It’ sad I have to add a disclaimer here, but I’m going to preface this by saying, I am not a pediatrician; this is what worked for us and our family, please always consult your pediatrician.
I’ll never forget Ryleigh’s four month appointment, which actually occurred at five months due to timing.
Pediatrician: ‘You guys can go ahead and introduce peanut butter now and then slowly introduce solids as she starts to show interest’
Me: *blank stare*
I was not ready for that. We just started to master the whole breastfeeding thing and now we’re supposed to introduce real food, which introduces a whole new level of stress: allergies, choking etc. But from what she said, introducing allergens early may help them from developing an allergy and I was all about that.
We didn’t have Benadryl on hand, so we held off until the next day. But that day we got home and I started instantly looking up products related to feeding a baby. Somehow we didn’t have a damn thing. I guess I wasn’t thinking about food related items when I created my registry and I was so caught up in the fact that breastfeeding was going well that I forgot she would actually start eating real food at some point.
First off, I thought ‘I’m going to make all of her baby food, so I need a super expensive fancy baby food maker, duh.’ I almost added to cart until I quickly (thankfully) realized I had several appliances that could make this special baby food (that I really only made for a month or so).
Let’s break down what it actually takes to make pureed baby food:
TO STEAM or ROAST: a pot of boiling water and a strainer basket or a baking sheet and an oven.
TO PUREE: a blender (vitamix or nutribullet work great), food processor or immersion blender (I used each of these for different textures, but could easily get away with one of them & if I had to choose one, I’d go immersion blender – that thing is awesome.
AND THAT’S IT – there is absolutely no need for ANOTHER appliance just for baby food that you will likely only use for a short time, IMO. save your money and treat yourself to something you’ll truly benefit from, like a facial 🙂
Ok, so fast forward to the next day. It was time to try peanut butter – ya know made up of one of the main allergens. and on top of that, it was the first thing she ever had other than breastmilk. Nervous AF was an understatement. how would she react? would she have a peanut allergy? would it be bad? would we end up calling 911? (spiral spiral, you get it).
Let’s let this photo speak for itself…
In case you needed a little further explanation. Girl couldn’t shovel it in quick enough.
So as directed by our pediatrician we started introducing a new food, every few days, just to be sure she didn’t develop an allergy. I would steam up or roast fruits and veggies, then puree a batch, we’d keep some on hand and the rest we’d freeze for later. I froze all of her purees in either ice cube trays or these silicone molds, easy to pop out and thaw when we were ready.
I also stored the frozen purée cubes and spheres in these reusable freezer bags so that we didn’t keep wasting plastic bags.
Ryleigh’s First 10 Pureed/Smashed Foods
Once she didn’t show signs of an allergy, we could start mixing foods and not wait the three days. It was fun creating blends and exposing her to new flavors. I really only did purees for two months, again this is why I don’t recommend a full on baby food maker. They’re so expensive and it just wasn’t something that would have been used for a long period of time.
She started sitting up at five months and around six months I felt comfortable enough starting her on soft solids (peas, banana, avocado) and sitting in her booster seat!
She used this booster seat before her actual high chair, we popped it up on the island (relax, Susan, she was always supervised) for easy feeds. Now remember, this was all for introduction purposes, she was still nursing about 6-8 times a day!
Also, lets talk bibs. Before I was a mom, I never knew anything other than those cotton bibs, so that’s what I registered for. I realized very quickly those cotton bibs are pointless while they eat; I ended up only using them for spit ups and even then we rarely used them as a bib and more so as a spit up cloth. She always looked so uncomfortable in them when she couldn’t yet sit up. And once she started eating, I found these silicone bibs to be the best invention ever and used (/still use them) whenever she’s sitting in her high chair eating. I just wash it in the sink (or dishwasher) along with her plate and utensils (no washing machine or dryer required). This allows you to instantly have it ready for the next meal! Plus, these tend to be way cuter! SEE!!
Speaking of plates and utensils, lets get into that. At first we got this plate for purees, it allowed her to get familiar with using a plate, but we use this plate now and LOVE it!!! It has multiple sections for various foods, enough space for her to practice with her fork/spoon (we’ve used this set from the beginning) or we place a dipping sauce in one section and encourage her to dip!
