New foods to feed your baby, from A to Z

New foods to feed your baby, from A to Z

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Offering a range of flavors early on will encourage your baby to become a more adventurous – and less picky – eater. A varied diet also delivers a wider range of nutrients. From avocado to zucchini, here are dozens of easy and inspiring ideas to expand the palate of your foodie-in-training.

First, a few reminders:

  • Wait three to five days before offering a new food. That way you can monitor for any allergic reaction and know what's causing it.
  • Make sure that whatever you feed your baby matches his chewing skills – smooth purees when you're introducing solids, gradually advancing to thicker, chunkier textures and finger foods as your baby's eating skills improve.
  • Baby food doesn't have to be homemade to be nutritious. Store-bought versions of the recipes below can be just as healthy – and a lot more convenient.


Don't shy away from adding herbs, spices, and aromatic vegetables – such as garlic and onion – to your little one's food. Babies around the world dine on spicy food, and if you breastfeed, your baby has already been exposed to the flavors you enjoy in your diet.

Do try only one new flavor at a time at first, and don't add salt or sugar. Here are some delicious ideas for introducing a wider range of flavors:

  • Black pepper adds depth to anything savory, from minced beef to green beans (and is also an antioxidant and good for gastrointestinal health). Use a grinder for the freshest taste, and add pepper slowly to taste – even a small amount can boost the flavor of other foods.
  • Chili powder and cumin give this smashed chickpea and butternut squash chili a mild kick and balance the sweetness of winter squash with some savoriness.
  • Cinnamon added to oatmeal with apples smells as delicious as this classic mixture tastes. Grated apples add texture, but premade unsweetened applesauce also works.
  • Garlic and tahini give protein-packed homemade hummus its trademark taste, so don't skip the fresh garlic, just mince it very finely. Customize hummus wraps for your toddler with whatever vegetables are on hand.
  • Ginger elevates sweet roasted pears.
  • Paprika ranges from mild to hot, and its appeal goes beyond your baby's taste buds. She'll appreciate the bright color this spice adds to anything from rice to roast chicken. Try deep red smoked paprika for its mouthwatering smoky aroma and flavor.

More to try: cilantro, dill, green onion, leeks, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, onion, oregano, rosemary, sage, tamarind, thyme, turmeric


Cow's milk should not be given to babies before their first birthday, but after they've tried a few first foods, they can begin to enjoy other dairy, including cheese and one of our favorite first-food picks: unsweetened plain whole-milk yogurt, especially low-sugar Greek and Icelandic options.

Cheese and yogurt are both rich sources of calcium and protein. Yogurt is an especially versatile ingredient. Spoon it up plain, sprinkled with cinnamon, or mixed with fruit, veggies, or even meat. You can also use it to thicken purees and give them a creamier texture or lip-smacking tartness, which some babies love.

  • Butter melted over veggies (or a sprinkle of pepper or cumin) may encourage a picky eater to rethink previously shunned vegetables such as cauliflower, peas, brussels sprouts, and more. And butter provides fat, which your growing little one needs. Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends not restricting fat in your baby's diet before he's 2 years old.
  • Cheddar cheese with broccoli and cauliflower may gain special favor with mac 'n' cheese lovers.
  • Ricotta cheese, spinach, and a hint of lemon come together in this easy pasta dish. Double or triple the recipe and add the optional marinara sauce, if you like, for a meal the whole family will love.
  • Yogurt gets added color (and nutrients) when you swirl in pureed blueberries and raspberries. Customized with fresh herbs, yogurt dip gives your toddler a fun way to experiment with mixing finger foods on his own terms.

More to try: The list of different types of cheese is nearly endless – and who knows which will be your baby's favorites until he samples a variety? Start with small amounts of soft pasteurized cheese or cottage cheese. As your baby's chewing skills progress, small dices or thinly sliced strips of hard cheeses such as Havarti, Monterey jack, mozzarella, or Muenster make good finger foods.


Fish is a stellar source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients, including vitamins B12 and D. Pick from the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) list of best choices selected for low mercury content (listed in "More to try," below).

Because fish and shellfish are among the top allergenic foods, doctors recommend starting with less-allergenic first foods such as pureed meat, fruits, or vegetables before offering your baby fish.

  • Fish can dry out easily in the frying pan or on a grill, so for your baby's first tries, poaching is a good method for keeping it moist: Simply place it in simmering (not boiling) water just until cooked through completely. Depending on your baby's eating skills, puree or chop the cooked fish.
  • Salmon is an especially healthy first food and has a mild, not-too-fishy flavor. For older babies, combine wild salmon, asparagus, and peas, or for a fun finger-food option, make adorable little salmon cakes.
  • Tuna in cans is a pantry staple and a convenient way to have fish on hand. Note: The FDA recommends buying only canned light tuna for its lower mercury level.

More to try: The FDA's list of best choices includes anchovy, Atlantic croaker, Atlantic mackerel, black sea bass, butterfish, catfish, clam, cod, crab, crawfish, flounder, haddock, hake, herring, lobster (American and spiny), mullet, oyster, Pacific chub mackerel, perch (freshwater and ocean), pickerel, plaice, pollock, sardine, scallop, shad, shrimp, skate, smelt, sole, squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting.


It's a myth that offering fruit to your baby contributes to a sweet tooth later in life. Now's the time to take advantage of all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that whole fruit provides (not fruit juice, which is loaded with extra sugars).

