Baby’s FIRST FOODS

New mum Mag­dalena Roze shares her tips for start­ing off with solids in this ex­tract from her book Happy & Whole

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Bedtime Guide -

Iab­so­lutely love cook­ing for my family, es­pe­cially my son Archie. I re­mem­ber how ex­cited Dar­ren and I were about giv­ing him solids for the first time – there was so much dis­cus­sion around what his very first ‘taste’ would be. Sweet potato? Ap­ple? Ba­nana? In the end, pump­kin won. Clas­sic, earthy, warm­ing, ground­ing with both sweet and savoury notes (sounds like I’m de­scrib­ing a wine!), and per­haps best tasted in its sim­plest form, or mashed with co­conut oil or ghee.

To cook or NOT TO COOK

While I cook the ma­jor­ity of Archie’s meals fresh, pre­par­ing food in batches and freez­ing por­tions is a great op­tion if you work or have many mouths to feed. In fact, it can be a good idea to have some back­ups in the freezer, es­pe­cially on the dif­fi­cult days.

I’m for­tu­nate that I love cook­ing so, for me, hav­ing to pre­pare fresh food was a calm­ing cir­cuit breaker dur­ing those first few months. And I’ve been mak­ing the most of it, as it might not be so calm­ing once there’s more than one child!

First FOODS

While there are dif­fer­ent view­points, most of the lit­er­a­ture rec­om­mends start­ing your baby on solids at six months. This is be­cause from around six months of age, ba­bies re­quire more than breast­milk to meet their nu­tri­tional needs, es­pe­cially iron, vi­ta­min D and pro­tein. I started Archie with fresh, un­pro­cessed, nu­tri­en­trich whole­foods – some­thing my pae­di­a­tri­cian en­cour­aged (‘give him ev­ery­thing in the first year!’).

Although I started off with simple, ground­ing foods that were gen­tle on his de­vel­op­ing di­ges­tive sys­tem, they

weren’t nec­es­sar­ily bland in flavour. My trick was to make him food that I’d want to eat my­self, so if he didn’t want it, it wouldn't go to waste. And I’d of­fer Archie a par­tic­u­lar food many times be­fore I de­cided that he didn’t like it. I fig­ured that ba­bies are no dif­fer­ent to us: some­times they just don’t feel like some­thing, aren’t hun­gry, might be thirsty, not in the mood or sim­ply don’t recog­nise the tex­ture. Ground­ing fruits & VEG­ETA­BLES New fruits and veg­eta­bles can be in­tro­duced as quickly as you like – there’s no need to do pump­kin for a week and then move on to the next thing. Hav­ing said that, I’ve eased him into var­i­ous foods grad­u­ally, start­ing with the sim­plest, such as cooked and mashed root veg­eta­bles, ap­ples and pears as well as ba­nana and av­o­cado, to give his lit­tle de­vel­op­ing di­ges­tive sys­tem a chance to get used to all of these new foods. They can be served alone or mixed with a liq­uid such as breast­milk or boiled and cooled water.

Eggs & MEAT

These pro­vide pro­tein and the all-im­por­tant min­eral, iron. Egg yolk and liver are ex­cel­lent sources of iron. I bought good-qual­ity or­ganic liver from the butcher, di­vided it into tea­spoon- or ta­ble­spoon-sized por­tions and froze it in zip-lock bags, so it was ready to go. I cooked the liver with Archie’s steamed veg­eta­bles to make purées a cou­ple of times a week. Af­ter a few weeks, I in­tro­duced poached chicken and fish, and af­ter a few months a lit­tle red meat, too.

Good FATS

I like to en­rich meals with good fats, such as a tea­spoon of co­conut oil, ghee or bone broth. Puréed fruits are also de­li­cious with a tea­spoon of nut but­ter or a lit­tle spice in­clud­ing vanilla, cin­na­mon or nut­meg.

Whole­grains

When it comes to whole­grains, I try to soak them the night be­fore with some lemon juice (about one tea­spoon per cup of dried grain), to make them more di­gestible, and then cook as nor­mal the next day. Mind you, I don’t do this all the time, as I of­ten for­get or run out of time. Brown rice and quinoa are favourites, as Dar­ren and I like to eat those, too. Oats are a break­fast sta­ple be­cause we all love them.

From around nine to 12 months, I’d give Archie some sour­dough bread to chew on oc­ca­sion­ally. I don’t have any is­sues with gluten, but I pre­fer sour­dough breads as they are slow-fer­mented with a starter, which makes them more di­gestible.

Dairy

There are var­i­ous schools of thought on the pros and cons of in­tro­duc­ing dairy to in­fants, so it’s al­ways best to con­sult a trusted health prac­ti­tioner. (I was for­tu­nate to be able to see Dr Howard Chilton, a won­der­ful pae­di­a­tri­cian and neona­tol­o­gist who has a prac­tice in Ban­ga­low.)

The main ad­van­tage of dairy is cal­cium, though cal­cium can also be found in de­cent quan­ti­ties in al­mond nut milk, fish and veg­eta­bles. For ex­am­ple, 250ml (1 cup) of cow’s milk con­tains 300mg of cal­cium, while 85g of sar­dines con­tains 371g of cal­cium. Be­cause I was breast­feed­ing, the only dairy I gave Archie in the first year was ghee, and oc­ca­sion­ally a lit­tle or­ganic, plain, full-fat cul­tured yo­ghurt as a snack from about eight months.

This is an edited ex­tract from Happy & Whole: Whole­food recipes and ideas to nour­ish the body, soul and home, by Mag­dalena Roze (Pan Macmil­lan, $39.99).

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