Why feed babies one new food at a time?

Last night I brought home a Chipotle barbacoa bowl and gave some to my nearly-13-month-old. She loved it, and tried to reach into my bowl for more. That’s how I know a food’s a “hit”.

I’d say the slow introduction method is not common knowledge, no. We started off with very lightly cooked egg yolks (from a farmer I know on a first-name basis) as her first food, with (literally) a few grains of salt on top. After a while, we proceeded to either pureed, steamed fruits and veggies seasoned with spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg) or the Plum “Just X” varieties (peas, squash, mangos, prunes). Also bone marrow, whole fat yogurt, and pate. Yes, my hipster daughter eats pate (and loves it)! That’s probably the most ingredient-heavy thing she was given regularly back when we started feeding her.

Sweet potatoes (with coconut oil or ghee) were also a huge part of her diet, the first six months she was eating solids. And she gets an egg every day (we started adding the egg white on her first birthday).

I lightly, lightly, lightly salt everything. I’m not dropping a salt lick on her, but I also don’t not salt things. The food she eats off my plate is salted, after all.

I would love to do the “eat what we eat” thing, but it’s a huge mess to constantly puree dinner, and as a working mom, I don’t have the time. So I have allowed some packaged foods: all organics, no wheat and no pear/applesauce fillers if I can help it.

And this is all to say: in 13 months of living, my child has never eaten or needed rice cereal. I season her foods very, very lightly with salt and I don’t shy from non-spicy spices. Hell, if the barbacoa is any indication, she could probably do spicy at this point, too.

She seems to be a happy, healthy baby; you can’t tell she was 3-4 weeks early. I keep my eyes peeled for outbreaks or health hits every time we start something new (for instance: we recently switched to milk from formula, and I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled), but I’m a geek about these things. I wouldn’t say that my sisters would do the same. So far the only food I’ve noticed a definite poor response from was the bite of chocolate pie we gave her one night. Not saying sugar’s the devil, but I’m sure suspicious of it after our normally easy-to-bed baby girl threw a screaming fit and refused to go down for her bedtime.

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My wife specializes in paediatric feeding and swallowing and with our little one she does not get much that is milled, we cut her off a nice chunk of steak, whole broccoli, or a stick of cucumber since she has been 5-6 months and for the first while would just suck on things or squeeze them really tight in her hand testing the consistency. Now, at nine months and still no teeth, she can break off chunks and chew them up. A lot of people are concerned with choking but it is good for little ones to learn the different textures. My wife sees a lot of kids that were only fed purees until a late age and now will not eat anything with different consistencies and can get a lot of eating problems later in life. Not saying this will work for everyone or that its the right way to do it but its working for us great. Some of our little ones favorite foods are dhal, steak/meat (unseasoned to avoid the salt), avocado, peanut butter toast.

My kid would eat anything, food or not, until he was about five. Whatever he got before five is a lifetime favorite. Not just curry, this kid likes capers and anchovies and whole lemons.

After five, his brain slammed shut, and it was “no new foods please” until he was a teen. Now he’s back to discovering new things. It’s fun.

Going a bit off topic:
I didn’t see anything in this article, but recall seeing “research” that seemed to link in-utero exposure to a variety of foods (via mother’s diet) with a lower risk of food allergies.
If true it seems like a possible “which came first chicken or egg” situation, since it could be just genetics – parents who have few allergies because of some genetic make-up probably have a more diverse diet, but it could also be cultural if in-utero exposure really does have an influence since a parent with a very limited diet might end up with a kid with allergies (which would then limit their diet diversity).
I could even see where a famine or something could lead to what looks like a genetically transmitted tendency towards food allergies, but is really initially caused by some event that resulted in a mother just eating say rice and beans.

You’re lucky. Mine decided what he liked a little after 4. It was a sudden shift one day of trying everything to hating everything, even stuff he had liked before.


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My wife and I also tried “baby-led weaning” around six months (which doesn’t mean weaning from breastmilk, just that the baby is allowed to try bits of whatever they want), and would give our son chunked-but-not-pureed foods like sweet potato, chicken, carrots, etc.

Mostly he just liked to lick or suck on the food, and rarely swallowed, so choking was never an issue (but trust your instincts, never let him eat chokables unattended, etc.), but he quickly progressed to chewing and eating real food, and we were able to skip the puree’d-everything stage entirely. He got a greater variety of flavors and textures, we never had to buy canned baby food, and we rarely prepared anything special for him, he just ate whatever the adults were having.

