In Parts 1 and 2 of this series I’ve discussed my journey with the boys all having been breastfed and what baby led weaning means for our family. A lot of people tell us, regularly, how “lucky” we are that the boys are such great eaters. Matt and I believe that a very small margin of children will have food aversions and allergies that prevent them from being good eaters, I think most children could be if pointed in the right direction. We contribute a large part of the success to feeding them well and exposing them to good, flavorful, healthful foods from their first bites. Here’s how we do it:
- Our first foods are always bananas and avocados. We like to put them in these mesh food bags and let the babies gum on them for a while. It helps us determine if the baby is ready to swallow (do they nurse the bag or do they suck food particles out and swallow them). Finian was happy with this for a few weeks; he was just so desperate to eat food at the table with us. Cole and Wes moved on rather quickly, since their desire was more driven by actual eating and not wanting to do what we were doing.
- When the children showed signs of swallowing and wanting more quantity, we ground food up in the food processor or smooshed it with a fork. Foods that worked well for us, until we transitioned to giving them food directly from the table, were:
- Liver (from pastured chicken or beef) is a wonderful food for babies (anyone really). It’s extremely high in nutrients and has a crumbly texture perfect for babies. We pan cook ours in coconut oil and then freeze in individual containers.
- We also roast fruit and veggies (cut in half, scoop seeds, leave skin on and cook at high temp until soft) in the oven, it brings out the sweetness they’re used to from breastmilk and makes it soft so you can spoon feed apples, plums, pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, anything really. We’ve made our applesauce recipe with pears and other fruit and Wes as well as the whole family thoroughly enjoyed it!
We still sometimes give Wes avocados before bed because they’re SO high in good fats – there is an absolute tie to his ability to sleep through the night if he’s given a big dinner or snacks high in fat and protein!
We’ve never given any of our boys rice cereal. For a breastfed baby, fortified iron isn’t necessary because the absorption of breast milk is easier and more nutrient dense. Around 6 months formula fed babies need additional iron supplementation, which is why doctors really encourage it. If your Pediatrician is pushing rice cereal, despite knowing your baby is exclusively breastfed, it’s my opinion you need a new doc who understands nutrition better.
It’s hard to find shelf-stable snack foods when you’re transitioning from exclusively breastfeeding to giving snacks. It takes effort to pack baby foods. I suggest keeping a couple of containers in the freezer with a variety of foods packed together (liver, roasted fruit, roasted veggie and some baby “guacamole”). When you’re leaving, throw it in the diaper bag and it’ll be thawed and ready to serve when you need it in a few hours. You can also prep sliced bell peppers, halved-grapes and berries to be at-the-ready to grab and go.
Other ideas for the glove box are freeze dried fruit, squeeze applesauce, a banana, or coconut flakes. If you’re at a restaurant, ask for a side of steamed broccoli or spinach. All are MUCH better choices than Gerber puffs. Despite not eating Paleo years ago, we still (nearly) followed a Paleo diet (we did do legumes but didn’t with Wes) and our babies became the healthiest, heartiest, strongest, smartest, best eating children we know (no bias). Trust yourself, but more than that, trust your baby to tell you what and how much to eat. If you’re offering nutrient dense and healthful foods, only good things can come of that.