Starting your baby on solids can be a confusing time. Just when you start getting the feeding schedule down, you’re meant to add in an actual sit down “meal.” How do we make time for that, too?! It can be a really exciting time but also very daunting.

There is a ton of information out there, but it’s never totally clear and it’s never in one concise place. There are websites, books, blogs, and ugh…pinterest, but really who is making sense of all of this information? Even our pediatricians suggestions have changed in the last few years.

Clearly, this subject feels complex and can actually be quite emotional. {{There is certainly more than one article’s worth of information in the world of baby food!}}. I am going to try my best to take it down a notch by sharing some helpful tips and hopefully demystify some of the uncertainty around the not so-simple-world of baby food.

1. No more mom guilt! It’s okay if they eat the same thing over and over in the first few months! They will not turn into a sweet potato, I swear. The trick here is to add a spice or start changing up the way it’s cooked. Sauté! Roast! As their little digestive track gets more comfortable with food, you can add beans and legumes into that classic sweet potato puree.

2. Have good tools but don’t get crazy for gadgets. Do you need a pot with a good steaming basket? Yes. Do you need a blender or food processor? Yes. Do you need a oven? Yes. Do you need handy little freezer trays? Ok, sure. Are we done? Yes.

3. Just do it: try a baby broth recipe. Once your little one has a more adventurous palate, you can start making baby broth. Seriously embarrassed to admit how much I love making baby broth. All those good nutritious veggies and greens seeped into water that you then use to purée that one simple squash! It’s like the triple threat of baby food. Kale juice for a 7 month old? Yes!! If that sounds like too much work, then try saving the cooking liquid and add it to the pureed foods. Leftover liquid from those boiled carrots? Freeze the broth in individual little cubes and use it to thin out food that is too thick.

Demystifying the Baby Food Mystery - (cool) progeny

4. Do not be afraid of spices and herbs. Babies appreciate a little zest. Spices and herbs will help to develop their palate for future adventures in eating. Some of my most favorite baby friendly herbs and spices are: cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, sage, garlic, lime, and chili pepper (yes, chili pepper).

5. Go for the good fats first. Olive oil, avocado, coconut oil… These are all safe for baby from early on. Avocado is the perfect first food for baby. Skip the rice cereal and go straight for an avocado. Spoon it straight from it’s skin. Drizzle olive oil on their first foods. Roast sweet potatoes, carrots or squash in raw organic coconut oil or add a spoonful to your steamed veggies before pureeing.

6. Protein! {Yes, protein!} Baking meat retains the most nutrients as opposed to poaching or steaming. Try mini turkey meat balls or simple cumin and cinnamon baked chicken. Once your meat is cooled, you can cube or shred it for the finger food eaters or purée with a soft vegetable or bean for those still on purées. Keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge and scrape out the egg yolk to mash into a purée. Some of my favorite egg yolk combinations include: yolk and avocado, yolk and butternut squash, smeared yolk on toast points.

Demystifying the Baby Food Mystery - (cool) progeny

7. Red lentils are your friend. This versatile little legume is not only one of the easiest of all the legumes on our digestion, but it is a low calorie/high protein, iron rich food. A total super food for your baby! They are the quickest cooking of all the lentils, freeze well, and they are the perfect consistency for our little food explorers.

Need help getting started with baby food? Here are two of my favorite recipes! 

Demystifying the Baby Food Mystery - (cool) progeny

Matteo’s Roasted Cauliflower with Sage and White Bean Purée

Roast cauliflower florets in olive oil, sage leaves, and a little broth in a roasting pan. I make extra in case we are using the cauliflower for our dinner. (Roasted cauliflower with a poached egg atop a bed of greens or pasta is one of our favorite winter staples!) Once you have your roasted cauliflower, you can purée it with rinsed and drained Cannellini beans. When your baby is old enough and ready for more food combining, you can start using this base purée as a staple for other ingredients like shredded chicken, goat cheese, or sautéed spinach.

Demystifying the Baby Food Mystery - (cool) progeny

Ruby’s Lentil and Spinach Mash-Up

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan (I add chopped onions, too). Add turmeric and cumin, 1 cup of red lentils, and toss to coat in spices and oil.  Add 2 cups of broth or water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cover. After about 10 minutes, add a handful of freshly washed and chopped spinach leaves. Cover again and let lentils cook down until mushy, about 10 more minutes.

Enjoy this time with your little adventurers! Remember their palates are always changing, so something that was unsuccessful one day may be a hit the next. The most important tip for us to remember, as parents, is to keep mealtime simple by accepting the trial and error. It’s a new trade that their learning, too!

Have questions about feeding your baby? Leave a comment — it might be the inspiration for a future article!