feeding the baby :: 6-9 months :: introducing solids

Today I want to share with my mommy and mommy-to-be and future-to-be-mommies my experiences in introducing little John to solid foods. What I give him and how I introduced those foods are the focus of today's post including why I make the choices I do. I have also sprinkled in some of John's favorite recipes that I make for him.

I have had many questions about how I feed John (not that it is revolutionary), so I wanted to address it. The information I am sharing is what works for us; please let your own baby, intuition, and knowledge be your guide in feeding your baby. Consult a trusted pediatrician, as well as other sources, to craft a diet for your little one. However, my hope is that this post will be a helpful piece in that puzzle as to how to feed your baby healthy, nourishing, whole foods.


I have heard that you can start feeding baby solids at four months; and in fact that is the information our pediatrician gave us. However, I have also read much more recently that baby should be six months old before solids are introduced. Several studies, like this one referenced in this Huff Post article, have found that four months is indeed too early. This Kelly Mom article says that studies have found that delaying the introduction of solid foods until at least six months gives your baby's digestive system more time to mature, lessens your baby's risk of sickness, reduces the likelihood of allergies and future obesity, and correlates to more success with introducing solids.

A little background on my journey to feed my little John ... I was looking forward to John starting solids for one main reason: formula. I was unable to breastfeed him after four months. It is something that is still very difficult for me to accept and it is something that I literally struggle with on a daily basis, but around the time John was four months old my milk supply began to decrease. First the left boob decreased, and then it dried up. Then the right; and then there was no more milk. I am fairly certain that it was caused by stress; and in hindsight I can think of ways I could have grasped at straws to get my milk back up. At the time, I did try several things including extra pumping and taking Fenugreek. Unfortunately, nothing worked; my milk was gone. I had to turn to formula. We chose a milk-based, organic, non-GMO formula (Whole Foods' 365 brand) and it worked well for us in that John drank it and did not have any issues with the dairy. I spent two months trying out homemade formula recipes as well, but never found an alternative that worked well enough for us (that's a post for another day).

I was eager to feed John solids because I was not jazzed about him drinking formula. Shelf-stable formula from a can icks me out. And, although I had no other practical alternative and know many mothers must turn to formula as well; I personally still do not believe it is a great option. I simply see at as the only other option (I realize there are breast milk banks, but the cost, safety, and reliability did not make it an option for me; nor do I believe it is a viable option for many mothers).

INTRODUCING VEGGIES

I did wait until John was six months old to introduce solids, and we have had nothing short of success. As recommended, I introduced foods one at a time. I opted to start with vegetables and minimize introduction of fruits; my reasoning being that he would certainly always like sweet flavors, but I wanted him to take to other savory, vegetable flavors quickly and easily too.

The sweeter side of vegetables worked well for us, and it was obvious that sweet potato and squash were favorites. I also found that John did not care for many of the packaged baby foods, of which I always bought organic. Many times I would give him a vegetable from a packaged baby food and he would turn it away. However, the same veggie cooked at home was eaten. I don't blame the guy, packaged baby foods, organic or not, just aren't that appetizing. A side note, I also find that any of the packaged baby foods that have fruit, even when mixed with vegetables, taste ridiculously sweet, so we avoided any fruit-containing baby foods.

John quickly decided that the sweet potatoes/yams that I made for him were a favorite.

little John's sweet potatoes/yams
  • 3 large sweet potatoes or yams scrubbed clean
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • pinch of Celtic sea salt
Pierce the sweet potatoes several times with a fork. Wrap in foil and roast at 350 degrees in a preheated oven for approximately 50-75 minutes, until they are soft. Let potatoes cool down enough to handle; cut into 1" cubes. In a food processor, combine cubed sweet potatoes, coconut oil (heat over low heat in saucepan if solid), and Celtic sea salt. Process until desired smoothness is achieved. John was great with solids, so I did not find it necessary to over puree the potatoes. Also, I opted to leave the skins on, but if your baby has difficulty with thicker purees and/or tiny chucks/flecks of skin you may need to more thoroughly puree and/or peel the skin off the potatoes. After roasting, the skin will peel off very easily. Occasionally, I would also add a mild curry spice or cinnamon to the sweet potatoes for a different flavor. Both were a hit.

Divide puree into baby food storage containers; I use these - they are a handy portion size - at six months John could finish one 2 oz. container of puree. I typically put some of the containers in  the fridge and some in freezer, depending on how much John would likely eat. I did not leave them in the fridge for more than 3 days. Let cool to room temperature before putting in the fridge/freezer.

INTRODUCING FRUITS

Once I started to introduce fruit, as I said, I avoided all packaged baby foods with fruits and exclusively made John's fruit foods at home. His favorite was and continues to be pureed apples with dates and cinnamon.

little John's apples with cinnamon

  • 4-5 organic apples of any preferred variety (I have used Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Crisp Pink, Gala, etc.; and I often use a variety)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 4 organic dates, preferably soft or soak in water to soften
Peel and core apples. Chop into 1" pieces. Place in a sauce pan and cover with water. Add cinnamon and stir. Place apples over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Watch closely and boil until apples are tender.

Place boiled apples and soft dates into a food processor and process until desired smoothness is achieved.

Divide puree into baby food storage containers; again, I use these. And, again, I typically put some of the containers in  the fridge and some in freezer, depending on how much John would likely eat. I did not leave them in the fridge for more than 3 days. Let cool to room temperature before putting in the fridge/freezer.

