One of the scariest things about having your first child is baby food. What do babies eat? How do you feed them and when? The answers are not always straightforward.
Every two or three years they change the philosophy about feeding babies. I have to say, as a mother of 3 kids, this can get very confusing. When Eden was a baby, the philosophy was breastfeed full time until the baby is 4 months old, introduce fruits slowly for one month and then introduce mashed vegetables with chicken (no dairy, no egg and no nuts until 12 months of age). I did exactly this and it worked fine.
When Tsoof was born, we lived in California and the philosophy was different: breastfeed until 6 months old, substitute with formula if you needed and introduce cereals at 6 months. Fruits, vegetables and chicken were introduced much later.
I was totally confused. There was almost a 7-year gap between Eden and Tsoof. Papers and books kept saying that what we know today is not the same as what we knew a few years ago. I didn’t know what to do. While I was still breastfeeding, I debated whether to stick with what I knew or give the new philosophy a try.
So I asked around. A much older and more mature mom told me that the philosophy changes every 2-3 years and that she thinks it is better to stick to whatever works for you. I decided to take her advice and stick to what I knew. I did the same with Tsoof as what I did with Eden and it worked perfectly fine.
When Noff was born, we lived in Australia and the baby food philosophy was different again. Fruits started a bit earlier and cereal was still a very early thing. I thought to myself, “Stick to what works for you”. Once again, it worked just fine.
You’re probably wondering how you are meant to know what works if you are a new mom or a new parent. I found the best thing to do is to ask people you know and trust about their opinion. People who have kids with eating habits you like.
I was a big book reader with all of my kids, but this is one time where it is better to leave the books. You end up reading too many contradicting baby food philosophies and feeling more inadequate. It is a good idea to develop your ideas based on discussions with people you appreciate and admire. Ignore advice from people you don’t admire.
For example, ask mothers and fathers, not people who have never had kids. Take into consideration that every kid is different and you will need to adjust the philosophy to suit your own child.
My baby food philosophy
I developed some philosophies that worked really well for me. Feel free to use them if they resonate with you:
- Introduce fruits slowly until they become a full meal. If you are wondering how much to feed, when the baby stops eating, that is enough.
- Do not add any sugar or spices to baby food if you don’t have to.
- Have a routine with your baby food.
- Warm water is a great thing. Make sure you have it ready all the time. If a baby is crying and it is not meal time, start with giving the baby water.
- Once the baby can sit, make sure he/she sits with you at meal times. Try to make it a family thing rather than feeding the baby separately.
- As soon as your baby can sit at the table, give them a teaspoon. It will be messy at first but mess is good. Give them as many opportunities to practice bringing it to their mouth as possible. You might think it is better to wait until they are older and have better motor skills but it takes them the same length of time to master this skill whether you start at 6 month or 1.5 years old. Start early!
- Let your baby taste things you eat yourself.
- Preparing special baby food is a hassle. As soon as your baby is old enough, try to get them eating the same food you put on the table for everyone else. Especially if they are able to sit down at the table with you. Just adjust the food so the baby can hold it by hand or chew easily (e.g. cut it into sticks or mash it up).
- When I had my kids, I worried about what was in the baby food I was buying at the store. Try to prepare baby food yourself as much as you can. That way, you always know exactly what is in it. One of the times I found this difficult to do was when we were travelling or on long trips. I cut myself some slack during those times and was just a bit more choosey with what I bought at the store.
- Put things on the table that you don’t necessarily like to eat. This gives them an opportunity to try tastes they wouldn’t otherwise be able to try. You might not like mustard, but they might!
- Whatever you have on the table when they are 1 years old, will be what they eat when they are 15 years old. If you want them to eat fruits and vegetables, bring them to the table. If you don’t want them to eat junk food, don’t buy it!
I was a very lucky mom. My kids ate well and were very healthy. Even today, our shopping consist of 80% fruits and vegetables. We go to the market every week to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The kids never had any eating problems, they weren’t fussy eaters and they didn’t refuse to eat things. They are great travelers and adventurers with food.
It all starts when they are babies and with your choice of baby food.
Enjoy your parenting and your baby!