Baby Food 101: 6-12 Months

I promise that I'm going to stop making promises...

I mean, I can barely keep the simple ones. Things like, calling someone back, returning an email, or even promising my husband I'm going to shave my legs WAY more often than I do.

Unfortunately I made a promise that everyday last week would be Kids Week. Meaning...7 days...one week...

I guess it's not surprising that last week I posted 2 times out of seven, and that Kids Week is turning into Kids two Weeks...

But seriously, if I come back next week and say, screw it, let's do this all month...Please email me and tell me I'm cooky loco...

I PROMISE i'll email you back!

Ok, let's get back to business shall we!

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I've been trying to decide the best way to split up these posts because there is SO much information! I could do a whole post on foods for 9-12 month olds and so on for each age....But we've got things to see and places to go...

And I made a promise that this wouldn't take forever.

So today we are going to focus on the little tykes...And tomorrow (or the next day...don't hate) we will get into toddler food. Sound good?! Ok!!

**Before I begin, please know this...I am not a doctor. The advice I give on the blog is given and learned from my own personal experiences and knowledge. ALWAYS consult a doctor first when it comes to the appropriate time, age, and what it is that your baby needs to eat.**

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I remember when it came time to get Baby Boo ready for solid foods, I couldn't help but feel nervous. I know, sounds crazy, but I was just so happy nursing her that I didn't want to really add any thing else that might make things more difficult. It was a little after Baby Boo had turned 4 months that a lot of people told me I should start feeding her rice cereal. I was indifferent because my doctor, as well as many books I had read, had said to wait till 6 months.

But of coarse I gave into peer pressure and tried introducing rice cereal to her early on, and it was hell. Not only did I soon learn she wasn't ready, but it stressed me out because I was constantly worried and trying to force her to eat. Every meal time was a struggle, and she would cry every time we would sit her in her high chair. Soon after, she stopped breastfeeding (also because people told me I should introduce a bottle) and she was refusing any type of solids.

Time after time I was listening to other people's advice and comments, and not my own (and my doctor's) instincts and recommendations...In the end, it didn't work out the way I had hoped.

How has this had an impact on Baby Boo's eating habits now?

Call me crazy, but I truly believe that I kind of messed things up in the beginning. If there has one thing I have learned about being Baby Boo's mom, it's that when she is ready to do something she will do it...And when she isn't, she won't. In my heart, I truly felt that it was too early to start feeding Baby Boo solids, and that she wasn't ready. Sometimes I think if I would have waited a little longer and took a slower approach that it would have been easier, and not as stressful, for her to eat.

So, when is the best time to start?

Every child is different. Some children may do well trying solids earlier than other babies, but do what you feel is best. Listen to your doctors advice first and foremost. Next, listen to your motherly instinct. If you feel your baby isn't ready, don't force it. Take it slow and don't stress it. Even if you only introduce foods every so often, eventually in time it will increase.

Typically though, most babies are introduced solids around 6 months.

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Making homemade baby food can seem hard to do at first, but with the right tools and knowledge it's really easy!

First off you need a good food processor. It doesn't have to be expensive, because there are great cheap blenders out there. When Baby Boo was first born I used a Magic Bullet all the time. It was only $40, which is a great price!

For homemade cereals:

1. Whether it be brown rice, spelt, barley, etc., simply ground it into a flour using your blender.

2. Store in fridge in air tight container. When ready to use, bring a pot of water to a boil (roughly 1/4-1/2 c. cereal to 1 c. water) then add cereal and cook for 10 minutes until soft. Mix in formula, breast milk, etc..then serve when cooled.

For homemade veggie puree:

2. Steam veggies in a vegetable steamer. (Always steam veggies separately) Once veggie are soft, transfer to a blender or fod processor and puree until smooth. Once cooled serve to baby.

3. You can store extra puree's in the fridge or freezer in an air tight container.

Store bought baby food:

I love making baby food, but you don't always have time when your on the go and busy. That's why it's great to puree lots of food and store in the fridge or freezer for those busy days. When in doubt, don't fret because you can use store bought food too.

