Yikes! That sums up how I feel about baby food. Or at least how I felt about baby food the first time around. And that’s B-A-B-Y F-O-O-D, not food for a baby. Cause that would be an even bigger ‘yikes’. You see, it actually ain’t the same thing. Well, at least not for me. Which prompted me to share my thoughts on the subject even though it’s not my favourite one (not to be confused with food in general which, on the contrary, is in my top 3). But for any first timers out there, it may either give you a few hints or make you feel good about your own parenting skills (cause you are probably heaps better at ‘the baby food thing’ than me)!
Let’s start with the facts – I loved the formula bliss. As I fed on demand, I found it to be quite easy. Every time Ryan or Ben would ‘say’ feed me (or ‘neh’ if you believe in Dunstan’s baby language), I fed them. 🙂 But around that 4 months mark, society starts messing with your mind so you start asking yourself ‘now or should I wait another 2 months’? And let me tell you, I don’t blame you one bit if you are the one who waited. Even if your baby was ‘showing all the signs of readiness’ (I’m sure you see this written often). Reality is, starting baby on ‘solids’ can be confusing and even scary for some people. Be that cause they’re scared of choking or allergies, it’s a sensitive subject and I have all the empathy for them. But hey – once you introduce your baby to solids they sleep better! Right? Wrong. All lies. 🙂 So don’t use that as a reason.
So let’s get to that baby food vs food for a baby comment I made at the start of this post. Regardless what time you decide to start with solids, you will ask yourself: ‘What food is appropriate for a 4, 5, 6 month old baby?’ And then you’ll read or hear about the purée vs baby-led weaning (aka baby linguine) debacle. And that’s where confusion hits. Baby cereal or steak? Yes, I have come across a mum who did just that. At 6 months. Baby loved it, mum didn’t even flinch. I – on the other hand – had a nervous breakdown. Look, I get that babies are born with the ability to chew (even without teeth) and manage food just fine when soft, but we are also born with the ability to swim but you wouldn’t throw a kid in the water and say swim! Yes, I know that’s not the same thing (or is it?!) but mums who choose to go down the baby-led weaning path are simply braver than me.
To kick things right off, I am the ‘baby food’ person. When it comes to my boys, we introduced solids around 4 and a half months. They were both ‘ready’. They were sitting upright (supported), they’ve lost the tongue-thrust reflex and were showing interest in what we eat.
So they got baby cereal.
Lucky for me, they loved it. Even the rice one which – apologies to Nestle corporation – is some nasty stuff (we did move them to wheat relatively quickly).
If I have to think of a timeline (for those of you who are interested), this is how it progressed. Disclaimer my loves! My kids, so far, have no allergies and this is just my version of a menu that worked for my babies. It may not work for you one bit – be that for allergies or simply cause you think I’ve got it all wrong – and that’s ok. There is no perfect equation when it comes to food and we all try our best.
4-6 months (approximately) – we started with one ‘solid’ and still kept 4 formulas daily (or more if they were hungry but generally it worked out to be 4) and then introduced another solid a bit later.
- Baby cereals (we use Nestle Cerelac and Rafferty’s Garden ones) and we added apple sauce or mashed banana. Btw many people will tell you you shouldn’t introduce them to sweets first as they’ll refuse veggies…but we had no issues with that whatsoever. Both of our boys were fantastic eaters as babies (Ryan got fussy as he got older). Around 6 months we introduced porridge and muesli and a life saver – Heinz apple and oatmeal – which is a handy little jar to take with you if you need to feed them outside of home (cafe, friends’ place) as they are not too messy.
- Mashed veg: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots (just some examples but any ‘mashable’ veggie will do) which we did ourselves and store bought mixes which had some greens in them too (eg sweet potato, corn, spinach and carrot was the fave). Now, I know some people can be very opinionated when it comes to store bought baby food for the sole reason it’s store bought, but for me it works just fine. My kids love it and are healthy. By all means if you have the time and energy, cook up a storm!
- For ‘snacks’ we’d give them baby yogurt (Ben loves Rafferty’s garden ones from the cold section but woolies brand ones are great too!) or mixed fruits. And yes, we love custard too!
7-8 months (approximately) – still 4 formulas and couple ‘meals’ per day.
Everything as per 4-6 months (just a bit lumpier as opposed to purée) but we added baby foods with meat (mostly store bought or finely chopped up chicken breast and mince beef we would add to veg). We introduced cooked egg yolk which we mixed in with veggies occasionally and progressed on to scrambled egg/omelette which I would share with them for breakie with some toast. And don’t get stressed if your bubba doesn’t want to self feed at this stage regardless how many friends’ babies you see mushing their foods on instagram! It’ll happen eventually. Ryan and Ben weren’t early ‘holders’ of food and it didn’t bother me one bit. I just fed them myself and it’s less messy anyway. 🙂
9-12 months (approximately) – 3 formulas and 2 meals and one snack (but every baby is different)
Meals get heaps better in this section. My go to are pastas and rice cause you can pretty much add to them anything you like! Cereals with some fruit (weetbix make an appearance around here!) and toast are perfect for breakfast. If you want an easy-clean snack which is perfect for little baby hand-holding practice too, try plain rice crackers. But really, by this age you’ll know your baby’s eating skills so choosing appropriate foods gets a lot easier. And if you have a baby like Ben – who seems to want absolutely EVERYTHING – you’ll probably start testing everything! Hot cross buns are the latest craze.
12+ months – we switched to couple bottles of milk and normal meals as per whatever family routine is (in our case three main meals and couple snacks in between). This is where we started offering Ryan pretty much anything we would eat (except spicy stuff) but truth be told, he was very good at refusing most of it! 🙂 He just ‘turned’ – for whatever reason – and even started refusing foods he used to love. We got ourselves a picky eater but that’s a whole other subject! Here’s to hoping things will be a little bit different second time around. X