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Bon appétit, bébé! {What to Feed Baby}

Welcome back! If you’d like to get caught up on the previous posts in this series, click here: Bon appétit, bébé! Today we’ll be discussing great starter foods for Baby. And next week? How to avoid picky-eating.

making real food

There are lots of yummy foods you could feed your baby, right? And, whether you choose to make babyfood or not, it just makes sense that we want to offer the most nutrient-dense foods possible. We don’t want to waste empty calories to fill a tummy that may not be hungry the next time the breast (or bottle) is offered. These empty calories are found in cereals and sometimes in fruits and vegetables.

The Alligator Pear

avocadosA great first food is avocado (nicknamed the alligator pear – fun, huh?). One avocado has almost 30 grams of deliciously good-for-you grams of fat and over 300 calories. Erase what you’ve been programmed to think about calories and fat – they are vital for your baby. And this makes avocado a wonderful first food! It’s also a great source of protein. Even better? You can often get great deals on these little yummy fruits!

I did freeze a bunch of avocados in the beginning of my babyfood days but I quickly learned that this was pointless. It is far easier to buy a range of ripe to unripe avocados and store the unripe ones in the refrigerator until a couple days before you need it – then stash in a drawer or a paper bag till ripe. Easy-peasy!

The Incredible, Edible Egg

I shared briefly my love of eggs in last week’s post in this series (). And it’s true. I think eggs are amazing. They are a great source of complete protein – vitally needed for Baby’s growth and development. Eggs, though small, are very filling! One egg yolk has about 50 calories, 5 grams of fat (remember, it’s good for baby to have good fats!) and 3 grams of protein.

I often hard-boiled a bunch of eggs and served up the yolks as needed (whites are typically a no-no before the first birthday – especially if there is a family history of egg allergies).

Nanas and Taters

bananasAnd of course, bananas and sweet potatoes make great starter foods! Bananas are super yummy and, while there’s no great nutritional value (no fats, little protein), they’re fun for baby and have a decent caloric amount (around 100 calories). They are high in fiber, so take it slow with your little one.

Sweet potatoes, while also low in protein and containing no fats, are very high in vitamins and minerals. Your baby will receive plenty of vitamin A after a few bites! And like egg yolks, it’s also a great way to get iron!

Bananas are so super easy to prepare – just peel and mash or slice! Sweet potatoes are easy as well: bake ‘em up and slice open the skins to get to the yummy tater. I dare you to not snitch a bite. Double dog dare ya.

The Rest

Freezing? Not worth it! Stay tuned for more tips!

Freezing? Not worth it! Stay tuned for more tips!

There are many more wonderful foods to introduce to baby soon after he begins! We also gave them carrots, peas, pumpkin, squash, green beans, eggplant, green peppers, summer squash, broccoli, prunes, peaches, mangos, apples, pears, cherries, watermelon, blueberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, apricot, kidney beans, black beans, quinoa, etc. Anything I could get my hands on, I was feeding them. Now, I chose to not give them dairy right away (more on this soon) and we waited a bit for meat because I wasn’t convinced their tummies could handle this. I erred on the side of caution. I’ve since come to the conclusion that I could have given them meat at that time and they would have been fine. However, being breastfed as often as they were, they still received the necessary nutrients from me. So I’m ok with my decision. And they eat plenty of meat these days. Pa-lenty.

Now, you may notice that in none of these “first foods” did I mention pureeing anything. That’s because I now believe the blender to be more work than necessary. It is just as easy to mash a sweet potato as it is to puree it. Or to mash steamed carrots. Or peas. Pretty much anything is easily mashable. And, call me lazy, but if it needs to be blender-ized I’d just as soon wait till they show more interest in finger foods than messing with all those ice-cube trays, Baby Bullets, and the like. If the thought of not blending freaks you out, hold on. I’ve got some recipes, tips and ideas I think you’ll feel comfortable with…more importantly, I think Baby will love them!

