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Once my baby girl turns 6-months-old, we plan to start introducing solids. We had a great (and, yes, messy!) time feeding our older daughter and I loved watching her learn how to manipulate different textures in her mouth from a young age and experience the freedom of self-feeding. Topping my list of things to feed her are superfoods, of course. They’re packed with the nutrients that babies need for proper development and brain growth. I’ve crafted a list of the superfoods we’ll start with; in addition to being nutritious, these picks offer a wide variety of flavors, something I want to introduce as early as possible before any picky phase can set in. (Note: Always discuss starting solids with your pediatrician, especially if you have concerns about food allergies.)

1. Sweet Potato
When my older daughter was a baby, it seemed like she could eat her weight in roasted sweet potato wedges. Brushed with a little olive oil, they were easy for her to pick up, hold, and devour. Mashed sweet potato, thinned with a little breast milk for younger babies, is also an ideal early food for spoon feeding. The deep orange flesh is loaded with Vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. 4-6+ months for puree; 7-8+ months for spears or small soft cubes

2. Avocado
Packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and Vitamin C, avocado is a popular first food for baby and for good reasons. It mashes nicely for spoon-feeding around the 6-month mark and is easy for little fingers to pick up when chopped into small cubes for self-feeding when baby can sit up and use her hands to bring food to her mouth. 4-6+ months for puree; 6+ months for small soft cubes or once baby can sit up and self-feed

3. Watermelon
If you’re lucky enough to have a baby ready for solids in the summer, watermelon should be on your list. Choose a seedless version of this fruit and one with a darker pigment for a bigger punch of antioxidants, if possible. Watermelon is loaded with Vitamins A and C, and it’s also a yummy way to keep babies hydrated on scorching days. Offer big wedges or chunks for 6-month-old babies just starting solids to suck on, or serve in small cubes to older babies. 6-7+ months for wedges to suck on; 7-8+months for small, soft cubes

4. Eggs
Babies need fat so that their brains grow properly and eggs are rich in fat, as well as protein, iron, and some Vitamin A. Scrambled eggs are a great way to first offer this food, though older babies can try them in little omelets. 6+ months for scrambled, or once baby can sit up and self-feed

5. Black Beans
Black beans are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and vegetarian protein, as well as some iron. They are soft enough for little eaters and are the perfect size for practicing the pincher grasp. Choose no-salt-added versions when possible and rinse and drain canned beans. (Or cook them from dry.) 8+ months or once pincer grasp is mastered

6. Wild Salmon
With Vitamin D and B Vitamins, as well as healthy omega-3 fatty acids needed for brain development, wild salmon is a top superfood for babies. Try it simply roasted in a bit of olive oil and served in small pieces for babies who have progressed beyond purees. 6+ months, or once baby can sit up and self-feed

7. Grass-fed Beef
Iron stores in babies start to run out by the time they are about 4-months-old, so they need to get it from solid foods (or a supplement). Grass-fed red meat, which often has more of the good fats than conventionally raised beef, is a good option. Try ground beef simply browned, in tomato sauce, or as meatballs. Or, serve larger pieces of steak for babies to suck on. 4-6 months pureed, or 6+ months once baby can sit up and self-feed

Sources: The American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Department of Agriculture