Baby’s FIRST FOODS
New mum Magdalena Roze shares her tips for starting off with solids in this extract from her book Happy & Whole
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).