I’ve been meaning to talk about Vada’s food eating for. like. ever.
You know I love to take some photos of food, and share recipes, and promote healthy-ish eating. Kid nutrition is probably in my top 3 “causes I bitch about” along with yah know, gender equally and LGBTQ rights. It’s something that OBVIOUSLY not enough people research or put time into, and I think it’s so so important. Proper nutrition and good eating habits will shape Vada’s long-term health, so we are on top of it!
(WARNING, I’M CLIMBING ON MY SOAPBOX)
Before Vada was born I researched Baby Led Weaning (which I wish was called something else, because it has nothing to do with weaning) it’s the method of feeding babies solid food, that the whole family is eating, instead of purees or baby food. Basically they eat what you eat, maybe softer smaller pieces, but they learn to gnaw and suck and chew real food. I watched a ton of YouTube videos and read a lot of Pro and Con (and the in between) blogs about it. I also researched what kind of foods babies can have, what are allergens we should watch out for, what were good starter food, easy and nutritionally dense. I also researched when to start solids, how that effect nursing and milk consumption, and all that good stuff. I like to research, and I really don’t understand people who don’t when it comes to their kids. That probably makes me sound kind of snotty, but its true. RESEARCH WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR KID! Don’t just buy whatever is at Target, or use whatever you mom and grandma used, don’t do whatever it is your doctor tells you. I hate that so many pediatricians tell people to start with rice cereal, what the hell is nutritional about rice cereal? Nothing! Its total processed crap! There are so many better option, and I think its parents responsibility to research that stuff. Be informed. Know better, do better. Feeding kids healthy food is NOT one of the mommy-war points, it’s not breast milk vs formula, it’s not organic vs not, it’s not baby wearing vs stroller, it’s not even vaccination vs not. No one can argue that they are against healthy food, there is no argument. So get the sugar and the processed foods out of your kids diet, really don’t ever let it be there. Get it out of their lunchbox, out of their birthday parties, and out of their heads. KIDS ARE SUGAR OBSESSED, unless they don’t even know what candy is. This is a battle I’m willing to fight. When Vada goes to a new nanny the first thing I say is “She doesn’t eat any sugar” bam, conversation over, its pretty clear. If Vada goes to birthday party, she’s not getting a cupcake, sure I’m the mean mom, but she’s 1, she doesn’t even know or care as long as she gets some food, and I ALWAYS have a healthy snack on hand. Not that Vada hasn’t had sugar, she has. I gave her a marshmallow to sit on Santa’s lap. I’ve also given her a little bite of pie and whip cream, and she had part of a rice krispie treat at her birthday. This is because as important as I believe the no-sugar rule for children, I also know I can’t be perfect forever and always, and that sugar is part of our culture, and I don’t want her to miss out on some of those fun things. But again, she’s one, she doesn’t even know or care, so until she does care, nope no cupcake at birthday parties, no juice box at play dates, and no candy at Halloween.
So now that I’m done bitching about what I don’t let Vada eat, lets talk about what I do let Vada eat, and ways I avoid junk food with her. We started Vada around 5 months, in hindsight I might have waited until 6 months, but I’m not getting worked up over it. We started with occasional tastes of food every few days. At first I watched for allergies, but I didn’t wait a week between foods because she has never shown any signs of allergies, and no one in our family has food allergies, so I was pretty lax about it. First foods we did were banana, hard boiled egg yolk and avocado. I gave her hunks that she could hold and eat with her little hands, or that I could help her take a bite.
-Hardboiled Egg Yolk
-Steamed (very very soft) broccoli
-Canned (homemade, no syrup) pears
-Homemade Sweet Potato Fries
-Mum Mums (store-bought snack food. So easy on the go!)
Once Vada got some teeth things change a bit because she could take bites. This made things a little scarier because she could bite off chunks of vegetables instead of just sucking on them. It also made things more fun because she stated to learn to chew! This opened our food world up a lot. We also stopped worrying about allergies as she had shown no sign to any of the danger foods. We also started letting her eat whatever we were eating at restaurant, like sushi, ribs to chew on, anything she hold on to and gnaw on. Vada has only ever choked on a tortilla chip (and that was like 2 weeks ago!) she was not a gagger, and had she been I may have had a harder time with this feeding method. Please research the HUGE difference between gagging and choking though, they are different things, and one is normal and safe (Good job, get the food out!) and one is scary and dangerous (do you know how to clear food from a choking babies airways?)
-Scrambled Eggs, hardboiled eggs
-Peaches, plums, banana, watermelon, berries…etc.
-All cooked vegetable: peas, beans, asparagus, broccoli, etc
-Turkey or shredded chicken
-dried fruit (no sugar added)
By 9 months I decided to start making sure she had at least 2 meals, if not three meals a day. In hopes to comfortably wean her (from using milk as her main food source. I don’t encourage weaning from the breast until you both are ready) around a year. This was a little challenging for me, because I don’t always eat 3 meals at the same time, I found it easy to forget to do a meal, and because she was still getting enough milk to really sustain her, it wasn’t like she would go hungry if we skipped lunch. So I tried to adjust our schedule and focus more on meal time. I got a small divided plate and made sure she has lots of veggies, fruits and meats, and would let her feed her self completely. She loved it!
