First Foods Minus the Cereal

Our little family hoorayed for Moon’s six-month birthday with an avocado party last month. That is, Mike, Greysen and I all shared a bowl of guacamole as Moon took her first taste of solid food – avocado! We were all excited for Moon to join the rest of us in a daily experience that we have come to cherish – meals together.

Well, her face says it all. Yes, that’s what she thought of it.
Sitting with us is not new to Moon. She has always sat with us at the table, in our arms, even joining in out chatter sometimes. This time, however, she would try food, so we were eager to see her feelings on the matter.

 

Why Avocado?
Food, as in most families, is inseparable from meals for us. That is, eating is a cultural experience, a time to joke around and talk, but most importantly it’s just one more way our children become part of our family.

Cup of Water - Greysen at 6 months

 

We choose avocado because it’s such a healthful food, and also because I am completely biased and think it is the best food of all time, so I was excited to share it with her. With our pediatrician’s go ahead, Greysen and now Moon tried avocado as their first food, and always with a cup of water.  Since Moon does not yet sit on her own, she sits in our laps to eat.

 

In search of some additional first food ideas, I looked online for a little advice. I came across some helpful advice from the folks at Wholesome Baby Food. Their blog has some great first food recipes, and I find myself going to it back again and again for ideas. I also rely on Cooking for Baby, a great cookbook that focuses on foods for little ones 6 to 18 months.

 

My experiences feeding infants in the classroom changed my opinion on what constituted baby foods.  I also cared for children from various cultural upbringings which helped me see all the foods infants could try aside from cereal, such as spicy foods. With so many vegetables and fruits for Greysen yet to try cereal was very, very low on my list of must tastes for several reasons.

 

Reasons I think cereal can wait:

1. Potential allergies

 

Most experts recommend starting solids with rice cereal because it is a single grain and is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in most people. Other cereals such as wheat or mixed grain ones may cause an allergic reaction.

 

2. Nutritional content

 

Rice cereal is typically iron-fortified but inherently lacks the vitamins that other fruits and veggies are packed with.

Dr. Greer of the Committee on Nutrition, American Academy of Pediatrics,  explains that rice cereal has traditionally been the first complementary food given to American infants, but, “Complementary foods introduced to infants should be based on their nutrient requirements and the nutrient density of foods, not on traditional practices that have no scientific basis.”

 

3. Ability to Digest

Some parents have expressed some concern over rice cereal causing constipation. Rice is a binding agent and iron can also cause constipation so it leaves a question in my mind.

 

As with Greysen, we will not be giving Moon any rice cereal or any other baby cereals. Since the avocado, Moon has tried sweet potato, peas, apples, bananas, broccoli and butternut squash. Up next – lentils!

 

Do you have any traditions for your little ones around trying new foods?

2 Comments

  1. saleema dawood says:

    hi

    this is a great topic of discussion. it was only after my baby was in the habit of having his cereal in the morning…and loving it! that i read a book by a nutritionist Mary-anne shearer. she advises against cereal and recomends that baby have fruit for breakfast and lives on fruit an veg solely in his first year.
    So with no.2 this is the way im going! wish i had this bit of info beforehand.
    also many mums are duped into thinking that adding cereal to a babys diet early will bring better sleep….

    • Marisa says:

      Great point! Fruits and veggies are SO important. I have been reading more and more about the importance of protein for children younger than 12 months from the Academy of Pediatrics. We relied on legumes, tofu, and nuts as soon as they are ok to eat the first time around.

      I also have been advised several times to assist my troubled sleepers by giving them some cereal before bed. I had read something at one point about cereal being difficult to digest and so it sits in the stomach at night. I could not find any reliable resources for this line of thinking recently so not sure if it’s true or not.

      Thanks for your insights!

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