Oh, meal-plans? You want those? Calm down. We’ll get there. Soon. =)

 
 

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Bon appétit, bébé! {Myth Busters}

Welcome back to our series on feeding Baby! If you missed the other posts, you can click to read the “intro” and “how and when to feed baby.” If you’re all caught up…read on! =)

making real food

The Munchies

When thinking through how you’ll begin feeding your baby, you may want to take a look at which produce is the “dirtiest.” The EWG has an excellent list of items ranging from the dirtiest to the cleanest. (If you’re unfamiliar with why organic is often super important, you may want to read my recent post documenting how our food has become a literal science experiment of nastiness!)

Once I knew what was in our food, I just couldn’t see how putting that into their bodies made any sense: chemicals, viruses, unknown DNA strands? Yeah, this is a recipe for disaster. A recipe spelling: ADHD, asthma, allergies, organ damage, autism, sterility, etc.

Of course, I can’t control everything about my children and certainly not every particle of their food, unless I grew it myself. So I simply did the best I could in making choices today that will affect their tomorrows. And I trust God to give me both wisdom and help me to walk in peace for decisions like these.

So there’s kinda a lot of food out there – what should I start with?

Glad you asked! Actually, I do hear this question a lot. There are so many contradicting voices, blogs, moms and books, aren’t there? Here is some of what I have learned:

Pass on the Grains

Many pediatricians recommend rice cereal or some other type of grain. But recent research has been shown that this is not necessarily the way to go. Babies actually don’t have the ability to digest grains until after they turn two!

What?

I know, right? I was shocked. I thought everybody fed their baby SOME type of cereal from the get-go. And baby formulas are chock-full of grains. The Weston A. Price Foundation (which I looooove!) explains why this shouldn’t be the case:

Babies have limited enzyme production, which is necessary for the digestion of foods. In fact, it takes up to 28 months, just around the time when molar teeth are fully developed, for the big-gun carbohydrate enzymes (namely amylase) to fully kick into gear. Foods like cereals, grains and breads are very challenging for little ones to digest. Thus, these foods should be some of the last to be introduced. (One carbohydrate enzyme a baby’s small intestine does produce is lactase, for the digestion of lactose in milk.)

Foods introduced too early can cause digestive troubles and increase the likelihood GMOsof allergies (particularly to those foods introduced). The baby’s immature digestive system allows large particles of food to be absorbed. If these particles reach the bloodstream, the immune system mounts a response that leads to an allergic reaction.

Can anyone say gluten-intolerant? Yup. This is often the result of feeding grains so early, albeit years down the road.

My babies got small amounts of formula during the months I was working to bring my supply up to breastfeed all three of them. And I’ve spent the past year protecting them from having to work overtime to digest something with which they don’t know what to do. And you know what? I don’t miss it! No need for goldfish crackers, Cheerios or toast! There are plenty of whole, real food options to feed babies, instead! Eventually I’ll start them on sprouted grains, but…that’s a topic for another time. =) Suffice it to say, grains are not only not necessary as first foods – they can be very harmful for babies!

The Chicken or the Egg

The most allergenic properties lie in the egg white. However, it is very, very, very beneficial for babies to eat egg yolks. If your family has a history of egg allergies, it would be wise to hold off till at least a year in giving your baby the complete egg.

The recent dismissal of eggs as a super-food due to high cholesterol levels is easily explained away: cholesterol is vital for babies’ development. Seriously. Studies also show that babies who eat egg yolks also have higher levels of iron! So there should be no need for nasty, hard-to-digest and bottled iron supplements

But, please consider farm-fresh, pasture-raised eggs over store-bought eggs. The difference is really quite massive. Eggs from the store are laid by hormone-shocked, grain-fed chickens who spend all day in a tiny crate laying more eggs per day than they were intended to. Sounds yummy, right? Eat up, baby!

The Better Butter

Our generation has been brain-washed to think that fats are bad. Well, this is partly true. The processed fats we typically consume on an, sometimes, hourly basis are bad. True. But there are several good fats that serve many purposes in a baby’s growth and development.

Coconut oil is one of these. It is personally my favorite because of its versatility (lotion, toothpaste ingredient, cooking oil, conditioner, etc.). It also is high in good fats and is a stable saturated fat. It is recommended to give small amounts to smaller babies to help them gain weight. And it helps with digestion, as well. If your baby is on formula it can be especially helpful. Add a ½ tsp of coconut oil to the bottle and you should soon see constipation disappear!

