After feeding your baby a new food, it’s good to wait a day or so to see if there are any reactions (i.e. allergy or constipation). Once the food goes through and everything is okay then you can move to a new food. Make a list of food you have tried and as the weeks go by it becomes easy to make healthy meals.
As I mentioned in my last blog entry Food Glorious Food, the book “What to Expect The First Year” (Eisenberg, Murkoff, and Hathaway) was helpful when starting to feed our first baby. The monthly breakdown gave me some good advice.
If your baby has any serious allergies to foods it’s important to call your pediatrician right away.
Love It/Hate It
The three things to remember when you start feeding your baby are:
1) It’s going to be messy.
2) Most of the food spooned in the mouth is immediately pushed out as babies have to learn to swallow solids.
3) Baby may not like a food until you’ve tried it several times. For example, you try avocado and your baby appears to not like it, try it again another week. Avoid adding salad dressing or salt because then your baby has to get used to two tastes.
The best advice is perseverance, patience and enthusiasm.
Avocado has a lovely smooth consistency in the mouth. You don’t need to add any seasoning, just scoop and serve.
Stick with whole wheat and look at the ingredients – the less sugar and additives the better. Always serve bread last or babies won’t eat the main meal. Breadsticks, toast and crackers are all great for snacks when you are out and about, but not as a main. Treat it like a dessert!
Brown rice is an easy staple to make in big batches. Boil rice till it’s overcooked, adding water if it starts to dry out. When your baby starts eating rice it needs to be blended until it is super mushy. As the months go by you can just overcook the rice and eventually babies turn to toddlers and they can eat rice at its regular consistency. I would stay away from white rice because this can make a baby constipated. Brown rice has more fiber.
1 1/2 cups of uncooked rice makes three to four ice cube trays per batch and it lasts about one month.
Barley, like brown rice, requires a lot of water when cooking and more in the warming up process. It has a more slimy consistency than rice.
1 1/2 cups of uncooked barley makes three to four ice cube trays per batch and this lasts about one month.
Havarti is a good soft, creamy cheese to start with. As teeth come in you can try harder cheeses like Cheddar. Cheese can be high in fat and salt so don’t overdo it. Like bread it’s better as the last part of a meal.
Eggs are a great source of protein. An omelet is a super easy meal or snack with no seasoning required. As babies get older it’s a good finger food. We introduced eggs at 11 months and our baby loved it. Some babies are allergic to eggs so watch carefully when introducing them.
Make sure all fruit is ripe (i.e. papaya, pears, bananas, melon, blueberries). It’s important to remember to try a bit first and see how the baby does before giving them a lot. Papaya can make poo runny and too many bananas can make everything hard! Dried fruit can make babies gassy so it’s something to avoid until they are older.
Most pediatricians recommend introducing milk around one year. We first added a teaspoon of whole milk to the breakfast oatmeal and after no reaction we introduced drinking milk just before our baby’s first birthday.
Some kids can have serious allergies to nuts (peanut or tree nuts). Nut butters on bread or crackers are a nice treat but when you first try them make sure you test with only a small amount and see how your baby reacts. Once you see that it’s ok then make sure you spread the nut butter thinly as it can be too sticky to swallow.
Oatmeal is a fantastic breakfast food. Buy the quick cook organic oats. Make a small batch, let it cool and add water or milk to make it runny. Mashed bananas can be added for flavor.
Peas and Corn
Boil up, blend and freeze. Whole peas and corn go straight through and you’ll see them in the next day’s poo. The outside skin is too hard to digest so it’s a good idea to blend them well until your baby gets teeth and can do the mashing themselves.
Peas are great finger foods when your baby is learning to pick things up. There is a reward when they manage to get the pea in their mouth and you’ll be satisfied knowing baby is getting their veggie quota.
Poi (from Wikipedia)
You can buy large bags of poi at Costco. Cut a corner and squeeze it directly into ice cube trays. When you defrost poi you need to warm it, making sure you add extra water. Poi defrosts crumbly and this is why you need to heat it up. In the beginning babies are happy “drinking” poi and it can be a whole meal in itself.
