When starting solids, a question I am often asked is “What foods should I offer to make sure my baby gets what they need to grow?”
Here is a quick guide for building balanced and nutrient-dense meals for your baby that will help support proper growth & development AND also help expose them to a variety of flavors & textures!
1. Iron-Rich Foods
At 6 months old babies have a huge jump in their iron needs (from 0.27mg to 11mg). Learning to eat iron-rich foods at this age can help maintain adequate iron levels throughout life. Iron can come from both animal and plant sources! Read more about iron here >>
2. Vitamin C Rich Foods
Vitamin C helps our bodies use iron – especially plant iron! Consuming plant iron with vitamin c rich foods can increase absorption by 4-6x. Vitamin C is also important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Some examples of these would be mango, kiwi, bell pepper, strawberries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, tomato, and tomato-based products.
3. High Calorie/ Energy Dense Foods
For this group, think whole-grain foods (toast*, brown rice, quinoa, pasta*, etc) and healthy fats (avocado, cooking with oils, full-fat yogurt*, coconut, nut butter*, chia seeds, ground flax, etc)! During the first year of life, babies are in a state of growth and energy-dense foods help to support that. Fat, in particular, is especially important for promoting healthy brain development. 🧠 Read more about fat here >>
As adults, it is our job to serve the food but it is our job to let our children eat what they want from what we offer. It is okay if your baby only ends up eating one of the foods you offer! “Balance” isn’t achieved all at once – but over the course of several meals.
Follow your baby’s cues while eating and allow them to eat as much as they want from what you have offered until they feel full! Honoring their hunger and fullness cues from the beginning sets a solid foundation for feeding the rest of their life. This is called Responsive Feeding. Learn more about following your baby’s hunger and fullness cues here >>
*These foods are on the list of TOP ALLERGENS. Consult your pediatrician before beginning to introduce allergens.