He’s two now, and is an extremely good eater who loves all meats, all fruits and many vegetables.

Another benefit of skipping puree food: it’s so goddamn messy. Chunked up soft foods are way easier to clean, especially if your kids insist on holding the spoon themselves.

Ours ate mostly what we ate (but broken down or pureed) but I made nearly everything from scratch so there was very little sodium. We drew the line at chocolate until she was 1.5 because her sleep was so poor, we were terrified at the risk of even a molecule of caffeine getting in her system. She ate like a horse and had no qualms: curries, Mexican spices, fish, veggies, fruits, sushi (even got an accidental bite of wasabi; screamed once and just carried on eating… Then at about 2.5 she turned into the pickiest eater overnight. The foods she’ll now eat are healthy at least, but the variety is completely gone. We still try to re-introduce her old favourites (and new stuff) but this unfortunate phase is not over yet. At least she’s in the 98% percentile for growth, so we figure her earlier smorgasbord worked for her.

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My wife is an ethnobotanist and I’m a dental archeologist. We raised all six of our infants using a diet of foods sourced from our own ethnic homelands - so “local” but local to where our ancestors were born, not to where we are now. Obviously, no “new world” foods. Rather than make purée, we use the traditional method and pre-masticate their food - something that is still practiced by many indigenous tribes. We feed them right at the table (well, we don’t actually sit at a table, more of a stone thing that we sit on, covered with “found” hides (not hunted, mostly just road kill - we’re not cavemen, after all)) and of course we don’t use bibs, spoons, or other modern “conveniences” that come between a parent’s mouth and the baby’s stomach. We find that our child mortality rate is no higher than what people experienced in the 1400’s so all in all, it’s worked out very well. And of course our surviving kids are all above average, just like everyone else who posts on boing boing.


My friend was recently told by someone in a ‘baby-lead weaning’ group that giving her baby (who is teething, for fuck’s sake) a piece of broccoli was tantamount to handing her a steak knife. Apparently, her reaction was such that she’s barred now.


Raw broccoli? That would be pretty hard for my 1 year olds to handle. They love steamed broccoli though.

Your friend got barred or the broccoli concern troll??

That said, one of my friends got banned from mothering forum (or some such) for making a very mild, indirect joke about anti-vaxxers. Parenting groups are very sensitive areas.

@Weatherman: Spot on. You’ve made me realize my post sounded exactly like the OCD hippie parent I don’t want to hang out with. Oops! I will say in my defense that food is pretty much the only area of parenting where I feel a tiny bit competent and not crippled by guilt… so I indulged in a bit of self-back-slapping :wink:

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For instance, most stuff they straight pipe for awhile til their enteron becomes accustomed to it. Better to be patient than have to back track. But when your kid is 35 and snorting coke in a trailer park, you realize it’s not a big deal what they ate at 13 months.

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My now-19 year old was the same. Helping himself to olives and pulling kumquats off the tree and eating them followed by eight-odd years of boring, to more recently being much more open about food combined with the abandon of an indestructible teen - “yeah, horse meat sashimi! Grilled sweetbreads, woo hoo!”

She did. Broccoli troll was with the consensus, apparently.


I have three kids, oldest is 20 youngest is 13. Every dang parenting rule changed from number one to number three. From stomach to side to back sleeping, introduce solids late to early, and on and on. They all turned out fine. However, that said, I think letting the kid lead to an extent is probably good. My daughter (oldest) refused solids or anything other than breast milk until over a year. My middle kid self weaned at 10 months, and happily jumped right to solids with no extra preparation (and formula to be on the safe side till a year.) My mom loved her little hand crank food mill when my brother and I were babies, I hated it with my kids. There is no one right way.

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That’s why I started solids at 5 months. She was trying to grab handfuls off our plates. Also, consuming breast milk by the gallon and boy does that get old fast.

It’s funny how everyone always seems so completely certain about how to raise an infant, even as the advice seems to change every decade or two. I read an article on this from the 1930s which compared infant practice in the late 19th century, early 20th century and contemporary. The only constant seemed to be “Don’t let your baby eat diaper pins.”


It’s been done. A pilot study compared Jewish populations in London and Israel. I don’t have the citation to hand but you should be able to find it if you search Lack or Du Toit for authors. It was promising enough that the US government funded a large randomised trial working on the principle that early introduction may be beneficial (LEAP study). Results are due this year.