At Bright Beginnings Learning Academy our children under 2 bring their own food daily. Probably the most common question we get is “What's a good first food to send to school?” or “What do I feed my toddler?”
We most often see 3 different ways people feed their babies as they start eating their first foods.
Current pediatrician recommendations vary greatly when it comes to rice cereal. If you google ‘rice cereal first food’ you'll likely see some controversy. Some parents think it's a perfect for first. It was likely everyone over 20 years old’s first food. But now we aren't sure if rice is a good first food for developing tummies.
You know what it is, mushy baby food. Some people want to start with vegetables since fruits are so sweet. But remember, breast milk and formula are both very sweet already. Babies are growing so quickly they need sugar. Purees are probably the most common first food.
Infant led weaning.
This relatively new feeding regime is just as it sounds. When your baby reaches for food off your plate you let them have it. Whole foods like fresh fruit and veggies, chicken, and grains are all accepted with infant led weaning. Some parents are worried about choking, but babies have a tongue thrust reflex that pushes food out of their mouth. I once witnessed an 8 month old baby chowing down on romaine lettuce and let that notion of choking go.
Pediatricians have done away with avoid coming allergen foods like peanut butter or strawberries. Unless you have a family history of allergies- those foods should be avoided for a few years. So barring a history of allergies, feed your baby anything except honey.
Regardless of the method you choose remember “food before one is just for fun.” your baby is still getting all of their nutritional needs met by formula or breast milk until they are about 1 year old. This means it's typically best to have a chance to explore with food and then follow it up with a bottle until around 1 year old. This isn't to say that exploring new textures, flavors, and introducing food to infant guts isn't important. It just means you don't need to feel any pressure to meet nutritional needs with food. First foods should be fun for you too!