Your mother in law might be very adamant that you need to give your baby sloppy rice cereal as his first meal. Your fellow mums in your mother’s group may also agree with her.
But what we feed our babies, and in fact, every little thing to do with parenting, is actually steeped in culture and tradition. So while rice cereal as a first food may be the norm for us, it may not be in say India, where babies are fed a delicious lentil, rice and ghee dish with a sprinkling of turmeric as their first meal.
Check out all the wonderful foods babies are introduced to around the world.
In Japan, bub’s first meal is celebrated in a ritual called ‘okuizome’. Okuizome is performed so that bub never goes without food during life. This is held at home around the 100th day after the baby’s birth. Baby is ‘imitatively fed’ for the first time and the okuizome menu usually includes one soup, three sides, and a whole sea bream!
After this ‘imitation’ feeding ritual though, Japanese bubs are usually given a rice porridge known as okayu, before graduating onto carrot or pumpkin puree. Nutritious miso soup is also enjoyed from their first birthday.
In Peru, babies are given a type of sweet passionfruit (minus the seeds) called granadilla as their first taste of food. It is a good source of fibre and essential minerals, including phosphorus, iron and calcium.
Like all Italian food, baby’s first food is made to taste delicious. While usually just pureed veggies and broths, the culinary-gifted Italians like to add a swig of olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan to make it a tad more interesting. Meats such as chicken are given from about six months onwards.
In Latin America Mexico, babies are weaned onto a variety of foods such as soups, tortillas, avocado, beans and fruits like papaya. It’s not unheard of for a Mexican mum to add a sprinkling of chilli powder and a splash of lime to bub’s food, either.
Pureed rice porridge, cooked with either water or chicken broth is often given to babies as a first stage food in Vietnam. The second stage involves adding veggies and then eventually little ones start chowing down on stir fries and more complex soups when they reach toddlerhood.
A processed wheat-based cereal called ‘välling’ is given to Swedish babies as the first meal. It is fed via a bottle. Välling is thicker than formula and is the cornerstone of the Swedish baby’s diet.
More posts about weaning:
- Open wide! The busy parent’s guide to feeding baby solids
- 10 things that will happen when your baby starts solids
- 17 great foods for baby led weaning
Hawaiian babies are given an ancient food called ‘Poi’ as their first taste of solid foods. It is the fermented paste of the taro root plant and is not only easily digestible, it’s also known for its hypoallergenic qualities.
French babies are introduced to a variety of tastes when starting out on solid foods in an attempt to encourage ‘food diversity’. The French love their food and it’s only natural that they want their babies to as well! The French Society of Pediatrics recommends babies as young as five months be fed bouillon, which is a thin vegetable soup, then after this their taste buds get a tickling. French mums and dads strive to develop their baby’s palate as they grow by exposing them to many types of tastes and textures, including vegetables not normally associated with baby food like leeks, spinach and baby endive. According to one study, French parents introduced, on average, six new veggies in the first month, and more than 40 percent of the babies in the study were introduced to between seven and 12 vegetables.
In Kenya, babies are given sweet potatoes early on to help combat the vitamin A deficiency in their diet. Sweet potato is also a good source of vitamin C, fibre and B vitamins. Oh, and babies everywhere seem to love it!
In the Philippines, a rice porridge called ‘Lugaw’ is given as the first food. It is usually cooked in chicken broth with ginger and garlic. Easy on the tummy, Lugaw is also given when someone is unwell.