Mama’s (and papa’s too!) I’m so happy that so many of you have reached out to see how, when, and what we are feeding Pepper now that she is eating solids. Making baby food is something that has been really fun for me (though we’ve had our fair share of trial and error) and I’m really excited to share our journey thus far. Of course, I’m no expert (though I’ve done my fair share of research) so please always check with your pediatrician before diving into something new. What I’m sharing is what has been comfortable for me and our family so take it with a grain of salt. I hope some of you can learn from our mistakes and also enjoy the process of making tasty, nourishing food for you littles. I’m also a big fan of making food that I’ll eat too so these recipes all taste great stirred into my morning oatmeal, spread onto toast, or served as a side to steak or chicken (the butternut puree below is a great side dish to meat!) But before I go any further I want to say a few things. Mama’s, if you had intentions of making baby food but are feeling too overwhelmed, tired, anxious or just simply have too many other things on the priority list do not beat yourself up. That is what store bought baby food is for. There is absolutely no reason why you should feel bad about purchasing baby food if life is too damn crazy (and if you’re a mom life is probably pretty damn crazy!)
Before I get to what has been working for us I want to address something that keeps coming up for me. I’ve been posting photos on Instagram of making purees for Pepper for the past few months and I have gotten an overwhelming amount of comments or messages from people saying that purees are outdated and that baby-led weaning is the way to go. And if that method has worked for you and your family I’m so happy for you (plus you don’t have to wash a food processor multiple times a week!) From what I’ve learned, baby led weaning is giving your baby more control over what they put into their mouth, and how much they eat. Parents get to bypass making purees and put small pieces of veggies, fruits, meat, cheese in front of their child and let them figure it out. The goal is to get these little babies to become independent eaters. Which is awesome if that works for you and your baby. And maybe a combination of baby led weaning and purees is what you do. It’s awesome to be able to cherry pick. There’s so many wonderful ways to feed our babies! I personally have discomfort with baby led weaning. Mainly because we’ve had some scary chocking episodes so I’m just a little extra nervous. I don’t want mealtime to be stressful and having purees gives me so much less to worry about. Pepper can barely grasp her spoon, let alone the food on her plate and get it into her mouth, so the idea of her getting enough sustenance just doesn’t compute for me and my baby. As she gets bigger we’ll start introducing more finger foods, but for now this is my comfort level. So again if this resonates I hope it’s helpful. I believe that you can maximize so much more nutrition in purees (as I’ll share below) and introduce interesting flavors and vital nutrients in this way. For me personally, I feel like I have a better idea of how much Pepper actually eats. And for some reason (this is something I should just get over but if it resonates for you I feel like I want to share it-) I don’t know why I get so triggered by people pressuring parents to get their babies to become “independent” so damn early. I know I’m a new mom and don’t have years of experience but I know one thing is for sure. My child will eventually become an independent eater (and sleep through the night for that matter) one day. Maybe we’re just on the slow side, but I’m confident that she still needs her mama to help guid here along the way. So with that, here is a little backstory of how we got started with solids.
Pictured above– bone broth, steamed cauliflower blended with a hard boiled egg yoke, and pureed pumpkin with cinnamon and grass fed butter.
I’m going to start with our first mistake and then I’ll get down to some recipes (and I’ll be adding baby food recipes on the site in addition to regular recipes from now on so you can expect more baby friendly food in the coming months and year!) I started to feel pressure to introduce solids when Pepper was 5 months old. Our pediatrician (who I absolutely LOVE) gave us the green light and encouraged us to start because there are new theories on food allergies and the earlier we can introduce food to our babies the better. Also, Pepper refused a bottle so this was a great opportunity for Taylor to bond with her and have fun feeding. But again, (just like with sleep training) I ignored my mama instinct and dove in. Mind you at 5 months old Pepper could barely hold her head up by herself, so feeding her solids was already going to be tricky. We stared off with simple purees (very runny purees because she was so young) of homemade unsalted bone broth and steamed zucchini. She was not into it, and after a week (plus some constipation) I gave up on starting solids and went back to strictly breastfeeding. The constipation alone did me in. It’s so hard to see these little babies struggle to poop (I have a yummy solution for that below!)
My second mistake (after we started solids again) was giving her too much food at first. She literally only ate like 1 Tablespoon worth of food those first few weeks and our compost bin (and the dog) were getting a lot of extra food. So I began to portion out really small rations of food (in ice cube trays) so that I wouldn’t waste as much. Once she was eating more I would take multiple cubes of food out and so on.
