Homemade first foods

Your baby’s life is full of wondrous little stepping stones that ceremoniously usher him through the first year. As a parent, nurturing your baby from the inside out is naturally a top priority. When the time comes, a part of nurturing includes nourishing your little one with quality starter foods that will help him grow and thrive.

Preparing foods for your baby doesn’t have to be from the baby food aisle to your little one’s mouth. In fact, many of the foods you plan on making as a meal for yourself can be made for baby as well. If your kitchen is equipped with a stove, blender and a few common seasonings and foods, you’re well on your way to becoming your baby’s favorite chef.

Traci Danielson Mitchell is a Chicago-based nutrition coach and health writer. She provides family nutrition services through her company, DM Nutrition& Fitness. Reach her online at www.dmnutrition.com or e-mail her at traci@dmnutrition.com.

Four to six months

Somewhere between four and six months your baby should be ready to start on solid foods. Even though we, as parents, are excited to see our baby’s eyes light up when he eats something he likes, it’s a good idea to start with basic rice cereal. Rice cereal is gluten-free and is less likely to be allergenic than oatmeal or barley. After you’re confident your baby is managing rice cereal, it’s probably safe to introduce a new cereal, such as oatmeal or barley.

Love oatmeal in the morning? So will your baby. Try this flavorful breakfast blend to start off the day.

Banana-Cinnamon Oatmeal

1 c. boiled water

½ c. ground old-fashioned oats

½ banana, chopped

¼ tsp. cinnamon

4 to 8 oz. breast milk or prepared formula

Grind one half cup of old fashioned oats (or substitute instant oats if grinder is unavailable). Add oats to blender along with water, banana and cinnamon. Blend until smooth and thick. Gradually add in breast milk or formula until desired thickness is achieved (semi-liquid cereals are best for very new eaters). Serve immediately or freeze for later. Makes between four and six servings.

Eight to 10 months

By this time, your baby should be regularly eating fruits, vegetables and grains. Adding protein to your baby’s diet is an important part of fulfilling his increasing nutritional needs. Small amounts of protein, including meat, poultry and even cottage cheese should be added on a daily basis. Your baby can eat nearly the same thing as you, just a smoother, mellower version.

Grilled Chicken with Dill Mashed Potatoes

4 oz. (or about one adult serving) chicken breast, cooked and finely diced

1 c. mashed potato (prepare with water instead of milk or butter)

¼ c. breast milk or prepared formula

½ tsp. fresh or dried dill

Add mashed potatoes to blender along with the chicken breast and dill. Begin blending and gradually add in breast milk or formula until desired thickness is achieved. Start with a smoother blend for younger eaters and chunkier blend for older eaters. Serve with a side of mashed peas or carrots and you’ve got a great meal.

Ten to 12 months

It’s time to add some more texture to your baby’s diet. Watered-down cereals and overly pureed vegetables are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Your baby’s palate is ready for something more adventurous. Here’s a recipe your entire family, and, with one simple modification, your baby, will enjoy.

Turkey Spinach Casserole

1 lb. ground turkey, cooked

4 c. baby spinach, chopped (fresh)

2 c. whole grain pasta, cooked (preferably macaroni or farfalle)

1½ c. shredded cheddar cheese

1 c. onion, chopped

1 c. chicken stock (preferably organic)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine and mix turkey, spinach, pasta, onion and chicken stock in medium-size bowl. Consistency should be relatively thick. Pour mixture into casserole dish. Top mixture with cheddar cheese. Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking for 10 minutes.

While this wholesome dish may be ready to serve for adults, there’s just one more step before it’s ready for baby. Quickly blend (with a standard blender or hand blender) enough for baby to eat, adding just enough water to smooth out the meal a little bit.

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