Table Foods

While I have thoroughly enjoyed the puréed meats that I get to feed my baby (note sarcasm?) we are slowly but surely approaching the days where we will say farewell to baby food. Who wants to be spoon fed when you can smash your little fingers in real food instead? Of course each baby is introduced to food at their own pace, but I thought it might be nice to have a reference for myself and others regarding when we introduced which foods, and more importantly as of late, what foods to have on hand that are quick, easy, and most importantly, healthy.


1. The first food
We introduced rice cereal at 4 months per the green light from our pediatrician. This process was slow. We mixed in just enough cereal that we could spoon feed it, basically just to introduce Jax to the action of eating rather than sucking. He got pretty frustrated, so we would try one day, assess how he was doing, and try again in a few days. Eventually he started taking in the food and finishing what we prepared (starting with a tablespoon of cereal, at most) and as he was able to finish, we slowly increased the cereal and upped the thickness to be more like real  cereal and less like milk.

2. Fruits
After 3-4 weeks of mastering the whole cereal thing, we started mixing in baby food fruit. We chose to go the store bought route for our baby food. I strongly debated making my own, but with a full time job and full time grad school going on, it just wasn’t something I had the time to tackle. After reading the ingredients label on the Gerber baby food, I realized we really were getting exactly what the label said, and I felt confident knowing I was giving my baby good nutrition.
Let me tell you, once flavors come into play, eating is a whole new ball game. Baby loved every fruit and most vegetables. Except for peas, and garden vegetables. Don’t give the kid garden vegetables. He will make you pay. We transitioned after 2-3 weeks of mixing to letting him try the baby foods without cereal, and that went over great and was a smooth transition.

3. Increasing amounts
This one always made me nervous. How do you know your baby is getting enough? They will let you know, I promise. Upon feeding Jax a full 4 ounce container of carrots and having him grunt and give me the crazy eyes, I knew I needed to whip out some bananas before the boy lost it. And when baby is full, they will lean over the edge of the highchair and pay attention to absolutely anything else besides the spoon you are shoving in their face. Unfortunately there is no step by step parenting manual, but babies really do lead the way.

4. Introducing solids
Oh the joys of real food. Also, the terror. This one is scary for parents. How big should the pieces be, how soft, how much? We started off with puffs and teething biscuits, mostly because they dissolve in baby’s mouth and get them used to having food that needs to be chewed rather than swallowed whole like the purées. We also tried a fancy little mesh contraption that allows him to suck the juice and nutrition out of fruits and veggies, while eliminating the choking hazard. Honestly, I was not a fan. Baby loved it, but have fun cleaning a demolished, soggy banana out of the mesh(note: it is impossible). 

We really started incorporating solids into meals around 7-8 months, doing puréed baby food for the main portion, and then giving him a few halved blueberries or sliced strawberries to wrap up the meal. And he loved it. As his hand eye coordination has improved (because in the beginning he would clench the food in his fist and not understand how to get it back out) so did his speed and success with eating. Much less food ends up in his lap, and instead in his mouth. 
5. Going full solids
From about 9 months to present, we are nearly entirely on solids. He still gets baby food, mostly because I am cheap and want to make sure we use up what we have. He loves oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, so I may continue with that for awhile, because it is easy and he enjoys it. Otherwise, we love canned/frozen vegetables that are heated and soft, any and all fruits (he may or may not moan when he eats bananas), and real meal foods, too. Scrambled eggs and pancakes from Perkins call his name. Tator tot hot dish is fine by him, and last week I made a healthy beef (aka ground turkey) stew and he literally went NUTS over it. He demolished the stewed tomatoes in it. And, despite the sourness, give him all the lime frozen fruit bars, he will take them. 
Some foods that I have learned to always have in the house for convenience and to ensure baby is getting healthy foods include:
1. Fresh strawberries
2. Fresh blueberries
3. Bananas
4. String cheese
5. Greek yogurt (he will put down an entire container by himself in minutes!)
6. Leftover recipes like Tator tot hotdish, potatoes, anything with soft ingredients we can cut up for him
7. Pancake mix (his weekend treat)
8. Eggs
9. Puffs and/or Cheerios
10. Gerber oatmeal and fruits
11. Canned and frozen vegetables
12. Clementines 
13. Black beans 
It is great to finally be to that point that we can give him whatever we are eating, and let him feed himself. The mess may not be fun to clean up, but watching him make the mess is!

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