When Sweet Potato was about 6 months old I started thinking about what to start feeding her. I knew that the general recommendation was to start with rice cereal. I put on my dietitian hat. Why rice cereal? It’s low allergen. Fair enough. But the main reason doctors recommend it is because breast-fed babies start becoming iron deficient around 6 months, and rice cereal has iron. Wait- what? Rice is not known for it’s iron content. The thing rice is known for is sticky sushi deliciousness and carbs. Why give my baby a fortified (i.e. more processed) food rather than a food that is actually known for it’s iron content like meat?
I asked my pediatrician, “why not just feed her meat?” Her reply- “most babies don’t care for the flavor.”
But since there’s conventional advice out there, you know that there’s also unconventional advice. Back when I was pregnant, and receiving prenatal care at a hippie birth center, I got some information from the lactation consultants about what foods are good first foods for little ones. It turns out that La Leche League has been giving out this advice for ages. They recommend starting with soft fruits like bananas and avocado.
And since I wasn’t interested in rice cereal, that’s what I did. Sweet Potato wasn’t the best eater at first, which I found very frustrating: “Baby! I spent all this time cooking, pureeing, freezing and reheating this food! I don’t want to throw it away! Eat it!! Arg!” But once she started crawling, her appetite picked up quickly.
As a side note, when I did finally feed her rice cereal, she got incredibly constipated. If she had been able to drink from a sippy cup at that time, it may not have been a problem, but that was not the case. It is not pleasant to watch one’s baby spend an hour crying while trying to give birth to poop. Needless to say, I still have an almost full box of rice cereal still sitting on top of my refrigerator.
So, if you choose to start with cereal, I would recommend either a brown rice cereal or possibly oatmeal, or some other whole grain wheat-free cereal. And if you’d rather start with other foods, that’s fine! Soon after starting fruits and veggies, I made lentils with sweet potato for my Sweet Potato. It has the benefit of naturally being high in iron, vitamin A, protein AND fiber. In fact, I think I’ll make another batch tomorrow.