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Feeding My Baby – Transitioning To Solids

Feeding My Baby-2-3One of my greatest pleasures as a mom and a cook is feeding my baby. Now that Nathaniel is 9 months old and is a champion eater, I thought it was high time to share our experience with all of you, especially for those of you who have little ones of your own.

I have to start out by saying that every baby is so different; I am simply sharing our experience. Your baby may be completely different. You might have a totally different approach to feeding your baby. As long as our babies are healthy and getting needed nutrients, that’s what’s most important, right?

We are very blessed with a good eater; Nathaniel is not picky at all. In fact, I can’t think of anything that he didn’t like that we’ve offered him so far. Feeding My Baby-1-12My heart goes out to all you Mamas who have picky eaters. I had a very brief encounter dealing with a picky eater when I was a foster mom to a 5 year old boy who was as picky as they come, and I know that it’s very discouraging and tiring trying to get anything nutritious into a little body that refuses to eat anything healthy. I pray that Nathaniel continues to be a good eater as he gets older too. For now, I am really thankful to enjoy my little foodie and don’t take it for granted.

I read a lot on the subject of baby food, transitioning to solids and baby led weaning and we decided to go with a slightly modified version of baby led weaning. Baby led weaning is where you give the baby finger food and let them feed themselves, instead of the more traditional route of spoon feeding the baby pureed food. The key with baby led weaning is to cut the baby’s food into sticks or baby fist sized pieces, so that they can easily grasp it with their hands and be able to feed themselves. feeding my baby1Later on when they have a better pincer grasp, they will be able to pick up pieces of food better and you can cut it into smaller pieces. The food needs to be soft enough that they will be able to “bite” off pieces but still firm enough that they can grasp it with their fingers. Start out with something that’s simple and easy to digest, like banana, sweet potato and avocado.

To this day, I haven’t pureed food for Nathaniel, unless I was doing it for our own dinner too, such as the Creamy Potato, Leek and Celery Soup. We do spoon feed Nathaniel if we’re feeding him soup, oatmeal, yogurt, etc. He wouldn’t be able to grasp that kind of food, of course. feeding my baby 2Otherwise, we mostly give him pieces of food and he eats it himself. Both Sergi and I love this method and most importantly, Nathaniel loves it too.

I don’t usually make special food just for Nathaniel. Once in a while, I’ll roast a sweet potato, butternut squash, etc. and keep it in the refrigerator for Nathaniel. For the most part, he eats whatever Sergi and I are eating.

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There are so many resources online: articles, blog posts, videos, books. You can find a ton of free stuff, but if you’re looking for a book, I highly recommend The Baby Led Weaning Cookbook. You’ll get all the information you need about baby led weaning, plus a ton of recipes.

“Eating with your baby— at the same time, at the same table, and sharing the same food— is at the heart of baby-led weaning. There is no need for “baby food,” purées, or spoon-feeding. Your baby simply feeds herself, exploring and enjoying healthy family meals, from her very first taste of solid food. Baby-led weaning (BLW) makes introducing solids easier and more enjoyable for the whole family and encourages your baby to become confident and happy at mealtimes and to enjoy good, nutritious food as she grows up.” Baby Led Weaning Cookbook

Feeding my babyFor the baby’s first year, breast milk or formula will be their main source of nutrition. There is a saying that “food before one is just for fun”. So, don’t worry too much about how much your baby is eating, whether they are getting enough nutrients, etc. because they will still get most of their calories from breastmilk/formula. Usually, most babies are ready for solids around 6 months. There are certain things to look for that will help you determine if your baby is ready to start eating solids. (Here’s a great article about what signs to look for.)

This is what we saw in Nathaniel that gave us the thumbs up that he was ready:

  1. He was able to hold his head and neck up by himself and was able to sit up when supported.
  2. He showed interest in food. Whenever he saw food, he would watch us intently, he would make chewing motions and swallow, and tried to grab our food.
  3. When we started giving him food, he was able to swallow and chew. If your baby isn’t ready for solids, he will push food out of his mouth with his tongue.

