As mentioned before I make all of Liam’s baby food. It’s less expensive, I know exactly what is going in it (no weird preservatives or artificial colors), I know exactly when it was made (no icky mold filled food pouches here!), and most importantly, it’s so quick and easy. I can get a whole month’s worth of food made during one nap time and still have time left over to have a very large cup of coffee while I browse Pinterest (did I say that? I meant do dishes and laundry…)! When you should start your baby on solids or purees is really up for debate these days. Some pediatricians say 4 months, some say 6, some parents insist that Baby Led Weaning is the way to go. For me, BLW wasn’t an option for us. The choking hazard is too much of a risk for me and I would be a nervous wreck the whole time. You should absolutely do your own research and consult your own pediatrician before starting your baby on food, but there are a few signs that you can look out for to determine if your little one might be ready to start trying some food.
- Is your baby at least 4 months old? Before 4 months, their little digestive systems just aren’t ready to handle anything other than breastmilk or formula.
- Can your baby hold their head up well? For obvious reasons, you won’t want your kiddo’s head flopping over while they have a spoon in their mouth.
- Can your baby sit up well, with or without some support? If not, they’re not ready yet.
- Does your baby show interest in food? When eating in front of your baby, do they reach for your food or open their mouth? These are good signs.
- Does your baby seem less satisfied with their normal amount of formula or breastmilk?
- Does your baby immediately spit out food that is put in their mouth? If so, they may not be quite ready yet. This is a reflex that will go away with time.
If you answered yes to all or most of these, it might be time to give some simple purees a try! In the beginning you should introduce your babe to one food at a time, leaving about 3-5 days in between new foods. This way, if your babe does end up being allergic or sensitive to something, you can pinpoint exactly what it is. You should keep a close eye on your little one for about an hour after trying a new food to make sure they aren’t showing any signs of a bad reaction. Signs to look out for include hives, difficulty breathing, extreme fussiness, or blood in stools. Once you have introduced two foods and your kiddo shows no signs of a bad reaction, you can try combining these foods. For example, we gave Liam carrots first, then bananas, then carrots and bananas together. Before one year of age, most of your babe’s nutrition should still be coming from breastmilk or formula, so try to keep food fun and stress free. For now, all you’re really doing is getting babe used to new flavors and textures. If a spoon is intimidating to your kiddo, you can try letting them eat with their hands (warning, this WILL be messy) or putting some food on your finger and letting them lick it off.
I’m lucky that my favorite grocery store right down the road from us has a great selection of organic and local produce for much better prices than Whole Foods (more like Whole Paycheck, right?!). I try to buy organic as often as possible, but if the store happens to be out of organic bananas this week, I buy the regular ones and I don’t lose sleep over it. I use these little containers for freezer storage and label the lids with some tape so I don’t have to worry about pulling one out and wondering “WTF is this?” I highly suggest introducing vegetables first, then fruits, then grains. The idea is that if they are given something super sweet (like fruit) or super “carby” (like rice cereal) first, they won’t like the more bitter flavor of vegetables. Grains can also lead to constipation in infants, which is no fun for anyone. Some doctors have differing opinions on when allergy prone foods should be introduced. Our’s suggested waiting until one year, so that’s our plan. These foods include raw strawberries, citrus, peanut butter, shellfish, and eggs. Other foods that should be avoided before one year include honey, animal milk, and any fish high in mercury.
What You’ll Need:
- Blender (I have this one and it’s amazing)
- Baby food containers
- 3 medium/large pots (you can use just one, it will just take longer)
- Cutting board and knife
- Vegetable peeler
- Masking tape/labels
- Pen or marker
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Put three pots of water on to boil. Wash and dry all produce. Peel carrots and cut into about 3 inch pieces and add to one pot. Cut ends off zucchini and cut into about 3 inch pieces and add to another pot. I bought already trimmed green beans, but if you did not, trim them now and add to the last pot. Boil all three pots for about 10 minutes until vegetables are very soft. Save the cooking water. In the meantime, peel two bananas and add to blender with a couple tablespoons of water or breastmilk. Blend until very smooth. Fill containers with banana puree, label, and set aside. If you only have one blender container, clean it out now. Add carrots with a few tablespoons of cooking water or breastmilk and blend until very smooth. Fill containers with carrot puree, label, and set aside. Fill blender half way with more carrots, cooking water or breastmilk, and one peeled banana. Blend until very smooth. Fill containers, label, and set aside. Wash out blender again. Add zucchini, some cooking water or breastmilk, and blend until very smooth. Fill containers, label, and set aside. Fill blender half way with more zucchini, add carrots, cooking water or breastmilk, and blend until very smooth. Fill containers, label, and set aside. Wash out blender and fill half way with zucchini and cooking water or breastmilk, and add one peeled banana and blend until very smooth. Fill containers, label, set aside. Wash out blender one last time (almost done!) and add green beans and some cooking water. Blend until very smooth, fill containers, label, set aside. Place all labeled containers in the freezer, wash that damn blender one last time, and you’re done!
- A bullet style blender really comes in handy here. They usually include more than one cup which eliminates some of the blender washing.
- Cut pieces of tape or labels ahead of time. I just labeled mine with letters since the containers are so small (C for carrots, CB for carrots and bananas, you get it.)
- Blend until super super smooth for the first month or two since baby isn’t used to chunky textures yet.
- You can choose what order to introduce these foods in, but we did carrots first, then bananas, then carrots and bananas, then zucchini, zucchini and bananas, zucchini and carrots, then green beans. We also introduced a little bit of cinnamon this month and added it to the bananas and the bananas and carrots.
- Remove one container of food from the freezer the night before and put it in the refrigerator to thaw. Use it within two days of thawing. Food that has not been frozen should be kept in the refrigerator and should be used within four days.
- Take a few spoonfuls of food from thawed containers and put into a smaller microwave safe bowl. (You don’t want to serve directly out of the storage container unless baby will be eating all of it. This is just to prevent excessive bacteria growth in the food). Microwave for about 30 seconds and stir really really well. Test the temperature on your bottom lip or the inside of your wrist before serving.
- Keep spoonfuls really small. Babes can’t handle too much in their mouths yet and are likely to spit most of it back out anyways.
- Consider just undressing baby for feeding. They WILL get food everywhere. Less laundry for you!
- If baby seems frustrated, aggravated, or upset while eating, stop and try again tomorrow. You want eating to be fun, not stressful. You don’t want baby to create a negative association with food.
- Give baby a bottle or breastfeed FIRST! Like I mentioned before, most of your baby’s nutrition will still be coming from breastmilk or formula until one year. Give baby about half as much formula or breastmilk as they usually take before offering food. After food, if baby is acting like they are still hungry, offer another half of a bottle or the breast again.
- If baby doesn’t seem to like a certain food, try it once or twice and then move on. You can introduce this food again later either alone, or combined with another food that they do like.
- Not wild about these first food options? These are some other great first foods for baby:
Check back next month for another round of baby food recipes! Has your little one started solids? What was their favorite food so far? Share in the comments!
The Crispy Mama
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