For the freshest and most flavorful fruit – and more organic options – shop in season and take advantage of farmers' markets. Adding fruit puree to other foods, such as meat or yogurt, is a simple way to add more complex flavors to your baby's menu.

  • Apple and pear sauce contains a healthy dose of fiber, helpful for relieving constipation.
  • Avocado, fresh lime juice, and yogurt give kid-friendly guacamole a tangy taste along with healthy fats and calcium.
  • Coconut milk makes rice pudding with blueberry compote extra creamy.
  • Kiwi or papaya gives fruit salad a colorful, tropical flair.
  • Mango and banana are popular first foods on their own, and your baby might think they're even more delicious together in a fresh fruit puree.
  • Peach or nectarine puree serves up a burst of sweet flavor in the summertime when they're in peak season.

More to try: apricot, blackberry, blueberry, cantaloupe, cherry, coconut, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew, lemon, lime, lychee, orange, passion fruit, pineapple, plantain, plum, prunes, raspberry, star fruit, strawberry, tangerine, tomato, watermelon


Cereal grains and similar foods provide your baby with an important source of energy in the form of carbohydrates. Look for foods such as breads, tortillas, and pastas made with whole grains, which include the entire grain seed and all of its nutrients. Cooked grains, such as bulgur or oats, can expose your baby to a range of new textures.

Fun fact: True grains, such as wheat, are grasses. Quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat are called "pseudograins" or "pseudocereals" because these protein-packed seeds are in a different plant family.

  • Barley and mushrooms in a savory dish combine a nutty whole grain with an earthy vegetable.
  • Oats mixed with prunes boost fiber in your baby's diet.
  • Quinoa, black beans, and corn team up to make a hearty meal.
  • Rice fried up with egg and vegetables is an easy way to use up leftovers. Experiment with brown, black, and purple rice – all are colorful whole grains.

More to try: amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, whole-grain cornmeal, couscous, farro, kamut (Khorasan wheat), kasha, millet


The AAP says that meat can be a wonderful first food. Babies can more easily absorb iron from meat than from iron-fortified infant cereals. Plus, it's chock-full of protein.

If your baby is just starting solids, puree plain cooked meat with breast milk or formula to achieve the desired consistency. As her chewing and swallowing skills improve, transition to ground, finely chopped, or diced meat.

  • Beef or lamb plays a starring role in a mini shepherd's pie. This basic stew recipe makes enough braised meat for the whole family.
  • Chicken curry with green beans and zucchini serves up meat and veggies in an aromatic and kid-crowd-pleasing curry sauce that kicks flavor up several notches. If your toddler prefers something milder, try a healthier baked version of chicken tenders.
  • Turkey puree is easy peasy when you brown ground meat. Turkey meatballs have a secret ingredient: prunes, which keep the meatballs moist and tender.

More to try: duck, goat, pork, venison

And while eggs aren't technically considered meat, they're a nutritionally rich type of animal protein. Try eggs scrambled with tomato and avocado – or any chopped leftover vegetables – for a healthy, baby-friendly breakfast.

Note: Eggs are an allergenic food. Give your baby her first taste of egg only after she has tried and tolerated a few other nonallergenic foods.


From dark leafy greens to protein-packed beans, veggies are nutritional superheroes. Bold and bright colors signal healthy nutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals. Offering your baby a rainbow of options, from red beets to green asparagus to orange squash, is one way to help ensure a balanced diet.

Bags of prewashed, precut fresh or frozen vegetables are a convenient shortcut in the kitchen. If your baby turns his nose up at plain steamed or baked vegetables, a different prep method or temperature could change his mind. Some babies prefer broccoli cold, for instance. The caramelized flavor of roasted cauliflower or brussels sprouts can convert even adult naysayers.

  • Asparagus teams up with Arborio rice in this creamy risotto.
  • Black beans form the high-fiber foundation of this tasty veggie burger.
  • Butternut and acorn squashes, as well as pumpkin, have orange flesh that signals an abundance of the nutrient beta-carotene.
  • Cauliflower has made a name for itself as an alternative to potatoes. Case in point: What's not to like about fluffy, whipped cauliflower infused with melted butter?
  • Lentil and spinach stew offers older babies more complex flavors and textures, as well as fiber, protein, folate, and B vitamins from the quick-cooking lentils.
  • Mushroom frittatas aren't just for breakfast, and these mini versions are perfect for using up little bits of leftover vegetables or meat.
  • Parsnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes come together in a root vegetable mash.
  • Pea puree transforms into something new when you add fresh mint leaves.
  • Sweet potato puree is among the most popular and healthiest first foods for babies. When it comes to finger foods, baked sweet potato fries trump french fries, which are one of the worst foods for babies.
  • Zucchini puree is a warm-weather win when gardens fill with ripe summer squash. Even picky eaters won't mind vegetables delivered with a hint of cinnamon in a bite-size zucchini muffin.
  • More to try: beets, bell pepper, black-eyed peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, corn, edamame, eggplant, fava beans, garbanzo beans, green beans, jicama, kale, kidney beans, lettuce, pinto beans, potatoes, prunes (a.k.a. dried plums), pumpkin, red beans, rutabaga, spaghetti squash, split peas, string beans, Swiss chard, tempeh, tofu, turnips, yams

Watch the video: How the food you eat affects your gut - Shilpa Ravella (June 2022).


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