Because it was getting impossible to eat in peace around him, and he showed all the signs that he was ready for food, we actually introduced him to solids a little bit younger than 6 months. One of the first foods that he ate was a little bit of avocado and then a banana. Feeding My Baby-1-11We would also give give a cucumber, a celery stick or an apple slice to hold and suck on. Of course, in the beginning, he was mostly playing with the food and didn’t swallow a lot of it. He didn’t actually start to eat a significant amount of solids until he was 6 months and older.

Here are some things that Nathaniel eats:

  • Soups – if it’s a creamy soup, he will eat it that way. If the soup has chunks of meat and vegetables, I don’t mash or puree it. Even when he had only 2 bottom teeth, it’s amazing how well he was able to chew. He just recently got his 2 upper teeth (4 total) this past week. (Here’s a cute video I posted on FB/Instagram of Nathaniel eating soup.)
  • Oatmeal
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt, ricotta, homemade tvorog (farmer’s cheese), cottage cheese
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Roasted or steamed vegetables: sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, butternut squash, root vegetables, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes
  • Fresh vegetables and fruit: Avocado, bananas, apples, pears, melon, watermelon, peaches, blueberries
  • Slices of apple and cucumber, celery and carrot sticks: He will gnaw on the apple and cucumber and can eat most of it this way, but he mostly just chews on the celery and carrot sticks, he doesn’t actually swallow them. These are wonderful for teething babies. They are cold and crunchy on their sore, itchy and inflamed gums. (Another cute video.)
  • Cooked meat and fish
  • I also like to add all kinds of herbs (fresh/dry) and spices to food so that he gets used to different flavors, plus there are so many health benefits too. Of course, nothing spicy, but things like cinnamon, dill, parsley, turmeric, sage, etc.

Feeding My Baby-3There are certain things to avoid for babies under 1, such as honey, fish high in mercury, spicy food, mold-ripened soft cheeses, and any other foods that your family is allergic to. We don’t have any food allergies in our family, but if someone in your family is allergic to berries, for example, introduce them very carefully to your child, and preferably after the age of 1. I minimize salt and sugar in everything I cook also. We don’t ban sugar completely, but it’s very rare that he will have anything with sugar, and then only a tiny bite. We also don’t give him any juice.

Constipation: Unfortunately, that is a reality for most babies when they start eating solids. We’ve been giving Nathaniel water in a bottle and now in a sippy cup since we introduced him to solids. We always use cooled boiled water that was filtered in the first place. (That’s what our doctor recommended. That’s also the kind of water I use for his formula.)

We don’t want the baby to get dehydrated, so we only gave him water while he was eating. He is still getting a lot of formula the rest of the time. When he needs a little extra help, I give him watered down prune juice (look for the one that doesn’t have any sugar added) or pureed prunes. baby_just_prunes_1_poucheThankfully, we’ve never had too big of a problem with that. Right now, he is very “regular”:).

A Few General Tips:

  • Never leave the baby alone with food. If I’m not right there next to Nathaniel, I take the food away from him. Choking happens too fast to take the risk. (It’s also a really great idea to become CPR certified. I think this is a good idea for everyone, not just people who have children.)
  • Feeding a baby is messy! Sometimes, I just strip him down to his diaper, because it’s a lot easier to give him a quick rinse than have to change clothes every time he eats. These bibs are great, but the problem is that sometimes they can be a huge distraction and Nathaniel ends up pulling on the bib and playing with it and gets just as messy as if he was without it. Sometimes, he leaves it alone and in that case, it catches all the food that escapes his baby fingers. Keep the high chair off the carpet or place something under the high chair, like a plastic mat or newspapers. If we are eating out or are guests in someone’s home, I will feed him myself. We keep the mess at home:).Feeding My Baby-1-10
  • Eat as a family whenever possible. Not only is this starting a really good habit for the future, but it’s a way to combine a social family activity with feeding. It also ties in with the next tip.
  • Keep it simple and fun. I usually don’t give Nathaniel too many things during one meal. If we are having soup and then an entree, I’ll only give him one or the other. I don’t force him to eat if he doesn’t want to. I don’t know what I would do if he was picky and didn’t want to eat, but in our case, if he’s done, I don’t push it. I also try not to overthink things. I figure that as long as we are trying to eat a balanced and healthy diet, he will too, since he’s eating whatever we are eating anyway.

