10 Nutrient-Dense First Foods for Baby (BLW Style)
1. Wild Salmon:
Wild salmon is one of the most healthy foods to offer a baby, considering its abundant nutrient profile. A rich source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, D, Bs, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium and iron. Health benefits include heart health, cancer prevention,brain health and cognitive function, bone and joint protection, healthy skin and eyes. (2)
- BLW idea: Prepare baked salmon and gently fork smash a portion; place it on babies food tray for baby to self-feed with fingers (or a fork if they're skilled enough)
Avocados are a rich source of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin C, B6, B12, A, D K E, thiamin, riboflavin, potassium and niacin. (3) They are also a great source of healthy fats (a whopping 22.5 grams per medium hass) and nutritional fiber. They have been known to aide in digestion, support healthy skin and hair, support healthy liver functioning, are good for the kidneys, eyes and heart and have anti-cancer and anti-oxidant properties. (3)
- BLW idea: Cut avocado in half and remove the seed. Then cut the avocado in half one more time lengthwise. Offer to baby this way; they should be able to maintain gasp of it while self-feeding.
3. Egg Yolk:
Eggs are rich in protein and contain significant levels of vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamin D, E and K as well as phosphorous, selenium, calcium and zinc. (4) Furthermore, eggs also have various key organic compounds, such as omega-3s, antioxidants and protein. (4) I like to offer the more caloric and nutrient dense portion of the egg, the yolk to babies due to their higher fat content.
- BLW idea: Prepare yolk by pan frying or boiling for a minute or so in water so that it is par-cooked. If it is formed, you can offer the yolk to baby whole (gently fork smashed). If it is less-formed or runny, you can offer it on a spoon with assistance or by dipping it in for them and offering the baby the spoon. Two to three yolks with some veggies or fruit is a great way to start the day for breakfast.
4. Cooked Spinach:
The various health benefits of spinach are due to the presence of minerals, vitamins, pigments, and phytonutrients, including folate, vitamin A, niacin, Vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, manganese, zinc, magnesium, iron and calcium. (5) Spinach is high in insoluble fiber, which can aid in healthy digestion. Spinach is known for its benefits to the eyes and the heart and has anti-cancer and anti-oxidant properties as well.
- BLW idea: Cooked spinach is easy to offer as a side to any meal; breakfast lunch or dinner. Cook it with butter or ghee in a pan until soft and flavor it as you wish (onion powder, garlic powder or a pinch of sea salt)
5. Bone Broth:
Bone broth is great for the digestive system, the hair and skin and is a powerful defense against colds/flu to bulk up the babies immune system. It is an abundance source of essential amino acids and other nutrients like calcium and magnesium. You can click here to learn about the healing power of bone broth.
- BLW idea: You can offer home-made bone or store bought warmed in an open cup (baby will need assistance at first) or you can offer home-made chicken soup with all soft veggies. Babies need assistance from the parent for soups. Here is an easy recipe to follow for DIY bone broth/chicken soup.
6. Wild Blueberries:
Blueberries are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants. In fact, wild blueberries have a higher antioxidant content than almost any other food! They have been known to protect neurons in the brain and even help repair any tissue damage to the brain and CNS. Their other health benefits include the ability to strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, prevent cancer, decrease inflammation, control diabetes and improve heart health. (6) Blueberries are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, copper and manganese. (6)
- BLW idea: My favorite way to offer blueberries is to wash them first and then smash them onto babies tray (you can use your finger). After several weeks of eating them this way, baby should be able to manage a whole blueberry without choking. Blackberries and raspberries are also good choices that you can offer in the same way.
Believe it or not, the tried and true kid favorite, the banana is actually very nutrient dense! One serving or 126 grams of banana contains 110 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrates. (7) They are a rich source of potassium and dietary fiber. (7) Their impressive nutritional content includes vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, B6, riboflavin, folate, phosphorus, calcium, manganese, magnesium and copper (7)
- BLW idea: Simply cut the banana in half and offer it to them whole. The introduction of the whole food to the front of their mouth is natural. Once baby takes a small bite, they will begin to move it from the front of their mouth into the side gums (or molars) to smush it before swallowing.
Broccoli has a wide variety of health benefits, including its ability to prevent cancer, improve digestion, lower cholesterol levels detoxify the body, boost the immune system, protect the skin, eliminates inflammation, improve vision and maximize vitamin and mineral uptake (8) Broccoli is highly rich in dietary fiber, contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids and contains vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, sodium, potassium, selenium, chromium, choline, manganese and phosphorus. (8)
- BLW idea: Steam broccoli until soft (or fork tender if you prefer softer). Cover with a topping of grass-fed ghee, butter or olive oil. If offering florets whole, offer the larger ones (smaller florets can be a choking hazard if the baby places the whole floret in their mouth). If fork tender, you can mash with some butter and a pinch of salt on babies high chair tray.
9. Grass-fed beef and liver:
Beginning around the age of 6 months, breast milk iron supplies begin to decline in the breastfeeding mother. Your pediatrician may start checking for iron deficiencies and asking about iron supplementation around 12 months. The idea that meat shouldn’t be introduced until later is an outdated way of thinking. Babies bodies and brains are craving the nutritional value of iron. Yes, you can get iron from non-animal protein sources like through raisins, spinach and cereals that have added iron. However, heme-iron is much more easily assembled and absorbed than non-heme (plant based) iron sources.
Believe it or not, liver (that is locally sourced and grass-fed) is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can offer your baby. If you don't believe me, check out this nutritional chart from Chris Kresser's website that compares the nutritional value of liver to other foods.
So what makes liver so incredibly nutrient dense? Quite simply, it contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food. In summary, liver provides: (9)
- An excellent source of high-quality protein
- Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A
- All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
- One of our best sources of folic acid
- A highly usable form of iron
- Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium; liver is our best source of copper
- An unidentified anti-fatigue factor
- CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
- A good source of purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA.
- BLW idea: For beef, I usually only offer pot-roast style (slow cooker tender) at first. Fork smash and offer dime size pieces at first on babies food tray. For liver, I usually cut it into small pieces and pan fry it in ghee with a sprinkle of sea salt or onion powder. You would be surprised to find out that babies love liver! Find out more information on liver and other ways to prepare it here.
10: Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are great for digestion and very easily digested due to their high magnesium content and starchy nature. They are known to assist in weight gain (a big plus for babies), are anti-inflammatory, can relieve symptoms of asthma/bronchitis and have known anti-cancer properties. (10) They are a great source of fiber and have high amounts of vitamin A, C, B6, and minerals like manganese and copper. (10)
BLW idea: Bake sweet potatoes in the oven and offer it fork smashed with grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil. If you wan to make more of a puree, you can puree it (manually or with a hand blender) and offer the baby a small dish with a spoon for self-feeding. As an option, you can add some black-strap molasses (to increase the iron content) or maple syrup to sweeten it a bit.