Starting your kid on solids is super exciting. Because it’s easier for you if they can feed themselves. And they sleep a bit better with heavier food on their tummy. And their poop changes so much, every time you open the diaper it’s a big surprise! … Ok. That’s a gross and terrible thing for you to get excited about. But you haven’t slept in months, you giggle at a slug version of a person blowing bubbles in its spit. Don’t act like this is above you. For a good chart on when to feed what to your kid, visit WebMD here or at BabyCenter here.
So here’s what to feed a baby:
Bananas and Avocados
Let’s start easy. You literally just mush the hell out of these and BAM, ready for consumption. There’s this really cool little musher that works so well, I love it. But a fork works, too. If you get these things appropriately ripe, they mush pretty easy. So, basically step one is: always have bananas on hand. They’re cheap and babies usually love them. Plus, they’re one of the first foods babies can handle. Avocados are just as easy. But they’re hit and miss whether your baby likes them. And if they don’t, they’ll probably spit them everywhere and it’s green, so it’ll be a big, exorcist style mess. Good luck, Godspeed.
Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
(And I think butternut squash, but I’ve never actually made it, so it’s just in theory for me.) This is where my kids survive, really. Sweet Potatoes are one of the first foods a baby can eat and they’re a “Super food” which means you can act like you know what you’re doing as you give your baby these. (I don’t even know what “Super food” means, by the way. Feel free to Google it. I bet it means it’s super good for you.) Carrots are a little harder to blend/mush because they’re fibrous. But add some breast milk, formula, or the water you steamed them in and it gets easier. Because this is what I’ve made the most of, I’ve got a bit more knowledge here; it’ll be the most detailed. There are 4 methods of cooking I’ve had success with:
- Slow Cooker. You peel them, cut them if you want, don’t if you don’t want to, pop them in the slow cooker, put about an inch of water in the bottom to “steam” them and cook them on low all day until they’re mushy. Stir them around if you want so the bottom ones don’t “boil” while the top steam. You can’t really avoid this entirely but stirring a few times a day helps. I have four slow cookers going at once because I love bulk. As my mother in law says, “If one’s good, two’s better, three’s best… better get four just in case.”
- Roast in oven. This doesn’t take as long to cook. But you’re limited in space to what you can hold in your oven at one time. You still peel, definitely dice and you have to make sure that while it gets mushy, it doesn’t get a hard crust that roasted veggies get. This is lots more hands on, but it maintains a lot of the nutrients so if you feel like it, go for it.
- Steam them. This is, as far as I can tell, the slowest. Only because there are no giant steamers that allow you to do a lot at once. So if you want to do this in a make ahead way, (which I do) this is my least favorite. However, it’s also supposed to be the way that maintains the most nutrients. Anyways, you peel and cut, put in steamer and do a rain dance waiting for the steam to do the magic.
- Boil/Steam in Giant Pot. Boiling is the way that depletes the most amount of the veggie’s nutrients. Buuut, I figure that adults eat veggies boiled and we’re still good. And it’s got to be better than the store bought stuff… Right? Peel and cut and toss in a huge pot. To avoid the guilt of just straight up boiling, I only fill it about a third of the way with water. I stir frequently so that all the veggies have a turn being steamed (happy face) and a turn being boiled (sad face). Ok, look. This is by far the easiest. If you find yourself getting frustrated or stressed by making it the other ways, then give this a try before you give up. (And hey, giving up is ok, too.)
Actually these are the same as Sweet Potatoes and Carrots (and presumably Butternut Squash). But they’re soooo much harder. Because you have to core them. And the peeling is harder. But the cooking is easier. Slow cooker is really easy here. Because they’re so juicy, you don’t really even need the water to “steam” them as they cook. Just peel, core, cut (ugh) and pop in the slow cooker all day (yay). You should check them occasionally to make sure the bottom ones aren’t sticking or burning, but really, the cooking is pretty hands off.