We love eating with our baby and it’s so much fun watching him grow, develop new skills and reach new milestones. Nathaniel loves to eat; he is very healthy and strong. Just as soon as we give him food, he starts to babble happily, bounce and dance around and wave his arms. If Sergi comes home later than usual and I feed Nathaniel earlier, he will still want to eat with us later and will crawl from one to the other and pull himself up to us, reaching for our food. If I happen to be eating a snack, he will speed crawl to me right away and beg like a little puppy the whole time I’m eating. I just love this cutie.

Feeding My Baby-1-13I know I’ve already written a TON on this subject, and there is so much more to say, that I’m sure I missed something. If you have any questions, feel free to ask and check out all the resources I linked to. I would love to hear YOUR experience with feeding your babies. How did you introduce your little ones to solid food? What kind of food do your babies love?

A Few Other Resources:

http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/babyledweaning.htm

http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/feeding-baby/baby-led-weaning-101.aspx

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a1007100/baby-led-weaning

Disclaimer: Even though I am a Registered Nurse, I am not a doctor and do not claim to be an expert in this subject. I’m just sharing our personal family experience. Every child is very unique and has different development rates. Consult your physician before implementing anything with your child.

20 Comments

  • Oksana

    We have 3 kids and kind of did what you’re doing now. I did not fuss with special baby food processors, if we did need something mashed up, the fork did the job just fine. And my older 2 were bad eaters, and were not gaining proper weight, but it was my mistake because I gave them lots of snacks since I thought they will gain that way, but it was a struggle at meals. With the 3rd, once she was done, she was done. Less snacks, no forcing food into her = no power struggle, and she’s growing nicely.
    This is a great post, will be helpful to many new moms and dads.

  • Sophie

    I think this is a good approach. With my first 2 boys I did a lot of purees I think for too long and they have been quite fussy eaters. They are very gradually getting better. But with my 9 month boy I’ve been giving him a lot of finger foods. He loves it and it means he’s learning to like individual foods rather than different ones all mixed together so I’m sure it will help prevent him from getting as fussy.

    • olgak7

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Sophie. I’m glad that your boys are doing better with food. It’s so frustrating when children are picky eaters and I hope your little one continues to like all food:).

  • Alina

    He has the MOST beautiful eyelashes 🙂
    My baby is 1 week away from been 9 months so it’s so nice to read from people that are going through this stage 🙂
    God Bless you guys & your little Cherub.
    Australia xxx

    • olgak7

      Thank you, Alina. I love that he got my husband’s long and thick lashes. Go figure, both of my guys have better eyelashes than me:).
      I love following along with other Mommies too.

  • Olga

    Ugh, you’ve touched a “painful ” subject… And you are definitely right saying that every child is different. With both of my boys I didn’t have any problems feeding them, and now, 7 years later I feel like my Princess is my first child. Sooooooooo difficult to get her interested in eating, she’s 11 months. I planned to stop nursing at 6 months but never happened, and this type of feeding is the only one she actually enjoys.
    Your little guy is growing so fast! Such a handsome happy buddy. There is something extremely cute in those little munching faces… God bless you and your family.

  • Lana

    It’s wonderful to hear that your little guy eats so well! And thank you for being understanding of others and non-judgemental about your decisions. It’s sad that many bloggers will choose to take strong sides on breastfeeding vs nursing, organic vs nonorganic, baby led vs spoon fed… Looking down on those that were not able to provide a certain option for their baby or just chose not to. You are a breath of fresh air! 😉

    I’m an SLP and we often deal with eating/swallowing issues with all generations, including the babies. And I think what you’re doing is wonderful. Every child is so different and it’s great you found something that really works for you!
    I’ve got two little ones and I found something else that works well (for us!)— I believe I read this about French culture. We require our kids to try at least one bite of every food offered (especially if it’s new). They don’t have to eat an entire portion, but have to try it. It’s been amazing! My toddler and preschooler will eat anything from sushi to marinated mushrooms to caviar…not to mention yummy veggies (Brussels sprouts, anyone?!?). 🙂 they may not like it the 1st time, the 2nd, or the 10th…but then they will actually request it! It may not work for you, but I thought it would be worth mentioning. 🙂 Have a Merry Cbristmas!!!

