Iron-fortified rice cereal is the best first food for baby? No way! Here are the top eight REAL and HEALTHY foods to start your baby on ?

The (Surprising) Best First Foods for Baby

Once you know your baby is ready to try some solid food, the question becomes, what is the best first food? (No, it’s probably not a smash cake.)

Most pediatricians recommend iron-fortified rice cereal as the best first food, but Mama Natural ain’t buying it. First off, rice cereal is a highly processed food, which isn’t good for anyone. Secondly, the added synthetic vitamins and minerals, not to mention the high levels of arsenic found in conventional rice, may do more harm than good.

Best First Foods for Baby

For most of us moms, we can’t wait till baby is 6 months old to introduce solids, at which point we may give baby pureed apples or avocado, or go the baby-led weaning route and give baby a few pear slices to gnaw on.

Good nutritional choices, right? Yes, but keep in mind that babies have special nutritional needs that benefit from a blend of animal and plant foods. (Our digestive tract are designed for an omnivore diet after all.) Before the rise of the industrial food supply, our ancestors fed their children this way to ensure proper nourishment and growth. While kale and quinoa are great, they’re not necessarily the best first foods for baby.

Nutrients for Baby

There’s a saying: “food before one is just for fun,” and while that may be true when compared with an adult’s consumption, there are some important nutrients that baby needs from solids as moves beyond 6 months of age.

According to Weston A. Price’s research (a dentist who spent 10 years researching the diets of different cultures to see what children most need nutritionally to develop optimally), nursing babies at around 6 months of age need:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • B6
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium and other trace minerals
  • Omega 3 and omega 6 fats (in the proper balance)

At around 8 months, baby also needs:

  • Vitamins A, B, C, D, and K
  • Potassium

Best First Foods for Baby

The foods we are about to discuss below are extremely nutrient-dense. This is crucial, since baby’s digestive tract is still very small and immature—baby needs the biggest nutritional bang for his or her buck.

So without further ado, here’s my list of the best first foods for baby:

1. Egg yolk

While many parents might pause at introducing a highly allergic food like egg to a 6-month-old baby, new research is showing that early introduction is critical to actually reduce the likelihood of food allergies (Source).

Start with the egg yolk, since it’s the easiest to digest and contains the most nutrients like choline (great for baby’s brain and eyes) and necessary cholesterol—the building block for all hormones (Source).

Egg yolks also contain important minerals that baby needs right now like calcium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus as well as vitamins E and  B6.

To prepare: Gently poach or cook with a little butter, ghee or coconut oil on the stovetop. Keep the egg yolk soft and a little runny for easier digestion.

2. Avocado

Avocado is a great first food. It contains lots of healthy fats, as well as the almighty mineral magnesium, which is so crucial to our health yet is harder and harder to get enough of through our food these days.

Avocado also contains B vitamins, including niacin, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, folate, and fiber.

To prepare: Peel and cut into long slices if you want your child to self-feed. You can also mash and spoon-feed. It’s delicious with banana for a 1:1 ratio.

3. Blended red meat

Why red meat? It’s one of the only foods high in three key nutrients that babies can be deficient in: iron, zinc and vitamin B12. (Source.)

Keep in mind that breastmilk is low in iron (unlike formula), so baby must get it through diet. Plant sources of iron are difficult to convert to a usable form, especially in a baby’s immature digestive tract.

To prepare: Get organic, pasture-raised beef or lamb. Ground beef, a tender roast or lamb chops are all great options. Cook gently and chop into tiny pieces if baby is self-feeding. Or put in blender with some broth or water, and blend into a creamy puree to spoon feed.

4. Banana

Some people believe that baby’s first foods shouldn’t include any fruit, because baby will get a preference for the sweetness. Truth is, baby already has a preference for sweetness thanks to breastmilk. So don’t worry about baby becoming a sugar bug because of fruit. Bananas are a great first carbohydrate source for babies because they contain amylase, an enzyme necessary for the digestion of carbohydrates (like, bananas).

Bananas are also a great source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, and potassium.

To prepare: Serve very ripe bananas with brown spots—because the starch has converted to a simple sugar, making it easier to digest. Peel and cut in half for self-feeders or mash up with a little avocado or breast milk.

5. Winter squash

Another easy to digest carbohydrate is well-cooked winter squash (i.e. acorn, butternut). Due to its low nitrate content, it’s a safe first food for baby.

Squash is also high in vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.

To prepare: Cut open your squash and remove seeds. Roast in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees, or until the squash is soft and the skin easily separates from the vegetable. Alternatively, you can put it in your Instant Pot with 1 cup of water and cook for 7 minutes. Let cool and scoop out the flesh. You can cut in slices for self-feeders or mash with a little butter or fat which helps convert the beta-carotene into usable vitamin A. (Source)

6. Yogurt

Organic whole yogurt is an excellent first dairy food because it’s pre-digested and easier for baby to consume. Yogurt used to be recommended when baby was older, more like 8-9 months old. But, new research shows that earlier introduction of common allergen foods, like dairy, may help to prevent food allergies. (Source)

Of course, if you have a family history of dairy allergies or your child is immune compromised, it’s vital that you speak with your child’s pediatrician regarding best first foods for baby. Your doctor may recommend something like Ready Set Food as a safer and more scientific approach to introducing allergens.

Yogurt is a well-balanced food with healthy fat, protein and milk sugar to nourish baby. It’s high in calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus.

Yogurt is also naturally rich in health-promoting probiotics to help colonize baby’s gut with beneficial bacteria—crowding out the bad, and building up the good.

To prepare: The key to introducing dairy is to go slow and watch for reactions. Start with 1 teaspoon of yogurt and serve to baby. Wait a day or two and slowly increase quantity until you can serve 1/4 cup a day.

7. Green peas

If you want to introduce baby to green foods, start with green peas, which are high in resistant starch. Just as it sounds, this means they’re resistant to digestion, and pass through the stomach and small intestine into the large intestine, where it feeds good gut bacteria.

