Take a moment to think back to everything you did to prepare for your baby during pregnancy. You probably bought an abundance of baby clothes, decorated a nursery, and bought a car seat. You did all of this and more to keep your baby healthy and safe. The beautiful thing about parenting is that we continue to take all these precautions to ensure that our children are safe and healthy. As parents, we strive to provide the best care for our children throughout their lives. There is one aspect of raising a baby that is often forgotten — nourishing the growing child with nutritious food. Many parents feel unsure of what and when to feed their baby or what recipes to make in their first year that are essential to baby’s growth and development.
From when the baby is born until the ages of six and twelve months, the baby is still getting most of his necessary nutrition and calories from breast milk or formula. During this first year of the baby’s life, it is best to introduce foods to get the baby to enjoy the taste of healthy foods. Giving your baby food during this point in his life is referred to as “complementary” because it is not necessary but complements breast milk or formula.
Recipes to Make Your Baby
Let’s focus on what recipes to make your baby during the first year, broken down month by month, starting from when they are born. Your baby needs to have a well-rounded diet to get all the nutrients he needs. Here is what to feed your baby (including yummy recipes) during the first year.
Birth to 6 Months Old
Once you welcome your little one into this world, it is time to start feeding and nourishing them through breast milk or formula! Breast milk or formula is the primary source of calories and nutrition during your baby’s first year. Unless the doctor advises otherwise, it is best to feed your infant exclusively with breast milk or formula. This ensures that they get the adequate nutrients they need to continue growing!
Within the first few days of your child’s life, they will need to feed very often—their stomach is so little! At this time, your baby will likely eat as often as every 1-3 hours. If you use formula, you can start by offering your baby 1-2 ounces of formula every 2-3 hours.
As your baby grows, so does their stomach! This means that entering into the first few weeks and months of your infant’s life, they will start drinking more at each feeding. Most babies will need to be fed every 2-4 hours. Generally, your baby will breastfeed about 8-12 times per day.
6 Months Old
Around six months old, babies can already look at themselves in the mirror, respond to others’ emotions, and respond to a voice by turning towards it. When introducing solids, you must be mindful of the texture and thickness of the food. The baby has only been consuming liquids until this point, so start with a liquid-like consistency. Thicker textures can come gradually but stick to thin liquids for now.
Focus on iron.
The nutrient that should be focused on this month is iron. Although breast milk provides the baby with some iron, it is not quite enough to keep up with the demands of your rapidly growing infant. A great option to get your infant adequate iron is puréed, fortified cereals. You might also consider trying peas, peaches, or beans (if they are puréed and thinned out). Additional foods to try during this month are barley cereal (puréed), oatmeal (puréed), or puréed dark leafy green vegetables.
Baby Oatmeal Recipe:
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 2/3 cup water
- Place the oats in a blender and blend to a fine powder.
- Boil the water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Whisk in the oatmeal powder and lower the heat.
- Stir occasionally until all water is absorbed and oats have thickened.
- Cool to room temperature and serve.
7 Months Old
During a baby’s seventh month, he may be engaging in hiding games such as “finding” objects that have been covered up. At this point, the baby is likely able to sit up by himself without assistance.
Focus on carbohydrates.
The nutrient that you should focus on during month 7 is carbohydrates. As previously alluded to, the baby’s activity is constantly increasing, and sufficient carbohydrates are needed to keep up! The right amount of carbohydrates allows your baby to have enough energy. Some high-carbohydrate sources are puréed brown rice, puréed oatmeal (unsweetened), puréed sweet potatoes, and puréed fruits (ripe bananas, pears, and apples). Additional foods to try during this month are chickpeas (puréed), whole-grain baby cereal, or steamed and puréed peas.
Apple-Pear Purée Recipe
- 1 ½ pounds pears
- 1 ½ pounds apples
- Peel and core the pears and apples and cut them into 1-inch chunks.
- Boil an inch of water in a pan fitted with a steamer.
- Place the 1-inch chunks in the steamer and steam until the fruit is very soft (6-8 minutes).
- Let the fruit cool.
- Blend the fruit and purée until smooth—adding minimal water may be necessary.
8 Months Old
At this point in the infant’s development, he is constantly on the move and getting his hands on whatever he can touch! Your baby’s vision has also become more developed, and they can focus on tasks more easily.
Focus on Vitamin A.
The nutrient to focus on this month is vitamin A — perfect for your baby’s developing eyesight! Vitamin A is essential for cell growth, immunity, and fighting infections. A great source of vitamin A is puréed carrots! You might also want to try sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, apricots, or black-eyed peas — make sure they’re all puréed, though!
