Baby’s First Food
Like most parents I couldn’t wait until 6 months to start allowing Thumper to explore and try new foods, and was anxious yet nervous to try out any foods that could be high allergy concerns, thankfully for us we have not come across any food allergies or concerns. We began with green vegetables as we figured we wanted her to try something less sweet before we offered fruits, and so far it seems to have worked as her favourite food at one is zucchini. For most parent’s once you child hits the 6 month milestone you then have to decide if you plan to feed your baby using traditional baby food, baby led weaning or a combination approach.
So as Kate and I are in different stages with our kids as Thumper is only one, and Kate’s kids Bear, Monkey and Roo are quite a bit older so have moved on from baby food and rice cereal. Kate had tried First Food Organics years ago, so decided to look into what options they had for my little one and was pleasantly surprised at the variety of options. Now when Thumper first started eating food I made homemade baby food for a variety of reasons, however this isn’t always possible with our lifestyle as we are very busy and often on the go so I needed to find some great options that didn’t require a lot of time too make or refrigeration. For Kate, the majority of Monkey’s baby food has been homemade organic fruits and veggies. But there are times when there are just not enough hours in the day, or when she wanted to mix it up a little and thankfully could reach for her stash of First Food Organics.
Baby First Food – Signs that Baby is Ready to Eat
At Kate’s House: Food is a big deal in our house. Monkey LOVES to eat, so I should not have been surprised that Little Bear was watching everyone VERY closely at meal times and trying to reach out for food by 5 months old. I made him wait until 6 months to start solids much to his disappointment, but once I started giving him solids there was no going back! We started with First Food Organics Baby Cereal, alternating between the Brown Rice and Oatmeal varieties.
At Erin’s House: We started to notice that Thumper was always watching us when we were eating and seemed eager to be involved in meal times as she would try to take stuff if it was within reach. Before you start feeding your child solids you want them to be able to sit up well without support as otherwise this could be a choking hazard. You always want to watch for signs that baby has lost the tongue thrust reflex of pushing food out of their mouth and instead are showing they are ready to chew even if just using their gums. As at 13 months Thumper still does not have any teeth however is quite good at chewing her food.
When should I introduce Solids to my baby? When do babies start eating baby food?
The World Health Organization recommends waiting until at least 6 months for babies stomachs and digestive systems to mature before introducing food. By 6 months most babies stomachs have matured and there is less chance of illness or other health issues when introducing solids. Most children demonstrate developmental signs that they are ready around 6-8 months. Both Kate and I decided to wait until 6 months before introducing food into our children’s diets.
Why is Rice Cereal Recommended?
For decades doctors have been recommending infant rice cereal as baby’s first food as it is fortified with iron, easy to digest and easy to make. Although researchers have found that there are many other foods that provide these elements so it is important to include a variety of foods into your child’s diet. Rice cereal and oatmeal are especially important for breastfed babies are by six months their iron reserves are declining and research shows that babies require 11 milligrams of iron per day for normal growth and development, as iron is integral for brain health and red blood cell production. I believe it is important to provide infants and toddlers with a variety of foods that meet the guidelines of Canada’s Food Guide.
Baby Rice Cereal and Growing Concerns of Arsenic:
Recently baby cereals have been under attack in the news due to high levels of arsenic which are naturally found in the soil and ground water of rice and then absorbed, which at low levels is no issue but at high levels can have some negative developmental effects. Currently there are no regulations in Canada outlining the level of arsenic substance allowed in Baby cereals, however First Food Organics has been committed to quality, and nutrition and has been testing and monitoring arsenic levels in their Brown Rice Cereal for over 6 years already. First Food Organics is ahead of the game and regulations in terms of level of arsenic, as every box of cereal is tested to meet the European Standards and every batch of raw materials is tested to ensure that the inorganic arsenic level falls below 100 parts per billion (ppb) which is considered safe by EU standards.
