There’s no hard-and-fast rule about what food is best to start with, says Eileen Behan, RD, author of The Baby Food Bible. From fruits and veggies like butternut squash puree to infant cereal and even red meat, almost any nutritious, single-ingredient food, puréed without added sugar or sodium, should be okay (see Baby Foods to Avoid for a list of exceptions). Despite what some say, there’s no evidence that your baby will fancy vegetables more if you feed them to him before other foods, Behan says. (Here’s our easy guide for how to make your own baby food.)
For years, doctors have advised starting with fortified rice cereal because it’s easy to digest, contains iron and has a low allergy risk. But you can introduce solid food from other groups are also nutritious and well tolerated. Recent reports of “worrisome” levels of arsenic, a known human carcinogen, in rice products have made many people wary of feeding rice cereal to their infants. However, the AAP says that, pending further research, parents need not avoid rice cereal altogether, but that babies should be fed a variety of grains, including oats and barley, to minimize arsenic exposure.