Baby food FAQs: What to feed, and when?

October 8, 2013

When we started thinking about feeding our baby solid food, the questions started piling up on Post-it notes, in e-mails and over dinner.

First, what equipment would we need? Figuring out which baby-food maker to buy was enough to cause an infantile meltdown. Should we go with the Baby Bullet, the Baby Brezza or the Béaba Babycook? There were so many conflicting reviews. In the end, we went with the Béaba Babycook Pro 2X, an all-in-one steamer-blender with two containers to work in, plus the ability to defrost and warm up food.The compact device ($199, www.beabausa.com) has been a big success; it’s a must-have for any pureeing parent.

Then came the bigger questions. What to feed him? What nutritional markers were we trying to hit? Were there ingredients to avoid?

I called Zephyr’s pediatrician, Ellen Hamburger at Children’s Pediatricians and Associates.

Hamburger’s advice was to start solids at four to six months. “Around the world, the practices are different, but we in the States recommend iron-fortified baby cereals as the first food,” she said. “In the second six months, breast milk doesn’t quite provide the iron that babies need.”

After that transition, our options would increase exponentially. “The only things you need to avoid in the first year are honey — because of botulism — and anything they can choke on,” she said. Her only other advice was to offer the child a variety of foods to create a balanced diet. Don’t exclusively serve fruits or vegetables; mix it up.

But what about potential allergens? “Some pediatric allergists will recommend one food at a time, spaced several days apart to make sure there’s no allergic reaction,” she said. “However, others don’t recommend such a cautious approach, because it might not be the first time a child gets a food that they react.”

I must have sounded taken aback by her response. “Parents are often surprised, because they think there’s more of a road map,” she told me. “Some really wish that there was a clearer path, while others feel grateful that they can find their own path.”

Nevin Martell

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