I’ve had a lot of fun starting solid foods with my little one this year. She’s responded very well to healthy whole foods like sweet potato, acorn squash, broccoli, avocado, eggs, salmon and coconut oil. But I’ve noticed that when she goes on playdates with the other kids, she’s exposed to a lot of finger food like Cheerios, Goldfish and Puffs. Though they are convenient, there are many reasons I’ve avoided feeding my baby these packaged snack foods:
- As a rule, for myself but especially for a baby, I stay away from foods with a long list of ingredients that I can’t recognize
- Processed foods are tough on the baby’s immature digestive system
- These “white” foods are nutritionally empty
- I’m concerned about starting a bad habit that I’ll regret later. Many moms with older kids told me they wish they had been more adventurous with introducing foods, stuck to whole foods, and stayed away from anything bread/sugar related.
- My baby literally only knows what I provide (ie she doesn’t even know that bagels exist at this stage!), so I want to provide the best.
- I want her to experience all of the tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, savory), and be careful not to favor ‘sweet’.
- I know that one day she might be a ‘picky’ eater, but for now at 9 months old, she loves everything so I might as well give her the most nutrient-dense options!
I do, however, see the benefit of developing the hand-eye coordination to eat bite-sized snacks. And I understand that if the baby is at the playground and all of the kids are eating snacks, she will also want to eat and will grab their food. So we needed some alternatives for “on the go” snacks.
Here are some of the bite-sized snacks that are working well for us:
- Blueberries (a little smushed so she doesn’t choke)
- Chopped strawberries
- Chopped canteloupe
- Chopped apple, or big apple slices to gnaw on
- Chopped Asian pear
- Peas (a little smushed)
- Seaweed snacks (messy but she loves them)
- Chopped avocado
- Small pieces of steamed carrot, or a giant carrot to gnaw on (great for teething!)
- Sweet potato “fries”
- Small bits of cheese
Puffs and O’s might be more convenient, but it’s really not so hard to chop up some apple or toss some blueberries in a small container. For now, we’re sticking to nature’s ‘fast food’!
The Be Well coaches have been a great source of advice and guidance as I’ve introduced solid foods to my baby. Here’s a very helpful blog post from Katrine van Wyk, “Healthy Food Ideas for your Baby.”
We also have a great article, “Puffs: A Healthful Baby Food or Just Clever Marketing?” by Maia James on the blog.