by Molly Rouse
I totally understand the convenience of these foods, however, they are not the most ideal foods for babies to start with. The type of iron used in fortified cereals is harder to digest than the iron naturally found in foods, and processed fruits and vegetables in jars have lost a lot of their nutrients compared to the freshly prepared organic variety made with a caregiver's love.
Here are the foods I recommend for nutrient-packed additions to breastmilk or formula as baby learns to eat food. Most are quick to prepare, and can be made in batches.
1. Egg Yolk
To prepare: boil an egg in water for 3 minutes, cool, peel, discard the white (which can cause allergic reaction in some babies, but is excellent nutrition for adults if you don't want to waste it!), and mash the yolk. It should be soft, but not runny. You can add a pinch of unrefined sea salt, if you'd like. Salt provides sodium (activates an enzyme that aids neurological development) and chloride (aids in the digestion of meats)
2. Sweet Potato
To prepare: wash and peel sweet potatoes, slice in 1/2 inch rounds and steam. If you want to mash them, steam for 30 minutes, then check consistency. If you want to cut in small chunks that baby can pick up and eat, check after 10 minutes, cook until desired softness.
3. Healthy Fats
To prepare - add a bit of any of these oils to the other foods on this list, or simply give baby a small spoonful daily. Do not heat olive oil as the structure of the oil changes and health benefits decrease.
To prepare: cut up avocado into small chunks for baby to practice pincer grasp, or mash up to eat with spoon. Add a pinch of unrefined salt if you wish!
5. Rice Congee/Cereal
To prepare - Option 1: Heat 1 cup of water in pan, grind 1/4 cup of organic brown rice in blender until fine (about 2 mins), when water boils, turn heat down to low, add ground rice, and stir with whisk or fork. cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. All water should be absorbed and mixture should have consistent texture.
Option 2: Add 1/2 cup organic brown rice to 2 1/2 cups water and cook covered, on low heat for 40 minutes. Check, stir, and cook longer if need be until all water has been absorbed and texture is consistent.
Note: Baby should be over 6 months old when eating rice cereal so that the digestive enzymes are mature enough to digest whole grains
On April 25, join Labor with Love Postpartum Doula, Molly Rouse for Cooking at the Cabin: an evening of baby food prep and new mom camaraderie! This educational and experiential class will cover different approaches to introducing babies to food, as well as food preparation and storage information. To register, or for more information, please visit the event page.