I’m sure the title of this post drove the majority of my readers away, but for the curious, this is a quick update of my previous post about baby food.
It’s been three months and Mackenzie is a lot of fun to feed. She’s very expressive as she tries new foods and new textures, and we’re both learning as we go.
So far, no purchased baby food. So far, she’s been a whole plant food baby (no meat or dairy, or anything refined like white flour, sugar, etc.). She’s now nearly 11 months old and nursing 3 times during the day and sometimes once in the middle of the night. She drinks water from a cup during mealtimes (not a sippy cup, we hold it for her).
Here are some things I’ve learned:
- I feed her new stuff and hard-to-love stuff (like straight veggies) when she’s most hungry. At the beginning of a meal, quite a bit goes down the hatch before she gets remotely picky.
- I keep exposing her to food she’s not thrilled about. She comes around after a while.
- Near the end of the meal, I break out one of her favorite foods so I know she ends with a fully belly. Right now, the closers are usually grapes, applesauce, banana, or squash.
- I insist on some things being fed by my fingers, or from a spoon, and she’s gotten used to that. (I don’t want to limit her food choices to just finger foods.) I try and include a finger food with every meal, though, so she can keep her hands busy between mouthfuls from a spoon.
- At least one meal a day I put an awesome IKEA bib on her and let her go to town with the messy and the squishy.
- She is far more likely to try things she sees me eating. And, I never make her anything I wouldn’t eat myself, anyway. So it’s easy enough to pull up a spoon and show her how I take bites of it too.
- She loves to feed me, and when she gives me a bite of something, she happily accepts a mouthful in return.
Here are some things she loves:
- Big black grapes, cut up into 6 pieces with kitchen shears (hey, I don’t want to risk choking and it takes 2 seconds with sharp scissors)
- steel cut oatmeal with some combination of: cut-in-half raisins, applesauce, cinnamon, squash, yam, apple cider, orange juice.
- breakfast “smoothie” with 6 grain cereal soaked in unsweetened soymilk, and blended up with banana, flaxmeal, walnuts, and dates.
- red bell pepper, cut into little pieces
- A “baby” version of whatever I make for us. Example: I made spinach and potato curry and I only added half the curry powder initially. I removed a bowl of it for Mackenzie when it was done, then added the other half of the curry powder and cooked 5 more minutes for me and Scott. I cut up her potato and carrot chunks smaller and she happily ate them along with the spinach.
- Black beans. Just plain. She loves ’em!
- “Green machine” – This is the only thing I still freeze in cubes. I take bags of frozen green beans, broccoli, peas, corn, carrots, spinach (pretty much whatever I have, but I try to do 2 parts power-packed to one part weak-sauce) and I microwave them, then food process until they are slightly chunky. Then I freeze into cubes and she’ll eat a couple of cubes at the beginning of a meal, no problem. (Power-packed: broccoli, green beans, spinach. Weak-sauce to make it palatable: Peas, corn, carrots)
- Green smoothies – They’re usually brown, actually, and she doesn’t care. 🙂 Fresh fruit, water or unsweetened soymilk, spinach, and frozen berries. I try to go easy on frozen berries because she has gums that are sensitive to the cold.
- Whole grain goodness – My homemade bread, homemade pancakes, Trader Joe’s pita, Trader Joe’s tortillas, homemade chapaties (just whole wheat flour, water and salt, rolled thin like a pancake and cooked in a dry frying pan), or Trader Joe’s pasta.
- She often eats our soup, using “whole grain goodness” as a vehicle. We soak it into the bread chunks, or pile it on top of a bit of pita. Even just floating a toasted O on a spoonful of soup makes it immediately more exciting for her.
- Grapefruit. I peel it and she loves it.
A few word about my goals
- To have Mackenzie eat and enjoy nutritious food.
- To create a good environment for mealtime. No arguing, battle of wills, or disrespect for food by wasting it/throwing it, etc.
- To create habits that are sustainable when we have a larger family (we want lots of kids). I don’t want to be a short-order chef, making food differently for each child.
To that end, some thoughts:
– “You eat what the family eats, within reason”. Sure, you may not love mushrooms. So eat a few and pick out the rest to give to your dad (hey, that’s what I do!). But, no peanut butter and jelly sandwich when the family is having something else.
– I try and be sensitive to Mackenzie by making foods the right temperature for her, not too spicy, and giving her loved foods in addition to new stuff, but at the end of the day, she needs to eat what I have planned for meals.
– Kids won’t starve to death. They just won’t. If they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat it. Patience, and persistence, and continually offering them things they don’t love at first will pay off (at least it has in my limited experience). It’s a life skill to eat and enjoy a variety of healthy foods.
– I go by the rule that parents decide “when” and “what” and kids decide “how much”. Mackenzie’s appetite fluctuates a lot, so I try to watch her so I know when she’s all done, or still hungry. Sometimes this means I have to scramble to find more food for her, and sometimes it means the last two bites are finished off by yours truly.
– “What if she becomes picky?” – Well, I know she won’t be begging for chicken nuggets, because we won’t have them! Worse case scenario, she wants to eat grapes instead of broccoli. So, a few bites of broccoli, and then all the grapes she could want. Hey, if the only options are healthy… it’ll all work out in the end.
– I try and get approximately equal fruit and veggies into her, with whole grains and beans/lentils as a bonus. This is just out of consideration for her digestive system. If I let her go down on too much squash, without some fruit in the meal… I’m afraid she won’t be loving life afterwards. She doesn’t yet “get” the consequences of over-doing certain categories of foods, so I try to mix things up for her a bit.
– Kids need lots of healthy fats, so I try and get avocado, sunflower seeds, flaxseed meal, etc. into Mackenzie when I can. Although she (and we) eat healthy food, we’re by no means trying to restrict her fat or calorie intake. (In case you were worried.)
Yet to figure out…
– Supplements. Mackenzie won’t get much meat and dairy in her diet, and we just don’t do many (any?) fortified foods. So she’ll need a good source of B-12. We’ll probably end up with fortified unsweetened soymilk, or just B-12 drops.
– Protein. No wait, that one is just fine. 😉 It’s a common one we get asked, though, so I’ll address it here. Every single thing we feed Mackenzie has protein in it. All whole plant foods do, and if you give a reasonable variety, protein deficiency is impossible.
– Fluids. I know she doesn’t need cow’s milk ever. The whole “three glasses a day for healthy bones” rhetoric is bogus. She’ll get plenty of calcium and protein from other sources and I’ve yet to hear of anything else redeeming about cow’s milk. However, I do want her to get plenty of calories without resorting to commercial (read: nutritionally devoid) fruit juice. I anticipate that after she weans, we’ll do unsweetened soymilk with dinner, smoothies when we have them, and water on demand.
Have more food ideas? Questions? Please leave them in the comments.