Monday, June 10, 2013

Solids: Example Menu & Preparing Your Own Baby Food

Little Duck started solids early at 4 months for medical reasons, but has loved every minute of it. He took to cereal on the very first bowl and has since expanded his palette to include oatmeal, pears, apples, bananas, apricots, peaches, carrots, yams, green beans, avocado, peas, cherries, strawberries, and most recently (with the appearance of his first tooth!) chicken. Mostly purees, some mashed for chewing practice.

We introduced foods to him one at a time about a week apart to make sure he wasn't sensitive to anything; that way if he was we could isolate which food it was and cut it out of his diet. He's tolerated everything really well though. Sometimes the iron content of baby cereals can give him butt troubles, but on those days a few ounces of white grape juice diluted in a little fluoride free water fixes that no problem.

His favorite food thus far is definitely bananas. The first time we gave him yams, despite liking them a lot, he cried because he wanted bananas. It was so precious. His least favorite I thought would be avocado, which he fussed about eating the first time, but after preparing it a little smoother he enjoyed it just fine. What he really wound up hating was green beans, which surprised me! He cried and then refused to open his mouth again for anything, cereal, yams, breast, for forty-five whole minutes. Haha. I couldn't even trick him into taking a bite by offering him something he liked better first because every time I gave him a spoonful of green beans he'd stop eating again! What an opinionated fellow. Eventually I had to mix them with some banana.

We make all of our own baby food, either in the handy dandy Magic Bullet, or our food processor. This way we know exactly what goes in and what comes out. It's rewarding to lovingly prepare each meal for your little one -- especially after breastfeeding. Also, doing it yourself offers a lot of flexibility! Want to make a banana, apricot, pea puree because your baby eats like a pregnant woman? No problem! Everything is fresh and tasty. We do keep some store bought jars on hand just in case something comes up. For example one night we ran out of peas unexpectedly and it was time for dinner so we just opened a jar from the pantry.

So what's the little Duck's homemade menu look like? Here's an example:
(Note: I am unable to pump BM so I have to substitute with formula or white grape juice for his solid meals.)

He nurses until he's had his fill.
1/4 cup of infant oatmeal cereal.
1/2 of a banana pureed or mashed.
1/2 of an apple or pear.
He nurses until he's had his fill.
1 tablespoon of infant cereal mixed with 1 whole steamed peach, pureed.
He nurses until he's had his fill.
1/4 cup of infant rice cereal.
1 tablespoon of yams mixed with 1 tablespoon of chicken, pureed.
1/4 cup peas.
He nurses until he gets sleepy.

Then he wakes once or twice in the night to nurse again, generally around 1:00AM and 4:00AM.

Meal preparation is relatively quick, about 10-15 minutes total, a little longer for dinner if veggies need to be steamed. Typically we prepare a few days worth of steamed veggies ahead of time and freeze them. For fruits and veggies with skin, you need to peel them for ease of digestion (until they get their first tooth, typically). And for fruits with cores or seeds you of course remove those as well. If purees are too thick I add white grape juice or breast milk (can supplement formula) to thin them out. If purees are too thin I add a little infant cereal to thicken them up. If your baby needs to put on a little weight you can add a half a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to one of his meals for added calories and healthy fats.

What's baby doing while I'm in the kitchen? I usually plop him in his high chair while preparing meals so that he feels part of the process and can observe, which he enjoys quite a lot. These are exciting times for his taste buds!

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