Spice of Life

saltThis one will really throw ya. Are you ready? Positive? Here goes:

Salt is good for babies.

No, really! However, don’t reach for the salt shaker on the table to season your baby’s food. Most likely you and I grew up similarly – eating chemically processed and super-refined salt. And this is where it gets a bad rap. There are virtually no health benefits from this kind of salt. The unrefined salt, though, provides our babies with much needed nutrients for brain development.

If it still makes you nervous to salt your baby’s egg yolk, stick with me and I’ll show you how. =)

And as far as other spices and seasonings? Go for it! As long as there’s no MSG or other fake ingredients, sprinkle away! My babies got a whopping amount of hot and spicy foods while I was pregnant and nursing – why stop when they are the ones eating the food? Herbs? Yes, please! A little cayenne? Why not?

Out with the Old

If it seems like everything you are reading here is new, it really isn’t. A generation or two ago, this was just a way of life! There were no baby cereals or Cheerios or mini hotdogs (gag) on shelves in the General Store. There was only real food. The kind we really do want to feed our babies – if we think about it.

Next week I’ll be discussing how I got the babies started and with which foods. Oh, and I’ll share how I skipped past having picky eaters!

photo credit: atmtx via photopin cc

 

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Bon appétit, bébé! {How and When to Feed Baby}

In last week’s introduction to this series (Bon appétit, bébé!), I shared some of the questions I am most frequently asked with regards to feeding babies. So, I’ll begin by letting you in on the little journey I have been on for…oh, about 15 months now.

making real food

Once upon a time, when the babies were two months old…

I began dreaming of the day when their nourishment was not dependent entirely upon me. This was mainly due to the immense challenges I faced with breastfeeding all three babies and supply issues (you can read our journey on breastfeeding here). I read somewhere that babies often begin cereal at four months old so I figured I’d better get on this if I’m going to do it right! …Right? I began doing some research and talked with my pediatrician who encouraged me to wait until around six months. I was disappointed but was willing to wait – what harm could there be in waiting?

And so I did more research. (Seriously, how do you do mommyhood and not do research? This mom thing is confusing!)

I discovered two major things:

  1. Babies don’t need solid foods for the first year of their lives.
  2. Cereal (aka, grain) is empty, nutrition-less and potentially harmful for babies at this point!

We’ll discuss the second point next time. But the more I read, searched and asked questions, the more I realized that babies really will tell you when they want to start food – and it’s very rare for this to happen before six months (though we all tend to think our baby is the exception, right? =).

Maybe you’ve heard the saying “food before one is just for fun.” It’s really true! Babies get everything they need from breastmilk (even if the baby is on formula, the bulk of his nutrition is coming from the bottle). The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization even recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life (or bottle-fed for all my mommy friends who aren’t able to breastfeed <3).

Signs of Readinessfirst meal

So how, then, do you know when your baby is ready?! Great question! Here are the current recommendations:

  • The baby can hold her head up and can sit unassisted. This is very important because there is much less likelihood that the baby will be able to handle and control the eating process safely.
  • The tongue-thrust reflex has disappeared. If this reflex is still present, the baby will be unable to swallow foods and could potentially choke. This reflex is God-given to protect the baby from choking hazards and usually disappears between 4-6 months.
  • The baby is able to chew. Yep. This most likely will mean a delay in the eating-adventures… again, probably after the six month mark.
  • The baby has a decent “pincer” grasp. Can the baby pick up small objects or food with his thumb and forefinger? Or is she still trying to pick items up with her fingers and the palm of her hand?
  • The baby tries to eat food off your plate. It is actually not uncommon for the baby to watch your every move at a mealtime. But, remember, the baby is curious about everything and may not be showing actual signs of readiness for eating.

All of the above should be in place prior to beginning solids. In some cases this will mean readiness before six months, but in most cases it will mean the baby is not ready till after their half-birthday. (I know a few one year olds who showed no interest in food!)

