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So often we hear the question, “What would be your last meal on Earth?” (mine would include fish tacos and carrot cake, for the record), but rarely do we sit back to think, “What was my first meal on Earth?” As loving caregivers and parents, serving up the first real meal to our little one is a big and exciting moment – a time when your baby finally gets the opportunity to explore the wonderful world of real food.
And while the first meal really is exciting, keep in mind that for several more months, your baby is still drinking the majority of their calories and nutrients. Mealtime during these early months is more of an opportunity for your baby to experience different tastes and textures and foster a healthy relationship with food.
Traditionally, iron-fortified baby cereals mixed with breastmilk or formula have been given as first foods primarily because iron is a top priority nutrient for babies. This is because iron carries oxygen throughout the body, supplying it for brain development and quickly growing bodies. But of course, pureed fruits and veggies also make delicious and nutrient-rich starter foods as well. Some favorites include avocado, sweet potato, carrots, banana, or peas.
Another important detail to keep in mind these early months is that current evidence does not indicate the need to wait beyond six months to introduce potentially allergy-causing foods such as dairy, peanuts, or eggs. In fact, research shows that delaying these foods may actually promote the development of food allergies. So, it’s encouraged to incorporate these foods early and often.
This first meal is an exciting milestone and one that you can simultaneously approach with ease. Regardless of the outcome – whether the food is met with a distasteful expression or with pure bliss – try not to sweat it. You have years of meals to enjoy together.