Baby Food Basics


I have a love-hate relationship with marketing and it’s mostly because of baby food. Now that I write that it’s really mostly because of all baby products (did you know Johnson & Johnson’s baby lotion has alcohol in it, counteracting its moisturizing abilities? Aquaphor by Eucerin is the actual pediatrician recommended brand). Marketing is my career and it’s my passion. It’s the reason I have a paycheck and therefore it pays bills...and makes me into a crazy researcher. But when it comes to baby stuff, oh.my.gosh. I hate marketing. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. And that’s putting it lightly.


Probably one of the most confusing topics for me as a new(er) mom has been baby food. I know, how? MARKETING makes it easy. Or so we think. When Adelyn was six months old we started working her through the baby foods on the shelf at the grocery store. At that point it was easier than making her food because I was figuring out allergies and we still lived in our condo with a tiny kitchen. It seemed like a good plan; after all, they’re all marked with either the months a baby can eat it and/or the stage he or she is in, right? Sure… So we moved on to the pureed meats.


STOP! RED LIGHT! WAIT! DON’T!


Apparently a baby’s digestive system isn’t really ready for that much protein until 8ish months. Well thank you, marketing, after all these wonderful years together you’ve failed me.


After that fiasco I searched high and low for tips on baby food. I’ve done so much research I could probably list off 10 different “highly recommended” viewpoints on baby food dos and don’ts, all of which claim to be the right answer.


So what I’ve done below is create a collaboration of everything I’ve read and learned from our pediatrician to use as a guide for baby food basics. Essentially nothing is listed that any one respected source said to wait on (for example, there’s huge controversy on when eggs can be introduced. It’s the egg white that’s the concern, so I’m just staying away from eggs altogether until she turns one. The below reflects those types of suggestions).


**I'm not a doctor and everything listed here is what we found works for us and are things I trust undoubtedly. If you have any questions you should always still seek advice from your health professional, and when introducing new foods should always test one for at least 3 days straight to determine allergies.**


High-Allergy Foods (recommended to wait until 1-year to introduce)

Honey

Peanut Butter

Strawberries

Eggs (specifically egg whites)

Raw tomatoes

Dairy Milk (milk derivatives like soft cheeses & yogurt are ok)


Constipation-Solution Foods

Beans

Broccoli

Brussel Sprouts

Pears

Peaches

Plums

Prunes

Whole-wheat pasta

Brown rice


Constipation Causing Foods

Apples

Bananas

Cereal (namely rice)

Sweet Potatoes

Carrots

Dairy—cheese and yogurt

High-protein


Neutral Foods

Avocado

Corn

Peas

Spinach

Mangos

Pineapple

Kiwi

Cantaloupe

(and many more!)


Introduction StageNewbies (5-6 months)

Here’s a Catch 2-2: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a baby is exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months of life. There are also a number of studies that indicate introducing new flavors in this period creates a less picky eater later in life.


I don’t like to take chances when it comes to things like this. I like things spelled out CLEARLY if you know what I mean. We talked to our pediatrician and followed-up her recommendation with what was on sites like parents.com and we introduced rice cereal at dinnertime at five months, and then two weeks before she turned six months would give her 1-2 tablespoons of veggies at night. This didn’t affect how much she milk she drank, but still gave her new flavors.


Breast milk or formula should still be the primary source for nutrition

Rice Cereal (watery consistency at first, thicken as baby gets comfortable)

Veggies (1-2 Tablespoons per day until 6 months)


Preparation StageSmooth & Creamy (6 - 9 months)

Transitioning into mealtimes still felt scary to me, but we were told to start by offering one meal and integrating more as she got the hang of eating. Babies have an automatic “off” switch, so when they stop eating, not forcing more on them helps maintain that switch and avoid overeating later in life.


32 ounces of breastmilk or formula (five nursings)


Breakfast

2-4 Tablespoons of infant cereal (make sure you test all the grains for allergy reasons!)

Oatmeal

Multi-grain (encompasses all the grains in one swoop like barley, wheat, etc.)


Lunch

Pureed fruit (or vegetables)


Dinner

Pureed vegetables (or fruit, just swap with whatever was for lunch)


{Tips} If you’re making your own baby food like I did during this stage, these Glad containers are 4-ounces and were so helpful to make a big batch of baby food one Sunday afternoon. I made enough to last me this entire stage and even a little into the next!



