Thursday, October 25, 2012

Can I Pour Grace All Over Your Kitchen? (Or, "How to Feed Your Baby 'Real Food'")

Being a first time parent sometimes feels like hunting for buried treasure that you know is out there - but you have no map, and no idea of how to find it. You are given this little beautiful life, with expectation that you will mold, cherish, and teach this person. But there is no manual and not very many simple answers. Most of the time you feel lost. And there is a heck of a lot of Google-ing.

What has really surprised me, as a first time mom, is what one of my greatest sources of stress has been: food. What do I feed my kid? When they need more than milk/formula and purees, what do kids even eat? They have barely any teeth, yet they seem hungry enough to eat more than a 300 lb. man. I was intimidated by the fact that I was "supposed to know" how to feed Nicholas nutritious, tasty, correctly portioned meals, 3 times a day.

So, for any moms out there who are in the same boat as I was, I wanted to share my version of what to feed a baby when they're ready for "real" food. I'm not a nutritionist, and every family is a little different. But my desire is to give you HOPE - that it's fairly simple, and that feeding Nicholas has actually become one of my favorite parts of the day. So here goes nothing.

I'm going to start right off the bat and pour some grace all over your kitchen. I do NOT buy all organic. I wish I could, but I buy only what I can. Nicholas has already tasted ice cream, and I've microwaved his food a few times (gasp!). We all want perfect, Pinterest-y versions of our meals - but I cannot live up to that. Most of us moms will wallow in disappointment if we try to be "that" mom. Just do the best that you can, with the time and money (and emotional energy) that you've got.

My current philosophy for feeding my 10 month old - I try to give him a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a little bit of dairy. And few other extras. As much as possible, he eats what my husband and I eat, or a variation of it. I try to mix things up when I can, but I also have some staples that I know he loves. And of course: cheerios.

Here's a literal picture of some of the foods Nicholas eats throughout the week:

Spiral pasta Cheerios Couscous : Applesauce : Yo-Baby Yogurt : Whole Wheat Bread : Pears

At 10 months old, Nicholas' meals typically look like:

Breakfast - an entire banana, or a jar of Yo-Baby yogurt, or other fruit. And of course, some cheerios!

Lunch - My husband and I usually have sandwiches, soup, or a variation of mexican food for lunch. So Nicholas eats a version of that - but in smaller, more simple bites. And I'll usually add some fruit for a more nutritious meal. And more cheerios!

So this might look like: cut-up fruit (usually pear, banana, nectarine, etc.), small cubes of cheddar cheese, small slices of soft whole wheat bread/tortilla, applesauce, mild salsa, soft shredded chicken, soft cut-up veggies (corn, sweet potato - big winner!, zuchinni, etc.).

Dinner - This is the main meal where I try to have him eat what we're eating. So if I make pasta with meat sauce and green beans, Nicholas gets small pieces of pasta, well-cooked ground beef with pasta sauce, and slices of green beans. If I make white chicken chili, he eats the soft shredded chicken, soft white beans, and part of a cornbread muffin. I try to make sure there is some protein and a veggie.

Why is feeding Nicholas one of my favorite parts of the day now? It is so much fun to watch him discover what he likes and dislikes. When he finds something he really likes (i.e. cornbread or sweet potatoes), he bounces up and down in his high chair! It's also really fun that he can feed himself. (Insert "he's growing up too fast" tears here.) And a kid covered in spaghetti sauce? Talk about heart melting cuteness:

I hope that this gives you some hope - feeding a baby is actually fairly simple. They can eat a lot of what adults eat, but just make sure the bites are small and soft, and well-cooled if they are cooked. Meal times can be fun and not stressful - and that's coming from someone who wanted to cry at the beginning of this little food journey. Again, I am not in any way claiming to be a medical professional, so please consult your pediatrician before making choices about your child's diet.

If you have any questions or need some encouragement about feeding your baby, I'd love to hear from you. I'm right in the middle of this with you, and I'm sure I'll be asking questions along with you. And if all else fails? Google it.

You can also read my post on how to make baby food purees here.
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  1. I'm in the same boat! Some of my 11 month olds faves are bean/cheese/rice/chicken burrito, spinach tortellini, chicken parmesan, mixed veggies, pb&j, eggs, toast, baked sweet potato, oatmeal,and eggo waffles(gasp!). He is a pretty good eater! I just struggle with what to make for every I tend to eat the same things over. He also refuses to let me feed him. I tried to fix his burrito one day and he flipped his lid! lol SO I have to make sure to give him things he can feed himself.

  2. ha ha! Love the picture of him at the end :) It's funny, kids can be very hard to feed (my two year old would eat only fruit if I'd let him) and sometimes supper seems like a losing battle but it's only a stage. This too shall pass :) My five year old used to be super picky and now he'll try almost anything (except mushrooms)

    Glad you've found what works for you!

  3. Girl, you are doing GREAT!!! There is nothing my 14 month old DOESN'T like ;) I love his face in the last pic!!!

  4. Oh gosh! I know all about the kitchen messes of babies learning to eat. My one year-old is delving into feeding herself (when I'm feeling brave) and it's a whole lot of fun, and an even bigger mess. Enjoy the ride, Mackenzie.

  5. Thanks Mackenzie, this is really helpful! I have a 7 month old (that actually reminds me of Nicholas) and he's starting to eat solids. We're using the baby led weaning method, and it's going really great.

    I just wonder how do you deal with Nicholas' salt intake?
    I know babies aren't supposed to eat too much salt, but it's incorporated in so many foods like bread and cereal, so how do you avoid it? And do you season your food after you cook it, so you can skip salting Nicholas' food?

    Just wondering!

    1. Hi Maria! You're at a really fun stage, enjoy! :)

      As far as salt intake goes - first, I would check in with your pediatrician and see if they have any tips! For us, I rarely ever season Nicholas' food. When I made pureed baby food, I never seasoned it. Sautéed or baked veggies might need a tiny sprinkle of salt - but I would try it first w/o, because babies don't know that a food should taste saltier :)

      With other foods (like bread and cereal) - I try to shop as naturally and healthful as I can, without obsessing and making myself stress out. We buy really healthy breads and use low sodium chicken/vegetable broths, so that if salt is in other foods in kind of balances out :) I would ask a nutritionist and pediatrician as well. Also, I don't give Nicholas a lot of baby/kid foods, like granola bars, juices, etc. So many foods directly made for kids have a ton of sugars and salts in them, but the adult versions actually have less. So Nicholas eats "adult" oatmeal, yogurts, etc.

      I hope that helps!


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