Not Signs of Readiness

Some signs that do not (alone) indicate when babies are ready for solids include:

  • The baby is waking up more during the night. There is no proof that feeding the baby solids will enable him to sleep better (or longer) during the night. The baby is simply not yet consuming enough solids (ever fed a baby and watched how most of the food ended up everywhere except in the baby’s tummy? =). The baby may simply be going through a growth spurt (which will end, mama!) and need some extra time breastfeeding.
  • The baby has reached X amount of weight (sometimes it’s recommended by the time he’s doubled his birth weight). This is especially untrue for babies born prematurely! If I had followed this recommendation, my 3 lbs. 12 oz. babies would have been eating solids at six weeks old!!! Even for infants born full-term, though, this recommendation makes no sense. KellyMom states, “It’s the maturity of the digestive tract and baby’s developmental readiness that makes the difference, not baby’s weight.
  • The baby is too small. Nope. Solid foods are quite inferior to the calories found in the same amount of breastmilk! Food simply cannot compare to the quality of nutrients she is receiving from breastmilk…even into the toddler stage!
  • The baby needs more iron than is found in breastmilk. Possibly. An easy way to determine this is through the blood test done at most pediatricians’ offices around six months. If the baby is, in fact, iron deficient, there are wonderfully iron-rich foods that can be given to the baby. But most breastfed babies do not have low levels of iron until well past the six month mark!

At this point in my research, I knew I did not want to start the babies on solids until they were exhibiting the signs of readiness above. They were about seven months old when I finally gave in and introduced solids. Little did I know what lay in store for me: babies eating solids = mess!

Baby-led Weaning or Purees?

A yummy lunch with Granny!

A yummy lunch with Granny!

If you’re unfamiliar with baby-led weaning (BLW), it simply means “letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning.” (BabyLedWeaning.com) I would encourage you to check this method out to determine if it is for you and your baby.

I, however, chose to do mostly pureed foods with elements of baby-led weaning (which actually works gloriously, in my opinion! =). And there were several reasons that went into my decision to begin with pureed foods. Our schedule was such that we didn’t eat meals at the same time that the babies did so I would have ended up preparing food twice anyway. And we were in a season where David and I weren’t eating the way I prefer we eat because of…well, having three babies to care for! I wanted them to eat better than we were (no Kraft macaroni for them! =) And, because there were three, I wanted to know exactly what they were eating – to watch for any adverse reactions by spoon-feeding them. So for me it ended up being easier to puree foods for a while.

What I didn’t do was follow a recipe book. I took one look at them and decided that was not for me – no combining broccoli and apple to sneak the broccoli in. (More on this next time!) So I just usually “mushed up” something in bulk for the babies. The time spent preparing foods really wasn’t bad, either. I could make a serious amount of food in a very little amount of time. (I promise I’ll show you how!) And with none of this peeling stuff! Nope. If I could eat the peel, the babies could, too! (Of course I modified how the food arrived to them for safety, but that was way easier than peeling, say, an apple for applesauce!)

So, what did they eat? Well, stop on by next week and we’ll chat about that… ‘cause it’s a very long list!

The poll on making babyfood is currently still open: :nom, nom, nom:

Sources: KellyMom, Wholesome Baby Food

Note: Always check with your pediatrician and do your own research to determine what is best for you and your baby.

 

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Bon appétit, bébé! {overview}

One of the topics I receive questions about most frequently (besides “are they natural?” =) has to do with how I made baby food for the babies. Now, I’ve only been feeding the triplets for about a year, but during that year I have made a lot of baby food. A lot. And, if you know me, I’ve done more than a little research on this region of parenting – nutritional aspects, cost analyses, time efficiency, product reviews, etc. So, I am happy to finally be able to share my efforts and experiences with you!

making real food

Some of the most frequent questions I hear from you are:

  • When did you first give solids to the babies and what did you give them?
  • How did you decide what to give them?
  • How did you keep them from being picky eaters?
  • Did you do baby-led weaning or puréed baby foods?