Protein (beef, chicken, turkey)
Beef, chicken and turkey are easiest cooked in mince form. Defrost the meat and boil it in a pot with a small amount of water. If you use too much water you may have to strain it because it’s harder to freeze and you’ll end up throwing away all the good stock. There is no need to add any kind of seasoning. Once it’s well cooked let it cool and scoop about a tablespoon into each section of an ice cube tray and freeze.
Green Vegetables (zucchini, spinach, broccoli)
Zucchini is an easy vegetable to cook and serve once baby is able to feed themselves. It’s important to make sure zucchini is fully cooled down because the insides seem to retain heat even though the outside might feel cool.
Green veggies can be quite strong for a baby’s system so sometimes it’s easier if you add greens to a rice mixture. Spinach can make poo very runny (and green!) and can irritate babies. Broccoli can give babies gas, like cabbage.
You can freeze boiled veggies but they are generally so easy to cook I don’t recommend spending the time making batches of them.
Root Vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, yam, kabocha pumpkin)
Carrots need to be well cooked. Cut into baby bite size pieces and they won’t get mushy. Carrots are a great food for on the go.
Sweet potato and yam should be cooked in chunks or it gets too mushy. You can make a batch, blend and freeze in ice cube trays. As baby gets bigger you can keep it more whole and easily mash with a fork. Freeze the cooked chunks on a baking tray, separated so they don’t get stuck together then transfer to a freezer bag. Take out one or two pieces and mash them up for a meal. Great food for when you are on the go.
Kabocha pumpkin gets very mushy so it’s good to boil in larger chunks, cool and then freeze on a baking tray, separating them slightly so they don’t stick together.
Salt and Seasoning
Remember your baby’s pallet is new and they don’t need extra salt or seasoning. You can always add it later on.
Stick with plain instead of flavored because once you introduce flavored, babies will generally reject the plain. You can add things like bananas, blueberries, or a dash of wheat germ.
At six months (or earlier if you wish) it’s good to introduce a sippy cup with water. In the beginning it’s really just a toy to bang or drop on the floor. With lots of encouragement a baby will soon realize that there is something good inside and they learn how to drink. It’s good to have water on hand during mealtimes to make sure they are getting some extra liquid with the solid foods.
Water is important as it keeps babies hydrated and helps move solids through their system.
A typical day is:
Breakfast: cooked oats plus a few extras (yogurt, fruit, bread).
Lunch: chicken, rice and veg combined plus extras (poi, yogurt, fruit, cheese)
Dinner: beef, rice and veg combined plus extras (poi, yogurt, fruit, cheese).
Some days we only did one protein meal and the other meal more vegetables and fruit.
A typical meal is:
Rice, veg and meat (small rice-bowl size combining 3-6 frozen cubes).
Heat everything up with about 1/4″ water adding more if necessary. Takes 5-10 minutes to warm up. Let everything cool down before feeding.
2-3 Tblsp poi
2-3 Tblsp cottage cheese
½ cup yogurt
¼ papaya or ½ pear
1-2 Tblsp cheese (cut into small cubes)
End with the easy foods like cheese and bread. By this time your baby will probably be pretty full. The easy food really becomes extra to make sure baby is satisfied. As baby gets older a sure sign that your baby is full is when the food starts being tossed on the floor.
We started right from the beginning to feed our baby three meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and have stuck with it. We don’t have big snacks between meals because they tend to interfere with the main mealtimes.
Starting to feed your baby can be frustrating but if you make it fun for you it’ll be fun for them. Sing songs, play games, or give them some of the food to play with while you feed them.
Be prepared to take time for mealtimes, especially once baby starts participating. It’s also important for babies to watch us eat meals. Everything we do they want to do and they’ll begin to mirror you. If you eat veggies, they will. If you drink water, they will. What we do they will do!
Lila & Maile at 7 months, can you guess what they ate?