FAVORITE FOODS 9-12 MONTHS:
-Everything. Seriously, everything.
-Kale, Collard Greens, Spinach (sauteed)
-Ground turkey, meatballs
-Eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, grilled onions
-Apples, figs, grapes,
-Wafles, pancakes (topped with cinnamon and coconut oil
-Brown Rice, pasta, beans, quinoa
-Fish, meatloaf, gyros
-Grilled cheese, soup, tacos
-Plain Greek Yogurt
Now at 13 months, Vada eats it all. We waited until a year to do any honey or peanut butter. She now sometimes has a peanut butter (or almond butter) and banana on whole wheat sandwich, which is easy and fun. She can drink smoothies too. I try to do plain greek yogurt a couple times a week, but I wont lie, Ive NEVER spoon fed her so I find the process of spooning her greek yogurt to be terribly boring #lazymom . Sometimes I just let her eat yogurt or applesauce with her hands, whatever. We’ve also given her tuna, and egg salad, which were both a hit. We sometimes do convenience “kids food” too, here are some of my tips for things like that:
NO SYRUP: I do not put any sweetener on Vada’s waffles or pancakes. When they are warm I smear a little Organic coconut oil and do a shake of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice on them. I sometimes add banana, pumpkin puree or pear to the batter to make them more interesting too. You can also top them with unsweetened applesauce or yogurt and berries.
NO JAM AND HONEY: Both are basically sugar, and right now she doesn’t have a sweet pallet, so she doesn’t care if things are sweet. Vada is happy to eat plain nut butter, or plain yogurt. If I feel like making yogurt more interesting I will put some thawed frozen organic berries in it. For nut-butter sandwiches I throw thinly sliced banana or pear on it.
NO JUICE: Vada only drinks Organic Whole Milk and Water. Sometimes I let her have sips of my sparkling water, or I squeeze grapefruit into her water, or float some frozen blueberries, but 99% of the time she is happy with water. I make sure she has water all day long at her disposal.
NO CUPCAKES: At birthday parties, if everyone is having cupcakes I’ll give Vada at Lara bar, or an organic fruit leather. At her birthday I made sugar-free banana muffins topped with cream cheese mixed with a little honey. She loved it.
NO KIDS MENU: Kids menus are awful! AWFUL! They usually offer buttered noodles, mac n cheese, grilled cheese, chicken strips, or pb&j. Total GARBAGE! There are a few restaurants in town that have awesome menus. Boundary Bay has the BEST I can get a piece of salmon, grapes and mashed potatoes for Vada for $5! A lot of restaurants that serve breakfast foods have good options. Eggs and steamed veggies, or a kids teddy bear pancake (hold the syrup and powdered sugar). I hate when I go somewhere and ask for steamed veggies, or Avocado, or whatever, and they act like I’m crazy and offer me nothing. I am 100% willing to pay for food for my kid, you should have at least SOMETHING I can feed her that isn’t cheesy bread. Gross. So I try to have healthy things on me. String cheese, cut up fruit, some leftovers, just in case.
SPICES AND FLAVOR: I’ve never thought babies needed bland food. I don’t give her things that are super spicy, but herbs, and spices are so fun and wonderful! This is a great post on how to spice up your babies food with mint and vanilla, and ginger and garlic, and ALL THE FLAVOR!
WEIRD VEGETABLES: Vada doesn’t even know that “kids don’t like their vegetable” why would she? At every single meal I offer vegetables. There isn’t a single vegetable I wouldn’t offer her unless it is too spicy (jalapeno, etc) or too hard (raw carrots, etc) or raw (lettuce and other raw vegetables she struggles with). Vada eats dark leafy greens sautéed and cut up small at least 5 times a week. She eats onions, and beets and peppers and eggplant and all the vegetables you are supposed to “hide” in kids foods. Nope, not hiding them. They are a huge focus of our meals, nothing to hide, we enjoy them, we appreciate them. She doesn’t know any different.
Now we are working on silverware, and real cups. They are messy, but she loves practicing. I’m hoping her love of good food grows and grows. Right now I wouldn’t even say she has a favorite food, she loves all food. She loves to sit in her high chair and be apart of meal time. She doesn’t throw food on the floor, and although she is messy as hell, she eats so much. Plus she is tall and healthy and strong and so so smart, so it must be working. I cant recommend enough offering up all kinds of “adult” food to your baby. Throw away your own preconceived ideas about what kids eat, about what you didn’t like as a child, about what you like to be sweet, those are things you have learned over a lifetime of eating, your baby doesn’t have any ideas about that stuff. They are little sponges that will love and absorb what feels good to them, and I promise a healthy diet, and healthy offerings will create a healthy eater. I know some kids aren’t very interested in food, or go through periods where all they want is noodles, but that doesn’t mean you cant keep offering good foods. Picky eaters aren’t going to starve themselves (please note the importance of researching eating disorders! And keeping on top of a possible resistant eater). Give them time, and options. I read somewhere that its a parents job to decide WHAT a child eats, and its a child job to decided HOW MUCH. Keep that in mind, and happy meal planning!
A few blogs i love about healthy eaters:
–What Marlow Eats (Oh Dear Drea) Great for Vegan and Veg families!
–100 Days of Real Food: School Lunches!
–My Lovely Little Lunch Box: Baby Led Weaning Recipes