Let me begin by saying, I am not an expert and you should definitely talk with your pediatrician before starting your baby on solids and introducing new foods. This approach is a combination of several approaches, methods, and a lot of careful research.
If you’ve read my French Kids Eat Everything posts, you know that we got off on the wrong foot with Gigi when we introduced solids and it wasn’t until just before she turned two that we started on the right path (for us) in regards to her eating habits. In a nutshell, we would offer her a new food, she would reject it, we’d fill her up with rice cereal mixed with formula; that continued on as she got older with finger food, texture, new foods… She would reject ______ and we’d make scrambled eggs or pasta.
We knew that we wanted to take a different approach this time around. We knew (from reading and applying the French Kids method) that it takes more than a couple tries for kids to accept a new food, and I wanted to find a way to introduce foods to Lulu that wasn’t overwhelming, and we might have less of a chance of her rejecting certain foods. So I started researching different methods. I read about a lot about the way the French approach feeding their babies since the way they approach feeding their children works so well for our family. I looked at the American approach, and I talked with people about the Baby Led Weaning and Real Food for Mother and Baby approaches. I loved the idea of the doing these whole food approaches but two of the main signs that your baby is a good candidate to use these methods are that they have doubled their birth weight (which Lulu hasn’t) and that they are sitting up on their own (Lulu is not). We are only planning to use purées and “baby food” until Lulu is ready to transition to whole foods.
The French Approach is to first introduce foods as a thin broth or soup and to blend the food with a bit of breastmilk or formula, then slowly work towards a pure form of the food, then to begin combining the different purées. The New York Times also wrote another good article on this approach. I decided to use this approach to ease Lulu into the different world of flavors. Instead of mixing the purées with breastmilk (I have hard enough time making enough to keep a little in the freezer) I opted to buy a container of Earth’s Best Organic Formula. I also bought a little Earth’s Best Rice Cereal and Earth’s Best Oatmeal Cereal. Before I had thought we would skip the cereals altogether but, after lots of research, it was clear that the added iron was something worth including in her diet. I vowed I would only buy a couple boxes of cereal and one container of formula, enough to get some foods introduced before ditching them both. From what I read, the French often blend the vegetables with a little russet potato as they move forward (instead of rice cereal).
When introducing a new food to Lu, I usually offer her a very small amount (a couple tablespoons) mixed with formula because she generally hates it the first time. It is important to note that every time Lulu tries a new food she screams and gets very mad. But by the second, sometimes third, try she’s usually on board. The only food she hasn’t warmed up to (yet) is russet potatoes. This is consistent with everything even foods I think she’ll love! I just stick with it and keep offering it to her. When I offer her a new food I usually do it at lunch time, that way if she doesn’t eat much she can catch up at dinner, and if she happens to have a reaction or tummy ache it’s during the day and not at night.
As far as which foods to introduce, and when, I combined the American approach and the French approach. Generally, it is agreed upon that babies should avoid certain foods until 12 months as well as foods that are really high in fiber and sodium. According to the reading I did, it’s okay to introduce both wheat and protein at 7 months, as well as plain whole milk yogurt but be sure to ask your family doctor before introducing new foods.
I buy all organic food for Lulu.
Making baby food purées at home is really easy:
I simply used a medium sized pot with a tight fitting lid, a simple steamer basket, and my Hamilton blender (I have a Vitamix on my wishlist!). By using the blender I was ensuring that her purées were really fine, without any lumps, as we have started to introduce more texture in her food I am using a 4 Cup Cuisinart Food Processor which leaves a bit more texture in the food. You could also invest in a Beaba Babycook if you thought that would work better for your lifestyle. All of the fruits and vegetables were peeled and seeded when necessary. Wash all the food thoroughly before steaming.
For the vegetables: simply add a few cups of water to your pot along with the steamer basket, toss in your cubed veggies, bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the veggies are tender and easily pierced with a fork, transfer the veggies to a blender, add as much of the steaming water as needed until the mixture purées easily.
For the fruits: simmer in a bit of water until they are soft and purée the lot. I buy premade organic applesauce (inexpensive) and premade organic puréed mango (it’s hard to find organic mangos) for convenience.
I then transfer the purées to Tovolo ice cube trays (in large and small), freeze, and store the cubes in Ziploc bags. I also use these OXO Tot storage containers, this set has both 2oz and 4oz containers. These Munchkin Spoons are inexpensive and work great. We love both these Baby Bjorn “pelican” Bibs, and these Aden+Anais Bibs. We have the Boon Flair Pedestal high chair. It has a sleek design, the height can be adjusted to fit at the table, and it’s easy to clean! Another amazing (but more expensive) highchair is the Stokke Tripp Trapp highchair. It’s beautiful but a bit out of our price range.
By puréeing the foods and freezing them seperately, I can easily combine them when we are introducing a new flavor combination.
Solid Foods to Introduce at Six Months…
green beans (trimmed)
spinach (I buy a tub of pre-washed baby spinach)
zucchini (peeled and seeded)
summer squash (peeled and seeded)
sweet potatoes (peeled)
winter squash (peeled and seeded)
russet potatoes (peeled)
beets (peeled) *red beets are pictured above but golden are great as well, and less likely to stain clothes, sheets and cloth diapers!
pear (peeled and cored)
apples (peeled and cored)
stone fruits (peeled, stone discarded)
banana (no need to steam)
Lulu’s favorite from this first round were: leeks, carrots, all squash, pears, sweet potatoes.
Solid Foods to Introduce at Seven Months on…
avocados (peeled, stone discarded)
peas (I buy bags of frozen peas)
celeriac/celery root (peeled)
tomatoes (seeded and cored)
pineapple (peeled and trimmed)
We are still working on introducing this list. Lulu seems to be doing well with more texture and we’ve been offering her some finger foods and bits of our dinner as well. It’s also great after the flavors are introduced to start using other cooking methods, like roasting!
A typical day of eating for Lulu (at 8 months) looks like this:
7am wakes up and nurses
8am breakfast of puréed fruit or sweet potatoes, a little rice cereal with formula, and a little yogurt, a little cereal/finger food
9am nurses (morning nap)
12pm lunch of puréed vegetables
1pm nurses (afternoon nap)
5pm dinner of puréed vegetables, sometimes protein in the form of roast chicken breast, a little fruit purée if she’s still hungry
7pm nurses (bed time)
*once Lu started sleeping through the night (she only wakes once between 3 and 5 am) she started eating so much more food during the day.
Below I have printable feeding charts both for the first month and beyond. You can see the six month one here:
There are spaces to write down which foods you are introducing on any given week next to a number, along with listed days and space to write the coordinating number. This way you can just write 1, 3, 1+2, etc. and notes rather than having to write out the food name over and over!
One final thing, have fun! I am taking so much more time doing this with Lulu and it makes it so much more fun. I have learned (from using the French Kids Eat Everything method) not to take it personally when she rejects a food or cries. We just move on to something else and revisit foods regularly.
Great Resources (if you want to do more reading or research):
Baby Led Weaning
Real Food for Mother and Baby
French Kids Eat Everything (book) (posts on my blog) (Karen’s blog)
French Foodie Baby
Wholesome Baby Food
Start Fresh by Tyler Florence