You may be surprised to learn that this small legume contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Just 1/2 cup of peas has 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 34 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, and 34 percent of your daily value of vitamin K—a nutrient that can be particularly low in babies. (source)

If baby resists the taste, sweeten the deal by pureeing the green peas with some squash.

8. Organ Meats

OK, I know this sounds out there, but organ meats are the most nutrient-dense of all animal foods. They used to be part of the American diet but fell out of favor in the sixties and seventies.

Most organ meat is high in true vitamin A, which is extremely important to baby’s development. (Yes, carrots contain beta-carotene, but it doesn’t easily convert to true vitamin A, which is why many babies turn slightly orange when they eat beta-carotene rich foods.)

Liver also contains vitamin A, D, all B vitamins, folate, zinc, and CoQ10. If you choose chicken liver, you get a good amount of iron as well, which is vital.

To prepare: A little goes a long way. Purchase high-quality, grass-fed chicken, beef, bison, or lamb liver. Cook over medium heat in a frying pan in a little ghee or coconut oil. Once one side is brown (not browned or burnt), flip liver and brown the other side. (It cooks fast, so keep your eye on it.)

Allow to cool and grate 1 tsp to 1 TB of liver over baby’s egg yolk or banana mash. Or chop into small pieces if baby is self-fed.

Foods to Avoid

There are a few foods that parents need to avoid feeding young babies.

1. High-nitrate foods:

Root and leafy vegetables such as spinach, celery, lettuce, radishes, beets, turnips, and collard greens are all very high in nitrates. Nitrates can turn into nitrites, which then turn into nitrosamines (a known carcinogen) in the stomach.

When to introduce? Waiting until 6-8 months for root vegetables, and a year for leafy greens is best for baby’s health. It’s also helpful to serve these foods with vitamin C-rich foods to avoid this nitrate to nitrite to nitrosamine conversion.

2. Acidic foods

Tomatoes and citrus can be irritating to the digestive tract in young babies.

When to introduce? Wait until at least 9 months.

3. Natural sweeteners

You want to avoid giving your child too many sweets, obviously, or processed foods. However, there is a time and place for a treat… for example in their smash cake.

When to introduce? Natural sugars such as honey, maple syrup, or blackstrap molasses may be introduced after baby’s first birthday in very small doses. (Raw honey can be very dangerous if offered to baby before 1 year old.) You can also sweeten things using fruit (date, banana, applesauce, etc.).

What About Grains?

Whole grains can round out a healthy diet for young children but don’t rush to serve as primary source of solid fuel. Newborns have almost no pancreatic amylase, a important enzyme that digests complex carbohydrates. (They do make plenty of salivary amylase by 6 months, which is designed to digest simple forms of carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables and breastmilk.)

So babies can’t digest grains? Yes and no.

While baby’s pancreas may not digest complex carbs very well, studies show that very little undigested starch is left in their poop. This may imply that the good bacteria in the colon use this undigested starch as “food”, helping to populate their large intestine with good bacteria. We all know the benefits of a diverse and robust microbiome, including lower risks for just about every inflammatory disease out there, so incorporating pre-soaked, well-cooked grains to infants can be a good practice.

When to introduce? You can start at 6 months with a tablespoon or two of cooked grain a day. By 7-8 months, you can increase as appropriate, balancing with healthy fats, proteins, and fruits and veggies.

To prepare: Soak millet, quinoa, oats or barley in filtered water overnight with a dash of raw apple cider vinegar to help pre-digest grain. Cook long and slow so that the grain mixture turns into a type of porridge. Once cooled, add breastmilk to increase amylase content (yes, breast milk is rich in this starch-eating enzyme) and serve with a spoon.

What About Allergens?

Unfortunately, food allergies are on the rise. In fact, according to a new report, emergency room visits for anaphylaxis (an acute allergic reaction) more than doubled in children from 2010 to 2016. Those are some scary statistics when you’re thinking about what to feed your little one. The good news? There’s growing evidence that when babies are introduced to common allergens before their first birthday, they are less likely to develop allergies.

The importance of early and frequent allergen introduction starting at 6 months

New studies about food allergy prevention show that you can lower your child’s risk of developing a food allergy by up to 80 percent through early and sustained allergen introduction. What qualifies as early? Research shows that pregnant moms who eat nuts are less likely to have babies with nut allergies. And further research shows that once baby is ready to eat solid food around 4-6 months (See why Mama Natural recommends waiting until at least six months.), children at high risk of developing a peanut allergy were far less likely to develop an allergy when introduced to peanuts before they turned 12 months.

The key to prevention is not only dependent on timing, but also what you’re feeding baby and how often. Start with peanut, egg, and dairy foods like cheese or yogurt (don’t give baby cow’s milk to drink until they’re 12 months old), since they represent over 80 percent of the most common childhood food allergies. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out companies like Ready, Set, Food  that have scientifically proven programs to help parents gently and slowly introduce known allergens. This particular company has a 15-day program, in which you add the natural, preservative- and additive-free packets to breastmilk, formula, or food to help baby’s system slowly adjust to milk, nuts, and eggs.

A Final Word on the Best First Foods for Baby

Babies thrive by eating solids from both the plant and animal kingdom. By nourishing our little ones with nutrient-dense foods, they will have brighter minds and moods, physical strength, healthy immune systems, and protective microbiomes. Getting things off to a great start now, with these best first foods for baby, will help ensure lifelong health.

References

  • http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-diseases/how-to-restore-digestive-health/
  • http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/nourishing-a-growing-baby/
  • http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/the-liver-files/
  • https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index
  • http://megangarcia.com/infant-cereal-the-shocking-truth/
  • http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/5/e010665.full
  • http://lifespa.com/self-help/ebooks/the-protein-solution-ebook/
  1. Omg! Thank you Thank you! I have been looking for this type of supportive info for a long time. Our baby is 10 months never been sick. She only eats both broth, eggs in grass fed butter, chicken, beef, bone marrow, salmon, sardines, mashed squash and mashed potatoes. She also eats organic peanut butter w hot water. I was wondering when to add in more fruits and veggies and you helped me.

    I think it’s important to add that if you feed your baby oatmeal or sweet potatoes and when they poop it looks just like when it went in – like orange pushy or sticky oatmeal, then your baby is not digesting it. That was the biggest reason we switched to this way of feeding.

    My first daughter was fed rice cereal and fruits, veggies and noodles all at age 6 months. She is allergic to wheat now and had other digestive issues. I am hoping to report more as she grows.

    I will say it’s not easy. Sometimes I’m like what the heck should I feed her?

    Anyways, thank you again.

  2. It seems my 5.5 month old daughter has inherited my intolerance of red meat. What are my alternatives for her?? Thanks!

  3. Outstanding article Genevieve…It’s been very difficult to find information that is not tainted by “conventional dogma”…I have spent the past 15 years unlearning all of the lies and misinformation regarding health and wellness that has been far and wide. I have found that the truth can be found if you are willing to look outside of the conventional/mainstream sources. The science is in place. Unfortunately the ignorant masses either want to continue to believe lies, or worse, they are committed to ideologies that are not science based.

    Just look at the health of our county and you can see that what we have been told is not working.

    The Standard America Diet is disaster
    Low fat high carb diets are a disaster
    The cholesterol topic is a scam
    The cause of most heart disease is diet based
    Cancer is a metabolic disease, not a genetic disease
    Type II diabetes is reversible and preventable

    First foods for our breastfed babies are critically important. Your list of first foods very helpful.

    Just ignore all of the ignorant comments and keep writing what you know is best for children…These moms will one day find their children unhealthy because of the ignorance…There are plenty of us who are thinkers and who want science based information, not info based on dogma or ideologies…

  4. Hi Genevieve,

    This post on the best baby food shocked me a little bit. I totally agree processed food is a horrible start but giving meat as a first food to infants sounds equally horrifying to me. I know this new study is stating this is one of the best foods for them but animal proteins take such a huge toll on human body, more so if we are talking about an infant who never ate solid food before. Newborns and infants are known to be very connected to their bodies, not only they have a sense for what is good for their body but also know in which quantities. If you try to give meat to an infant he/she will spit it out right away and to me that says it all. I tried do this with my daughter and i was amazed at how easy it was to give her fruits and veggies and how tough it was to get her to swallow even the tiniest piece of meat. A lot of people worry about protein intake as well (which in my opinion is totally overrated). Aminoacids, the building blocks of proteins, can be found in all fruits, veggies and seeds/nuts in their simplest form, which is easy to digest and can be readily assimilated by the body. Interestingly enough, when we eat animal proteins our body has to work 10 times as hard to break them down in order to “extract” the aminoacids but that takes a huge toll on our liver and kidneys. I agree that B12 is no longer produced by our bodies (some believe appendix was the organ dedicated to B12 production until we started to eat animals, getting appendix to shrink) however i dont think an infant has such a big need for it…at least not until he/she is older. There are many fortified foods containing B12 and those can do the job as well. My opinion is maybe biased by the huge amount of friends i know from India who never had B12 supplements and grew up on a vegetarian diet. They are healthy and strong and never heard of B12 deficiency. The purpose of this message Genevieve is not to criticize or diminish what you shared, on the contrary. I think you do a GREAT JOB at searching for new info and i’m so grateful i found your channel. The purpose of my message is to provide a different perspective and have moms really wonder what makes sense despite of the new studies published out there. At the end of the day we never know who paid for the research to be carried out and common sense and instinct (along with some knowledge and understanding of our bodies of course) is all that we have to take an informed decision. Please keep up the good work, you are a invaluable source of inspiration for so many moms and not only!
    Daniela

  5. Hey,

    Love reading your blog and books (well, book. I bought the step by step pregnancy book and it was awesome).
    I was wondering if you’d be able to write a second stage solid food article.. or even just a list of a bunch of different health foods with the right age to introduce them.. My baby is 8 months old, loves eating and gets a little bored if I don’t change it up enough. She also prefers savory to sweet but eats both. I’ve looked up what else I can feed her at this age but there is so much conflicting information its hard to decide.

    Thanks so much! 🙂

  6. With my first daughter I stayed at home with her during the week. I only worked on weekends. My husband and I followed Nourishing Traditions and only gave her egg yolk, liver and cod liver oil initially. And later introduced bone broth and fruits & veggies. She was a very robust and healthy baby.
    With my second daughter, who is now 6 months, I have already given her cod liver oil, egg yolk, banana & avocado. She is very excited to eat! Unfortunately, she already goes to daycare and my daycare provider has said she has given my baby some infant cereal. I’m very fortunate in that the daycare provider does make homemade fresh food for the older kids. I just don’t want my baby having processed cereal or eating grains. I’m not sure what to do or say, because I know she is just trying to be helpful. And I know egg yolk and liver is not exactly easy or typical to give to babies in a daycare setting.
    Is there any non-grain infant cereal I can buy and give to her to feed my baby? Or should I just ask her to only feed her fruits & veggies? Thanks!

  7. Thank you SO MUCH for this article. I am just starting to wean my baby and have been confused by conflicting information. This makes so much sense so I’m really pleased I stumbled upon your website.
    I have a query; I love the idea of making suaerkraut and have looked at the recipe you recommend. I’m just wondering though about using salt if I’m making this for my 6 month old? Is that ok? I have seen recipes before that require a probiotic tablet to be opened and the powder to be used. (On that note should I be giving my baby probiotics?).
    I’m also a bit worried about eggs as I’ve read to delay introducing them until age 1 if your child has eczema. My little boys eczema is so so mild. What are your thoughts?
    Thanks again xx

  8. Thank you for this excellent article. I love the Nourishing Traditions series and Weston A. Price! I can’t wait to nourish my new baby on bone broths and liver. I’m already taking beef liver and organ supplements now to nourish us both! I wish we ate liver in our culture. I hope I can encourage my baby to develop a taste for this highly nutritious food!

  9. Really helpful article, thank you! Trying to choose truly nourishing foods for my baby. I’d love some suggestions on travel snacks for older babies/toddlers. I used a lot of cheerios and puffs with my first one, but want to choose better options this time around. When we’re out and about or taking a longer trip, and aren’t able to keep things refrigerated–what would you recommend?

    • Cooked veggies cut into appropriate sized pieces, fruits, yogurt. Eggs and cheese for older children.

  10. Wow 🙁 really sad reading this article, I purchased the mama natural book as soon as we found out we were expecting, which even states it’s support of a plant based diet. A lot of respect lost after seeing this contradiction.

    • I couldn’t agree more! A diet without animal products is very obtainable for babies, but you must ensure you’re hitting all the basics. As far as b12, fortified foods contain it, and what baby doesn’t love cereal? Additionally, sea vegetables contain good amounts of b12. Don’t even get me started on iron and protein! This article is incredibly biased. Yes, if you’re ignorant about a babies nutritional needs your baby will probably have deficiencies, but NO animals are not the only answer.

      • Animals are certainly not the only answer, but this is a blog about -natural- parenting. Humans are naturally omnivores. I myself am a vegetarian and have nothing but respect for vegans, but it’s a simple fact that humans evolved to eat a varied diet of plants and animals; it is a result of higher brain function and the advent of agriculture that some of us choose to depart from this.
        It would follow that a varied diet early on would be healthy for an infant. Not saying it’s the only way to go, just saying it is natural. I personally am giving my baby a varied diet including meats, and when he’s older he can choose to forgo them or not.

  11. What a amazing blog for baby food. this is a very helpful for new parents. Many many thanks for sharing the blog for baby food. I think this blog is best for baby food.

  12. Hello
    I soaked rolled oats and made for the first time oat porridge to my baby. Now I feel terrible. I should have known better. Do you think it will damage his gut flora? I am breastfeeding hI’m. Thx

  13. can we use them for 4 months baby?
    Mahmoud

    UJ

  14. I lost a lot of respect for this website after seeing this post… My family and I have followed a plant based Whole Foods diet which means we have zero intake of animal foods.. our family gets our protein from plants.. so yes our kids protein levels are probably lower than the average kids… and contrary to what most people might think my kids have always been in the 95% or above for their height and weight… I have a 7 year old, 5 year old and a 5 month old.. I get people have different beliefs when it comes to food but suggest meat as a first meal for babies for protein is just crazy…

    • Kylie and Abbey, Your are so right!! It is annoying that the plant based diet is discounted in this post.

      • *You are* and so is Lee Ann:)

  15. i typically love what mama natural has to say but totally disagree with some of this.. my daughter is allergic to eggs (every part, whether cooked or not & even when in something) i would have been devastated to discover this giving it to her as a first food. additionally many things i’ve read say not to give children meat until they have their canine teeth. either way, parents please do your own research & start small. noting allergies often don’t show up until the second or third introduction – 2nd in our case. be careful!

  16. hi,
    Great blog sharing it contains lot of information which is very helpful for us this blog is very interesting and motivative also i like this blog.

  17. At what age would you recommend babies eat quinoa?

  18. My husband and I are vegetarians, but actually eat mostly vegan. Although my milk supply was low from birth, our baby had a diet of breast milk and formula for a few months until I ran dry. He is now 6 months old and we are planning to start him on avocados and bananas. Even when I was a meat-eater mannnnny years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamt of feeding a baby meat, liver or egg yolks. His conventional and naturopathic physicians agree that his first foods should be vegetables so that’s what we are going with. Thank The Lord he has done very well with his formula from the start, so he will still be getting all his nutrients from his milk as we continue introducing foods.

  19. What a crock of rubbish with absolutely NO medical backing. No root vegetables before one? Said?
    Please don’t give your baby liver – it is a filtration system in an animals body so along with all that iron could be a whole lot of chemicals and junk! Raw honey is dangerous but meat is fine? Hmmm no. The ‘risk’ with honey is the potential for it to contain botulism spores – something NEVER found in Australian honey. A greater risk to babies is infection from eating contaminated soil and meat products. Even fermented vegetables is a risk.

    There are many factors that affect B12 and iron levels, but BLW is not a significant factor.

    • I agree with the need for some medical/research backup. With that said – livers do help filter from the body, but not like an air filter or a sponge. People who are eating liver aren’t eating all of the waste products from that animal, that isn’t how it works.

  20. Although I agree with most things that mama natural talks about on this wonderful and informative website, animal protein is not the way to go. When you look for protein in food, it’s the QUALITY and not the QUANTITY that matters, contrary to what the big meat and dairy industries want you to think. The typical western diet is slowly killing all of us. Before becoming vegan I read a lot of books and articles both pro meat/dairy and con meat/dairy. Before making such an important decision I wanted to know the facts. Let me tell you that meat and dairy are not the foods you want in your body. Not only is elimiating these good for the animals you’re saving from slaughter but for the plant and importantly you and your family! Animal protein has been linked to cancer, heart failure, stroke, Alzheimer’s… the list goes on and on. If you really want to know what animal protein does to your body, try reading a book about a 20+ year study from a scientist and former meat eater turned vegan. It’s called The China Study by respected scientist Campbell. It’s only one of many books/articles to prove veganism is the best for our bodies. I know Mama Natural says that for her, she needs animal protein, but I disagree with that because she was on a raw vegan diet, which is not necessary. There are many ways to substitute vegan and cruelty free foods in the western diet without losing your mind and giving up on the foods you love. I’m a modern vegan and I’ve never felt better in my life. When I have kids they will be vegan and when they’re old enough they can decide for themselves, like they can decide whether to believe in God or not, whether to go to college, whether to have kids of their own. All I can is do is my best to to get them to the point where they can make those decisions.

    • Although I do respect people’s decision to lead the life they feel is best, within reason of course! (:

  21. Just to disclaim – I am not a vegan or a PhD, but this article is absolutely absurd. All Protein is made by plant, let me say it again, ALL PROTEIN IS MADE BY PLANTS… Why is this not general knowledge, some of the most largest and strongest animals in the world are herbivores. The fact that the publisher is trying to state that meat is the best source of protein and should be your little ones first food is NOT TRUE and you should not do it. Please people do your own research on this topic!!!

    • I talk about the *nutrients* in animal protein and fat that are not found as abundantly in plants.

      • This is clearly rubbish! I usually value your website and tips and this is simply NOT backed up by proper research & science.
        You need to look at the digestive tract of babies and how it develops. Introducing these kinds of foods at 6months will really cause some trouble. I soberly hope people are doing their own research and are not following these absurd recommendations. Fruit & vegetables are the perfect first foods to explore alongside breastmilk for nutrition!
        I would really love to see this post being taken down or adjusted.

        • Parents should absolutely do their own research when deciding when or what to feed their children.

          • (link to study regarding pureed beef below)

            My daughter’s pediatrician agreed that grass fed organic beef would be a great early introduction food for the additional iron she needs as an exclusively breastfeeding infant. At this time, she is 8 months old and has been eating a wide variety of foods for a couple months from the animal protein, fruit and vegetable groups. We have not fed her grains, legumes, nuts or seeds at this point, except for tiny amounts of coconut in tastes of food. She eats: mango, avocado, banana, papaya, apples, pears, nectarines, peaches, plums, chicken, beef, fish, sweet potatoes (regular and purple), plantain, celery, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, broccoli, spinach, tiny tastes of goat cheese & yogurt, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and prunes. The nitrate containing foods (spinach, etc) she has in very tiny amounts. She eats purees & finger foods. Almost everything is homemade, but she does eat some Happy Baby pouches on the go or in a pinch. I think it’s good to try to find balance in infant feeding and not be too puritanical or obsessive, but I think we can all agree that babies don’t need spicy or junk food, at the very least!

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16456417

    • Large, strong herbivores have an entirely different digestive system than carnivores and omnivores… so that statement means nothing. Also, most plant protein is incomplete, requiring proper food combining to make a complete protein. Meat naturally is complete. Also, plant non-heme iron is not as absorbable as heme iron found in meat. This is simple nutritional biochemistry… not propaganda. This article is on point. If you CHOOSE to not eat animal products, cool, but stop shoving it down people’s throats with inaccurant propaganda.

      • Agreed!!!!!

  22. What about feeding cucumbers to a 6 month old?

    • You can certainly try. Have you heard of baby-led weaning? Check it out. But note that it’s more about fun and learning for baby as opposed to getting tons of calories.

    • My baby tried cucumbers the other day for the first time. I mostly scraped off bits with the back of my nail, you could use a spoon, as I do with many fresh fruits. Bites of cucumber can be a choking hazard.

  23. What’s the consensus on soft cooked egg yolks and possible salmonella? As someone who’s actually had salmonella before, I definitely don’t want it for baby and I’m sure it’s pretty dangerous for little ones. Is the difference with the pasture raised organic eggs?
    Thanks!

    • If you don’t feel comfortable with runny yolks, you could always add little water and scramble them. They are still very soft that way 🙂

  24. I love all of the information here! I have stuck to these 8 foods for my little one since he turned six months. He is eight months now. What are the next foods that would be good to introduce next? Are there certain fruits/vegetables that I should hold off on until he’s a certain age? Also, what are your thoughts on adding in a bit of ground flax seeds to his food? Thanks so much!

  25. Hi, my baby will be turning 6 months soon and will be starting solids. I want to start with egg yolk and avocado. Would it be ok for her to have an egg everyday? Thank you. Love your YouTube channel and can’t wait for your book to come out!

  26. Hi there! I actually have been making a raw liver smoothie for years for myself but once my son started eating solids I would grate frozen raw liver onto his eggs. Once he got a bit older I actually started just sharing the smoothie with him, he just loves it and thrives on it, as I do!

    • Hmm how do you make it? Thanks! good idea

  27. Hi Genevieve.
    What about cod liver oil added to the baby bottle rather than animal liver puréed? Seems easier to do.

    • You could, just keep in mind that it doesn’t give the other benefits of liver, like protein.

  28. I am a first-time mom and my baby is approaching 6 month. As parents we are unsure about liquids. I love the idea of bone broth, but are unsure of a good amount and if we should offer it with food or start with just this and breastmilk. Thanks for further advice.

  29. Okay, here’s a question I can’t figure out an answer to: what fats are most appropriate for adding to baby’s foods and should I always mix a little fat into vegetables? You mention butter and coconut oil, but my baby has a milk protein intolerance. How about extra virgin olive oil, or could that be considered acidic?

    • You could do ghee, beef tallow and olive oil closer to 9 months. A little goes a long way. Also, keep in mind that avocado is a rich source of fat.

      • Ghee is lactose free, but not protein free, so not a good option for a baby allergic to the proteins.

  30. I’m wondering about best practices for making bone broth for baby. My understanding is that bone broth requires some acidifying agent to really pull out the minerals. I typically use wine, but I’m concerned about feeding baby sulfites. And lemon and tomato aren’t recommended due to their allergenic potentials. What’s a mom to choose? Thanks!

    • Apple cider vinegar. Just answered my own question, hah!

  31. My baby is 9 months old. I have searched high and low for a consolidated plan and direction for parents who don’t want to do cereals but need to get iron in baby. I am sad to just find this but sooo grateful. We started with avocado and egg yolk (egg whites are where allergens exist) fully scrambled.
    We did chicken and bean juice and green veggies but this affirms I need to move forward with red meat. At this point my son is anemic and about to start supplements because I just couldnt find a straightforward plan. I look forward to implementing this w supplements and getting his stores up asap.
    Do you have any recommendations on vitamin c foods w iron foods for best absorption?
    THANK YOU

  32. Thank you for the great info! My baby is 4.5 months and we already started solids! I read all the information provided by the Weston A. Price foundation before I visited the pediatrician, and she was really firm about giving the baby cereal… I guess I am not brave enough to argue and chose to give her organic oatmeal that I mix it with breast milk and then combine it 1 organic vegetable that I steamed and puréed myself. Do you suggest these “baby’s first” at 6 months? Because if that’s the case, I will be more comfortable telling her doctor that I would like to follow this list of foods in 1.5 months from now.

  33. My naturopath said that babies should not have eggs until they are two years old. Due to potential allergies and the way their bodies process certain foods prior to that age.

  34. Would you have recommendations for babies after 1 year old?

  35. Great post but i find the comments on BLW unfair: if blw-babies have lower iron intake than spoon-fed babies, it’s not because if blw, it’s because of what foods are offered to baby!
    Also you say in your post to avoid fortified rice cereal….but that 2016 study about blw you quote advocates rice cereal!

    You recommend soft boiled egg yolk. But official recomnendations in many countries tell to avoid raw or soft boiled egg because of salmonella risk. So, what to do??

  36. A lot of great info ? one thing id like to get more info on is poi. I was fed poi as a baby and as far as ive heard its extremely healthy for babies and seniors. It would be great to see an article and some research on it as i feel poi is the future lol ???

    • Oh yum! I bet that’s a great food for baby.

  37. Super helpful! Thank you so much for sharing!

  38. This blog is awesome! Thanks for sharing

    May I know if quinoa is safe as baby first food? I just gave for two days ? Wonder if it’s harmful too.

    Thanks!

    • I wouldn’t say it’s harmful, just harder to digest. You could puree with breast milk if you want to continue feeding.

  39. I read your other article about introducing broth first at 6 months. My Little Guy is 5.5 but shows all the signs of being ready, do you recommend just starting with bone broth for the whole 1st month and how do you offer it to them?! Then move onto led weaning on the 7th month?
    -1st time mom trying to figure it all out!

  40. My pediatrician recommended getting my son used to “green” food first, and then introducing “orange and yellow” veggies, and fruits last. Simply because he said that when sweet food are introduced first, the baby gets accustomed to that, and it makes it harder for them to like green veggies that tend to be a stronger or more bitter flavor – and that fruits should be thought of more as a dessert for awhile.

    This theory seems to have worked like a charm, cause he is older now, and loves almost all veggies – and some of my friends who did not follow this have the PICKIEST eaters!

    • Interesting! I would think this strategy doesn’t work because breast milk is naturally sweet. Glad it worked for your son!

  41. I’ve googled around and come up overwhelmed, so I thought I’d ask my internet best mama friend that doesn’t know I exist but I follow her on all the social medias and cannot wait to get my hands on her new book even though my babe is almost 7 months old…

    Do you puree your babies food? Or do you just mash it with a fork until there aren’t any lumps left?

    Thanks in advance!

    • You could do either. Some babies like the texture of gently mashed foods better than pureed. You also don’t have to mash it at all if you just soft cook the food and cut it into hold-able chunks.

  42. My daughters first foods were homemade bone broth and puréed butternut squash with cinnamon ?

  43. Hi Mama natural. I’ve been watching you videos for years. I’m a first time mom and my baby is having an allergic reaction to the oatmeal cereal. The doctor recommended barley cereal and he doesn’t want him to eat rice cereal. I can’t find Barley Cereal anywhere… The one that I found is in Amazon made by Healthy Times. Have you used this brand? or have you used barley cereal?

    • Why does he want to put him on barley cereal? Could you do sweet potato, pumpkin, peas, instead?

  44. Avacado and bananas it is!!

  45. When I had my older 2 boys we started with cereal after 6 mo as the ped recommended. When I had my twins 3.5 yrs ago we started with soft boiled pastured chicken egg yolk. I did a lot of research at the time and that felt best to us. Second food was avocado, we did some BLW also.

  46. when is it ok to give papaya? my baby is 7 mo old and we just started foods like the ones above 3 weeks ago. I ask because I know papaya is used as a natural meat tenderizer b/c it has acids, so is it safe for a baby’s stomach/intestines?

      • Oh wow, gave my first son papaya for his first food, he is 2.7 years now. My daughter just turned 6months, I will start with avocado as her fist food tomorrow. Thank you for sharing!!

    • Green papaya has the most enzymes that break down the meat as a tenderizer. Fully ripe, soft papaya is safe for babies 6 months +.

  47. I was wondering if you were going to buy a store bought baby food purée which brand would you choose? I make all my own baby food right now but I will admit that being able to occasionally just grab a little jar and put it in the diaper bag on a busy day would be nice. However no matter how alluring the conscience is I still wanna make sure that I’m giving my baby girl REAL food. Any advice?

    • I loved Happy Baby frozen food!

  48. Hi,
    My boy is 5 months old and has been eating rice cereal for about a month. Not every day but a couple times a week. I didn’t know it was so bad for him. I have a baby food grinder but of course have not used it yet since he is not 6 months. I was just thinking today that I would like to start feeding him real food. Is it still to early he’s 5 months and a week today.

    • I’ve been letting my 4.5 month old baby start dabbling in food not really eating but tasting and a whole lot of playing, at first she just made a mess but now she will taste the foods as well.

    • My pediatrician said they’re ready to start solids when they hold their head up strong in a parallel line with their shoulders and show interest in food.

  49. So far I’ve given my baby pumpkin mixed with his formula and avocado mixed with formula which he loves. I’ve tries sweet potatoes mixed with formula but he did not enjoy it…

  50. Staring foods next week. But we want to make it ourself so we know exactly what’s in it. How do you make all of these for your baby mama natural?

    Just started natural life when I had my daughter and I’m loving it been natural for 6 months now. Since October 6th 🙂

  51. My little one has been on rice cereal since 3 months old. Recommended by pediatrician for severe reflux. Its been a month now and she really seems to love the cereal so i am quite keen on starting her on some steamed veg, something easy to digest and a little more exciting than cereal. She LOVES spoons. I have bought her loads of toys to play with and she will go straight for the spoon. I think its because she sees us using them. She has been sitting almost unaided for a while, another result of the reflux, we have had to keep her upright since birth while she is awake. Any thoughts?

    • Find a Chiro that knows how to adjust hiatial hernias. Our son has reflux issues from time to time. We have our Chiro ajust him and he’s great!

    • Heavily spotted bananas and ripe avocados are easy to digest. Pureed meats might go down well too.

  52. I plan on skipping the rices/cereals as well. My little one is 4 months and is showing a lot of interest! She already has her first tooth. I plan on waiting a while, but I am starting to research what to start with. Would the bananas and carrots be too sweet? I don’t want her to only prefer the sweet stuff!

  53. Hey! So I’m totally new to all of this, and am having difficulty finding the time to do all of the research I want to do with 11 hour work days. So to get this right – definitely don’t do cereal – rice or grain even fortified? And is 4 months too early? My son Logan is exclusively breast fed, but definitely interested in my foods, is mostly sitting up on his own (he has trouble for the first 20 minutes after waking up), and might actually have a problem with iron because I’m usually anemic. And this won’t affect him wanting to nurse, right? I definitely don’t want to give up that bonding time since I have so little of it to myself!

  54. I recently read a study about baby’s ability to digest starches (posted below).. I’m trying to decide if/when I will give her grains. I know starting too soon can cause GI issues, but what about waiting too long? We’ve been seeing a GI specialist who’s brain I’ve been picking, he explained to us that in a study done of children whose relatives had Celiac’s Disease the occurrences of the disease in these children more than doubled when they postponed the introduction of grains beyond 2 years of age. There’s substantial evidence that shows waiting too long can cause them to have food allergies. So I’m trying to find the balance between the two, she already has a Cow’s Milk Protein intolerance and I want to be sure to introduce all the possible allergen foods at the right time so she doesn’t have any other issues.. Thoughts?

  55. Please do BLW soon! I stared off with the same cereal you have in your video 4 days ago for Nova’s first food because my pediatrician recommended it. I am regretting it, as I wanted to also start her with Avocado and BLW. As a first time mama, I was scared. Scared she wouldn’t get the iron needed. And scared I won’t do the BLW right.

  56. I’m scared to starting my baby on solids! He’s so ready though! He salivates when he watches us eat! I feel so bad, but I’m afraid that he will become constipated with solids… He’s 4 1/2 months. Exclusively breast fed.
    Help!

    • Baby’s gut isn’t ready until at least 6 months. I’d say keep on breastfeeding, momma. It could result in gastrointestinal issues for your little one.

    • Definitely wait!!! No rush! You want your child sitting upright with no support before you even consider it.

    • I agree with the comments to wait until 6 months. They go through growth spurts that make them seem suddenly hungrier. Your supply will balance out again with extra feedings after a few frequency days. It might seem like you are feeding baby all the time but in my experience (nursing 5 babies) they can and do wait until six months. Another marker for readiness is the tongue thrust instinct. Babies have an instinct to push food right back out of their mouths. This starts to disappear at six months. My son is six months and three days, he still has some issues with the tongue when trying to eat. After day three he is finally able to eat how he wants to.

  57. I have to disagree about bananas being easy to digest– I pretty much had to avoid bananas with my son until he was around 9 months because they made the poor guy constipated 🙁

    I do incorporate oatmeal cereal but I skipped the rice– the rest fruits and veggies. We did mostly purees with my son and some whole foods– I’m thinking of doing more whole foods (BLW) with future children and less purees.

    • Bananas are nice because they contain an enzyme that helps break the starch down. Good point, they do constipate some.

  58. We started with carrots! Plain whole fat yogurt after that, and then butternut squash and sweet potatoes!

  59. Do you recommend any particular squash? And how do you cook it? Steamed? Baked in oven? Thanks for the advice!

    • Butternut is nice. Baby usually likes the best 🙂 I would peel, cut into cubes and then steam. You could also bake with a touch of water. Mash with fork and you can add breast milk or coconut/olive oil.

  60. We’ve been having the five foods you recommended for 2 months now – and my little one loves it. He’s now almost 7 months, and I was wondering whether you have any recommendations about what to give him next and when?

    • Oh my, you could start branching out with your fruits and veggies. Mangoes, apples, pumpkin, different squashes, peaches, tart yogurt, etc.

  61. My son is 8 months old and we started with soft-boiled egg yolks, avocado, and bananas. We’ve moved onto carrots, mango, chicken and pot roast pureed with bone broth, and organic whole milk yogurt. And since he was 5 months old I have given him a bottle with about 2 ounces of bone broth each night to drink before he nurses….he loves it and I really believe this has contributed to the fact that he has had no sickness yet, and hopefully it is aiding in developing a healthy gut! I just ordered some Great Lakes Kosher Gelatin and look forward to making him some fruit snacks with it soon!

    • Oh Mama’s, baby is turning 6 months on Christmas and I too am feeling overwhelmed on what to feed him. I love the bone broth idea! Do you make yours or did you buy itAnd what’s your favorite brand? Also do you use the broth to mix in his solids or do you use breast milk? Thanks Mamas, love all the advice and help on this site!!

    • I love your ideas but just wanted to mention that I used to give my son natural fruit snacks often as a treat. I found out they were sticking between his little baby teeth and he ended up having oral surgery to deal with the cavities. Just something to keep in mind with any sticky food like fruit snacks. 🙁 It was a very sad experience and I always mention it when I hear another mama mention fruit snacks. I don’t want any other little ones to suffer what my little guy did. <3

    • Wow, I wish you fed me when I was little 🙂 🙂 🙂 Way to go mama!

  62. I think we are on the same page! One thing I didn’t see anyone mention in the comments was the fact a lot of rice has been found to be high in arsenic. This can be naturally occurring or a byproduct of previous farming. Brown rice is higher than white. Some organic baby formula, etc. uses rice syrup as a natural sweetener and these types of products including cereals, etc. all can contain arsenic. This is such a scary thing that has recently been more prominently highlighted in the media, but most people still aren’t aware of this fact. I have also heard of this appearing in certain fruits such as apples (apple juice, etc.). Google it and there will be a plethora of info. Consumer reports offers a chart online that showed specific products with arsenic levels: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm
    So scary to think that many babies are being fed rice cereal for their first food which may contain poison! My daughter is coming up on 6 months. I breast fed her for the 1st few months but sadly had to supplement with organic formula due to low production. I tried everything! I am still a “natural mama” doing the best I can with what I have. I can’t wait to start giving her a taste of wholesome foods in just a few weeks.

    • Yes, great points! I’m not concerned with a little brown rice syrup here and there but in any significant quantity, no thanks.

    • I’m in your same boat! I too am unable to breastfeed and am doing organic formula. My sweet baby is 4.5 months and is already at the highest end of her formula (>32 oz). Of course, not knowing better we tried rice (organic whole wheat) but she wasn’t having it! She did eat it off the spoon but was in tummy trouble by the end of the HOUR! She is very sensitive to changes. We struggled going from breast milk to formula (even though we slowly weaned and mixed in breast milk to each bottle). Do you think she’s old enough for an avocodo challenge? She’s obviously hungry…….

  63. I started using rice cereal at first when my baby was 5 months because I felt pressure from someone in my family (something I will never do again!) 🙁 I stopped because my little one was having digestive issues, and I’ve never touched the stuff since. I just did squash mixed with breast milk for the first few weeks, and now she eats a rainbow of foods!
    I love your webpage! Great videos!

    • How did you mix the squash and the breast milk?

      • Mash up squash first, let cool a tad, then add a teaspoon or so of breast milk and mash some more.

  64. My baby is 5 months old. She hasn’t started eating yet. It has always seemed weird to me to start with rice cereal. Even if I grind the flour myself, it seems like it would be much to difficult to digest. But I haven’t read anything about starting with different foods. Do you have any recommended reading? I have been putting my spoon in her mouth as she seems interested and it feels like a good way to get her used to the whole thing. I also have let her feel and taste some fruits. She hasn’t tried to eat anything yet. She does like sharing my spoon though.

    BTW – I found your website when I was doing a search for Genevieve. My daughters name. Love your blog and videos. Thank you.

    • Hi Lorelei, Thanks for your message. How neat that my blog came up with Genevieve?! Yes, I wouldn’t recommend rice/grains for baby’s first foods (per my video.) Soft fruits and well-cooked vegetables are much better suited for their developing digestion. Nourishing Traditions (a cookbook) has a nice section on baby’s first foods. You can also find some good content online. (search wholesomebabyfood). Hope this helps and enjoy your little Genevieve!

      • Thank you! I have that book on my Amazon wish list. I will buy it now that I know it has baby food ideas in it. Thanks for your words and support. 🙂

        I was searching Genevieve on YouTube. Looking for songs.

      • I find it interesting no one has mentioned meat as a first food? My first son had a reaction to organic rice cereal (recommended by Dr of course) but studies suggest that meat is actually a better first food over fruits and vegetables. We blended cooked organic chicken livers and breastmilk. Its one of the highest sources of Iron. The Canadian Pediatric Society and Health Canada actually recommend it now but it doesnt always filter down to oldschool pediatricians….So unless you are vegan or vegetarian its another option to 🙂

  65. My baby will be 7 months old on Monday. Definitely post about baby-led weaning. I’ve heard of it but not too familiar with it. My baby LOVES to nurse and I plan on nursing for another year, but he is definitely interested in food too. He gobbled up everything that one week he ate solids!

  66. Hi Francesca, Sounds like you trusted your mama intuition about the rice cereal. One week is nothing! Going back to straight up breast milk is a great idea to reset his system. How old is your little guy?

  67. Unfortunately, my baby had rice cereal as his first food. But only for a week! I stopped because it messed up his digestive system. He’s also had green beans a couple times. Now he’s back to just mama’s milk until his tummy feels better and then we’ll try again with the foods you suggested. Thanks!

    • What did you try after this incident? I have the same issue

      • I switched to the oatmeal cereal instead (though now I know to skip all the cereals). Then we tried avocado, mashed banana, and vegetable baby food–no fruit ones; I fed him fresh fruit or unsweetened applesauce instead. I didn’t like cleaning up the avocado diapers, so we stopped that too. I never went past stage 2 baby food, because by the time he came to stage 3 he could eat solids and I’d rather him eat my home-cooked meals. I also continued to nurse him as much as he wanted (until he was 2, in fact!). Good luck!

  68. I totally agree. Just 24 weeks pregnant, already reading about baby-led weaning. I really feel that a lot of things pushed by pediatricians, the media, and so on are just cleverly disguised advertising campaigns for corporate food producers and drug companies. (Formula is better than breast-feeding…that was a good one. Or – you need drugs to give birth.) So many of the authorities (FDA and so on) are in a triangle relationship with those corporations and the government. Shop in the perimeter of your grocery store…whole foods as close to nature as possible. This is what our family eats…just like families for thousands of years. Way to go Mama Natural.

  69. We aren’t there yet because my baby is still only 3 months old but we plan to start with avocado and banana’s and go from there. We are skipping cereals and purees and doing the Baby Lead Solids or what in the UK is called Baby Lead weaning! It’s awesome..you should check it out!


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About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 75,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

Reviewed By
Kendra Tolbert, MS, RDN

Kendra Tolbert, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in preconception and reproductive health nutrition. She completed her Master’s degree in Nutrition and Public Health at Teachers College, Columbia University.

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