Can you imagine eating food without any teeth? Just with your gums alone? I surely find it hard to picture, but we were once like our little ones. Toothless, like a 100 year old grandma. Luckily, there are first foods for babies with no teeth. And I found 125 of them for you to read about.
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But how can babies even chew without teeth?
Well, the truth is, they don’t need teeth to chew.
Chewing involves movements of the jaw, tongue and cheek. Teeth are used later on to break up more complex fibres.
This is technically done with the teeth that are more at the back of the mouth, called molars. The first molars show up somewhere between 13 and 19 months old, as you can see from the graph below.
So if we were to wait that long before we gave our little ones any food that can be easily munched on with the gums, then we would seriously endanger his or her capabilities of dealing with food (not to mention the fact that after around 8 months, the gag reflex moves further down the tongue and babies might experience a higher risk of choking if they are not accustomed to table foods yet).
Furthermore, babies are already experienced in munching away, because they would have spent a lot of time already with their fingers in their mouth, biting toys and other objects.
So encourage them to explore these with their lips, tongue and jaw, at the same time being careful of any pieces that might come off and increase the risk of choking.
All in all, everything I have said above leads to only one conclusion: there is no need for pureed foods. Babies can handle everything that is served to them (taking into account their age, motor skills and choking hazards).
So, assuming little one doesn’t have any teeth yet, what can I give him?
See the list below.
But before anything else, make sure baby meets the three signs he or she is ready to begin in the first place. I cannot stress this enough, guys, and it will save you lots of trouble down the road.
I can only shake my head in disgust when I see baby food labeled in any way as 4 months+.
Here you go, some ideas of first foods for babies with no teeth. I also added some notes and suggestions of serving for some of them. This is regardless of the method you use, baby led weaning or traditional. At some point, you’ll have to start giving them table foods.
And because I’m a fan of food groups, I have split them accordingly, for easier reference.
Fruits and veggies
- Avocado. Serve as is, sliced according to age, or served on toast, mashed, with an egg on top. You can also try a guacamole recipe, which is basically adding some tomato, red onion, a bit of pepper and some lemon juice to a mashed avocado. Delish!
- Banana. Serve as is, sliced or mashed. Here is a tip on how to offer it if baby is at the beginning, doing baby led weaning and has tiny hands. Also, here’s my recipe of baby’s chocolate you can make with banana and avocado.
- Tomato. Yum! Try serving them as such or on top of a pizza toast (just a slice of toast, with some mozzarella and tomatoes and baked for 10 minutes in the oven).
- Peach. Extra ripe are usually softer.
- Mango. Go for the ripe ones.
- Strawberry. Remove the hull (the leafy and usually white part on top) before giving it to baby.
- Watermelon. Melts in the mouth. Remove the seeds and only give the red parts to baby.
- Pear. Peel it and if it seems too hard, you can bake it in the oven for a while, with cinnamon on top.
- Apple. Peel and cook it in the oven, like the pear, or shred it on a grater (I used to do this in the beginning when Emma was small; the finer side of the grater also turns the apple into applesauce).
- Honeydew melon.
- Carrot. Steam, boil or bake in the oven to make it soft. Don’t offer raw.
- Cauliflower. Steam, boil or bake in the oven with some seasoning on top. Delish!
- Broccoli. Steam, boil or bake in the oven. If you overcook it, it will break apart. Want more ideas for cooking broccoli? There are 37 ways to serve it on a plate and you can get them here.
- Potato. Boil, bake or even steam until very soft.
- Sweet potato.
- Pumpkin. Bake in the oven until soft.
- Zucchini. Boil until soft. Great in stews of any kind.
- Beetroot. Steam or boil. Be careful, though, as it contains a high amount of nitrates and it is not ok for baby to have in big quantities or too often. If you offer a varied menu, it shouldn’t be a problem.
- Grape. Cut them in quarters lengthways. Use this if you’re short on time.
- Satsumas or easy peelers. Cut in half for safety.
- Raisins. If you leave them to hydrate in water for 1 hour or so they should give up their sweetness.
- Blueberry. Smash them a bit for safety.
- Cucumber. Offer in stick form, especially the middle part which is softer.
- Peas. Great for improving that pincer grasp.
- Baked beans. Great source of iron.
- Dried apricots. Great source of iron, like any dried fruit, really.
- Cherries. Cut in half or quarters.
- Heights. Serve the same as cherries.
- Orange. Cut the pieces in half or more.
- Olives. Beware of how salty they are. If left in water, they will lose their saltiness.
- Dried cranberries.
- Parsnips. Boil, steam or bake in the oven with some seasoning on top. You can remove the center which is usually harder.
- Butternut squash. Bake or steam.
- Bell pepper. Bake or boil.
- Green beans. Boil or steam.
- Chickpeas. Best boiled or turned into hummus or falafel.
- Onion. Boiled or baked.
- Turnips. You can make a veggie broth by boiling most of the hard veggies.
- Cabbage. Boiled or baked.
- Mushrooms. Make a sauce for pasta or bake them in the oven.
