Once again I have decided to write... yes... another baby blog because 2016-2018 have been the years of "the baby" for my group of friends. If someone in our crew doesn't have a baby yet, they are likely pregnant or getting prego as we speak lol. I always love sharing things we've struggled with, and what we've learned in hope to make other new mom's lives a bit easier. If you want to know more about #thestruggle with a newborn and then with sleeping and sleep training read the first two blogs from this series :)
I will begin this blog with the same disclosure as I begin all: I AM NOT A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL in any of this. I am literally a mad scientist making shit up as I go. (After googling everything and reading A LOT of information on the topics at hand!) What works for André is not guaranteed to work with your child, so please be sure to discuss your plan with your health care practitioner when you are ready to makes moves with solids. I recommend that you take a baby CPR course as well. It's essential in my opinion. I cannot assume any responsibility for anything that may happen to your baby when attempting the recipes below. Again, speak to your health care practitioner before you start feeding solids.
(Prepping away while wearing my Mad Science Yoga Leggings! www.secretlivesotw.com/collections/mad-science)
Feeding your baby seems like a natural process that should be easy right? WRONG! I don't know about you, but I felt completely overwhelmed with the concept of solids, what to do, when to start and how to make the food for Dré to eat. There is so much information out there, A LOT of OUTDATED information such as feeding your baby rice cereal to start, plus everyone and their mother's and sister's, and Nonna's and Grandma's and Great Grandmother's opinions to make it even more overwhelming for you! I was so confused about when to start, what to start with and how I was going to make it work in his two hour window of "awake time" after he had a bottle, played etc. I will tell you that the beginning is VERY HARD as it is with everything else that is new with being a new mom so buckle up! I'm hoping that this blog will help put your mind at ease a bit.
How do you know when it's the right time to start feeding your baby? That was my first question to all of this. I, like many other new moms was feeling extremely overwhelmed and exhausted from breast feeding that I was literally dreaming about the day I could start solids so I could stop and take my body back lol. Yes breast is best and you should try and BF for as long as you can... but I will tell you that my life has drastically improved now that we are finally done with all that. Some people just love it... I was not one of those people! I didn't even stop breast feeding, André weaned himself shortly after he was eating solids and we were officially finished by 7 months. I digress,... from the research I have done and speaking with my naturopath doctor (and my regular doctor briefly) the right time to start solids is when your baby can sit up on his own, is watching you eat food with curiosity and when your baby starts to reach for your food. Do not rush your baby and start feeding before they are ready, there is no need. They have an entire lifetime to eat food. Plus, if you are determined to continue BF it might hinder that as it did with André. "They say" you can start around 4 months, but that is really early. Let your baby tell you when they are ready by following their cues.
We went on vacation when Dré was 4 months old, and towards the end of the trip when he was almost 5 months we started feeding him little bits of mashed avocado. Needless to say, he loved it and was all in for food! So my journey of stress and confusion started when we got home because I just didn't know what to do.
(André enjoying avocado in Ibiza! 4.5 months old, September 2017)
My best advice to you here is to buy a baby food machine that steams and purées the food for you. Sure you can use two or three machines to do the same thing, or you can buy an all in one! So much more efficient both with your energy and time. I do not get paid by Béaba, but I love their machine as it steams and then purées. I purchased their cook book as well which I feel is essential to have as it tells you exactly how to cook each purée with this specific machine, and gives you lists and recipes of what foods to introduce for each age group. For me, this eased so much of my stress as I am someone who needs clear direction and a plan preferably with easy to follow instructions and pictures to feel confident in what I'm doing!
When you start feeding new foods the rule of thumb is make sure it is cooked well with a smooth texture. Start with 1 tablespoon to make sure your baby doesn't have a reaction to the food. Then keep feeding the same food for 3-4 days before introducing anything else new. For me, I was really nervous with feeding solids so I took about a week with each food at the beginning, then maybe 2-3 days once I felt more comfortable with the whole thing. My friend Katya helped a lot at the beginning as well. She explained that once you introduce a new food and there was no reaction, you can still feed that food, and then introduce another new food. I'm sure you can understand why I felt overwhelmed again with this so here is a sample schedule that worked with André to help you visualize how this works.
6/7am: Baby Wake Up
- Feed Bottle/ Boob
8/9am: First Nap
- Feed Bottle/ Boob when baby wakes up, then wait 35-45 min before feeding solids
- If it's a new food, feed 1 tablespoon
- If baby had no reaction day before, feed up to 2 oz.
12/1: Second Nap
- Feed Bottle/ Boob
3/4: Third Nap
- Feed Bottle/ Boob then wait 35-45 min and feed solids
- Feed up to 2oz of a food you know baby has no reaction to
- Bottle before bed
*Note. At the beginning you will only be feeding baby once a day. Always feed new foods in the morning so if they do have a reaction you can take the appropriate actions. By 7 months baby should be eating twice a day and will increase to 3 by 8 months. Every baby is different, some are more hungry than others... always follow your babies cues!
