This post was specially requested by some mom friends who are about to embark on the adventures of solid foods and asked me for my two cents! I hope it’s helpful, passes along something you didn’t know, and – perhaps most importantly – I hope it makes you smile. Humor is the key to surviving Year One (and beyond, I’m learning) of parenting!
If there’s one thing that unifies parents, it’s that we are all trying to do our very best for our kids. We fear so many things in their first year of life – are they gaining enough weight, am I reading to them enough, are they on track with developmental milestones, etc. The list never ends.
One of the most exciting and anticipated phases is the transition to solids. But, like everything with our kids, it comes with a dose of anxiety-fueled terror making us wonder “how do I make sure I create a positive foundation in my child’s life around food?” Or, if you’re really nuts like me, you take it a step further and wonder, “how do I do that AND make sure I do this right so my kid is a ‘Bringing Up Bébé’ protégé eating braised leeks and blue cheese when they are two?” Nuts.
So, if you’re looking for that answer you can stop reading because I have no idea if I’m doing it “right.” I’ll report back in 18 years about whether I succeeded or failed as a parent. 🙂 What I can do is share a few ideas that have worked for our family and hopefully can work for yours. So far, I seem to have a daughter who happily eats everything I give her (except during teething – then all the rules go out the window and you do your best).
That said, I hope this little intro guide proves a useful resource of information! I’d love to know what works for you.
- Sneak in the Spice: Many pediatricians say to offer the same food 3-4 days in a row before you transition to another food as a way to ensure no sensitivities or allergic reactions. We did that for about a month and then I felt like the process was akin to watching grass grow, so we started to expedite the process, mixing in 2-3 new ingredients together at a time for those few days. Once a food was designated “in the clear,” I started to mix in fresh herbs and spices – my attempt to try to encourage a diverse palate. Here are a few of the combos we made often:
- Peas + Kale (or Spinach) + Fresh Mint
- Pear + Fresh Ginger (just a little – it’s strong!) + Banana
- Cinnamon + Apple + Date (bonus: this makes a great “base” for oatmeal cookies!)
- Roasted Carrots and Beets + Cumin
- Roasted Parsnips + Sweet Potato with Fresh Sage
- Lean on proven recipes. One of my favorite websites was http://www.babyfoode.com. They had great purees and offered wonderful recipes for introducing all kinds of food from chicken to fish to beef and beyond. They were also a leading source of inspiration for spice and flavor combinations! My kid has eaten and enjoyed curry about 20 years before I ever did!
- Consider getting a Beaba Food Steamer. You can easily steam/boil and blend your baby foods on your own with a stovetop and a blender… but the Beaba really does expedite and simplify the clean-up process. We had a double version – the Babycook Pro 2x – which was very helpful to make things in bulk, portion out, and then freeze.
- Ditch the cute (and hard to clean) bibs. Go silicone! We had some really cute bibs when we started but many are impossible to clean – especially once you start on the colorful foods like carrots, sweet potato and beets. STAINS FOR DAYS. I cannot recommend these silicone bibs by modern-twist enough.
- Taste your food. There have been a few times my daughter has flat-out rejected something I’ve offered her. When I wondered why, I tasted a nibble myself and discovered it was awful. An underripe peach is not going to taste good to a baby if it tastes bad to you. Chances are, if you don’t like the food, they probably won’t either!
BEYOND THE PUREES…
- Don’t waste time cutting up the pasta. I was eager to try pasta and started with pastina (NOTE: a little bit makes an EXTREME AMOUNT of pasta so be careful). When I decided to try something else that wouldn’t leave me with 800lbs of leftover pasta, I moved on to spaghetti and, following all the blog advice, I cut it up after cooking it. After enduring burned fingers and sticky pasta all over my countertop, I discovered this the next time I went to the store. ::FACE SMACK:: GUYS. You can buy it already cut up!!!!!! Or, you can just get the alphabet pasta – which is another good one for beginners.
- Buy Bambas. After your kiddo has mastered purees and has started to eat things like puffs and Cheerios, you might be itching to find out if your peanut has a peanut allergy. One way to test these waters are to try Bambas. These Israeli snacks are what I can best describe as a peanut butter-flavored Cheeto. My husband was HORRIFIED when he saw me giving them to our daughter the first time because I think he thought I was giving our 8-month-old junk food. Nervous to try before the age of one? Researchers have found that babies who consumed the equivalent of about 4 heaping teaspoons of peanut butter each week, starting when they were between 4 and 11 months old, were about 80 percent less likely to develop a peanut allergy by age 5. Find out more about that and the case for Bambas here.
- Buy plain plates / bowls. I made the mistake of buying plates with cute little bears and objects on them. To babies, that means: “OH! You want me to throw all my food off this plate so I can see the critters?” Go plain and save the critters for later down the road.
- Order some “On the Go” Eating Accessories – like this cute travel bib and disposable placemats.
If you do nothing else, try to remember to have some fun. Introducing your little one to different flavors and food is a really awesome adventure for you and your entire family. Sure, it gets messy, you will freak out at least once (or 1000 times if you’re me) about the gagging reflex, and you’ll buy more Shout, wipes and paper towels than you ever thought you would in a lifetime, but it’s a really awesome journey.