Mango-Banana Purée Recipe
- ½ ripe mango
- ½ ripe banana
- Peel, pit, and cube the mango.
- Peel and slice the banana.
- Place the cut-up mango and banana into a blender and blend until smooth—adding minimal water may be necessary.
9 Months Old
By the time nine months hits, you might notice your baby is showing a wide range of emotions. It is also possible that your child can handle food more efficiently at this time.
Focus on fat.
The nutrient to focus on for month nine is fat. Fat is needed to fuel the baby’s growing brain. You may be familiar with babies needing omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) for proper brain development, which is accurate! Some foods to introduce this month are avocados, peanut butter swirled in with puréed fruit, and peaches & cream yogurt.
Peaches and Cream Yogurt Recipe
- 1 ripe peach, halved and peeled
- ½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- A few drops of alcohol-free vanilla extract (optional)
- Boil an inch of water in a pan fitted with a steamer.
- Place the peach in the steamer, cover, and steam until soft (4-6 minutes).
- Let the peach cool.
- Remove the peach skins with a sharp paring knife.
- Mash the peach with a fork to the right consistency for your baby.
- Scoop the yogurt into a bowl and stir in the vanilla (optional).
- Top the yogurt mixture with the mashed-up peach.
10 Months Old
Your baby is probably very active by ten months old — crawling around the house and pulling himself up on things. During this time, your child is also developing teeth! We want to make sure these teeth come in correctly and remain healthy.
Focus on Vitamin C.
The nutrient to focus on for month 10 is vitamin C. As previously mentioned, your baby is growing teeth during this time, and vitamin C plays a significant role in their development. Vitamin C works to maintain healthy gums and strong teeth. You may consider introducing finely chopped cantaloupe, strawberries, and tomatoes during this month.
Zoodles with Creamy Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled
- sea salt
- 3 pounds zucchini
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Blend the basil, ¼ cup of olive oil, lemon juice, water, garlic, and a pinch of salt—this will be your pesto sauce.
- Rinse and dry the zucchini and trim both ends.
- Cut the zucchini into noodles using a spiralizer.
- Chop the pile of zucchini noodles a few times so the strands are shorter.
- In a large, nonstick frying pan, warm up 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high heat.
- Add the zucchini noodles and sprinkle them lightly with salt.
- Cook, stirring often until the noodles are bright green and softened (5-6 minutes).
- Toss the noodles gently with the pesto sauce.
- Top with parmesan cheese.
11 Months Old
During this time, your baby is likely exploring walking for the first time. Your baby also begins to show his personality and can express interest in certain toys.
Focus on B12.
The nutrient to focus on for month 11 is vitamin B12. It is common for babies who don’t receive enough vitamin B12 to develop a deficiency, so adequate amounts are vital during this time. Vitamin B12 is most abundant in animal sources, so you may want to make your baby some recipes that include canned tuna, an egg scrambled with Swiss cheese or even fortified cereal. If your baby does not like fish or is tired of eggs, fortified cereals can be a great option!
- 1 cup frozen, shelled, unsalted edamame
- ½ ripe avocado
- Bring an inch of water to a boil in a pan fitted with a steamer.
- Place the edamame in the steamer, cover, and steam until the beans are soft (8-10 minutes).
- Transfer the edamame to a blender and blend with a few tablespoons of water.
- Add the avocado and process until smooth.
12 Months Old
Your baby is now one year old! You’ve made it through the first year of nurturing and loving your baby! Most one-year-olds can stand by themselves and are beginning to talk.
Focus on zinc.
The nutrient of focus for month 12 is zinc. Up until this point, breast milk has provided your baby with enough zinc, but now your baby must get zinc from other foods. Some foods to introduce to your child during this time are shredded dark chicken meat, puréed Swiss chard, or wheat germ mixed with yogurt.
Curried Cauliflower-Potato Mash
- ¾ pound of cauliflower florets, cut into ½-inch chunks
- ½ pound Yukon gold or other thin-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
- ¼ teaspoon mild curry powder
- Bring several inches of water to a boil in a pan fitted with a steamer.
- Place the cauliflower and potatoes in the steamer, cover, and steam until tender (7-9 minutes).
- Transfer the vegetables to a bowl, add the curry powder; mash until smooth.
You now have an excellent foundation of knowledge on what recipes to feed your baby during their first year of life. From this point, your child is well on their way to becoming an independent eater! Now it’s time to get ready for finger foods!