Making and Introducing Food to Rhys!
Well folks, we have reached the point in time where we are starting to feed Rhys solids. There are so many different opinions about the right time to introduce solids to babies and I truly think it's a little different with every baby. We waited until a week before Rhys turned 6 months old to start introducing any foods other than breastmilk and the little bit of formula we are using to supplement at bedtime. I knew I wanted to wait until about 6 months to start introducing food to him. He was starting to show signs that he was ready - sitting up pretty well by himself, reaching for food that we were eating, reaching for silverware, putting everything....and I mean EVERYTHING in his mouth, and watching us intently while we ate. For the past few months we have tried our best to really include him in our meals by having him "sit" at the table with us and showing a lot of enthusiasm when we eat. He is also usually in the kitchen when we are preparing food. I have no idea if that makes any difference at all at this age, but hey it certainly can't hurt!
I was actually a little nervous to introduce solids to him. I think I was/am most nervous about him choking, food allergies, and also nervous about how he would respond to food in general. I also stress slightly about him possibly being a picky eater but then I take a step back and realize that I can only do my best and there is literally no point in stressing about things that haven't even happened yet. Man....being a new mom messes with you!
Today I want to tell you about what we have done so far, how things have gone, our favorite products that we are using to help us introduce food to him, and what we plan to do going forward.
I had heard about the Baby Led Weaning approach before I was even pregnant. I heard about other moms doing it and was intrigued by the concept. Baby Led Weaning means letting your child feed themselves from the very start of eating. You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. That’s the essence of Baby Led Weaning. No purees, no food processor, no mashed food, no baby rice, etc. I bought the Baby Led Weaning book and read it to prepare for the big day. The "big day" meaning the day we introduced Rhys to food. For some reason I really built this day up in my head. I wanted to be mentally prepared, I brushed up on the infant choking class we took while I was pregnant, and I really thought about what food I wanted to introduce him to first. I decided on green peas since it's a vegetable, but it's a little sweet and not super bitter like some other veggies. I did mash it a little (oops) to ensure it wasn't a choking hazard. We put Rhys in his high chair, placed the half mashed peas on his tray and were so curious to see what he would do.
So here's what happened: A whole lot of nothing. He honestly wasn't super interested in eating them. He was interested in feeling them with his fingers, but wasn't bringing the peas to his mouth. Funny because as I mentioned, he literally wants to put everything else in his mouth lol. I tried to help him a little (I know....another "no no"), he made the classic "eww" baby face and pushed those peas right back out of his mouth. It was pretty adorable/hilarious. I didn't force anything and just let him play with the peas on his tray. I reminded myself that this is literally ALL new to him and OF COURSE he isn't going to love the first bite of food he puts in his mouth.
You mean to tell me my child wasn't born with a Michelin Guide in his diaper and a refined sense of taste that can differentiate between conventional and organic oregano?? ;)
Since that first trial, we have exposed him to food once (sometimes twice) most days. So far we have kept it to veggies and fruit and played around with different textures. I have strayed a bit from the Baby Led Weaning approach to see how he would do with more traditional pureed textured baby food. At the moment, he is actually doing much better with purees. And he is liking more and more foods. I am still exposing him to food following the Baby Led Weaning approach, but also feeding him purees since he is doing so well with them. I know that he will start feeding himself more soon. I'm not rushing it! The main source of nutrition for babies during their first year of life is breastmilk and/or formula so this is a time to expose him to foods and let them have fun with new textures and flavors - not stress about how much he is or isn't actually eating.
Which brings me to my favorite kitchen products that have helped with the transition of introducing foods to Rhys: my Vitamix blender and stasher bags. If you have followed my Instagram and blog for any period of time, you know how obsessed I am with smoothies, pureed soups, sauces, and nut butters made using my Vitamix. It's no surprise that my Vitamix is getting a lot of use as I am starting to prep food for Rhys. Prepping my own baby food purees has actually been fun! It's much cheaper than buying jars or pouches of baby food and this way I know exactly what food/ingredients Rhys is getting. I'm keeping things simple and nourishing.
One of the challenges I first had when I was starting to make more purees for Rhys was storing the excess food that he didn't eat. Since he isn't eating large quantities of food yet, I am trying my best to reduce food waste. The best thing I have found to help with that is using reusable stasher bags. Stasher is made of pure platinum silicone - all natural products, no plastic. Here's what else I love about stasher bags: you can use them to steam produce, microwave, reheat leftovers in the oven, and are fridge and freezer safe. For Rhys' food, I usually puree a small(ish) amount of produce and seal the rest of the produce (example: half a pear) in a stasher to use (or eat!) later. If I make a bigger batch of pureed food (like the recipe I am sharing below) I like to store leftovers in the freezer then heat it right up in the stasher on the stovetop. So easy and functional.
After lots of baby "eww" faces, we have finally found some foods that Rhys seems to really like. Pears and butternut squash are two of his favorites! A man after my own heart :) Since he loves those foods so much, I have been prepping and combining them into one puree. It's been a total hit!
The best way to cook butternut squash, acorn squash and other winter squash for baby food recipes is to bake or roast the squash. This retains the most nutrients while bringing out the most flavor. Roasting or baking winter squash is also easier because you won’t spend forever tying to peel and cube the squash for steaming or boiling. Ain't nobody got time for that. And if roasting a whole squash seems daunting because they are hard to cut (I was just talking with one of my clients about this yesterday!), I have a tip for you. Place the whole squash in the microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes. This makes the initial cut of the squash SO much easier!
I am excited to see how eating continues to go with Rhys. One thing I have learned as a new mom is that if you think things are going to go one way, they usually go the opposite. LOL. Certainly not always the case, BUT every baby is so different and things you think will work for your baby might not necessarily turn out the way you envision. For us, flexibility is the key word. I'll keep you guys posted on how things go as Rhys continues to grow, develop, and (hopefully) enjoy more foods!
Butternut Squash Pear Baby Food
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 ripe pear
- a few Tablespoons (about 2-3) of filtered water OR breastmilk
- Prep the squash: With a sharp kitchen knife, cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Lay butternut squash “face” or meat-side down in a baking dish with about 1-2 inched of water. Bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes or until shell/skin looks puckery and turns a darker tan.
- Once baked and tender, scoop the squash "meat" into a high speed blender (I use my Vitamix).
- Peel the skin off the pear and cut into chunks, avoiding the core and stem. Place pear in the blender with the squash meat and add a few Tbsp of liquid of choice. Blend until smooth and pureed.
- Store excess produce and/or pureed food into your stasher.
- Sneak a taste before of after feeding your baby because it's actually delicious! :)