Tools for Feeding Baby
Now I happen to love these Feeding Products and have personally bought all of the following over the last year for my daughter. Firstly, we learned through one of our first dinning out experiences that you do not give a baby a ceramic plate within reach as once they are done eating or get bored they are liable to toss the plate onto the floor. Safe to say we now bring the Splash toddler bowls in our diaper bag to make sure we have a kid friendly plate where ever we go! All of the feeding products are top rack dishwasher safe, and BPA free which is important to me. I like that almost all of their plates/bowls are nesting meaning they can be stacked on top of each other to limit the amount of space needed. All of these products are brightly colored which is fun for kids and durable so they can take the rough and tough of kids! I highly recommend the following products to help transition babies from bottle feeding to self feeding.
- Soft Tip Infant Spoons: I liked that these spoons were small enough for her little mouth as other ones we tried were too big!
- Miracle 360 Trainer Cup: This is the only sippy cup that I can get my daughter to successfully use.
- Splash Toddler Bowls: Perfect for toddlers as they have a non slip bottom making them harder to move around.
- Splash Toddler Divided Plates: Plates are perfect size for toddler hands and they are great as you can divide up each different food option on the plate rather than mix them all together.
- White Hot Plates: These plates are great as they change colour if food is too hot thus making it easier to serve food at the perfect temperature.
About First Food Organics
Now First Food Organics has been around for quite awhile as they began back in 2010 and have established themselves as a Canadian company we can trust. We can truly understand how long they have been in existence as Kate first used their products back in 2013 with her son. First Food Organics was started by a Canadian mama Jenn Clark after running into the problem so many moms face – lack of selection of quality organic baby food at the grocery store and wanting to spend time playing with her son not making food for him. Focusing on creating great blends of fruits and veggies using 100% organic produce First Food Organics was a welcome addition to Kate’s freezer! Kate’s son monkey loved the taste of First Food Organic baby food and Kate liked the vibrant colour of the food as she could tell that First Food Organics uses fresh quality produce. The aroma from the Carrot, Apple & Ginger was so yummy that even she gave it a try and it was delicious.
Between the time of Kate’s kids moving onto regular food and my daughter Thumper beginning to eat, First Food Organics has changed their product line as their owner Jenn realized that the baby food category in the baby aisle needed more healthy options in terms of shelf stable foods including snacks and organic baby cereal and has created great options for Canadian parents that still continue to strive to use fresh local ingredients to create their products.
First foods for babies: Organic Rice Cereal
This Organic Baby Cereal is made in Canada with certified organic whole grains, no added flavors and no preservatives. The infant cereals are certified organic and made with 100% whole grains and are dairy and soy free and can therefore be mixed with water, formula or breast milk. The cereals are easy to digest foods as there are no extra preservatives but First Food Organics has added an enzyme to ease in digestion. These cereals are the perfect first food for babies to start solids as they are fortified with the required vitamins and minerals and are an excellent source of iron and B vitamins. For ages 6 months there is the option of brown rice or oatmeal, and at 8 months you can start introducing multi grain which is a little more complex to digest.
Kate used breast milk as much as possible for the added nutritional benefit. Warming the breast milk is easy. I just put 1/2 – 3/4 oz in a bottle (if just starting solids 1/4 oz should be plenty) and place in a cup of hot water for 5 mins to warm up. Swirl the bottle to mix layers of the milk back together. Then mix in a little bit of milk at a time to the cereal, mixing in between until you have reached the desired consistency.
Since Thumper wasn’t a breastfeed baby, I simply used water and also added in some blended fruit sometimes to add a bit of taste rather than plain cereal which she seemed to enjoy. You can easily make the cereals with either water, breast milk or formula with no real difference in consistency.
For your first feedings only take a baby spoonful or two of the cereal as you won’t need much. I know the “desired consistency” can be a little confusing. But really, it depends on your baby. When you are first starting out remember you are not making soup, so make it thick enough that they have a little some thing to “eat” but still comes off the spoon easily. Then work your way up to more of a paste texture. Appealing I know.. but Little Bear loved it and Thumper is currently enjoying the different cereals for daily breakfast.
