What We're Doing with Baby Food
It's no secret - I love food. I love learning about it, shopping for it, cooking it, and especially eating it. So it may come as a surprise that I didn't give baby food much thought until after B's 6 month check-up. To be honest, the thought of baby food was a little overwhelming. After making it through the newborn phase of nursing for three months and then switching to formula, it felt like a lot to add in regular food on top of everything else. After all, we'd finally found a groove with B's routine with feeding's and naps - why mess with a good thing?
Turns out, B likes food just as much as I do. When we started her at 6 months old, after the go-ahead from her pediatrician, it was really by the book. We didn't stray from the list of puree's her doctor gave me (1. Avocados, 2. Yellow Veggies, 3. Green Veggies, etc). As she's gotten older, it's been fun to introduce a few new textures and flavors here and there. We're finally at a point where I feel comfortable letting her feed herself some softer, cut up veggies and fruits. B loves picking up little pieces of her meal, although about 70% of it makes it to her mouth. The rest ends up on the floor, and Mali doesn't mind helping me clean up the mess.
Right now, we're kind of doing a mix of things. We're not 100% baby-led weaning, and we're not doing 100% purees either. B's done well with everything she's tried, and she really enjoys using her hands to feed herself. However, there are just some things I prefer to spoon-feed her, especially the messier stuff. Typically, if we're out with friends and family, we'll keep it simple and do puree's for dinner with a few puffs on the tray for her to pick up. If we're at home, I'll put out some small veggies and fruit on her tray and she just goes to town while I make dinner for the grown-ups.
I really wish I had come across a non-sponsored, normal person blog post when I was starting this baby food journey, or even when I was pregnant, so I could've had a better idea of where to start. There's too much information out there on baby food, and frankly, it stressed me out. I'd like to share a few things that have made feeding B a little easier, as well as some of the foods and brands I grab at the grocery store.
I came across this awesome Nuby bowl on Amazon one night, and I snagged it right up. It's perfect for taking to a restaurant since it has everything you need in one place, and it also works great at home. I can steam up some chopped broccoli, or mash an avocado all with the same bowl. Okay, and have you heard about the awesomeness that is the IKEA highchair? If you haven't, let me enlighten you. First, it's $20 (plus $10 shipping if you're not near an IKEA). It's super easy to clean, and it's got a slick, modern design. We recommend it to like everyone we meet - it's love. The ezpz Happy Mat fits nicely on the highchair tray, and it's babyproof - B can't pull it off the tray because it suctions right to the surface. Finally, if you're into making your own baby food, we love our Baby Bullet. I also got a few extra trays for freezing purees, and really liked the Beaba ones. If you're new to steaming fruits and veggies, I recommend getting a steamer basket. You can toss fresh or frozen food in the basket with an inch or so of boiling water, put the lid on, and leave it be until the food is nice and soft.
There's so many brands of baby food out there, and it's really tricky to navigate when you first start. I like to make as much of B's food as I can - it's much cheaper and I like knowing exactly what's going into her food. But if we're going out to eat or visiting the grandparents during dinner, it's nice to grab a jar and go. For the beginning stages, I liked using the Earth's Best Organic brand. They had "Just Pears" or "Just Carrots" which was exactly what B was eating for the first month or so. When we started branching out to mixed ingredients, meat, etc. I really liked the Ella's Kitchen brand. They do a great job with all of their packets, but especially with the meat which... let's be honest, some of those other brands' meat purees smell like cat food. Gross.
When I go to the store, I'll usually try and get a mix of frozen and fresh vegetables and fruit for B's meals. Since it's summer, there's tons of great produce to choose from. I'll pick up whatever looks good for produce (avocados, green beans, baby carrots, sweet potatoes, bananas and apples are favorites), and stock up the freezer with anything that's missing (frozen peas, chopped broccoli, spinach, blueberries, and squash are my go-to's). This has been great for my cooking, too, since it saves me a step if I incorporate whatever B's eating into our meals. I've also gotten a lot better at cooking vegetables! Before B started eating solid food, I'd literally never cooked a beet. My favorite method is roasting them (it's exactly like baking a potato with foil and a few holes to let the steam out), and while it's a crazy mess (Purple. Everywhere.) it's delicious and very healthy. I typically spend one evening every 1-2 weeks making enough purees to last awhile. Now that B's eating a lot more, it's become a part of my routine to make her food also.
I genuinely hope this is helpful, and if you've got any puree recipes or baby-led weaning foods that your little one particularly enjoys, please share in the comments! I'm constantly looking for new foods for B to try - I want her to be well-rounded and to enjoy food as much as I do.