Feeding Atti - How we introduced our baby to solid foods
Full on disclaimer mode for this one. I am no baby feeding expert and I am still working my way through this process for the first time. That being said, introducing Atti to solid foods has been an altogether fun experience. In case any other parents are getting ready to brave the adorable mess that is a baby learning to eat, I wanted to share a bit about how we've been going about it.
I did some research
I never felt comfortable with the idea of starting Atti on rice or baby cereal. Intuitively, I knew I wanted to take a real food approach from the beginning. I'm not sure how (I like to think I was supposed to come across it) I found Megan Garcia and her First Foods & Beyond program. She emphasizes the importance of protein early on and making sure babies are getting enough iron and zinc after around 6 months old. This was simply a personal choice. I love cooking and try to fill my own diet with as much whole foods as possible so it made sense to take this approach with my daughter.
We held out
We waited until she was just about 6 months old. All of the research I did pointed to this being best for baby. We were also doing just fine with the whole breast feeding thing and I didn't feel any need to rush it. The first thing she tried was sweet potatoes. I was cooking some for dinner and Rob kinda said - why not. We mashed some up with some breast milk and let her do her thing. She wasn't super into it, but it was pretty entertaining for us.
We ate (eat) in front of her
I figured it couldn't hurt to begin to show her what she was missing. Eventually we could feel her eyes boring into us while we were eating and we figured it was time. Now we try our best to eat with her when we can.
We started with some serious super foods
One of the first things she tried was pureed liver. It was recommended in that First Foods program I referenced above and high-quality liver from grass fed cows is incredibly high in easily absorbable iron. Now we offer her some baby friendly liver pate every once in awhile (it's actually pretty tasty) and she seems to dig these banana & bone marrow fritters. Girlfriend also loved to suck on a piece of steak (she still likes steak, we just actually have to cut it up for her now because she'll gnaw through it and she prefers to shove ALL THE FOOD into her mouth when she can.) She's cool with spirulina on her avocado and I cook a lot of her food in ghee.
We claim no allegiance
At first we definitely stuck to purees, but it didn't take long for her to start grabbing the spoon to put it in her mouth herself. We quickly realized that she also wanted to try grabbing bites sans spoon. So we gave her some pieces of ripe avocado. Now we do a pretty solid combination of purees and finger foods. Yes the gagging that comes a little more often (it's already a lot better) while she's literally stuffing her own face is a little scary, but we're always right there with her and prepared to intervene should she need us. It also gives me peace of mind knowing that she's getting enough to eat even if half of her finger foods end up going to the dog.
We don't get discouraged
Atti is usually game to try a couple bites of anything new (something I seriously hope I can continue to cultivate) but will quickly make it evident if she's not digging something. I've read that it can take 10-20 tastes of a new food for babies/kids to grow acclimated to it, and I try to keep that in mind.
We stay prepared
I always try to have frozen peas, avocados and some sort of steamed veggies on hand so that if something I make fails miserably, I can offer her something else healthy and fairly nutrient dense instead. Offering her a few pieces of any of these is also a great way to keep her happy at meal times because it gives her something she can work on picking up in between bites of whatever crazy puree her Mom is trying to feed her.
I think we got lucky
Ultimately, I think we got a little lucky. Atti certainly has her favorite foods, but so far she's been a really good sport and is at least willing to try whatever we put in front of her. Especially if she can pick it up and smush it into her mouth herself.
I'm working on a few more posts about some of Atti's favorite recipes so far, the kitchen tools I've been using to make all this delicious baby food (I know it's delicious, I've tried all of it haha) and my favorite baby food resources. If you have any other requests, please send them my way.