Motherhood

Transitioning your baby to baby food: tips and supplies

I was a little caught off guard when my son’s pediatrician told us that we could start feeding our four month old baby food.  I thought it was pretty early, as I had just gotten into the groove with nursing and pumping.  We started with rice cereal mixed with breast milk and moved onto apple sauce, sweet potato, and prune.  Luckily, both of my babies took to baby food pretty easily, albeit making some very funny faces with their first taste of “food.”

I tried to make as much of my own baby food as possible, but in all honesty, I resorted to store-bought organic baby food whenever I was short on time or just needed the convenience of having pre-made baby food in a glass jar.  Once I came up with a system though, it was actually not too time consuming or complicated to make my own baby food.  Below are some of my favorite tips and supplies to help you get started.

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Food Prep:

  • This hand blender and metal cup was a game changer for me.  It is convenient, simple to use, dishwasher safe, and budget friendly.  You can even use the hand blender directly in the pot from which you are cooking.  The best part about buying the hand blender is that when you are all done with making baby food, you can use it to make soups and homemade whip cream.  I seldom used my regular blender to make baby food because I never made a large enough quantity of food to warrant its use.  Inevitably, most of the baby food would get stuck on the bottom and I would have to scoop it out with a spoon.   I also didn’t see the point of investing in a fancy baby food prep system for something that I would only utilize for a short period of time.
  • Cook and eat healthy foods yourself so that you can selectively blend age-appropriate foods for your baby.  This will save you a lot of time and energy.  For example, if you are serving pan-seared salmon, spinach, and potatoes for dinner, blend that up for your baby.  Exposing your baby to a variety of tastes and textures early on will hopefully help him to become a less picky eater in the future.
  • I didn’t spend weekends making big batches of baby food to freeze for later use.  If I needed extra food in a pinch, I just used Earth’s Best organic baby food.
  • Remember to add enough liquid (water, chicken broth, milk) when blending to get the right consistency.  Keep in mind that young babies 4-6 months require a thinner mix.
  • My favorite foods to blend were sweet potatoes, carrots, soft fruits, and rotisserie chicken.  I didn’t use specific recipes for making baby food but if you need some inspiration, look at the very bottom of this post.
  • Oatmeal and rice porridge are also very baby friendly.  For rice porridge, I like to make my own calcium-rich broth with a slow cooker.   I submerge pork bone and/or chicken with bone and carrots with water and cook in the slow cooker overnight.  In the morning, I strain the broth and transfer it to the rice cooker. I use 1 part rice to 4 parts broth.  The porridge can be enjoyed by the whole family.
  • For softer foods like banana, avocado, and egg yolk, there is no need to use the blender.  Just mash it up with a fork and add some liquid to get the right consistency.
  • I stored the extra baby food in 6 oz glass containers.  I used something similar to these, although you can purchase containers specific for baby food.

General Feeding Tips:

  • Try to eat together as a family.  When your baby sees you eating and enjoying food, he will be more motivated to eat as well.
  • Offer but don’t force.  You don’t want to create a negative eating experience.  If your baby isn’t eating much for one meal, look at the overall picture.  He may have just had milk or a large meal earlier.
  • Realize that your baby is naturally predisposed to like sweet tastes so foods that are not sweet will inevitably take longer to accept.  Aim to prepare foods that are not naturally sweet in an appetizing way.  I often sautéed my vegetables in olive oil and add a pinch of sea salt.  I like to use this salt-free seasoning from Trader Joe’s to add some variety in taste.
  • Offer new foods multiple times.  If your baby turns his nose up on a particular food, try it again later.  My son hated beets initially, but I kept offering it.  He finally decided that he liked beets when he tried my spinach and beet salad with balsamic vinaigrette.  Taste preferences constantly evolve so something that your little one vehemently disliked a couple of months ago may become tolerable (or even loved) later.
  • Offer your baby foods that you don’t like yourself.  Just because seafood or mushrooms gross you out, it doesn’t mean that your baby shouldn’t have the opportunity to try those foods.  Who knows?  You may end up liking something that you disliked before.
  • Offer water throughout the day to avoid constipation.  If constipation does occur, prune puree is very helpful.

Feeding Supplies:

Chair: I didn’t buy a high chair because I didn’t have the room for it in my dining room.  I used the bumbo chair early on but switched to this clip on chair at around 6 months.  I particularly like this chair because it puts your baby at the right height for eating at the dining table.  My three year old has a booster seat but still prefers this chair for eating and doing art projects.   Be sure to check to see if your dining table will accommodate the clip on chair before purchasing.  I would also recommend buying the dining mat to go with this chair (see below).

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Inglesina table chair

Dining Mat: We use this mat at home and whenever we go out to eat.  People passing by always stop to ask about these mats.  They are easy to clean and are designed to provide a clean surface for your baby and toddler to eat on.  Pro tip: wash with warm soapy water and use a little bleach for any residual stains.  Please note that the suction cups do not work very well, so do not count on the mat to stay put if your baby pulls on it.

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Summer Dining Mat

Spoons: I give these to all my mommy friends.  They are small enough for tiny mouths and are BPA free and dishwasher safe.

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Green Eats spoons

Bibs: These are generously sized, waterproof, and have a pocket to catch all the messy spills.  They are made of an umbrella-like material and are hand and machine washable.  Just be sure to close the velcro tabs if you do wash them in the washing machine.  I typically wash them by hand and hang dry.  Every few days or so, I throw them into the washing machine.

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Bumkins Bibs

Are you planning on making your own baby food?  Are there any feeding tips or supplies that you would recommend?

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-Melissa

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