4 Things About Starting Baby Food That Every New Mom Should Ask
Just like that, my twin girls will be turning two this month. It feels like both a blink of an eye and also an eternity at the same time.
Who was I before being their mother? I can’t even remember what it felt like not to feel that constant magnetic pull to them, my motherhood weaving through every decision I make.
Toddlerhood = Independence
I’m excited for two, really. They are discovering themselves, exerting their authority, testing their limits, and keeping us laughing all the time.
At the same time, it pains me every time they do something without needing my help or comfort. They are starting to lean on each other for these things, and also on their own capabilities. Wow. It’s the most amazing thing to witness.
I have long felt that a crucial aspect to their health and development (especially after being born 2 months premature) has been their good sleep and eating habits.
The Things They Still Need from Me
I strongly believe that both sleep and food can act as medicine for everyone. The quality of our sleep and our food are directly related to the chronic conditions we do or do not acquire, our mood, our behavior, and our overall wellness. The more chronic sickness I see in the ER on a daily basis, the more I wish I could turn back time for people and give them the gift of food as medicine. But I digress.
I’ve struggled to figure out who I am as a working mother since the girls were born. But, there was no struggle when it came to how I would feed them.
I knew firsthand from seeing the detriment of poor food choices that giving my girls a healthy start was one of the greatest gifts I could give them. There was no doubt that I wanted to make as much of their food from scratch as possible. And for the most part, I have done just that.
Now, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here and say that I am supermom. My girls know exactly what macaroni and cheese tastes like (though I do buy organic and serve it with veggies!). They eat the occasional tater tot casserole. We are not perfect.
I took plenty of time to research different methods of feeding the girls when they were first ready for solid baby food. Here were the questions I had to ask myself before getting started.
1. Purees or baby-led weaning?
There are two general philosophies when starting solid baby foods. Purees are fed with a spoon. They consist of mashed up food that is pureed to a thin consistency using breast milk, formula, or water. Baby-led weaning, on the other hand, is a method that introduces finger foods to baby according to what they are developmentally ready for. Both methods have pros and cons, and there is no one method that is right or wrong.
We started with purees since my babies were ready for baby food before they could developmentally grab and gum food. As they got a bit older, around 8 months, we introduced finger foods and fed them with a hybrid method of the two.
2. Start with rice cereal or skip it altogether?
This is a bit of a controversial topic. Pediatricians for years and years have recommended starting with grain cereals as first baby foods. This is likely because it is fairly easily digested and unlikely to cause allergic reactions. However, there are some things to consider, such as the level of arsenic found in rice and rice cereals. Additionally, rice cereal is not a very nutrient dense food and is quite bland. I could write an entire post on this (and maybe I will). But, I encourage you to research this and also discuss with your pediatrician.
We skipped the rice cereal and went straight for veggies. As the twins purees needed thickening, however, I used oatmeal cereal as a thickening agent.
3. When can baby have different foods?
There are certain fruits and veggies that should be introduced to baby at certain times. This mainly has to do with how allergenic a food is, as well as the maturity of baby’s digestive tract to process the food. There are many different guidelines and suggestions about what to start with and how to introduce each food.
It used to be commonplace to start with veggies before fruit so that baby didn’t get used to the sweet taste. This has not proven to be necessary. The most common first baby foods include avocado, sweet potato, banana, peas, pears, and carrots.
4. How do I introduce new foods and keep track of it all?
A good guideline is to introduce a new food for four days before introducing another new food. This gives you time to observe for any reactions (change in bowel movements, skin rash, etc.) without having to wonder what the culprit was. Once you start doing more than one solid food per day, you can introduce a new food at one feeding and the other can be a food that’s already been tried. The same can be done when you start to combine tastes. If you mix two foods, make sure at least one is a familiar food.
Being a mom is a huge responsibility and there are so many decisions along the way. The best part is that there are very few rules! Your mama instinct is a real thing, so roll with it!
Let me ask you: are you feeling a bit overwhelmed by all this?
Do you want to skip a lot of the research and have everything you need to start your baby on healthy, wholesome foods?
If you need an easy way to know when to start each food and how to keep track of it, you should absolutely check out my FREE Baby’s First Foods Starter Kit. It has checklists of foods according to age/stage. There’s also a tracker to note each food tried, how many times you tried it, and any notes you may have along the way.
Sound like something you need? Just click to download my absolutely free starter kit so you can get on your way to being a totally awesome (and kind of crunchy) homemade baby food mom boss!