The I LOVE MEALTIME Stage—Pureed & Chunky (9 - 11 months)

By 9 months it was obvious Adelyn loves mealtime. She still wants her bottle or nursing time just as much, but head in the direction of her high chair and she’s as excited as can be. This stage is a lot more fun, but also requires more creativity because just a simple fruit or vegetable isn’t quite enough to create a well-balanced meal anymore. Since the recommendation is to have her eating what we eat by her first birthday, now is the time to integrate full meals in a mini-me style.


Serving sizes are about 1-2 tablespoons of each item listed. So for the dinner shown in the pictures below there are two tablespoons of everything other than the meat and pasta. Those are one tablespoon.


24-32 ounces of breastmilk or formula daily (three to five nursings)


Breakfast

Oatmeal mixed with fruit cut up very small (banana, pears, apples)

Pancakes or waffles using a whole-grain mix, topped with pureed fruit


Lunch

Yogurt & Fruit—plain, whole milk yogurt mixed with fresh fruit (blueberries are so easy to add because they don’t have to be cut up! Otherwise peaches, pineapple and mango are favorites in our house)

Grilled Cheese—whole-wheat bread with a little shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese melted on it, cut into small, bite-sized pieces

Macaroni & Cheese—no, not the boxed stuff. Toss cooked, whole-wheat noodles with shredded cheese. Mix in mashed beans or pureed/shredded meat if you want too!


Dinner

Pasta & Chicken—whole-wheat pasta noodles cut up, pureed chicken breast and veggies mixed together (broccoli, peas, spinach, carrots and zucchini are our favorites)

Baked Sweet Potato w/Chicken—remove the potato from its skin and mash in a little cheese, soft veggies and pureed chicken

Family Dinner—depending on the healthfulness of your own diet, put some of the pieces from that night’s dinner in a food processor to make it into a textured mash. It looks gross, but it gets baby ready to share your meals shortly!


{Tips} At this stage it’s easy to feed more fruits because they tend to be softer without the hassle of cooking, but exposing your baby to as many flavors and foods helps keep her open to more foods later on.


Cheat Sheet on Prep


Buy Some Fruits & Veggies Frozen

I buy mangos, blueberries, peaches and pineapple frozen. On Sunday I’ll thaw the pineapple and mangos I plan to use for the week and chop them up then put them in small containers that I’ll top with yogurt to send with for lunches Monday-Friday. Blueberries I take out the day of use because they thaw so easily, and I don’t thaw peaches in advance because they turn brown.


I always buy frozen peas, corn and spinach as well. I can cook them in bigger batches then freeze them in the small cups I have from the 6-9 month stage. It makes dinner a lot faster to be able to just rewarm everything in a pan on the stove and mix it together.


Make Pasta Noodles in Advance

I’ll make a small batch of whole-what pasta noodles at the beginning of the week that will last through the following weekend. I use macaroni noodles because they’re already little and only need to be torn in half or thirds to be small enough for her to swallow.


Boil Chicken Breasts

That sounds disgusting, I know, but it works great for her needs. I’ll boil three chicken breasts for 15 minutes, shred them then run them through the food processor. I fill the 4-ounce glad containers, keep one in the fridge and put the rest in the freezer. One container lasts about four meals, which is perfect because you really don’t want cooked chicken sitting in the refrigerator for longer than that.


Add Seasonings

I’m big with seasoning things when I cook, so I don’t want Adelyn to be resistant later on. As such, I season her food with a little onion or garlic powder. I stay away from salts completely because there’s enough of a sodium problem in this country already. Not to mention I very rarely cook with any added salt to our meals, so why add it to hers and damage all the goodness in what she’s eating!


Eat the Rainbow

A trick I was taught explained that she should be eating the rainbow over the course of a day, not just the same thing over and over. For example:

Red: red peppers, apples, watermelon

Orange: carrots, sweet potatoes, peaches, squash, cantaloupe

Yellow: bananas, whole-wheat pasta cooked, pineapple, mango

Green: peas, spinach, broccoli, kiwi, green beans, zucchini, brussel sprouts

Blue: blueberries, blackberries

Purple: beets, prunes, eggplant


This is to the point we’re at right now, and I’m sure that as we hit the next phase it won’t be quite as easy as it sounds to just feed her what we eat. But we continue to live one day at a time and figure out what works best for our situation and go with it. Lucky for us we haven’t run into any allergies yet and we’ve tried her out on just about every type of fruit and vegetable I can get my hands on.


That said, I'm uber excited for the farmer's market to start back up again so I can start buying all our fruits and veggies fresh again!

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© 2013 by Heather Anders : Meet Me on the Intersection of Richmond & Style.