In the United States, rice cereal, applesauce, and pureed bananas, sweet potatoes and squash are some of the first foods parents feed their babies.
Although many of these choices are packed with nutrition, experts say parents are missing the boat and babies are missing out on some of the healthiest first foods around — those that, in traditional cultures around the world, parents still fed their babies every day.
Here, read on for 9 foods that may seem strange but are actually super healthy.
Around 6 months when iron stores in breastmilk start to get depleted, your pediatrician may recommend iron supplements or rice cereal, which is usually the first food many parents feed their babies.
Although rice cereal contains iron, the food is not a natural source of the nutrient. In this form, iron is not as readily absorbed into the body as it is when consumed by eating beef, a study in the journal Clinical Nutrition suggests.
Beef is also an excellent source of zinc, and selenium and is easy to prepare and cook.
What's more, studies show that the juices from beef alone are enough for a baby to get iron.
"They actually just suck on it and gum it, and get all those great juices and have excellent iron to show for it," Wendy Jo Peterson, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Germany and co-founder of "Born to Eat: Whole, Healthy Foods from Baby's First Bite," told Fox News.
It’s definitely not something most Americans eat, but liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can feed your baby and, like beef, an excellent of iron. Chicken liver in particular has a milder taste and is easier to prepare than other types.
If possible, be choosy about the type of liver you buy, and be sure to work with a butcher who has pastured-raised, organic fed meat.
“If it’s a toxic animal, that liver will also be toxic,” Sara Peternell, a master nutrition therapist in Denver, Colo. and co-author of “Little Foodie: Baby Food Recipes for Babies and Toddlers with Taste,” told Fox News.
Egg yolks are not only an excellent source of iron, but also a concentrated source of fat soluble vitamins, choline and minerals.
Peternell recommends the three-second egg: Add a small amount of coconut oil to a hot pan, separate the egg from the yolk, use a spatula to stir three times, and then remove the pan from the heat.
Add a pinch of sea salt for minerals, serve it separately, or mix it in with a puree.
Before introducing eggs to your baby, it’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician first. As long as there is no known egg allergy in the family, it’s probably OK to introduce them.
Rich in magnesium, potassium and essential fatty acids for brain health, avocado is one of the healthiest first foods for your baby to eat.
Mash it or roll small pieces of it in almond flour which makes it easier to grip but also introduces almonds in a palatable way, Peterson said.
5. Nut butters
Once considered a food to hold off on, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued guidelines for introducing peanuts to infants that state they can be introduced as early as 4 to 6 months old, depending on risk.
Of course, nuts are a choking hazard for little ones, but nut butters are a good source of protein, and healthy fats and can be mixed into other foods like a simple apple or pear puree, for example.
An excellent source of protein and easy to digest, fish, such as salmon, is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical for your baby’s development, including brain and eye health. Fish is also easy to prepare, works well with a variety of herbs and spices, and it can be easily mashed with other foods or served alone.
Sardines and anchovies are also excellent sources of calcium. They’re low in mercury and are easy to prepare.
Kiwi is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, as well as potassium. Because it’s sweet and juicy too, it’s an ideal first food.
Pastured butter in particular is a good source of “activator X,” a fat soluble vitamin identified by Dr. Weston A. Price as beneficial for overall growth and development.
If you puree vegetables or offer them whole, add a bit of butter. The nutrients in butter makes the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables more available to the body, Peternell told Fox News.
9. Beans and legumes
Beans and legumes are a great source of protein, iron-rich and an alternative option to meat if you’re raising your child as vegetarian or vegan.
As beans and legumes are inflammatory and can cause digestive upset in some, it’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician about waiting until your baby is a bit older. What’s more, amalyse, an enzyme that helps digest and break down complex grains, isn’t in the salivary glands until the first molars come in, Peternell said.
When you decide to offer beans and legumes, it’s a good idea to soak and sprout them before you cook them, which gives them more nutrients and makes them more easily digested.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She's also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.