Something important to note here, some medical practitioners will tell you to keep feeding your baby until they stop eating. I will argue that this is ridiculous especially when eating is new for a baby and if something tasted good why would they stop! They don't know the consequences of overeating yet. I did that with André and carrots... needless to say a puke fest followed and he still to this day will not eat carrots! I traumatized him. When I did more research to figure out how much babies should be eating I learned that a babies stomach at 6 months of age is the size of their two hands together in a fist. So at 6 months they can comfortably eat 2-3oz. You can add an ounce more at a time as the weeks go on as your baby's appetite will increase. Again, follow their cues, you know your baby best.
So I finally had it ALL FIGURED OUT!... and then André started balling his eyes out when I was trying to feed him, pushing my hand away and would take the spoon from me as I was feeding him and try and feed himself. He would be covered in purée by the end and most of the food ended up on him not in his mouth. I had to re-think everything. That's the fun part about babies... as soon as you finally feel like you got it, they change it! I had a freezer full of homemade organic purées and no idea what to do with it!
(But did any make it in his mouth?? The end of purées around 7 months of age!)
So now I'm finally at the part of the article that you've all been waiting for... FEEDING YOUR BABY REAL FOOD!
I quickly realized that André was pushing me away and crying because he just wanted to do it himself. I decided it was time to try Baby Led Weaning. I will formally state here that I highly recommend that you take a Baby CPR course before you start with this type of feeding as it can be scary if you aren't properly educated on what to do if your baby chokes. I feel very confident that I will know what to do if this should ever happen and it put my crazy mind at ease.
(André's first try at Baby Led Weaning, 7 Months, December 2017)
The idea of Baby Led Weaning is that the baby will pick up and handle the food and feed himself, while also self-regulating how much they eat. I really love this idea as I'm all about raising an independent and confident little human. André completely changed and you could see how happy he was to be eating again and he absolutely loves doing it himself. BLW suggests that you should bake/ steam/ fully cook the foods so that when you hold the food you can easily pinch and squash the food between your fingers. This makes it safe and easy for baby to swallow. At the beginning, I would give Dré full strips and larger pieces of food as BLW also states that the baby needs to hold the whole piece in their hand.... hahah well.... let's just say that my little human would shove the ENTIRE thing in his mouth! It would give me a little bit of stress as he would gag on it. I kept doing it this way for a while as all the research I did said it was best this way but eventually I stopped and started cutting the foods into smaller pieces. BLW also says the best way to offer the food is to simply give the whole sticks right on the high chair tray. André was getting really frustrated as the pieces would move all over and it was really hard for him to pick it up. I would recommend that you get a silicon baby plate that has dividers as you will see later down the road your baby wants different types of food in separate sections! At this point, the whole stick concept was not working for André at 7 months of age at all.
(Silicon baby plate is key, cutting food into smaller pieces and putting less on the plate at once is what works for André. I remind him to finish what's in his mouth and to eat slowly... we're learning!)
Another important point to note here, your baby will gag. Gagging IS NOT choking. Babies need to learn to eat solid food and their gag reflex is much higher up in the back of their throats at this age... for a reason! It helps them learn not to put too much in their mouth, teaches them to self-regulate and swallow properly. When you feed your baby, you need to stay face to face with them and make sure you are watching, but always stay calm. Do not freak out if you see them gagging. Let them work it out! Do not pat their back in a panic while they are sitting up in the chair as you can force the food down more and then they will really be choking. I would also suggest not to feed your baby with a lot of other people around. I had people yell and scream at me that André was choking which causes completely unnecessary stress and anxiety for mom and baby. Your baby is choking if they have a look of fear in their eyes, their lips turn blue and they cannot breathe. Gagging looks like they are throwing up. There is a big difference and if you have other people around you should explain that to them before you start feeding. Everyone needs to stay calm and focused.
I've had so many friends ask me to put together a list of the foods I've come up with for André so that when they are ready they have a reference. So, with that said I will re-state the following... I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL CHEF NOR HAVE I STUDIED THE FIELD OF NUTRITION. I am also not a nutritionist, naturopath, or doctor. Please don't follow this as the way to do things or whatever. I am just sharing some ideas that have worked really well for my baby!
Below are some recipes and photos of how I put this all together. Good luck with your new project and enjoy every minute!
* Tip * I found a really awesome list of Top 25 Food Ideas for Baby Led Weaning but will not take any credit for it! Check out the Mama Natural website for more info:
Techno Mom & Baby
* Tip * Be sure to test the oils with your baby before you cook with them... I use coconut oil in all my recipes, but I know André is not allergic. Make sure you test first in small amounts
* Tip * I buy all organic everything for baby...
Baby Banana Oatmeal Pancakes:
These are a family favourite! Its super easy too!
1) Mash 1 whole ripe banana in a large bowl
2) Crack 4 eggs into bowl
3) Mix around
4) Add 2 tablespoons of Baby Oat Cereal (I use the Holle Organic Oats as it is only oats not full of all kinds of other ingredients)
5) Add cinnamon to taste
6) Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil over medium heat until hot
7) Using an ice-cream scooper or ladle scoop 3-4 onto the pan at a time
8) The first round of pancakes will take a bit longer maybe 2 minutes on the first side. Using a rubber spatula, once the pancakes start to move around and are golden brown, flip them over
9) Flip and cook for about 1 minute until golden brown
10) Remove from pan and add some unsalted butter and serve once they've cooled a bit to the babe, once you've tested tree nuts and if baby doesn't have an allergy, you can put some peanut butter on top. André goes crazy for it!
