Baby Food Around the World (Slideshow)
Sweet potato, known locally as ngwaci, is commonly offered as a first solid food for Kenyan babies as young as six months old. Aside from its inherent sweet taste, the easily digestible starchy root vegetable is packed with vitamin A, which helps with a slew of metabolic functions like vision and immune maintenance.
When they're about six months old, after they've adjusted to rice cereal and mashed rice, babies in India are introduced to khichdi, a traditional vegetarian dish of rice and high-protein lentils and vegetables, which includes a variety of flavors and spices like cumin, coriander, mint, and cinnamon.
By their first birthday, most little ones in Japan have already had their fair share of miso soup. In an attempt to wean babies off breast milk — usually on the 100th day after the child’s birth — Japanese parents whip together a popular dish called okayu, a rice porridge typically topped with dried fish and vegetables or mashed pumpkin.
Rice, beans, and soups are frequently on the menu for a baby’s inaugural solid food fiesta in Mexico and Central America. But Mexican parents have also been known to spice things up by sprinkling chili powder and lime onto apples, oranges, and pears to entice their babies to eat fruit.
Porridges and broths abound in Vietnam. Infants are served soups high in fiber, seasoned with fish sauce and pork bones for flavor, which contain ground or thinly sliced shrimp, potatoes, and vegetables such as carrots and butternut squash. Some parents even add infant cereal to these homemade soupy blends.
Swedish starter foods include mashed up fruits and vegetables, but Swedes also feed their babies välling, a wheat-based cereal that is similar to oatmeal and contains palm oil, canola, and powdered milk.
In the morning before a serving of milk, 4-month-old babies on the tropical island are given indigenous fruit and fruit blends — custard apple, mango, banana, papaya, naseberry — with a teaspoon of honey to enhance the flavor.
China and East Asia
By the time they're 4 months old, tykes in China have moved on from breast milk to rice dishes paired with fish, carrots, seaweed, and eggs, and hearty porridges made with banana, milk, and green beans. Other popular blends include chicken soup and pumpkin and ground pork and smashed eggplant.
A Tibetan baby’s first foray into the world of food starts at a mere four days old, when a piece of zamba — barley, wheat, corn, and peas stirred, fried, and ground into flour and mixed with yak butter — is stuck to the infant’s forehead as a ritual to denote purity.