD scared the crap out of me and I was desperate. My husband and I both were pretty freaked out. If nothing happened by Monday I would get induced.

The next day, Sunday, my hubby thought I should try castor oil, the age-old trick for getting labor going. As he put it, “sitting around doing nothing isn’t getting us anywhere.” I found that quite amusing.

We had tried walking, sex, hot wings, and every other thing they say will make babies come. But nothing had worked. And it was getting frustrating. I thought I would be pregnant forever. And for some reason, taking castor oil just seemed like a waste of time. But I had to give it a shot. So out came the shot glass!

With dread (it has s reputation for being more than a little unpleasant), I took the first dose in the early afternoon. Jason came home with a beautiful present for me some time around 4 (some women get a ‘push’ gift, I got a ‘thanks for trying this nasty castor oil stuff’ gift) and AMAZINGLLLLLY, by dinner time I was in labor!!!

They were regular, kinda painful contractions, three minutes apart.

Were they real?! I was still in disbelief for some reason. I thought it was a false alarm or just cramping from the castor oil. But they stayed, and got worse! Hurray!

The midwives came over at 8 and watched me closely to see how much pain I was in. This was how they could tell how far along I was.

As the night progressed they hurt more and more. We played scrabble and I had a contraction every time it was my turn! Jason and I were sharing letters so he took the turns… The midwives said we should head to the hospital around midnight, so that’s what we did. They thought I would have the baby by 3 am. Boy were they wrong…

The drive to the hospital… was slow.

My husband had to drive snail pace because every bump on the road was like torture. Contractions! Ouch! We arrived at around midnight.

Once we were there it got pretty intense. Lots of pacing, a little puking, and zero sleep. At 3 am the midwives broke my water to speed things along but instead it slowed things down. My contractions had become incredibly painful and long but they were becoming less effective. Who knows why…. I guess stuff like that just happens.

They could feel the baby’s head. But I was stuck at 7 cm dilation. That’s when the midwives recommended I get Pitocin to speed things up. They called it “augmenting” — and by the time they recommended that I was about ready to throw in the towel with the whole ‘natural’ thing. To be fair, I think i would have continued with au natural if things hadn’t slowed. It was quite discouraging. After getting through 12 hours of natural labor, you kind of want to cross the finish line that way.

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With them recommending IV fluids and Pitocin I figured I might as well get some pain relief…. and it was the best decision I could have ever made….epidural here I come!

Sweet Jesus it was the best feeling ever to not feel those contractions anymore. And as for the needle… they could have put it in my eyeball at that point. I really didn’t care. I just. Wanted. Relief. So yeah, I caved!! But only because they were cramping my style with the augmentation stuff (it meant I had to stay in bed… which made the pain a lot worse than when I was walking around.)

From 6 am to noon I lay in bed blissfully dilating from 7 to 8 to 9 to (ding!) 10 cm. The nurse came in and told me it was time to push but I couldn’t feel my legs or butt or any contractions at all, so I had to wait until the epidural was lowered. At around 1 pm I started the pushing. Legs up to my ears and seventeen people (it seemed) standing around my mostly numb lower half. My husband was on my right side, pushing along with me and I found that so helpful and comforting! There was none of that swearing and punching and squeezing his hand til the bones broke… I loved him the whole way through.

At 2:45 she was born. The sensation of having a human slide out of you … unbelieeeevably surreal.

She didn’t even cry, she just coughed a bit, looked around, and cozied into my chest as I held her for the first time. She was so beautifully perfect… alert… and calm. She looked at her dad, looked at me, and seemed quite happy with life on the outside.

10 weeks later, she’s still that perfect, alert, and calm little baby. She knows exactly what she wants, and we try our best to give it to her. The entire experience continues to be life altering in the most wonderful, beautiful way!

What this lamb (and some smart midwives) taught me about breastfeeding

I’ve been fortunate in the breastfeeding department. I know that it doesn’t work perfectly al the time so I wanted to at least jot down a few of the things that helped me in getting it right…

1. the hamburger hold
There’s lots of discussion about how to hold the baby but not much about how to hold a boob. What really helped me was the advice I got from my midwife, to squish my breast so that it’s wide like a hamburger instead of round like a grapefruit.

Baby’s mouth is small and this helps them latch more fully.

2. the overtired bluff

I noticed early on that my daughter would think she was hungry when she was actually overtired. When I fed her, she’d actually cry at the ending of nursing, which made me think that I wasn’t producing enough milk, but I was.  What I figured out was that she was saying “that’s enough food, I’m too tired”

3. The open up and say ahh

This was another gem from the midwives. As babies learn to suckle they need their moms to be smart about helping them latch properly. If you just stick a boob in their mouth it could be an ineffective and probably painful attempt. What you want to do is offer the nipple to them just above their upper lip, almost to the nose so that they have to open their mouths sort of upward, toward it, to get it in their mouth.

Basically it helps them open wide instinctually, then you get them sucking in that millisecond second before they close their mouths.**Midwives say always bring baby to boob not boob to baby! Do this by cradling baby’s head in your hands, so you can move her toward you easily.

4. The lamb principle – give it time, trust the process.

In the Spring my husband and I had the pleasure of meeting a brand new baby lamb, seconds after it was born. We watched as it tried to stand, fell, tried again, and then did the same thing again with suckling. The whole process took a while, and I’ve thought about that moment a lot.

We presume that nursing a baby should be an instantaneous thing, but even in nature it takes a while for everyone to figure out what they have to do.

I think trusting in that process makes a big difference in that first 24 hours, with your baby’s first attempts, and then the entire first week, as your milk comes in and things change again. It all takes patience, but more than that — it takes trust, in yourself and in your baby.

5. Last but not least… drink a LOT of water before and during nursing!

How to make homemade baby wipes

I’m EXCITED to start making things at home, especially when there are stories everywhere about big companies putting sh*tty, dangerous ingredients in baby products, including wipes (I’m looking at you HUGGIES).

Below is my favorite recipe, mostly because of the apricot oil and castile soap, but my instinct is to substitute chamomile instead of tea tree. This is just personal preference because my skin has always reacted so poorly to tea tree.

So the basic idea is to take a roll of paper towel and cut it in half, then remove the cardboard core. What’s left is a tube that you can pull from, through a narrow plastic top opening (like the typical baby wipe container or even more like the household wipes style tube container.) Once you’ve got your half roll and your container, you just poor on the solution and then let it soak in. VOILA!

Homemade Natural Baby Wipe Solution

• 1 tablespoon almond or apricot oil

• 1 tablespoon Dr Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap (comes in several natural scents)

• 2 drops tea tree essential oil (an antibacterial agent)

• 1 drop lavender essential oil

• 1 cup water

Thanks go to My Organic Baby http://www.my-organic-baby.net/organic-baby-wipes.html

The baby wash and baby oil method is also popular, and the instructions are good on these:

http://babyparenting.about.com/cs/diapering/ht/wipes.htm

How To Make Your Own Homemade Baby Wipes