* Tip* turn off the heat and let pan cool before adding a second/ third round of pancake mix to the pan. Wait like 2-3 min, add some more coconut oil then pour batter in.
This recipe will make about 12 mini-pancakes so the whole family can eat the same thing together. :)
* Cook times may vary so you use your judgement!
Fruit Purée or Veggie Chunk Egg Mini- Muffins:
1) Using the exact same recipe as above, you can make this into mini-muffins
2) Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
3) I will use two different purées, about 2/3 oz of each for different flavours, apple & banana, apricot & apple, pear & apple, banana & sweet potato whatever, possibilities are endless!
4) Or I will use 2 whole eggs and chunks of sweet potato/ butternut squash, asparagus, peas whatever and just make mini egg muffins
5) Do yourself a favour and get yourself a silicon mini-muffin tray, so much easier to bake these muffins and the next recipe with
6) Bake for 10-15 min. I check on them regularly after 10 min. I stick them with a fork to test so again, use your judgement
7) I feed Dré 4-5 at a time so the recipe will last you 5-6 days. I eat them as well so we are eating the same thing together. The sweeter ones can be a snack as well throughout the day, doesn't only have to be for breakfast
I will not take any credit for these muffins, all goes to The Baker Mama, but I will say the are the best! André loves them so much and so do I. The recipe says you can change the fruits that you add into them, I've tried and will say you must keep the avocado and banana to keep them really moist. I have found that following this recipe exactly will give you the best result.
Copy and paste the link for full recipe:
(Oatmeal mini-muffins... photo borrowed from the Baker Mama website)
Organic Chicken Finger Bites/ Mini- Beef Burgers:
Around 8 months I introduced chicken, turkey and beef to André. I was really torn about this as I wish I could get his consent before giving him meat. I wish someone had asked me! However, around this time babie's iron gets really low and he hates broccoli and I wasn't considering feeding him tofu. He loves these chicken bites and mini-burgers, they are super moist and its another way to get his veggies in!
1) Take a whole pack of organic ground chicken or ground beef and put in a large mixing bowl
2) For chicken, I usually add 4oz of butternut squash purée and 4oz zucchini purée they go really well with the chicken
For beef, I usually add 4oz sweet potato purée and 4oz zucchini or asparagus or green beans whatever you want
3) I add a little bit of gluten free rice flour just to help hold it all together a little better, you can add an egg as well
4) Mix together well with hands, then form into little chicken sticks or mini-burgers
5) Add to a parchment sheet lined baking tray (pre-heat the oven to 350-375)
6) I only cook about 6 of each at a time, and I freeze the rest of the batch uncooked
7) Bake at 350-375 degrees f for about 5 minutes, then take them out and check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. I flip them over, then usually bake for 4-5 more min or until they reach 175. I cook them a little more than the recommended 165 degrees for baby just in case
8) I freeze the remaining burgers, nuggets on parchment paper, then transfer once frozen into ziplock freezer bags so they don't stick together
9) You can cook them from frozen just check on them and make sure you dont over bake! Don't forget to lable the bags with a date so you know when they were prepped and you don't leave them for too long.
* Tip * I pre-make a lot of purées so that I always have them ready for when I need to make batches of food. It's a lot of work to purée and make all these options so I do one thing at a time and store it.
* Tip * When I started BLW I was buying all my veggies organic and fresh. Needless to say, you have to cook the whole bunch of asparagus, or the whole broccoli and a lot of the time it was being thrown out as the baby won't eat that much even in a week. So, I started buying organic frozen veggies so all I have to do is boil water and feed him small amounts of the asparagus or broccoli and there is minimal food waste.
BLW Butternut Squash and Zucchini:
1) Super easy, preheat oven to 425 degrees
2) Peel and cut into strips
3) Throw into a large mixing bowl and cover in coconut oil
4) Add to a parchment paper lined baking sheet
5) Bake for 10 min, check the zucchini if its soft enough to easily squeeze between your fingers take it off, flip remaining butternut squash and bake for another 20 min checking for softness
6) Sprinkle with cinnamon
(Peel the zucchini I forgot then had to after lol!)
* Tip * I still use my baby cook machine to steam all his hand held foods like apples, sweet potato etc. This machine is amazing for BLW foods as well!
* Tip * Since André refuses to let me feed him with a spoon, I still want him to have purée snacks on the go. I was so determined to make all organic and homemade as I'm sure every new mom is... but things don't always go as planned! There are so many brands out there that are organic and already done for very reasonable pricing. I buy the PC Organics as they are usually 5 for $6 and call it a day. Dré feeds them to himself and everyone is happy!
* Tip * Eating as a family and including your baby at the table at meal times is really important in building their self esteem and confidence. When you eat, they eat and that's how it should be. I try my best to always have something while Dré is eating, if it's not the same meal it's similar. Food = Love!