Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Foods for Teethers

My baby is 15 months old now and she eats anything and everything. We delayed "solids" until 6 months, choosing to let her happily grow exclusively on breast milk. When we did introduce them? We skipped jarred baby food entirely and opted for mashing and pureeing things at home. Not only that, by eight months she was eating "regular" food-- no pureeing required.

Here are ten of my favorite early table foods for "teethers"... by teethers, I'm referring to those babies who are just getting swollen gums (often a month or more before a pearly white appears!) to those who have several chompers already in place:

  1. Frozen Peas- straight out of the bag, as is. Peas are sweet and mild and too small to pose a choking risk. (This is a good time to mention that "choking" and "gagging" are two different things- just sayin'.)
  2. Frozen Blueberries- These make for messy faces, but blueberries are SO good for all of us, babies included! Some of the larger ones might make you nervous at first- feel free to halve or quarter them.
  3. Banana "Sticks"- Rather than slippery little slices, I cut bananas lengthwise into several "sticks". Babies can easily hold them and take bites.
  4. Cheerios- A list would not be complete without them! Cheerios are an easy, safe choice.
  5. Diced Low-Sodium Ham or Turkey Breast- I ask for one 1/4" thick slice from the deli and cut it into small cubes. These meats are easy to chew. Ham has a naturally sweet flavor to it that appeals to many babies!
  6. Diced Avocado- Another nutritional power-house! Jam-packed with healthy fats, avocado is mild and creamy. The mashed version is a perfect "first solid"- the diced version can be introduced soon there-after!
  7. String-Cheese "Quarters"- At this point, I just slice the string cheese into disks and call it good but, when starting out, halve or quarter the tube before chopping. Mozzarella is a mild, easy-to-digest cheese!
  8. Sweet Potato "Fries"- Cut sweet potatoes into strips, toss with a little butter or oil, and bake. You want the baby variety to be on the soft side and not have those yummy crispy edges we tend to like as adults. These are easy for baby to hold and bite and, again, are a nice transition from pureed sweet taters. They are also a much healthier "fry" to introduce than, say, the McDonald's variety...
  9. Ditallini pasta- This is the small, short, tube-shaped pasta... perfect for little fingers to grasp and it saves you "chopping" time.
  10. "Puffs"- This is my one concession to the "baby food companies". Especially for first-time parents, puffs can be a convenient, safe choice. Because they dissolve so quickly, the fear of choking (or even gagging) is greatly alleviated. You do NOT need them. Your baby will do just fine without them, but they are a convenient early finger food. For me? This baby is my third. I bought one container of puffs. She ate them. I refilled the empty container with Cheerios. ;) And so it goes...
Babies do NOT need teeth to enjoy table foods! There is such a wide range of when that first tooth pops through... some babies get it at 3 months, some at 13. Both are healthy, normal children. Don't let the baby food companies convince you that you need to buy endless jars and packages of baby and toddler food. Your pantry, freezer, and fridge can provide healthy, appropriate, fun foods for your emerging table food nosher.

What are some of your favorite first foods for teethers?

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