You asked, I’ll answer. =) Additionally, over the next several weeks I’ll be tackling the following topics, as well. Topics like:

  • Organic vs. non-organic
  • Cereal – why it’s not so good for Baby
  • Baby against mommy – how to deal with a picky eater
  • To season or not to season – is salt really bad for babies?
  • Coconut oil – what’s the big deal?
  • The egg question
  • The only equipment you really need (skip the Baby Brezza!)

And of course I’ll share a meal plan, shopping list, baby-friendly recipes…and how to prepare two weeks’ worth of food in two hours. That’s right. Two weeks’ worth or 45 meals…in two hours.

So join us each Wednesday as we dive into the world of feeding Baby…real food.

Did I miss anything? What would you like to see discussed?

 

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Loving Moms…

You may or may not have come across a teensy-weensy debate or two when perusing the web, Facebook, blogs, etc….debates where moms are criticizing others for the ways they are raising their children. I certainly have my convictions and am happy to share those with others. =) But the way I do things is not the only way. Many kids are being raised (and have been raised!) in loving, happy homes and are parented in completely different ways. None of us appreciates being made to feel we are doing something unloving for our kids. (However, shouldn’t we all be open to evaluate – through others’ suggestions and information-sharing – how we could improve? I think so!) The point is that we are all seeking the ways in which our families will be best cared for. None of us sets out to harm our family! And certainly none of us knows what we are doing while we are doing it! No matter how many kids we’ve had! Each one is different and requires different parenting methods.

David and I (most often prayerfully) considered each of the items below (well, those that apply to us so far =). Our decisions are not based on what’s easiest for us but for what we feel is best for our family. And I’m sure you could say the same! Right? So, let’s share our opinions but truly believe that:

http://backgrounds.picaboo.com/Backgrounds/BGViewEntry.aspx?entry_guid=0e062531382748fcb52aed891c738bc8&catid=0&subcatid=453

What could you add to this list?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Family, Learning

 

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:nom, nom, nom:

Well, iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit’s Monday, folks! And that means it’s time for a poll! (If you haven’t seen last week’s, check it out! It’s one of my faves: Potty-training!!!) Pour yourself another cup of coffee…go ahead, I’ll wait. There. (Confession: I usually only reheat mine.) How was your weekend? We are on our way back from North Carolina. It is :cold:. Brrrrr!

Ok, so I am asked all the time about how I did this or that for the babies’ once we began feeding them food. I have been wanting to write up everything I did because as we move away from that time, my memory is a-gettin’ fuzzy. (Shshshshsh, I am not getting old! No, no!) So, can you help me out a little? Check out the poll and leave a comment (ortwoorthree!) about what you love(d) about making your baby’s(ies) food and what you hate(d). Oh, gosh, thank you! You’re the best!

Oh and while you’re at it, would you mind clicking on one or both of the “vote here” buttons on the right? It’s as easy as clicking your mouse and means the world to me…ok, maybe not the world, but we can be best friends now. Pinky promise! =)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Polls, Triplets

 

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Happy Birthday, part 2

(If you missed yesterday’s post, check it out here.

Love, The Very Hungry Caterpillar)

When it was time for the babies to get their cake and eat it, too, we gathered them into their high chairs and…well, just watch this short video David put together last night. =)

Surprisingly, they got VERY little on their outfits and I was easily able to get it all out with my all-natural stain-remover (but that’s for another time). Here are some of my favorite shots of them a-smashin’. =)

It still amazes me that we have THREE babies that are ONE!!!

Go for it, babies!!!

Baby Girl – bein’ all dainty. =)

‘Atta girl!!!

I love her face in this one! =)

The Demolisher!!!

Little Pig!

Oh, be still, my soul!

Sweet Girl – she dove right in, too! She’s not our dainty one, haha!

I looooooooooove this shot! She couldn’t eat fast enough!

Happy face!! Startin’ to feel that sugar!!!

Clean up and water time!!! How maaaaaany people does it take? Probably about 8. How many washcloths? I’d say about 9….

I know. I’m a cool mom. I couldn’t NOT do it!! Of course, they haven’t had sugar or anything since those few bites…and they won’t for a very, VERY long time. Haha!

Hope you enjoyed the party!! If you have a second, would you vote for us? Just click the link below…thanks!!!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 15, 2012 in The First Year, Triplets

 

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