as we inch closer to the day we will officially have a one year old in the house, i’ve been thinking a lot about the different milestones this year has brought. as any new parent knows (and any expecting parent will soon find out), food takes up a large portion of your brain in the first year. when they eat, how much they eat, what they eat, it goes on and on.
one of my favorite parts of amelia getting older was when she started to eat solid food. we didn’t rush into it too fast, and we chose to start with purees, because our girl loves to eat, and we wanted her to have some practice chewing and swallowing before she took bites of whole foods. that being said, each baby is different and will move into solids at their own pace. some of my favorite memories with her are feeding her and eating meals with her at the table this year.
here are some of my favorite tips for all things baby food
1) wait until your baby is ready.
we waited until we saw a few signs that amelia was ready for purees. one was that she was constantly hungry after nursing, and no matter how much i let her nurse, a milk-only diet was not cutting it anymore for her. another was that she was SO interested in what her dad and i were eating. the third was that she was sitting up well and had teeth, so physically she was ready to eat as well. this happened for amelia at about six months old. if your baby isn’t ready until later, that works fine too!
2) make your own baby food.
making our own baby food was one of those things that made people think we were way more intense than we really are, but in actuality was really easy and really cheap. i would shop for produce, either fresh or frozen (frozen organic food is the best invention ever), once a week with our regular groceries, and then on a sunday or monday would spend 1-2 hours cutting, steaming and pureeing it. i would freeze the purees in baby food containers or ice cube trays, and then the next day when they were frozen, i would pop out the cubes and transfer them to labeled freezer bags for easy access. this way, i could grab one or a few different cubes of food, defrost them in the microwave and have a meal ready for her in just a couple minutes.
the hardest part at first was figuring out what foods to make, so here’s a tip from me to you: go to the baby food aisle and make a list of the varieties of purees. you’ll notice that there aren’t actually that many, and so when you branch off from those, you’ll feel pretty special. also, we used happy baby organic pouches for when we would eat out or travel, and we will still use them if we are going to be on the road during a mealtime.
3) start small.
the one drawback of introducing foods is that you are then tied to your house for mealtimes. so start small, with one meal at a time. we started with dinner (in the hopes it would help nighttime sleep…it didn’t), then added breakfast, and waited as long as we could before introducing lunch. now that she eats more quickly it’s not as much of a hassle to be home or out for mealtimes, but starting small and introducing meals slowly will really help ease you into the new schedule.
4) don’t be afraid of finger food.
when you’re ready to move past purees, the same rules for starting food apply; follow your baby’s cues, and your gut. we started very small, with just cheerios for a while, and then moved to things like soft cheese cubes, quinoa, and soft steamed veggies. once amelia had the chewing solid food thing down, we pretty much gave her whatever we were having in a deconstructed form; tacos, spaghetti, lentil soup, you name it, she’s tried it. this is easier to do if you tend to cook a lot in your house and don’t eat a lot of processed foods, but it can also be a good reason to start cooking and eating whole foods more…your baby needs it anyway so you might as well make one thing for the whole family instead of separate meals!
5) embrace the mess.
this is just a good metaphor for having a child in general, but especially when it comes to eating. just remember, you can clean anything off the ground, and babies are cuter when they have a messy face. don’t fuss over flung cheerios or smashed berries under butts – embrace the mess.
favorite food ideas
- apple with cinnamon. great to mix with almost anything else, especially with squash and with the morning oatmeal.
- pears. see above for reasons.
- spinach. maybe this is just our child, but she loves dark green veggies. don’t know how or why, but i’ll take it.
- broccoli. again, with the green veggies. but this puree is great to mix with other veggies as well.
- carrots. this was our first puree, and amelia still loves carrots. they are just sweet enough.
favorite finger foods:
- cheerios. this is the best invention in the history of food when it comes to babies. there is even a hole in it so choking is not as scary!
- toast. dry toast feels great on sore, teething gums, plus it has a lot of iron in it.
- peas. amelia loves them. they’re the perfect size, and they’re healthy.
- blueberries. these are just the right amount of mushy, and the frozen ones are easy to keep on hand (same goes for frozen peas).
- cheese. amelia is her mother’s daughter and loves her some cheese. but i mean, who doesn’t?
- happy baby organic snacks. our favorites are the yogurt and coconut milk creamies and the rice cakes. we can pass on the puffs, cheerios are better in our opinion.
if anyone has suggestions for their favorite baby food ideas, leave them below in the comments. have questions? leave them there too, or email me at hooleywithaz [at] gmail [dot] com. happy eating!