    • olgak7

      I like your idea, Lana.
      When we were fostering a 5 year old, we did something similar and he also had to try everything and even though he was very picky, sometimes he would be surprised at something that he ended up liking – like cabbage rolls:).
      Thank you for your kind words. I know that most of us mothers do the best that we can for our children and I think we should all stick up for each other and be understanding, even though we may have different opinions.
      Besides, every child is different, and we might need a completely different approach to two children in the same family.

  • Luda

    Olga, thank you for sharing your tips, really enjoyed reading your post.
    I have a 10 mo old and he’s an excellent eater, but I need to start giving him more finger foods, i mostly have been spoonfeeding him. Perhaps because he already has 7 teeth (4 top ones) and can bite off almost anything, so I’ve been overworried about chocking (even though I’m CPR certified and know what to do when an infant is chocking lol).
    I’m really big on reducing processed foods in our diet. I didn’t bother with buying baby cereal, i would just use regular grains I normally cook (rice, buckwheat, quinoa), put in a food processor with some water, and that would be my baby cereal – that’s at the beginning stages. Now I hardly ever puree food, except for buckwheat or if using hard grain brown rice (if i don’t puree, i would find a lot of whole grains in baby’s poop lol).
    Just like you, we also feed our little one of our table, no need for special baby foods (well, i do buy him Baby Mum-mums lol, they are so convenient, especially if outing somewhere).
    When just started introducing solids, we had some issues with constipation. the main problem was that the little one didn’t take a bottle at all (nor pacifier), so there was no way to increase his water intake. He had to learn pretty early how to drink from a straw/cup and then the constipation went away

    • olgak7

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Luda. My son is 10 months old now too and he does like to take big bites with his teeth too. Since we started baby led weaning when he was really little, he’s used to finger food and usually chews everything up really well. I also try to feed my family as little processed food as possible. Nathaniel refuses to drink water from a bottle, but will happily drink it from a cup:). Even though a lot of it spills out of his mouth, I don’t mind and he manages to drink a decent amount of water. He still drinks some formula during the day and at night, so we don’t have any issues with constipation, Thank God.
      I hope you’ll have a lot of success with getting your son to eat more finger food. (One of the benefits is that it keeps him busy while I’m doing something else. I’ll sit him in a high chair next to me, while I’m washing dishes or prepping dinner, and he eats some snacks. He loves it.)

  • Shura

    Dear Olga! I love this post and all your posts that involve Nathaniel! we are doing BLW too and my mom and nanny, as well (as every other Russian woman my mom’s age) thinks we are crazy, but we are having fun and so is she so I think we will keep on going. I hope you write another post about what Nathaniel is eating these days soon.

    • olgak7

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Shura. BLW is fun and messy, but we love it. Nathaniel mostly eats whatever we are eating:). He still really loves oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, berries and creamy soups.

  • Valya

    Wow, Olga you are so inspirational. I’ve only recently got introduced to your website and can’t stop from reading your life experiences and tips. I have four little ones, my youngest is also 10 months. All of mine had their very first teeth well after about 12 months (oldest as late as 18 months!) Even though they didn’t have teeth, we fed them what we ate and they never had problems chewing. Amazing how God created us 🙂 Because I am a full-time working mom, it is often hard to squeeze in the time for everything that must be done at home. Your site really helps simplify things which is what I really need at this time in my life. I have a doctorate in pharmacy degree, so if you ever need any help with anything pertaining to medications, supplements, interactions and the reasons why/why not we sometimes need to rely on conventional medicine (or stay away), would be more than happy to help. I am amazed that your opinions, beliefs, values and experiences are overwhelmingly overlapped with mine. I’m also so excited to see someone blogging about their personal experiences… especially the mommy club one because it is often such a silent subject but is so familiar to many of us. May God Bless You & Your little family abundantly!

  • karolina

    Hi Olga I love your blog. So many great recipes !! Talking about foster parenting, how did you start? I’m interested in doing it. Don’t know whats the first step to take.

  • karolina

    Hi Olga I love your blog. So many great recipes !! Talking about foster parenting, how did you start? I’m interested in doing it. Don’t know whats the first step to take. Thanks

    • olgak7

      Hi Karolina,
      That’s awesome that you want to do foster care. Here’s a post where I wrote more in detail about it. If you have any specific questions, just let me know. Foster Care

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