At six months John would eat this apple puree plain. Around seven months we started adding it to other things, like cereal and eventually yogurt.

INTRODUCING CEREALS

I hesitated to do cereals too much as I have read that grains are very difficult to digest (for adults let alone babies). We tried a couple of cereals; I liked happy bellies cereal okay, but quickly just starting processing my own grains (oatmeal) in the food processor to make a fine cereal. Once John was able to eat slightly chunkier foods (around 7 months), we graduated to Bob's Red Mill 7-Grain Cereal.

In the beginning I would mix John's cereal with breast milk (I had a stockpile in the freezer from before I dried up) or prepared formula and coconut oil. Soon I started adding other flavors, like the apple puree mentioned above, mashed banana, yogurt, or some combination thereof.

JOHN'S DIET AT 8 1/2 MONTHS

John very quickly took to solid food. He has a big appetite and enjoys eating. He was able to eat rather rough and chunky purees; and despite having no teeth, around 7 1/2 months he was able to start eating very small bites of food.

From 7 1/2 months on John was eating a good variety of foods (no longer single or two-ingredient purees) and now he eats some solid food at each meal. Some of the staples in his diet are:
  • organic Greek yogurt (I always opt for full fat organic yogurts and purposely avoid nonfat/skim yogurts)
  • plain Noosa yogurt (I find the flavored Noosa yogurt to be too sweet and many contain honey, so we only go with the plain) with apple puree mixed in (John can now eat an entire container of yogurt for breakfast)
  • waffles very lightly toasted (we like Nature's Path brand - any without honey - the pumpkin spice is amazing) with a very generous amount of coconut oil in place of syrup ... the waffle is more of a vehicle for the coconut oil in this case, but many of the Nature's Path brand have some good stuff in them
  • Bob's Red Mill 7-Grain Cereal with mix-ins (could be yogurt, apple puree, mashed banana, etc.)
  • eggs - we prefer yolks for their amazing health benefits - the choline and cholesterol are essential to brain development, and yolks are also high in iron and DHA
  • smoothies made from some combination of coconut milk, coconut oil, protein powder (I like Tera's Whey), fresh fruit, and Greek yogurt
A note about coconut oil - it is amazing! It is a wonderful healthy fat and has many health benefits. I use it frequently for John's meals; it adds nutrition but also imparts a delicious creamy flavor. I add it to his sweet potatoes (like in the recipe above), put it on waffles, and put it in cereal and yogurt.

INTRODUCING OTHER BEVERAGES

John still drinks formula, as it is recommended that a baby drink breast milk or formula until at least age one. He typically drinks formula in the morning when he first wakes up, before his naps, after lunch to wash his food down, throughout the day if he gets hungry, and before bed.

I am also working on teaching John to drink out of a sippy cup. I give him plain water or coconut water in sippy cups, typically no more than 1-2 ounces at a time and usually once a day.

WHAT'S THE POINT + FOLLOW YOUR BABY'S LEAD

Again, please be aware that this is what worked for little John. All babies are different as to how they respond to solids, whether they like certain things, and what size of bites or level of purees they can handle. John is an amazing eater; he is the perfect case study for how to feed your baby if they just love food and will eat pretty much anything you give them. Not all babies will enjoy solids at first, many babies will have strong dislikes, and some may refuse solids all together.

My utmost priority is to provide John with the best and most nutritious foods possible. However, I also think it is important to help him explore the world of solid foods and learn that those healthy foods are also delicious. I am completely against feeding babies and children those typical "kid menu" foods like mac and cheese, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, etc. Although I am sure John will enjoy those foods, I want him to eat healthier and more balanced than what those types of meals provide. Furthermore, I want him to develop a varied palate where he can enjoy most if not all of the same foods we do.

When we eat meals, even now John eats what we eat. I give him whatever size pieces I know he can handle. To date John has enjoyed all of the foods I mentioned above and has also enjoyed quiche, ground bison, ground beef, bolognese sauce, chicken, cod, halibut, creamed spinach and kale, and many more. He has also enjoyed treats like scones, ice cream, cake, and cookies (I don't deprive John of the sweets that I indulge in).

cod with tomato, sweet potato, and cheddar
  • baked small cod fillet
  • glass jar of tomato sauce
  • roasted, purred sweet potato
  • cheddar
I bake the cod fillet after lightly salting and peppering it. Once cool, I flake the fish and proceed to mash it so that it is of a size and consistency that John can enjoy. Then, to taste, I combine mashed cod, tomato sauce, pureed sweet potato. I sprinkle cheddar on top and zap it in the microwave just to melt the cheese. Then, mix it all together. I make the individual ingredients for this ahead of time, but refrain from mixing them until the mealtime at which John will eat them.



IN CONCLUSION

Not being able to breastfeed John past four months was, to put it frankly, devastating. As I mention, I "haunts" me to this day. Either way, whether I had been able to breast feed to one month, four, or two years, what John eats is just as important to me. I hope you found this post to be helpful. I am no expert, but I am a mom doing my very best to give my son the very best. If you have any questions, I am always glad to lend my experience; please do not hesitate to reach out in the comments below or email me (see my email in the right sidebar).

1 comment :

Carissa said...

John eats more than Werner will!! Very good info!! Ill keep this in mind thru my journey!!!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

ShareThis