>> June 1, 2012
I promised I would talk more about baby food, and I have been thinking about this post for a few days now. It took me awhile to write this all down, but it also took me awhile to think back to what we fed Caroline and when. I wanted to get it all straight in my head before I wrote it down for you.
At the beginning, things were quite easy. We really just introduced baby rice cereal and baby oatmeal, but not all at once. We started with rice cereal, then a week later we started with oatmeal. I would mix one or the other with formula to create a baby mush and give it to Caroline twice a day. Breakfast and dinner. Even if she ate just a couple spoonfuls, it helped get her in the habit of eating regular meals at specific times. She got used to her highchair. Then once she got the hang of eating off a spoon, and the consistency of "solid" foods (although solid is relative, in this case), we also added in organic apple sauce.
It is worth mentioning that I try to buy organic whenever possible, particularly for when Caroline was quite young. I didn't trust (and still don't trust) the added sugars and manufactured ingredients that some foods contain. Is it weird that I want to give my child the best possible food choices, but I am fine having nothing but cereal or Junior Mints for dinner? What kind of a role model am I?
Anyways, once Caroline was fully comfortable eating from a spoon and was clearly able to swallow thicker-consistency food, we started to transition her into more puree options, or "Stage 2 foods". We were really just testing out foods, finding out what Caroline liked and what she didn't. Turns out she really liked, well, almost everything. I'm a visual girl, so here's a chart of Caroline's meals and what we might feed her on a typical day.
During the puree stage, Caroline's meal times during week days would typically go as follows: Wake up and nurse. Breakfast around 8:30am. Bottle around 10:30. Lunch around 12:30. Bottle number two at 3pm. Nurse at 4:30pm. Dinner at 6:00pm. Nurse before bedtime. Yes - that's a lot of eating, I know.
So what would we feed her?
For breakfast, we would really try to push the fruits. We would typically create a mixture of fruit puree fresh each day. Using the bowls I mentioned in my "food tools" post, I would microwave a large handful of frozen fruit (Caroline was partial to mango and peaches), for about 45 seconds. After it was fully thawed, I would blend it to a pulp, or fine chop in my mini blender. With the fruit, I would mix in two tablespoons of baby oatmeal. Then, I would add apple sauce to get the right consistency - not too chunky and not too dry. This was more or less what Caroline ate for breakfast every day, but just switching out the fruit. Sometimes it was bananas, or blueberries.
For lunch, Caroline would typically have a vegetable puree of some kind. We pureed everything from green beans, to peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower. We even tried lima beans (which actually she didn't mind!). We would warm up a cube of pureed veggies (that I prepared and froze in advance), we would typically mix the veggies with 2 tablespoons of rice cereal, and if it needed to be thinned out, mix in either some breast milk or apple sauce. At the beginning, we prepared one "ice cube" of one type of veggie for lunch. Then, as Caroline's appetite grew, we would prepare two "ice cubes" of one veggie type. Then eventually we started preparing one ice cube each of two types of veggies.
And if we were out on the run or doing errands, we would bring along a "food packet" and Caroline learned to suck those directly from the packet itself. I really liked the organic options by Plum Baby and Happy Baby best.
Dinner was very similar to lunch. We typically didn't mix in any "food packets", since we tried to save those for days on the go, and more often than not we were home for dinner. But, like lunch time, Caroline's dinner typically consisted of vegetables mixed with rice cereal and breast milk or apple sauce. Apple sauce is great for giving those few extra vitamins and getting Caroline to consistently eat fruit. But apple sauce can be a bit acidic, so we tried to be cautious of how much she ate in a day. Caroline would even get adventurous, and we learned that she loved a ripe mashed avocado!
We made most of our own baby purees in this house, so we had a freezer chalked full. There are plenty of websites and write-ups on how to make your own baby food, so I won't bore you will repetitive details, but basically, I steamed veggies until they were super soft, then blended them in a food processor. I would freeze the veggies in portion sizes, using ice cube trays. Once the cubes of veggies were set, I would transfer them to a large zip-top bag, labeled with the food and date.
When Caroline started on chewable foods, or "table" foods, we didn't cut out the purees and "mushy" foods cold turkey. We definitely weened her off of one, and on to another. In fact, we still make up fresh fruit purees on a regular basis for breakfast. So do not feel the need to cut those out of your child's life right away. Plus, the "food packets" are so convenient for snacks on the go, when we are out doing errands and easy, baby friendly options, are hard to come by. I will write up another post soon on table foods, that was another area of unknown for us, and we kinda "made it up" as we went along!
I hope everyone has a great weekend, we have a birthday party tomorrow and I have to finish the final details. Wish me luck!
** Note: I am not a doctor or dietician and I do not work in the medical field. Everything I wrote in this post is what our family tried and what worked for us. I would consult your own family pediatrician before venturing into the wide world of foods.