1. Buy organic and nothing with additives.

2. Use whole grain organic cereals with simple ingredients.

Babies are brand new to food, and the last thing you want to do is start giving them preservatives and un-wholesome ingredients. So always try homemade baby food, but when needed buy natural and organic brands. (This includes formula!) :-)

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The first time a baby taste solid foods, it's definitely an experience. You have to remember that every food you put in front of them is something that have never taste, seen, or experienced. Take it slow with each new food, introducing each one at a time. Introducing foods slowly and one at a time also helps you learn if the baby is sensitive or allergic to certain types of food.

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(6 Months)

- Rice Cereals

-Pureed Avocado

-Pureed Apple

-Pureed Pear

-Pureed Banana

-Pureed Sweet Potato

-Pureed Butternut Squash

-Pureed Zucchini

-Pureed Green Peas

( 7-9 Months)

Your baby still won't be eating a lot of solid foods, but these next months will be a time when you can introduce different flavors an food combinations. Always try the foods first on their own to make sure baby isn't allergic, and then go ahead and combine them with other foods.  During this stage some babies might be getting teeth as well, so some chunkier foods mixed with pureed foods is great to introduce during this stage. Here are a few examples:

-Make your own homemade veggie stock, which can be added to vegetables being pureed. Great way to add extra vitamins and minerals.

-Sweet potato and banana

-Fruit puree combo such as peach and plum, or blueberries and prunes.

-Pureed potatoes mixed with beets, zucchini, etc...

-Cereal with plum puree

-Avocado with cucumber puree

-Lentils and veggie broth (This would be along the lines of a chunky food.)

-Pumpkin and rice

-Potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga, and carrot puree mixed with a little veggie stock.

-Quinoa with veggie or fruit purees mixed in

-Rice pudding, made with a coconut milk

-Meats pureed w/ veggies and broth

-Egg yolks

Examples:

Pumpkin Carrot Quinoa

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Ok, on to the next stage!

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This is the stage where you don't have to puree every single food item, and you can switch to more bite size and chunky foods. Instead of pureed bananas, give your child small cut up bananas.

At the beginning of each week I like to cut, wash, and cook a bunch of foods to have on hand through out the week. Having cooked beans in the fridge for easy snacking for your little ones,  pre-cut fruits, and pre cut veggies that can be steamed and easily eaten makes your day so much easier. Having these items on hand can also make meal time easier for the adults. When you have cooked beans, rice, and fresh veggies etc. prepared in the fridge it's easier to make a meal.

Here are some examples of easy finger foods and bites for this age:

-chopped fruits such as bananas, raspberries, blueberries etc..

-Cooked rice mixed with chopped avocado, steamed carrots

-Tofu cut into small cubes served plain or tossed in ground flax seeds or wheat germ

-Cubed soft cheeses or yogurt (plain, nondairy, sweetened with natural fruit)

-Lean meats, organic, finely diced 

-Soft crackers that are easily dissolved when sucked on. I like to make my own from THIS website.

-Bite sized homemade muffins (with pureed veggies inside, no processed sugars or refined flours)

-Cut up soft pancakes (can add lots of veggie purees to pancakes too!)

-Green smoothies

-Oatmeal

The important thing is not to stress when making meals for your baby, and more importantly don't make separate meals. Take apart the main meal that the family is eating and feed it to your baby. So if your meal is a stir fry, set aside some rice/quinoa steamed veggies and a protein without all the sauces for your baby to have. Make it simple! :-)

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There are so many food options when it comes to feeding the babies, and I could have writen a really super long post...But then it would take me longer than a few days to write. :-) These tips are just the basics to get you thinking. Consult your doctor first before giving your baby any types of food, and do your research. I have read tons of baby food books which have truly helped me out early on, and have given me the ideas I have needed!

If you think I missed anything, or there is something you think should go on this list and that has helped you please leave a comment below and share! :-)

My next post will be toddler food!! I have tons of recipes for that, pictures of food ideas, and well...lot's of messy face pictures! Thanks for your patience during these next few days!

Kids Food Week Day One: WHY and Where to Begin

I've thought long and hard about how I wanted to start off these series of post for Kids Food Week, and wondering which would be the best way I should approach the subject...

