building blocks for first tastes

Baby Food

by Sydney Bender

Baby Food

Elizabeth Cecil

The first solid food I ever gave my daughter was puréed sweet potato mixed with half a bottle of breast milk. The consistency of it was so thin that it didn’t even look like a solid food; it looked more like the remnants of a melted Creamsicle.

But I fed the orange milk to her anyway, on a spoon. She sat in her high chair; her tousled hair in different directions, bib on, big grey eyes staring intently at it. She opened her round, pursed lips and then swallowed.

Success! That was it. She had triumphantly eaten her first solid food, sweet potato.

Those first little bites were a big milestone because introducing solid food to a baby is both exciting and daunting.

Nothing was cuter than watching her be spoon fed, yet I was terrified of her choking, of allergies, of her not being interested in anything besides breast milk.

Leya, my daughter, ate the diluted sweet potato for the next four days. Doctors recommend that babies eat the same single food for four days in a row in order to monitor them for a reaction. If there’s no reaction, you’re safe to introduce a new food.

Next she tried avocado, which I mashed up and mixed with breast milk just like the sweet potatoes. Then came pears, butternut squash, apples, sweet peas, mango—the options were endless, and fun.

Slowly, I would lessen the milk added into her food, and soon, the food was thick enough for her to pick up on her own. (Cue the napkins, wipes, towels, outfit changes, and after-meal baths).

Even before my daughter was born, I had planned on making all of her food. I love cooking, so it seemed like the natural thing to do. While there are plenty of options for great, organic baby food sold on shelves, making Leya’s food was something that benefited both of us.

These days my curious and happy 1-year-old feeds herself foods similar to what my husband and I eat— strawberries, chicken salad, and, now that it’s summer, healthy, delicious homemadepopsicles.