Who wants to peel peaches or mangoes? No one. It’s miserable. So don’t. Buy them in the freezer section with the smoothie stuff. Make sure the only ingredients are the actual fruit. Hell, find an organic version to make yourself feel super good about yourself. Then take them home, put them in the blender and insert into baby’s mouth. Note: You can do this with berries, too. But berries aren’t as beneficial here because you have to wait until like 8 months and for my kids, at least, they have loads of teeth by then so pureed food is kind of unnecessary.
Yeah… It comes already pureed in a can. And all you have to do is open the can. Buy an organic one if you want to make yourself feel less guilt. Make sure the only ingredient is pumpkin. But this is so easy it almost feels dirty.
Are disgusting. Why do you hate your child?
Are SUPER hard because they’re SUPER fibrous. Just… double the sweet potatoes. They’re a Super Food anyways.
When it’s time to start your kid on meats, you’re going to notice one thing: Meat is hard to chew. A good test of if you should give your kid something is to try to eat it by just “chewing” it with your tongue and not using your teeth. You can’t really do that with meats. So be careful. So the cheat here is the pre-grilled chicken. It’s probably just that pink paste stuff, so honestly, you maybe should be careful. But it’s meat and it’s mushy. (And hey! It’s not the breaded nuggets, so points for that, right? *crickets* Right? C’mon!) So at least you can start the kid on meat that way.
The other way is lunchmeat without the rind. Buy the premium select lunch meat that has no nitrates and you can try meat there, too. And this is probably some version of pink paste, too. The thing you have to ask is: “Are you ever going to feed them these things?” Answer that question however makes you happy, dude. Own it. You’re the parent. You’re not hurting anyone by choosing to feed your kid this stuff. The alternative is the store bought baby food. Which is ok, too.
Whatever You’re Eating
There comes a point where their little stomachs can handle pretty much anything and the only thing holding them back is the lack of teeth and know-how. So, just grind up what you’re eating using something like this. This works really well with pasta or super tender meats. (Oh, look! There IS a guilt free way to feed your kid meats! … I’ll probably still do the lunch meat and precooked chicken because I’m lazy and my kids are going to eat it eventually anyways.)
Because even if you make food for your kid, you’re probably going to want an “Easy” button eventually. Besides, your kid’s going to have to eat out in public at some point. If they’re not at the finger food point yet, then these are unquestionably the easiest. You can buy the hippie organic, all natural ones made from unicorn tears, or you can make them yourself with the reusable food pouches (here). Super handy on the go any when baby gets old enough to feed herself. (Thank God for that.)
To puree; please take note. Don’t buy the Baby Bullet or Beaba or whatever gadget the marketing gurus have tried to talk you into. You probably already have a food processor. And it holds more anyways. I actually use my big blender. (That I originally bought to make epic margaritas. *sigh* Oh, how times change.) This is where you’re going to need to add some kind of liquid to puree the more fibrous foods. If you steam/boil your veggies, use the water left over. (Hey! The nutrients you sucked out in your laziness are back in the game! That’s totally how it works.)
To smash for babies starting to chew: Use a smasher.
You may find by the time you peel, cut, cook and puree you’re tired and it’s late. Put the puree into a giant Tupperware and put it in the fridge. Attack again the next day.
Here’s what the Carrots look like pureed and going into the fridge overnight. I highly recommend cookies and wine after you’ve made the food.
To freeze, put in some sort of container. Ice cube trays, Baby food containers, silicone trays. Whatever. I’ve done them all. Ice cube trays work the best, in my opinion and they’re an ounce each, so measuring baby food intake is easy with this.
Dear God this makes a LOT of dishes. This is apples. And Settlers of Catan on the TV.
Freeze them over night. Next day, separate the cubes into week portions, depending on your baby’s appetite. For us, it’s usually 10-15 cubes a week. Then you vacuum seal each week separately. Pull out a week at a time and put in a regular freezer bag to grab and go.
Voila! Baby is fed! Good job.