On to the hot topic : high chair. I did a lot of research on this and instantly thought, the pricier, the better. That is NOT the case. I registered for a high chair with all the bells and whistles and ended up leaving it at my parents, it was so bulky and not necessary. I saw a couple moms recommend this one and I thought, ‘its only $20, no sweat if we end up not liking it.’ Well, we don’t like it, we LOVE it. Its minimal enough to blend in with our neutral decor and you can’t beat the price, plus super easy to clean!
I mean how cute does it look decorated for Ryleigh’s first birthday! If you know me, you know I don’t love super loud bright colored baby things, so this chair’s minimalistic vibe is right up my alley.
And then the trying of new foods just started picking up speed. We no longer waited days in between foods unless it was one of the major allergens. By 10 months, she was eating everything we were eating and loving it.
As she started to eat more, we started to decrease her nursing sessions. However, at this point we were still sort of comfort nursing 6ish times a day.
I felt trapped. I still felt I had to nurse her, but now I also had to make her real food; it was exhausting. This went on for several months. It wasn’t until her 12 month appointment (8/22/2019) when the doctor said we should start to scale back nursing, that it finally sunk in, it didn’t have to be this hard. But while that felt freeing, I remember leaving that appointment scared. Something I worked so hard to get in the groove of was nearing its end. It was time to get into a new groove. #motherhood am I right?
It was time to wean.
I’ll save all the breastfeeding/weaning info for another blog post, but long story short, I got a little overzealous and cut too many feedings too quickly and it sent my hormones into a tizzy – it was a hell of two weeks until I realized that was the cause. So we took it a little slower and three months later (11/17/2019) at 15 months, she was fully weaned. She still had milk morning and night (whole milk once we ran out of frozen breast milk), but she had it in a sippy cup, these are our favorites and we buy these larger ones too for water throughout the day because the tops are all interchangeable.
I digress. Back to eating.
We really loved the concept of letting Ryleigh hold large pieces of food and take bites, when applicable. Yes, its scary. But honestly, I think that’s how she learned how to chew/swallow and develop a gag reflex. Hearing that noise never gets easy, but the more practice your child gets, the more they learn their bodies and how to handle food. For example, we cut apples into sections rather than bite size pieces, we give her the whole stalk of celery, we give her sliced peppers and wedges of watermelon.
While we have always had a healthy mindset in terms of feeding Ryleigh, we never wanted to completely restrict. Moderation is key, of course, but we wanted to expose her to everything, and yes, everything includes things like pizza and pudding – because who doesn’t need a little pizza and pudding!
We always strive to have a fruit and veggie at every meal, but if not, we don’t beat ourselves up about it!
As she got older, snacking became huge! We love giving her apple slices, string cheese, goldfish, frozen peas, cheerios etc. We love these snacking cups for her to hold and I always bring this snack stacker along full to the brim in my diaper bag.
I plan to do a blog post with a few sample menus of what Ryleigh eats in a day! And some other meal and snack ideas! Trust me, I know its hard not to get monotonous!
My TOP THREE pieces of advice when it comes to starting your little one’s journey with food :
- Parent knows best. Yes, you can look to the Internet for tips and tricks, but at the end of the day, who knows your baby better than you? If you believe your baby can handle not cutting up blueberries anymore, then save your self some time, mama and leave the damn blueberries whole. Don’t let the Susans get you down.
- Try and try and try again. There were several foods we had to try out over and over before she would even take a bite. I know plenty of adults who are the same way, so you can’t blame them. Even now, for example, most days she gobbles up her avocado toast and some days she’s just not feeling it. We all want different things on different days and your baby is no different. Even to this day, Ryleigh has zero interest in meat, no matter how its prepared, but I still continue to offer it to her.
- Have fun!! This has been such a positive, exciting, and rewarding aspect of parenthood for us! We’ve truly loved introducing her to new flavors and textures and seeing how she responds, what she likes, what she doesn’t, what surprises her etc. When was the last time you tried a new food??! I doubt its on a daily basis, so its fun to live vicariously through them! It’s pretty freakin cool.
I’ve linked as much as I can throughout the blog post, but if you missed anything, its all included below (except the high chair)!
I know I didn’t touch on everything food related, but lucky for you there’s a little comment box below, so let me know what I missed or what else you’d like to see!