I threw around the idea of quoting facts and statistics of the rate for childhood obesity and diabetes, and the reality of what an unhealthy diet would do to a child...

But, then I figured I might scare some people, and I should probably go light on some of the statistics, and just stick to helpful hints and what not...Yet, I wasn't quite sure about that approach either because I really wanted my readers to understand the importance of raising healthy children, and I'm not a fan of sugar coating things... (or anything for that matter.)

So, here's the deal.

There will be some stats, some facts, some real life, and a lot of helpful ideas a long the way. If you get scared, don't run and hide. Just take a deep breath, then a huge bite of dark chocolate, and relax.

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It's always hard to know where to begin when it comes to eating healthy, let alone feeding your family healthily too. Sometimes it can be overwhelming as to where to start, what to eat, and frankly, "Where the heck do I begin."

But, before we focus on the how, I think it's extremely important to focus on the WHY first...

To me, the answer isn't difficult. Simply put:

I love my daughter.

No parent likes to watch their child suffer, whether it be a sickness or just a bad day, we all want what is best for our children.

One of the first impressions I had when my daughter was born, was that she was so innocent and pure. Everything perfect about her in every way.

And although I enjoyed having her as a new born, I knew that eventually she was going to grow, and she needed my help.

Now picture this, that new born baby 18 months later working her way up to enjoying solids and big girl food. Still so innocent and pure, growing each and every day in the healthy and strong body that God created for her...

Imagine that pure and healthy body sitting down for lunch, at McDonalds...

Chicken nuggets for protein.

Fries for veggies

Apple wedges for fruit

and Milk for calcium.

Only instead of the above, what she is really getting is:

Chemicals, unhealthy amounts of fat, ridiculous amounts of sugar, additives and preservatives damaging the most valuable components of her healthy body...

Now imagine this:

Meal after meal, whether she is eating at McDonalds or not, she continues to eat foods with little to no nutritional value, foods that are frozen and packaged, foods that are mass produced, more animal products and not even a trace of veggies/whole grains/legumes...

What is the result:

15 years later does she have diabetes? Is she over weight? Is she insecure about her weight/out side appearance? Does she have the energy a 15 year girl should have? Is she active? Is she sick all the time? Is she happy? Is she taking medicine? Does she have digestion problems? Acne?

Probably the answer to a lot of those questions is Yes...

But more importantly:

Does she view her body as a temple...or a trash can. 

Now that we have the why, where do we begin?

I know first hand how gosh darn difficult it is to getting a child to eat healthy, and trust me, I feel like quitting a lot of times.

But the one thing that keeps me motivated more than anything is my "WHY"...

I love my daughter more than anything, and I want to keep her around forever. I will do everything in my power to keep her healthy and safe, and that means giving her body the proper nutrition it needs to grow, thrive, and endure.

I truly value the bodies we have been given, and that God created, and I want to do my best to respect it and treat it as a temple...

So first,

Establish YOUR "Why":

Whether it comes to trying to get yourself to eat healthy or your children, each takes work, and it's far from easy. You have to have establish a WHY so you can be motivated to follow through each and everyday. Really understand why it's important for your children to eat healthy, and don't just say because it's important...Get deep down and truly understand WHY it's important, and not just that it is. Whether it be because you hate to see your child unable to focus in school, or sleep at night. Or that you wish your teenage daughter was more motivated, or felt better about her appearance. Or maybe it's because you really value the body that you have been given in this life, and you know it's of greatest importance to treat it right...

Whatever your reasoning, keep that in your mind.

Next comes the food!

Through out the week we will be talking about the following subjects:

-Stocking up your kitchen with the right ingredients

-Breakfast/lunch/dinner ideas

-Healthy Snacking

-Healthy tips on eating out

etc...

If there is anything you want to know more about and would like me to address it this week, leave a comment in the comment section below, tweet me HERE, write a comment on my FACEBOOK wall HERE, or email me at thedivadish@yahoo.com

I look forward to the following week!! See you tomorrow with ideas of stocking up your pantry!! ;-)