Acidic foods, particularly citrus fruits, are not recommended for children under 12 months. High-acid foods can cause painful diaper rashes and can cause a rash to form around the mouth. Children who suffer from acid reflux will be particularly sensitive to acidic foods, and parents should consult their paediatrician before introducing these foods. Thankfully, there are many homemade baby food options that have little or no acidic properties.
Nearly all vegetables, particularly green ones, are alkaline foods, meaning they are the opposite of acidic. Vegetables tend to be easy for young digestive systems to digest, and are an excellent type of first food for babies. If your baby is new to food, butternut squash, sweet potatoes or green beans are great places to start. All foods should be cooked until soft and puréed until smooth. You may need to add water, formula or breast milk to your purée if you find the consistency is too thick for your child.
While you should avoid citrus and acidic fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and nectarines, there are plenty of non-acidic fruit options from which to choose. In fact, many parents choose certain fruits to be their child's first food, as babies are less likely to reject the sweetness of fruits. Apples, bananas, pears and avocados are all great fruits with which to start. Avocados and bananas do not need cooking; simply mash and feed. Apples and pears can be steamed or baked and puréed.
One of the most popular first foods for babies is rice cereal. Most infant rice cereals are formulated for babies specifically, and have added iron. Keep this in mind, and if your baby becomes constipated after eating rice cereal, you may want to switch to a non-iron-fortified brand. Infant cereals most typically come in rice, barley or oat varieties, and all are easy to prepare. Follow the directions on the package to determine how much liquid to add, briefly heat and serve. All grains are low-acid foods.
All meats are somewhat acidic, though in most the acidity isn't noticeable. However, if your child is suffering from acid reflux, you may choose to delay the introduction of meats. Chicken and turkey are lower in acidity than beef or pork, and are also easier to digest. Turkey or chicken are generally recommended to be a baby's first meat. Discuss with your child's paediatrician what age is best to introduce meat. Some doctors recommend meat be introduced earlier than others. When preparing meat for your child, always make sure the meat is fully cooked or well-done, showing no pink inside.