Wednesday, July 16, 2008

what solids to feed infants

Now that Thumper is more than 9 months old, I feel that I've got more of a handle on the whole baby food issue. I spoke w/ my pediatrician during our 9 month check up and she said that you feed your baby breast milk on demand as usual and if they're still hungry after that, give them solids.

Around 4-5 months, I was in a hurry to start Thumper on solids. I have since decided that there really is no hurry. They *will* show interest when they're ready. The clue is when they're not just trying to touch what you're eating when you're eating, or staring at you intently, but almost being fussy when you're eating by yourself and they're not a part of it. Of course, you could also breastfeed them, and then offer them solids to see if they will eat it. Definitely start w/ breastfeeding first though. Sometimes I get lazy and forget and then I notice a drop in my supply.

So, what to feed them? I think it depends on baby's development and how lazy you are. The laziest method is to of course buy baby food. That's the fastest. We're very lazy but we almost always cook dinner at home so it actually hasn't been that bad cooking for Thumper while I cook dinner. I don't know if it really saves you money esp if you go the organic food route w/ homemade food. But it saves you having to recycle lots and lots of glass jars. Yes, I'm THAT lazy. I recycle but I tend to just reduce instead as then I don't even have to do that. Thumper also doesn't have teeth. So at 9 months, we're still feeding her pureed food. But another baby I know, at 8 months, can stuff crumbled chocolate chip cookies into her mouth because she has two teeth.

So here's what I did. I started out by buying super duper organic apple/pear at the grocery store. By super duper, I mean it's in the refridgerated section. There are no additives like Vitamin C or citric acid in the food. It's pure pureed apples/pear. That gave me containers to use once I started making my own food. Another way is to ask friends to donate to you their used baby food jars. Beware though! They're not supposed to be heated up or frozen as there may be microscopic cracks from doing that.

Since I try not to buy anything, we used existing equipment at home. These include
  • grater
  • blender with the smoothie making attachment
  • rice cooker
What to cook?
In various websites and baby books, there are always "rules" for what you need to feed your baby to make sure they get their nutrients. I don't know how you can do that while you have to work and take care of the house. I just can't keep track of everything and remember if Thumper had her vegies or her fruit and who knows what else for the day. And she eats such a tiny portion that unless I feed her lil bits of everything, I don't see how she can get a variety of food. And that's too much work. Yes I"m lazy. The good thing is that breastmilk provides a lot of the stuff for you already, and the food is extra.

But I don't feel that what I'm feeding Thumper is bad. She gets no junk food, and nothing is cooked in oil. She doesn't get processed food like Cherrio. (Yes I'm against Cherrio). We feed her rice (starch), fruit, and vegies if we have them. That's your basic food groups right there. I mix and match and try not to feed her all starch or all fruit or all vegi if she's eating more than 4 oz at a time.

Month 5-7
For awhile, all we feed Thumper was apples and bananas. Apples are the easiest thing to make as all you do is grate it into a bowl, and dilute with a bit of water. Some people say you have to seriously dilute as it's too acidic? But I did my research and it seems that some people say it and other don't. Bananas are simple too as you just puree it in a blender.

Month 7-8
After awhile, we got tired of just apples and bananas. So we started on smoothies. We make lots and lots of banana + pesticide free strawberry smoothies. It's usually 1 banana + 3-4 strawberries. They're so easy to puree and keep for a few days in the fridge and you can serve them cold. It's what I do when I don't have time. Beware that strawberry is one of the fruits w/ lots of pesticides so try to get organic if you can. Other things we've tried are pureed carrots, banana + skinless organic necterine smoothie, papaya puree, tofu, tofu custard, and sweet potato.

Bananas or papayas are great base for any smoothie you want to make. I've found the necterine have lots of water in them so if you need to dilute any fruit to make it runnier, you can use that.

Month 8-9

Eventually, I decided that I may be starving Thumper by not feeding her a variety of food. So we finally started her on rice pouridge. Rice pourridge is basically rice cereal and it's what I ate while growing up. Rice pouridge is easy to make too if you eat rice almost every day. Cook rice as you normally would in a rice cooker. Then scoop a bit into a pot, add enough water so that it covers it and then some, then simmer for as long as you like, stirring occasionally. Usually we stop when most of the water has boiled down and the rice is gruel like. You then just puree it, put it into individual 4 oz serving bowls and you can serve it over a few days. I've started adding ground cooked sesame seed into the pouridge to give it a bit more calcium. Sesame is a good source of calcium if you don't drink milk.

Other things we tried this last 2 months are organic chicken thigh, carrots + peas + corn puree, necterine puree, carrots, mashed up egg whites. This are all in addition to the staple of rice and banana + strawberry smoothie we inevitably feed her. The chicken were a bit interesting. I had to add quite a bit of water to get it to a very creamy consistency, otherwise it was too dry and I had to only feed Thumper a teeny bit at a time in case she choke. I did not add chicken stock as people suggested in recipes because it's too salty.

The things that I have found did NOT work as baby food are: pure corn by itself, and watermelon. My mom has also said no beans as its makes you have gas and thus can make the baby uncomfortable.

I think that if you eat a variety of semi-healthy food daily and you feed the same variety to your kid, you can't really go wrong.

How to prepare homemade baby food?
In general, I basically set aside a bit of what I'm eating, or use whatever vegetable I have in the fridge, boil, then puree, adding water if necessary. That's it. Everything can be pureed and fed to baby. Sometimes the quantity is so tiny that we can't puree, in which case I mash by hand. (Yes, too lazy to go shopping and buy a food mill). That is what I did w/ the egg whites: mashing and cutting by hand. It wasn't that bad. And if you feed a bit at a time to the baby they shouldn't choke.

I tend to reheat anything non-fruit dishes by putting them in a rice bowl and steaming it in the rice cooker for 2-5 minutes. A steamer would be fine too. It's not really extra work as I can do that while I'm cooking dinner.

How much?
We put things them all in the 4 oz containers we got in the beginning and that gives us an idea of how much we're feeding Thumper. Supposedly, during introduction of new food, you want to add 1 Tbsp a day and watch for reactions. I'm on mailing lists where people keep precise records of how much they're feeding their baby. But I'm too lazy for that and I just use to stop feeding when they turn their head away method.

Usually, we make sure to have the rice or more substantial vegies or meat for dinner and leave the fruit smoothies for lunch or snack. I feed Thumper milk only at 6, milk at 10, lunch at 2, then dinner at 6. That's just what I try to do but the times aren't set in stone.

In the beginning, we did 1 meal a day. Then a month or two later, I arbitrarely decided to up it to 2. Right now, when Thumper eats her food, she chomps it down, even w/ all the milk I'm feeding her. So I think it's time to up it to 3 meals a day. For each meal, it's milk first (when I remember), then 4 oz of rice or whatever is the main dish, then if she wants more, whatever we have left in the fridge in whatever portion she likes.

Yes, a very "whatever" goes way of feeding!

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