Once Pepper was 6+ months old we really dove back into solids. I asked midwives, pediatricians and used Sally Fallon’s approach to baby food (I don’t agree with her on a lot of her philosophies but her food and recipes for babies really resonate). I was making bone broth on the weekends (you DO NOT need to do that if it sounds too overwhelming- water or unsalted veggie broth is just fine too) that I would use to thin my purees. Like I said, Pepper’s first foods (for the first 15 days) were either steamed zucchini, summer squash, or winter squash all thinned out with broth or water. If she started to get constipated I incorporated steamed prunes (and actually I learned the hard way that she was getting constipated too often so I started to give her steamed prunes every day just to keep her regular). After she was getting the hang of that I started to add more variety and introduce bolder flavors. This is the time folks! These babies are adventurous so I think it’s good to get some interesting, more complex flavors after you initially get some very bland purees down for a few weeks. It’s also fun to take portions of what you’re making your family for dinner and setting aside some for the baby and blending that up. Anyhow, you can get creative! The list of foods that I found the most helpful that I wanted to incorporate into her diet were these (not necessarily in this order). And of course, please check with your pediatrician before you start solids or have concerns with anything!
- Pureed Prunes (this helps with constipation!)
- Pureed red meat (babies tend to be iron deficient so I wanted to get plenty of red meat into her diet)
- Boiled Egg yoke (the yoke is easier to digest than the white)
- Cooked and pureed fruits like apples, prunes, peaches, pears and berries
- Cooked and pureed veggies such as sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower and root veggies
- Boiled Fish
- Boiled Poultry
- Bone broth
- Fermented foods (small amounts of yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut)
- Grass fed butter
- Organ meat
- Fine sea salt (used very sparingly)
- fresh or dried herbs blended into the purees for more flavor
What has helped me the most in food preparation is to make a few batches of food on the weekend (it doesn’t take much time to cook this stuff) and blend everything and then put it in silicone ice cube trays for easy storage and individual portions. You can also store extra puree in mason jars or tupperware in your fridge for up to 5 days (but make sure to date your containers) I always re-heat all of her food on the stove top over low heat until it reaches just above room temperature.
I hope these first few recipes sound good to you and your little ones. And side note- these recipes taste awesome for adults too. I’m not making my kid eat gross tasting stuff. All of these recipes are nourishing and delicious.
Cinnamon Spiced Prune and Pear Puree (to help keep your baby regular)
Add 1 cup of dried prunes and 1 peeled and chopped pear to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook until the prunes are soft, about 5 minutes. Drain. Add the fruit to a blender or food processor with 1 tablespoon of grass fed butter, a pinch or two of cinnamon and a sprinkle of dried thyme (the thyme is optional but it adds a lovely flavor). Blend until smooth. If needed add a touch of water to thin. Store in the fridge for 1 week or divide between ice cube trays and bring to room temperature or slightly heat on the stovetop before serving. Bonus- This tastes great stirred into my morning oatmeal. So mamas this is a tasty treat for you as well!
Tuna and Pea Salad with Sauerkraut
To a food processor or blender add 2 (5 ounce tins) of wild caught tuna, 1 cup cooked green peas, 1/2 cup sauerkraut, and a handful of fresh dill. Process until smooth. Store in a mason jar in the fridge for 3 days or place in ice cube trays. Bring to room temperature (or slightly heat on the stove top) before serving. Bonus, this tastes great spread on toast and topped with shredded mozzarella cheese for an open faced tuna melt for the adults.
Cinnamon Spiced Butternut Squash Mash
Slice one medium size butternut squash (or any winter squash) in half. Scoop out the seeds and place face down in a 375F oven. Cook until tender. About 45 minutes. Scoop out the flesh. Add the flesh of the squash to a food processor or blender with 2 tablespoons of grass fed butter and a dash of cinnamon. Process until smooth. Taste for seasonings and adjust. Store in the fridge for 5-7 days or in ice cube trays in the freezer. Thaw and re-heat on the stove top before serving. Bonus, this tastes great served alongside steak, chicken or stirred into your morning oatmeal.
I hope this was helpful to some of you. And of course, if this isn’t something that resonates no worries. There are so many options out there for baby food making! You have to trust your mama gut. It’ll never steer you in the wrong direction. I’ll be back with more recipes for these little ones soon.
Until next time folks!