- Lentils. Turn them into soup or stews.
- Eggplant. Baked in the oven is your best bet.
- Asparagus. Can be a bit hard, but baby can munch away if properly cooked.
- Edamame. Never cooked them, but I guess either boiled or steamed.
- Kaki fruit.
- Lychee. Just make sure to peel the outer shell.
- Grapefruit. Cut each slice in three smaller pieces or more, depending on size.
- Pomelo. Cut each slice in multiple pieces.
- Lemon. Well… gotta have it in here.
- Passion fruit
- Yam. It’s a root vegetable and can be cooked in a similar way to a sweet potato.
- Brussel sprouts. Boiled, steamed or baked with seasoning.
- Ugli fruit.
- Plantains. They look like bananas, but you have to cook them. They come from Jamaica, I believe.
- 14 smash cake ideas – healthy, no sugar
- Blueberry galette (a recipe great for blw)
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- Why you should not feed your baby smoothies, overnight oats, maple syrup and other foods
- Bread and butter pudding (baby friendly, also great for babies with no teeth)
- Salmon. I usually bake it in the oven, wrapped loosely in baking paper or foil, for around 20 minutes.
- Cod. Cook the same way as salmon.
- Mince meat. You can cook some meatballs.
- Steak. Serve in shredded strips, like the chicken.
- Chicken. Serve in shredded strips for babies to suck on and munch away later on.
- Tuna. I am guilty of buying cans of it, but if you can bake it from scratch, that’s even better. Squeeze a bit of lemon to give it some flavour.
- Crab. If your little one is not allergic to seafood, you can give it a go.
- Prawns/shrimp. Great finger food.
- Homemade sausages.
Breads/cereal (just no baby cereal, please; read my (informed) rant about them here)
- Bread. To prevent it from sticking to the roof of the mouth, toast it. Or make some french toast.
- Rice. Great in rice puddings.
- Porridge fingers
- Millet. Boiled in milk or turned into a pudding (see my recipe here)
- Quinoa. Boiled and eaten as a side or added to porridge, for example.
- Amaranth. Same as quinoa.
- Buckwheat. Same as the above.
- Semolina pudding.
- Pasta. Macaroni, penne, fussili or bowtie shapes work well for beginners.
- Homemade pizza
- Naan bread
- Pitta bread
- Rice cakes. Go for the lowest salt option.
- Shreddies. Simple, no flavor, no added salt or sugar, just 100% wholegrain. Serve in milk.
- Chapatti fingers (an Indian flat bread)
Eggs (those that have a lion stamped on the shell are salmonella-free, therefore the yolk can be left runny when cooked)
- Boiled eggs
- Poached eggs
- Fried eggs (just don’t use oil and fry in a non-stick pan)
- Scrambled eggs
- My baked omlette
- Cheddar cheese. Just watch out for salt and the amount present.
- Mozarella. Choose the lowest salt option.
- Sana. It’s an Eastern European type of dairy, similar to yogurt, but slightly drinkable.
- Kefir. Similar to sana. You can find them in the European section in the supermarket.
- Curd cheese. I have a recipe for it here. It’s a no-salt version of cheese, perfect for babies.
- Cottage cheese. Just make sure the salt levels are okay.
- Tofu. Just watch out for the salt content.
- Homemade muffins (try this carrot muffins recipe)
- Homemade pinwheels
- Homemade banana bread
- Homemade biscuits (easiest recipe: 100 g flour, 100 g butter and 100 g of homemade curd cheese or ricotta cheese; everything mixed and baked in the oven)
- Waffles. Try this recipe. Foolproof.
- Homemade nuggets
- Any homemade cake-like consistency, as long as there is no sugar, maple syrup, honey (if baby is under 1 year old), whole nuts, etc.like this baked oatmeal cake.
- Homemade popsicles or anything that’s made out of fruit and yogurt and frozen.
- Peanut butter. Spread it on toast or on slices of banana. Just make sure it’s 100% nuts.
- Almond butter. Same as peanut butter.
- My apple pudding
126. 2 ingredient cookies. The easiest snack ever. Pair it with some dairy and you’re good to go.
127. 3 ingredient pancakes. The fluffiest and easiest pancake recipe out there. Period. Make sure to read my notes on timing and flipping and why those are the key elements for the fluffiness.
You are probably thinking: is there anything she hasn’t mentioned?
In fact, I haven’t mentioned the leafy vegetables, like spinach, lettuce, salad etc because babies might have a hard time tearing them apart so as not to stick to the roof of their mouths.
I also didn’t mention pomegranate, because of its high choking risk.
What comes next?
Knowing what to feed your kids might be a little easier now that you have this list, but actually getting them to eat or at least try any food is another story entirely.
This is why I have put together a 7-part blog series about how to get your little one to eat any food. It is based on more than 3 years of feeding little tummies, observing and taking mental notes about everything I did and everything they did at mealtimes.
I think you’ll find it useful and worth reading. You can save it on Pinterest for later reading or share with someone you know.