My first three boys were all born in the spring or early summer, which meant that they were ready to start eating solid foods as fall turned into winter. This is, in my humble and decidedly non-medical opinion, the best time of year to start on solids. Why? Well because squash* and sweet potatoes are in season!
Technically, we are currently just past the peak season for these veggies, but you can still find fresh and flavorful squash and sweet potatoes in the stores and at some farmer’s markets (depending on where you live). I think they make great first foods for several reasons:
- It’s easy to make a large amount and then freeze
- They are have good flavor on their own, even cooked simply without added fats or seasoning
- They’re easy to prepare for a new eater
We started with butternut squash or sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are maybe the easiest food to start with if you’re looking to feed your baby fresh, homemade food. Just clean the outside of the potato, prick it a few times with a fork (to let steam escape) and then bake it. You can bake it in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until it feels soft. You might want to put it on a tray or a piece of aluminum foil, because sweet potatoes have a tendency to lose some sticky juices while baking. If you prefer microwaving it for faster food, you can just put the fork-pierced potato in the microwave for 5ish minutes. Once it’s cooked, wait until it’s cool enough to touch and then simply scoop out the insides and mash it with a fork. Voila! You just made baby food!
Squash is also easy to prepare. I like butternut squash, but most winter squashes are pretty similar in terms of prep. My usual route is to cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, and then roast it, open side down, on a baking sheet for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Once it is fork tender, wait for it to cool enough to handle and then scoop out the inside and mash. Once again, you’ve made baby food! You are a genius.
I’ve found both squash and sweet potato to be readily agreeable to babies starting solids. And they’re so easy to make! One thing that I would do is to use a segmented tray to freeze any leftovers in easily defrostable servings. One squash yields many baby sized servings of food and if you’re baking one sweet potato in the oven, you may as well bake several. Once the mashed food was frozen I would pop out the cubes and put them in a labeled ziplock bag. Don’t forget to label! Cubes of carrots, squash and sweet potato all look remarkably similar when frozen.
Now that I’ve written this I’m realizing that I’m going to have to find an equally easy-to-prepare and palatable summer veggie for my newest addition to have when he starts solids in a few months. Any ideas?
What winter vegetables are your new eater’s favorites?