Baby and Toddler Foods, Dominican Republic-Style

Baby and Toddler Foods, Dominican Republic-Style

I weaned my baby son here in the DR, and found that many of the foods found here worked as excellent first foods for him. The requisites – wherever you’re coming from – were that they should be palatable, easy to digest, and nutritious.

First stage (never before the age of 4 months): purées like Avocado, Papaya, Banana, Rice, Carrot, Potato, Pumpkin, Zucchini, one ingredient at a time, mashed with the baby’s usual milk.

Second stage (once the solid food routine has been established): combinations of tried and tested ingredients like Potato and Carrot, Onion and Pumpkin, Zucchini and Carrot, Rice and Mixed Vegetables. After the baby is 6 months old some grated cheese can be added for flavour. Celery is a great ingredient to add bite to the taste if not the texture, because at this stage the food is all puréed.

Third stage: All of the above, and now it is safe to introduce new foods like Crema de Habichuelas (kidney bean or black bean puree) which is a traditional Dominican baby food. I would advise waiting well after the 6 or 7 month mark as it is less digestible than the earlier foods.

There is so much variety and these foods are so easy to prepare that there is rarely a need to buy jars of baby food. The exceptions were when we were out and about, and then I would always try to ensure that the jars I bought were sugar-free.

Baby and Toddler Foods, Dominican Republic-Style

The advice I was following for feeding a baby under one year of age is to add NO sugar or salt to the food. This is standard advice in Europe and North America, but in the DR it was considered subversive by some. In the case of salt, it can damage the baby’s kidneys. With sugar, the idea is to introduce healthy eating habits. If a baby is used to sweetened foods it’ll go on eating them for life. Dominican babies are often given their milk with a hefty addition of sugar from a very early age: if they grow up with any teeth at all they are sure to be sweet ones! Once a baby is over a year old, these rules can be relaxed, but as far as possible try to keep to the regime without becoming obsessive. A one-year old will not miss fizzy drinks or lollipops unless s/he is introduced to them. Ice cream and cake can be treated as special, birthday party food. This is easy especially in the case of a first or only child. Subsequent children will usually be ‘led astray’ by their older siblings!

Baby and Toddler Foods, Dominican Republic-Style

Most doctors advise that babies should ‘drop’ the bottle after their first birthday. They can continue to drink their milk from a cup, and will consume it in other forms such as yogurt and cheese, and with breakfast cereals. My son especially enjoys mangú of all varieties, which can be made with milk.

I am convinced that thanks to the wonderful fruits and vegetables easily available in the DR he got a particularly good nutritional start, and as a result has now grown into a toddler who enjoys a varied and mostly healthy diet.

Aunt Ilana
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{ 10 comments… add one }

  • jen March 1, 2015, 9:33 AM

    where is the recipe for the beans? I have an 8 month old I would like to make them for.

  • Jen June 11, 2013, 8:32 AM

    Ilana, I’ve been following your blog (and the dominicancooking-blog) forever, this is helpful tips for us who are leaving for the DR in few short weeks :) Here in Sweden they say kids under 1 shouldn’t drink milk, and are instead bottlefed with välling (wikipedia tells me it’s called gruel, and like it states it’s a thinner form of porridge mixed with water – in my son’s case it’s made of cornmeal) – can I find that there? He’s 9 months and eats lots of fruits, loves sweet potatoes and rice, and still doesn’t get any sugar (except from grandfathers/mothers who try to give him some whenever they get a chance!). I can’t wait for my boy to be able to get better fruits and veggies than he is getting here!

    • Aunt Ilana June 12, 2013, 11:18 PM

      Hi Jen, I really haven’t heard of this and as my son is almost in high school now 😉 I must admit I don’t pay much attention to the products in the baby food aisle any more. They probably still sell the usual baby porridge type cereals. Is valling something you can make from scratch, using cornmeal and any other ingredients? Good luck with the move!

      • Jennifer June 13, 2013, 4:08 AM

        Gracias tía Ilana – I’m sure it’s possible, gonna have to look it up (my husband is usually the one in the kitchen)!

  • liz jimenez-cooper May 6, 2012, 1:29 PM

    …sorry forgot to add that I love the website, thanks x

  • liz jimenez-cooper May 6, 2012, 1:28 PM

    I dont want to be some kind of 'food police' but this advice is well out of date! for here in England at least I dont know how things are the DR, although I see many babies there given food from being very young over there, maybe just a couple of months old.

    Here in England it is recommended to just give breast milk/formula till 6 months and then you can just go straight to the 6 month stage as babys are more ready and less health risks later in life

    Sorry I know I'm being a pain in the bum but I talk about this all day at my work and can't switch off sometimes :-/

  • Maggie January 6, 2012, 7:15 AM

    my daughter love pork and tayota, rice and beans, asopao, etc. we have been so blessed with such a good eater and she eats everything, except, she HATES zapote. we're all allowed to not like certain things:)

  • Nathali C. July 25, 2011, 12:11 PM

    Muchisimas gracias! Tengo una nena de 4 meses y la familia entera ya quiere que le de arroz, habichuela y pollo. Me tienen loca ha-ha.

  • Elisa A April 26, 2011, 8:52 AM

    Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love your website