Snacks for Toddlers from First Food Organics
Phew we are on the go with activities such as gymnastics, or swimming on the weekend and our little athlete is HUNGRY after all her activities so I need easy snacks to pack. It kinds of feels like we have been on the run non-stop these days. Being on the go with working and being a mom means that I always have to have snacks close at hand. Being able to pack up quickly with everything I need and get out the door is a must. I mentioned previously that First Food Organics offers infant cereal, but did you know they also have snacks for toddlers? First Food Organic offers the best first foods for baby as they have a range of products for Ages 6 months and up. They offer different products for different ages which I really like so Thumper never gets bored and is challenged to practice her chewing of new foods that become more solid and textured over time. Their line up includes Munch Mix and Organic Super Fruit Stars which are geared for 12 month plus but I would say Munch Mix can be eaten anytime after 9 months.
Munch Mix Snacks
Munch Mix Snacks come in 2 different varieties: Strawberry, broccoli and sweet corn OR Banana, Pea, and blueberry. These are the perfect snack for toddlers as it allows them to self feed and eat when we are out and about! Also these snacks are not just limited to toddlers, Monkey loved them when he was a preschooler, and Kate has been known to snack on them as well when we are out and about. Although both toddler snacks are labeled for 12+ months Little Bear has been enjoying them happily from 9 months and has no trouble picking them up and eating them.
The Organic Munch Mix comes in 2 varieties (Banana and Strawberry) and is made up of organic brown rice puffs with freeze-dried fruit pieces. There are no preservatives, or added salt or sugar, as they are simply sweetened using organic apple juice. You have never seen little hands move so fast as when you put Munch Mix in front of Little Bear. He can’t grab it fast enough to gobble down his favourite bite sized treat. The best part is that for Thumper who is still toothless at 13 months,the Munch Mix is a combination of finger-size puffs and fruit pieces that dissolve quickly into soft bites so she does not need to chew. Munch Mix is a great first snack for toddlers, as it has a simple ingredient list and encourages Thumper to develop her pincer grasp.
Organic Superfruit Stars
Brand new addition to the First Food Organic toddler snacks product line. The organic fruit snack is perfect for any toddler especially those with teeth coming in as they require a little bit of chewing, although Thumper has managed them without teeth. These organic fruit chews are made with fruit and vegetable purees and do not contain any added sugar which is super important to me as I try to limit the amount of sugar. They are packaged in six single-serve pouches per box which makes them a great portable snack. The Organic Superfruit stars come in two delicious and nutritious flavors: apple, orange and carrot OR Strawberry, Rhubarb and beet. Thumper seems to enjoy these snacks as a treat as they are a little sweeter than the Munch Mix, and I love that they are not only healthy but that they are peanut free which is important when in settings with lots of other kids. As a teacher I am always looking for peanut free snacks for myself to enjoy so I am always cognizant of this when buying foods.
Where can I buy First Food Organics Baby Cereal and Toddler Snacks
First Food Organics products are available the Loblaws family of stores (I find mine at RCSS), Whole Foods Market and several other retailers across Canada as well as online. Check here to find a retailer near you.
One thing to keep in mind when you are starting solids is to keep food fun. At the early stages the food is not to replace breast milk or formula, but to compliment it and let your baby explore food. Don’t stress if your little one is not interested in eating at the start.
Don’t forget a Healthy Treat for Moms – Sweets from Earth
In 2016, Sweets from Earth acquired First Food Organics and brought their amazing products that are vegan and made from organic ingredients to the Canadian marketplace for parents and children to love and enjoy! Sweets from Earth is a family owned business that offers dairy free, egg free, kosher and peanut free products that are wheat and gluten free. Sweets from Earth offers many healthy and yummy cookies for the serious chocolate lovers, and I had the opportunity to try the chocolate chip and double chocolate chip cookies which were AMAZING!
The taste of these cookies were to die for, and while I wasn’t sure originally as the ingredients were so limited due to all the allergy restrictions these cookies are some of the best I have tried on the current cookie market. These cookies made a great snack for dessert or with tea for my husband and I after my daughter went to bed, and let’s be honest they didn’t last in our house for very long. I also appreciated that the cookies were separated into packs of 3 so we had better control of how many cookies we were eating as I can easily get caught up eating a whole row of the traditional cookie box. Sweets from Earth ensures that parents are also being offered high quality snacks that are made with quality ingredients.
Products are available in stores across Canada: Superstore, Longos, Metro and Fortinos.
Disclosure: First Food Organics sent me samples of their products to try. However, opinions remain my own.
Originally Posted June 2013, Updated in March 2019