Cereal, a little mashed banana, or some pureed sweet potatoes? Turns out, there’s no hard-and-fast rule about what makes the best first food for baby when starting solids, says Eileen Behan, RD, author of The Baby Food Bible.
From fruits and veggies to infant cereal and even red meat, almost any nutritious, single-ingredient food, puréed without added sugar or sodium, should be okay (for a list of exceptions, see baby foods to avoid). 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.
For years, doctors have said fortified rice cereal is the best first food for baby because it’s easy to digest, contains iron and has a low allergy risk. But other foods 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.
By Stacy Whitman