Written by Maca, Certified Nutrition Coach at Healthy Mess.
Today, I am declaring that FOOD is my love language. It brings me so much joy to be able to cook a meal whether it’s for one person or a big group of people. Naturally, that level of joy for feeding is only multiplied when it comes to feeding my children. Let’s get real, I don’t always have time to cook like I wish but the focus in our home is to have a majority of real, whole foods for when I’m in a pinch.
When Ellie was a baby, I didn’t ask near the questions I ask now and I just blindly followed the recommendations of the time. (ie: putting rice cereal in her formula, starting baby foods at 4 months, etc.) Ellie had really bad digestion and would still probably be on Mirilax to this day if I hadn’t learned about probiotics to help her. With Elijah, I was so scared to lose my breastmilk supply, because I was already supplementing with formula, that I didn’t really give him any food at all until a year. Looking back, I would’ve cut out the formula and solely done breast milk with real food. He is now my “pickiest” eater… BUT we live, learn and work toward creating new habits and changing their tastes for the better, yes? Yes!
This time around we have had THE most amazing Pediatrics and Wellness Center to lead us and feeding has been so fun thanks to a detailed handout we were given at Luke’s 5 month appointment. I learned a lot of this also from my courses with Dr. Sears Wellness Institute in the classes that I took to help Expectant and Postpartum Moms with nutrition. I’m going to share with you what was shared with us and what we’ve done! This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the things I’d want to share and say. As always, I believe every family is different and what works for one may not work for another. If this encourages and helps you, YAY! If not, YOU DO YOU! Its ALL good.
First things first, your baby’s taste buds are developed starting in the womb! That’s right, what you eat in pregnancy can impact what your baby prefers once he/she is born. I find this very fascinating because one of the main emphases I had in Elijah’s pregnancy was eating fish. He may not be my best veggie eater but homeboy LOVES fish. He will eat sardines like a champ. So there’s that! My focus in feeding my children is to get in all the best nutrition possible for their growing brains, bodies and for their attitudes. While they might turn their noses up at some of the things we try, the whole point is to keep offering what’s good for them. Their taste buds will change and grow so don’t ever just throw the baby out with the bathwater if they don’t seem to care for something right up front.
START FIRST FOODS AT *SIX MONTHS* OF AGE. This is huge. Here is an excerpt from Shine Pediatrics sheet to us that was an instant light bulb for me.
“Breast milk and formula have more calories and fat than any vegetable, fruit or grain. Myths regarding cereal introduction to create more fullness and allowing babies to sleep longer are untrue. Cereal may create temporary fullness but the effects are not lasting. First foods should be certain vegetables. The American Academy of Pediatrics and many other trusted medical sources will mention starting fruits and cereals around this time period. This if fine for some, but for many, that course is discouraged. A multitude of patients come into our practice and many others complaining about constipation, abdominal pains, diarrhea, slow growth, picky eaters, refusal to eat vegetables, etc. Our belief is that the child’s palate is driven by the choices provided to them by the parent. If you decide to introduce fruits first, then common sense would tell you that the infant now recognizes the sugar and sweetness of foods. If you give your child ice cream and cake first, then why should they eat cabbage or broccoli? So we should use common sense. Do not take the easy or convenient way out, because convenience will lead to places like fast food and microwave dinners.” – Shine Pediatrics
Aside from the picky eater part, Ellie had all of those issues they mentioned above. My sweet girl would be in so much pain from not being able to have a bowel movement but I never put two and two together. Babies digestive systems need time to develop. We can’t just throw in all of the processed foods of the world in them and expect them to be able to tolerate it all well. First foods should always only contain ONE ingredient and then wait 3-4 days introduce another. From Dr. Sears and our Pediatrics office at Shine, it made perfect sense when they shared that a child’s palate is driven by the choices given to them by the parents. Our Pediatricians recommend starting with Avocado due to the healthy fats, then your green vegetables, followed by yellows and oranges, ending with fruits and then berries are last. Again, our packet from our Pedi is VERY detailed and amazing. It starts with 6 month foods(1 ingredient per meal), then 9 months(2 ingredients per meal), then 12 months(3 ingredients per meal) and beyond.
I wanted to do a mix of Baby Led Weaning and whatever felt right for Luke. Yes, I know the die hard BLW crowd would disagree with me but *MY* belief is that we as parents need to do what feels right for us. My husband is a Firefighter/EMT-Paramedic so giving Luke whole chunks of food as a baby sends him into hysterics so I compromise. Honestly, he’d have the kids on purees until age 12 if he could, but that’s neither here nor there. haha! I got a super ripe avocado about a week before he was 6 months old and basically just let him play with it. I knew he was getting plenty of nutrients from my breastmilk and the goal was to let him taste foods and feed himself. I think if we take the pressure off of thinking that baby doesn’t LIKE a particular food upon first trying it and realize that they’re just learning new tastes and textures, it’ll be beneficial for both Parent and Baby. It wasn’t long before Luke was picking up the small, soft pieces with his fingers and feeding himself! I did try to puree peas for him and he was not a fan of that texture. I then steamed them and gave them to him whole, he LOVES peas! It was the texture, not the flavor that he disliked. We stuck with mostly avocados and green veggies for the first few months and then around 7 months, I added cooked egg yolks to some of his avocado for the amazing benefits of the choline in egg yolk, among many other vitamins and nutrients found in them. I introduced grains to Luke at 10 months old starting with a little muffin recipe that I’ll share at the end of this post.
Another thing about our family is that we don’t consume much dairy. We haven’t drank cow’s milk since 2012 and really only use our almond milk for cooking and in recipes or cereal so that wasn’t ever a part of his diet and still isn’t today. I get asked quite often what I would suggest doing at one year of age for babies coming off of the breast/bottle, and while I’m not a physician to give that kind of advice, I only share what we do personally which is that we went straight to almond milk for Elijah. Goat’s milk is another great alternative that might be right for your family if your child shows issues consuming dairy.
Here’s an infographic I created for some guidance as to what was recommended to us. Again, I can’t stress enough to do your own research and let feeding your baby be FUN!
Most certainly you need to watch your baby’s growth and development and choose a feeding schedule that is best for them. Some babies aren’t ready to start solids the same as others. Perhaps you are more comfortable with pureeing your baby’s food, that’s awesome! READ THE LABELS of store bought baby food if you go that route! There are many unnecessary additives and sugars in the foods that are not good for your baby. The first year is arguably the most important when it comes to shaping their tastes to set them up to be good eaters. Remember, the goal isn’t to put added stress or “Mom guilt” on you. We all do what’s best for us with the information we have at the moment. I certainly didn’t have this list or these guidelines with my first two children but I wish I had! If you’re looking at food as a way to grow your child to have a healthy body and brain development, I think you will really enjoy this. This blog post could be much longer than this but let’s land this plane with a recipe that Luke LOVES! I make these mini muffins and freeze them to pop in the microwave in the mornings. He loves them and I always have a backup when we’re in a hurry or I don’t have much food in the house!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! Let me know in the comments what your baby’s favorite first foods have been and let me know if you try these muffins!
- 1 small banana(mashed)
- 1 avocado(mashed)
- ½ cup butternut squash/pumpkin/sweet potato (cooked & mashed)
- ¼ cup applesauce
- 1 T Chia Seeds
- 1 T Almond Butter
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1¼ cup GF Rolled Oats
- Mix wet ingredients together in a bowl then add in dry ingredients.
- Mix until combined and scoop into little mini muffin tins.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
*Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your physician or health care provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. These considerations should be taken under the direct supervision of your health care provider and should not be taken as prevention, treatment, or cure recommendations by you.