(Photo Modified: flickr/philippe put)
There is much debate over what should be a child’s first solid meal. Should children eat fresh fruits and vegetables? Finely chopped and well-cooked meats? Grain-based purées and porridges?
The answer depends on where in the world you live. Here in the United States, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed for up to six months before introducing their babies to things like iron-fortified single-grain cereals. But babies' diets in other countries are steeped in tradition and comprised of much different fare.
In Kenya, babies are given sweet potatoes early on to help combat the vitamin A deficiency in their diet. In Jamaica, infants will receive an appetizer of fruit and honey before being served their morning milk. And in Japan, a baby’s first solid food feast is a celebratory event called okuizome (first eating), a ritual in which the parents present their child with an elaborate spread — fish, sticky rice, octopus, and pickled vegetables — and a biting stone to help promote the growth of strong teeth.
Ironically, the little one doesn’t eat the food, as the cultural practice is more symbolic and promise of good health and abundance.
We at The Daily Meal decided to take a look at what baby food looks like in countries all around the world. From khichdi in India to chile powder in Mexico, here is our list of first foods that babies around the world go "goo goo gaga" over.
Given New Zealand’s Maori history, one popular type of food is the Maori dish kumara, which is a mashed sweet potatoes. Parents in New Zealand typically feed their children kumara as their first foods, with apple, pumpkin and banana purées as another popular choice.
In West African countries, babies are often breastfed until they are 3 to 4 months old and are mostly commonly fed a gruel which varies by name depending upon the country. In Nigeria, for example, babies are fed ogi, which is a dish made from maize.
Alexandra E. Petri is the travel editor at The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @writewayaround
Click here to see more baby foods from around the world.