Learning To Feed A Baby: Our Journey

These are notes from our instagram live session on September 15th.  It will be on Instagram until 3pm PST Friday 15th then on Facebook HERE.

Disclaimer #1: Whenever I talk about high stakes topics I want to lead with ‘I’m not a doctor’. My goal is never to tell you how to eat or feed your baby but to hash out what we did and let you see the whole process so you can work out what you like!

Disclaimer #2: Keep in mind that every family is different, every situation is completely unique; find what works best for you. Certain goals take certain sacrifices and priorities – not everyone wants to make those choices and that is GREAT! Just know what you want to achieve, and then be prepared to put in the work, but let the rest GO!

For the intro on why we went this way, read my post Baby Led Weaning: Starting Out – I wrote this one week in explaining our process on why we didn’t go with cereals, or purees and explaining what Baby Led Weaning is and is to us.

Book recommendations from the video:

 

 

 

(Pics are clickable links for Amazon – except I listened to them all via Audible – click below for a 30 day free trial which gets you two free downloads – that’s how I listened!)

Back to the beginning: Milk

I knew I wanted to breast feed and we were blessed that it was an easy journey for us.  I wanted to make it to a year, then I didn’t know what it would look like but my goal was a year.  From the start I had him on a schedule – not so that I starved him between feeds (I know schedules scare people!) but we worked with what he could do and at 3 months we fed at : 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm and, 7pm then from 4 months until he was fully weaning we did: 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm.  You can see our full feeding/sleep schedules from birth to 14 months HERE. This meant that he was getting into the habit of an eating routine that basically landed around typical meal times.  It set a great rhythm for us, and as a mum it kept me sane!

Adding in Solids

6 months is now the recommended age by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and that felt great to me – it’s best to wait till the have control of their head, can sit up unassisted, and have lost the tongue thrust reflex (so they don’t automatically push food out of their mouths.)  And no, they don’t need teeth.

At 6 months I started giving one meal of solids per day at lunch so I could watch for a reaction, and AFTER milk. That way he’d fill up his stomach with milk, then top it off with solids. We did that for one meal a day in the first week, 2 meals a day for the second week, and then within a month he was having 3 solid meals a day after milk feeds.  You can see a full plan of what he ate for the first four week on meals on the blog HERE: First Foods and details of basically every meal and how we introduced foods on instagram HERE.

Moving away from milk

It’s obviously fine to keep feeding milk and everyone has different feelings about it – it can also be a very emotional issue – but all I’d wanted to do was to wait till a year, and then not to force him to stop.  So at 1 year, I started feeding him solids BEFORE milk one meal a day so that he would be filling up nutritionally on whole foods and then topping off with milk. I started with lunch, then dinner, and then breakfast. See the schedule HERE.

We did NOT add a bottle of any kind of milk after he dropped breastmilk. Nutritionally (unless you’re too otherwise for your child) we don’t need milk after age 1. Lots of children have it as part of a bedtime routine, in which case I probably would have chosen an organic, homemade nut milk, or an organic raw milk from a farm I trusted.  But I will say it’s a lot easier not to have it as part of a bed time routine – especially when it comes to potty training! – so if you can just fully drop that night feed then I recommend it!

3 Keys to peaceful meal times at home and on the road!

  1. Manners at the table. Giving some structure and beginning to teach patience from the start have absolutely paid off! We taught basic baby sign language (please before food, all done, more, water) which helped us give structure to meal times. Then we established that food waits on the table not on his tray until everyone is ready,  beginning to teach him patience so that we could all eat together . We also ONLY ate food in his chair, didn’t bring any toys to the table, and didn’t eat food in other places in the house to help him focus. Then we slowly worked on extending the time he stayed at the table after being ‘all done’ so that he waited for everyone to be finished before getting down. Learning to entertain themselves at the table is essential if you want to be able to eat calm long meals out in restaurants! (Some children are naturally calmer and happier to wait, this one was not that way naturally so we had to WORK for it!)

2. No snacking. Yep, there are no goldfish crackers in my bag. I’m the mum who does NOT carry snacks. Sometimes it means I have to work to find other ways to entertain him between meals and to keep him happy when I’m doing something else but it absolutely pays off at the table. He comes to the table hungry, and ready to eat what I put in front of him. I’m especially strict on zero snacks if we’re eating out or with other people because it makes a massive different to how focused he is and how well he’ll eat so it’s my way of investing in an easy meal time!

3.Not offering alternatives. I always put more than one thing on the plate for a meal (unless I know he likes everything), but then if he doesn’t like one thing, I don’t give him alternatives.  His options are eat what’s on the plate, or be ‘all done’.  The exception I make is if he eats all but something new I’ve given, tries it and genuinely doesn’t like it – then I’ll give him more of something else he already had.

What we served

You can read in more detail in the First Month Meal Diary, and Starting Out post, but no purees, no cereals, only soft pieces of real food. We went strictly organic for the first year too.  His first food was baked sweet potato wedges (with no oil or salt), then egg yolks, zucchini, avocado – things that are easy for their little bodies to digest.

Allergens

After extensive reading due to Jared having a peanut allergy, we chose to introduce allergens early on, little by little.For more information that’s fascinating read The Leap Study.  

We did go mostly grain free until 1 year, predominantly to leave room for more flavorful whole foods. But also from what I read, I do think waiting on grains till a year is best for digestion – and I figured it wouldn’t hurt so I did it! When started him out on grains we then used whole grain organic sprouted spelt flour.  It meant I had to start making more from scratch so we now make our own pasta, pizza, bread, and tortillas to ensure they have good ingredients without crazy cost – and none of them are as daunting as they might sound. Promise. 

Navigating Food Preferences (i.e. how to deal with hissy fits at the non-preferences!):

I absolutely feed Clayton what he loves, but I also keep introducing new foods. He doesn’t know to be excited about or ask for something he’s never had – that’s my job!  And remember, coming to the table without a snack-full stomach really helps. Offer the foods they don’t like in different creative ways, Clayton wouldn’t touch a whole orange or a cut orange, but blended up he loved them so we started there He also wouldn’t touch apple for a season, so we started lathered in nut butter and a little maple, then worked back to the point where he’ll just munch into a whole raw apple. I don’t fret when he doesn’t like something.

Restaurant Food Choices

First I basically always avoid kids menus.  With the exception of a few (and an expanding number which is amazing) there full of bland, refined food. Instead pre 1 year old I’d ask for steamed veggies without salt or oil, half an avocado, scrambled eggs, etc. When it comes to babies people are usually extremely accommodating. Post 1 year or as his eating expanded I look at the sides, get a full meal and take leftovers to go in my stainless steel bento box, and if they can do a kid size, or split something large with him.

Other helpful links from the video: