Baby Friendly Foods Parents Can Enjoy

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When your baby starts to eat solid food, sometime around five or six months, it’s easy to figure out what to feed them because you start slowly and then gradually add things on. By the time they are 10 or so months old, though, you might be running out of ideas of foods that are both safe for them to eat without the danger of choking and also not too much work to prepare.

One thing that can help with the work of preparing baby food is to cook things that you will also enjoy. Plus, my kids have always eaten better when they’re eating something similar to what the adults have on their plates. Here, we’ll discuss several versatile options that will both get baby the nutrients they need and please any older eaters in the family.

Avocado toast

 Though people like to joke that Millennials eat too much of this trendy toast, I’m a Millennial and I can confirm that it is delicious. Smashing a ripe avocado on top of some yummy whole-grain or sourdough bread, then topping it with feta cheese, spices like smoked paprika, and some hot sauce is a great, fast meal. You can make it right for baby by not toasting the bread much and skipping the toppings other than avocado.

Beans

 Legumes, especially lentils and black beans, are always a hit in my family. Though beans take time, it’s not usually very hands-on to prepare them, and they cook up nice and soft for new eaters. Lentils are even faster and incorporate well into soups. We also love to put cooked beans and lentils into quesadillas and tacos. For a young baby, you can offer a less-seasoned, smashed up bean, but for older babies the sky is the limit for what they might enjoy, including this beef and bean chili.

Soups and stews

 Many food cultures have some version of a soup or stew with well-cooked vegetables, some liquid base, and some type of protein. Whatever the adults in your family like eating in this category is worth a try with your baby. If it’s a chicken noodle soup, pull out veggies, noodles, and small pieces of chicken to cool and let baby try them and sip broth off a spoon. If it’s a lentil dahl—a thick lentil stew—offer baby small bites that you’ve let cool. Some people wouldn’t advocate to offer baby something too strongly flavored, but our kids have always done well with spice, so your baby might too.

 Fruit salad

This is an easy one to make work for your family. You just combine any fruit—usually cut up into similarly sized pieces—in a dish and enjoy. This offering appeals to babies because they get to make choices about what to have from the variety offered and many fruit textures are soft enough for them. Make sure that nothing is cut into a size that baby could choke on. Grapes and other round fruits are especially tricky and must be cut up. Harder fruits such as apples are best left out of fruit salad for younger babies and toddlers, but soft fruit such as berries, pears, and mangoes are good taste and textural experiences for babies to have. For a twist on fruit salad, check out this berry soup.

Roasted vegetables

 Roasting vegetables—my favorites are all orange: carrots, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes—makes them soft, but not as mushy as steaming or boiling can do. Roasting vegetables also gives a different depth of flavor than something that is steamed. For something different, try roasting cabbage in wedges, which makes it soft and easy to cut up for baby.

 Meatloaf, meatballs, and vegetarian alternatives

 Anything that involves something ground up and mixed together—whether that’s ground meat with seasonings or a vegetarian alternative like mashed beans or rice or cauliflower—is probably going to be a good texture for a little bit older baby. It’s important when offering these things that baby has had most of the ingredients before, which could help you pinpoint the offending ingredient if baby shows signs of an allergy. But once they’ve eaten things a few times without incident, it’s okay to include them in a meatloaf or meatball.

Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and children in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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