If you're like most parents, when it comes time to actually get food on the table, making sure you're serving a balanced meal can be daunting. When you're just starting to feed your 6 month old baby food, it can be especially daunting. Today we're talking about how to build a balanced plate from basic foods. You likely already have them in the house and maybe even eat them for your own meals.
More: For more help with baby led weaning and how to help your baby succeed with eating, be sure to check out this article with a comprehensive guide to baby led weaning and first baby foods!
The Food Groups
The best bet for getting a balanced plate on the table is to aim for one for from each group: high calorie, high iron/calcium foods, and fruits or vegetables. My first foods printable has ideas of basic foods for each group to help get you started.
Once you've mastered the foods on the printout, it's time to expand your horizons! Start by adding more foods to the iron group. If you're unsure of what those should be, I've got a list of high iron foods you can pull from.
Next, add additional foods to the high calorie and fruit/veggie groups. The only guidelines when adding foods are to ensure that they are an acceptable texture for your baby. That means when they're first starting out you want the foods to be able to be smooshed between two fingers, or between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Following this guideline will help to ensure the food isn't a choking hazard.
So what are some actual meal examples, you might ask? I'm showing you three in the video below, as well as how to prepare them so they are safe for your baby. Some of my favorite items to include in starter meals are cucumbers, asparagus, toast with hummus, and cottage cheese or yogurt but there are lots more ideas below.
Food for Babies Older Than 6 months
This meal building concept works for babies of all ages! Getting familiar with the foods in each group will help you to quickly and easily build a meal for your child, no matter what their eating stage is. Once your baby has advanced from the starter finger food textures, you can serve the foods in the texture that is most appropriate for their current stage. You would continue to serve something like cottage cheese or yogurt in exactly the same way for an older baby as you would for a 6 month old. You might cook a vegetable slightly less for your older baby once they are able to handle harder textures, but that type of modification is the only one you need.
The Last Word
You can master building your child's plate by thinking of eating in three groups of foods. Offer one food from each group at each meal. Starting off this way can help you to feel confident in your ability to serve a nutritious and balanced meal to your child, and will set you up for success as they get older.