Your baby’s first 12 months of life are marked by milestone after milestone, from learning how to roll over, sit up and crawl to growing those first few baby teeth and experiencing “real” food for the very first time. One especially exciting milestone is the move away from simple Stage 1 purees into the more…Read more
Just finished your 4- or 6-month well-baby checkup and got the seal of approval to start solids from your pediatrician? If you and your baby are ready for Stage 1 purees, you’re both in for an exciting adventure.
When introducing solid foods to your baby, single-ingredient fruit and veggie purees are the best place to start. Also called Stage 1 baby foods, these purees are served in addition to breast milk or formula and play several important roles for your baby:
- Helping them adjust to something other than breast milk or formula
- Developing tongue control, gumming and swallowing capabilities
- Identifying any food sensitivities or allergies
- Encouraging an early acceptance of varied flavors, colors and textures
To help you and your baby get started on this important phase of discovery, here are 10 of the best first baby foods—listed roughly in the order we’d recommend: first the sweeter orange veggies, then the more bitter green veggies and finally everyone’s favorite fruit. Bon appétit!
1. Carrot Puree
With a sweet taste and smooth consistency, pureed carrots are typically one of the most well-accepted first baby foods from 4–6 months of age. High in beta-carotene (which turns into vitamin A in the body), carrots help keep little eyes healthy.
Parent tip: If your baby doesn’t seem on board with the carrot puree, it may be the concept of solid food itself that’s confusing. Help your baby learn how to eat solids by giving them a chance to examine it themselves; dab some on the high chair and let them play around before offering it on a spoon.
2. Yam or Sweet Potato Puree
Sweet potatoes and yams are not the same, but when it comes to starting solids, they may as well be! Both are good sources of vitamin A, B6, C and E. These nutrients contribute to healthy eyesight and immune system function.
Parent tip: Yams and sweet potatoes are great to prepare in bulk. Simply set your oven to 450°F, pierce each sweet potato a few times with a fork and place in the oven on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil for approximately 50 minutes. When you take them out, the skin will peel right off, and the insides will be perfectly mashable! To extend the life of your mash or puree, batch some out and put it in the freezer. When you’re ready to use it, simply place in the fridge overnight, and you’ll have perfect puree by morning.
3. Acorn or Butternut Squash Puree
Butternut squash and acorn squash are packed with folate, calcium and vitamin A, an antioxidant that aids with vision and fights free radicals. Plus, their sweet taste and smooth texture make them an instant favorite for many babies!
Parent tip: You can make raw squash easier to cut by microwaving the entire squash on high for about 2 minutes. The skin and flesh will be much smoother, allowing you to smoothly slice through. Then scoop out the seeds and roast or boil before pureeing.
4. Green Pea Puree
In terms of green veggies, peas are one of the best first baby purees to start with, as they provide interesting texture and taste but aren’t bitter. Peas are also high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and protein, making them a great source of many important nutrients for your baby’s early development.
Parent tip: Because they’re such a starchy vegetable, even pureed peas may be too densely textured for very young babies. If your baby is having trouble with the thickness of the puree, use breast milk, formula or water to thin it out.
5. Green Bean Puree
Another hit with babies, green beans are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C and manganese, which play an important role in a healthy immune system, eyesight, blood clotting and bone development.
Parent tip: If you’re pureeing your own green beans, we recommend straining the puree after blending to extract any fibrous parts. The best first baby purees should be soupy enough to drip off a spoon, but thicker than liquid.
6. Avocado Puree
Avocados are rich in a variety of nutrients including fiber, vitamin K, folate and vitamin B6. This creamy green fruit is also packed with heart-healthy fats, which are helpful to your baby’s brain and nervous system development.
Parent tip: Look for ripe avocados that are soft to the touch and easy to mash. To see whether an avocado is ripe, check the nubby stem; if it wiggles, the fruit is probably ready to eat! Keep ripe avocados in the refrigerator so they last longer. Once the puree is made, we recommend feeding it to your baby right away to avoid browning and to offer the freshest experience.
7. Apple Puree
Apples’ sweet flavor makes them another well-accepted option for first baby foods from 4–6 months of age. Along with dietary fiber for digestive health, apples serve up vitamin C, which is known to help fight free radicals.
Parent tip: For an apple puree that your baby will love, try sweeter, smoother varieties such as Pink Lady, Gala or Golden Delicious. Any apple that bakes well, such as Granny Smith or Fuji, is also a good choice.
8. Pear Puree
Like apples, pears also contain dietary fiber and antioxidant vitamin C, helping to support a healthy immune system for your growing baby. Although our favorite is Anjou, babies love the sweet flavor of all kinds of pears!
Parent tip: To introduce a little variety without any added salt, sugar or seasoning, try mixing up how you cook the pears before pureeing. Start with a simple steam or boil and then move onto the richer, more caramelized flavor of baking or roasting.
9. Plantain or Banana Puree
The mild flavor of bananas and plantains is appealing to most babies, and the texture is easy to manipulate. Both of these fruits offer a variety of nutrients, including fiber for healthy digestion, potassium for blood function and antioxidant vitamin C.
Parent tip: Make your own easy banana puree by peeling, slicing and then mashing the fruit with a fork. For a thinner consistency, toss the banana in a food processor and add water, formula or breast milk as necessary.
10. Peach Puree
Boasting plenty of vitamins C and A, peaches are delightfully sweet and another one of the best first baby foods. Their bright yellow-orange color is complemented by powerful antioxidants along with a healthy serving of fiber to aid in your baby’s digestion.
Parent tip: Boil peaches for about 45 seconds to soften before blending. If the peaches are ripe enough, you can skip the boiling and the blender altogether and use a fork or potato masher instead.
It may take some time for your little one to first accept and then enjoy the new flavors of these Stage 1 purees, but don’t fret! Enjoy the process and be sure to give your baby multiple opportunities to explore the same puree.
Another reason that we love these fruits and veggies? In addition to being some of the best first baby purees, they’re also perfect for layering with new flavors, textures and spices/seasonings as your baby transitions from Stage 1 to Stage 2 baby foods. By laying a foundation of well-accepted flavors, you’ll have fun moving onto more exciting combinations of fruits, veggies, grains and proteins.
If you have questions about single-ingredient purees or need some guidance on transitioning to nutritious Stage 2 baby foods, please reach out to Nurture Life’s child nutrition team at firstname.lastname@example.org.