If you've ever been to a baby shower, chances are you've had to play ridiculous "baby" games. I LOVE games, but I hate shower games, something about their over the top cheese factor just irks me. Baby shower games take it to a whole new level. The melted candy bar in a diaper game--eww for multiple reasons-- and the guess that baby food game for me are the worst. This post could take on a whole new life if I went off about the candy bar, so let's stick with the baby food. Something about that processed, colorless, odor-FULL, substance that "they" say is baby food was just a major turn off to me. It was at one of these showers that I decided I would not be the person that gave that to my child. Heck, I wouldn't eat it, why would I give that to my baby?
**DISCLAIMER**I know some people really love jarred baby food. They're quick and convenient and, thanks to Pinterest, the jars can be used for tons of great DIY projects. But for me, they were not something I was planning to invest in.
I've mentioned before, I'm frugal. Spending over $1 for a jar of baby that I could just as easily make myself seemed silly. (I have a tendency to see something and think--hey! I can do that! Thankfully for my husband, this does not involve home improvement projects I like to take on :)) Anyway, I decided early on I would be making my baby food. There are TONS of great websites with recipes that are fresh, easy, and economical. There are great ways to spend an hour or two one day a week and have baby food for weeks! Check out Wholesome Baby Food here for great recipes and starter foods. It was in doing research and talking to friends that I learned about a new-ish concept of baby food: baby-led weaning. Apparently this is quite big in Europe and gaining starting to gain some popularity stateside. This website here explains the history of the concept of letting your child feed themselves. Crazy right?! Research indicates that babies around the age of 6 months start to show interest in food. According to Wholesome Baby Food
"At this age (the most recommended age for beginning solid foods), your baby should be sitting up unassisted or with little assistance. Your baby should also have good head control as well as a good fist grasp and a developing pincer grasp. The tongue-thrust reflex should also have disappeared by this age. These milestones are very important as your baby will be feeding himself; he should not be propped up or reclined back because he will be eating whole foods."
My little B was quite interested in food by this point. Up until 6 months he was exclusively breastfed. He started sipping little bits of water when we introduced a sippy cup with a straw, but nothing else beyond that. When we talked to his pediatrician about starting solids, the rice cereal/oatmeal topic came up. After examining the ingredients in a box of rice cereal, we decided this was not a good option for us. (Another topic for another day on that one). So we listened to the doctor with one ear, and continued to research other ways of introducing solids. B's first food was avocado. We gave it to him in strips and let him play with it; following the "food before 1 is just for fun" adage. He did pretty well! We've since introduced a gamut of foods: sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas, strawberries, blueberries, wheat toast, bananas, cinnamon apples, cilantro lime rice, black beans, scrambled eggs, mango, I could probably go on for a few more lines, but you get the hint! Seasonings and spices made me a little nervous so I researched them. We buy as much as we can organic and use no added salt. Everything he eats, we eat. I know exactly what he's eating, exactly where it's coming from, and exactly how it's made. If I were to box/jar it, I would know all of the ingredients that were in it. It's so liberating to not have to worry about "what to feed the baby". The baby gets what we get! No extra preparation, no excess when traveling, just finger-sized portions of what we have. If there's something that presents a choking hazard (I was really nervous about peas and blueberries the first time) We put them in mesh feeders. You can find these at almost any baby store! A great way to introduce flavors without having to worry about choking. (Also helps with teething. I would put ice cubes or frozen peas in one to help with teething struggles).
When we go out to eat, and B is with us, he gets a few options. I've traveled with apple slices, toast strips, puffs-the organic ones by Plum Organics or HappyBaby, or nothing at all. :) He's dined on cucumbers (which almost every restaurant has raw) or little bites of whatever Polish Prince and I are having--as long as it's not french fries or Taco Bell :).
|Roasted Sweet Potato|
B's main source of nutrition right now is still breast milk. The food we're introducing is experimental, to get him used to other flavors and textures. Baby-led weaning is allowing him to learn to chew before he swallows. If a piece is too big, he spits it out. If he really likes something he tries to eat it faster than he knows how, usually resulting in a banana/strawberry facial mask. But either way, it's so much fun to watch him learning and trying new things. Baby-led weaning is not for everyone, neither is making your own baby food, if purees are where you're most comfortable starting, but it is another option. And I think the more you are exposed to, the easier it is to make informed decisions about what works for your family! :)