BERF: Finger Foods

July 10, 2013

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Shortly after Mazen developed his pincer grasp we moved from mostly purees to mostly finger foods. Finger foods are much messier, but they are fun because M can feed himself while I make and eat my own meals. We’ve had a ton of fun watching what he likes and doesn’t like. It does make me more nervous about choking, but I just make sure pieces are small and things that are on the harder side get smashed with a fork first. He has gotten so much better at chewing! Now at 10 months when I start to load up his tray he crawls over to his high chair, pulls up and goes “Mmmmmmm!!!”

I try to give him a protein, fruit and/or veggie at every meal and aim for a variety of 3-4 foods, but sometimes avocado counts as veggie. Frozen veggies continue to be the easiest way to get something to him quickly since they require so much less prep. We do offer him pieces of our meals, but a lot of the time I just save some of ours to feed him the following night because our dinner might still be in the oven when he is ready to eat. The only foods I avoid are honey, fluid cow’s milk and desserts (although I’ll admit he has tasted a few fun treats already!) We haven’t tried peanut butter yet, but we will soon. Our pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to try any food. {See this post on introducing foods + allergies.}

Current favorite foods include avocado, banana, flakes of fish, scrambled egg (yes, the whole thing), shredded cheese, steamed broccoli, peas, beans, raspberries, butternut squash, sweet potato, beef (ground or very tender flakes) and quiche.

He doesn’t seem to like blueberries or blackberries very much. They usually end up on the floor!

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Finger foods also make eating outside of the home a little easier because I can give him bits of whatever I’m eating. Like on this trip to Whole Foods he used a lid as a placemat and enjoyed peas, fish, cauliflower, beans and more.

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After that I bought some of these stick-on placemats that are awesome for restaurants.

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I still like to give him some purees – like yogurt and oatmeal – but they are a little harder now that he is used to finger foods.

I’ve been photographing some of his meals as I shoot my own, so here are a bunch of real life examples of Mazen’s first meals:

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We have fruit + egg most days for breakfast. It’s his favorite!

Scrambled egg, kamut puffs (which I discontinued when I realized they were coming back out whole!), banana

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Berries, egg, banana

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Peeled plum, egg, banana

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Avocado, steamed broccoli, wild salmon

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Broccoli, puffs, sweet potato

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Avocado plus green beans, chicken and smashed garbanzo beans leftover from chicken + bean bake

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No Bull Burger, plum, avocado

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Butternut squash, peas, trout

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Butternut, peas, raspberry, avocado

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More butternut and peas (made a big batch that week) with beef short rib! He loved the beef

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A very green broccoli, pea + avocado combo

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I wanted to get some of our garden greens into him once so I blended them up with potatoes. When chilled, he could pick bits of this up with his fingers

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The same with these mashed potatoes – when they were cold they made perfect little nuggets! Served with avocado, cheese and some chilled grits cubes

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Cheese, blackberry, avocado

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And finally, cheese, peas, broccoli and quiche

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Two other fun developments we have been rooting for for a while:

He figured out how to drink from a sippy! You might see some in the photos above, and I didn’t know which kind would win, but the Zoli Bot cups did. I think ultimately it was easier for him to get the straw than it was to figure out how to tip a strawless cup up, although he has sort of figured that out too just not as well. He has water with meals and it’s so cute to see him pick up the cup himself and take a sip.

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Trick #2: Matt taught him to get puffs out of his snack trap!! We still use the Happy Family puffs (the green ones) and Cheerios for on-the-go snacks.

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What are some foods that make excellent baby finger foods that I might be overlooking?

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alexa July 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm

We’ve been doing pasta for our 8.5 month old little guy, and he loves it. I just serve it plain and he shovels it in. He also enjoys Mum Mum crackers from time to time and pieces of waffle. I feed him things besides carbs too, you just already have those ideas in this post. =)

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2 Kate @ Smart Eating for Kids July 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm

If/when he does pasta, the wagon wheels or fiore (looks like a flower) are the best! All the little holes in the shapes are perfect for little fingers to stick through. I was able to find whole wheat versions online, but they can be hard to come by in the store.

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3 Chelsie July 10, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Your son is adorable. Mine is 13 months old and wants to feed himself as well. When Graham resisted being fed because he didn’t want help with a spoon, we moved from baby oatmeal to your banana/oatmeal bake for the first time. He LOVED it, and I have since sent your recipe on to other mamas (whose babies and daddies also loved it). Graham also loves meatloaf (I control the quality of the meat and add extra veggies) and lentils mixed with veggies. The lentils are a little messier. Love seeing your ideas on finger foods. Thanks.

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4 KERF July 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I Just did the oatmeal bake yesterday and he liked it! Thanks for sending it around!

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5 Nicole July 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm

We have a Zoli too! Lucy gets how to suck through the straw, but she’s not always good about swallowing. Babies are so messy! Mainly we do water, but I’ve tried with breastmilk a couple times.

We learned the hard way last weekend that Lucy can’t have strawberries. She broke out in hives! I hope she outgrows that. Same with the egg white and peanut “allergies” she tested positive for when we were trying to figure out what might be triggering her eczema outbreaks. Otherwise, the kid eats just about anything you offer her: hummus, pita, cheese, banana, etc. I wish I did more homemade stuff (which may get easier now that we can do chunkier things), but the pouches are SO CONVENIENT, especially to send along to daycare.

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6 Carolyn July 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm

My son liked pureed veggies much better than he seems to like solid veggies. But, it’s hard now to get him to eat anything from a spoon because he wants to play with/chew on the spoon. Also, he can drink out of a straw cup, but won’t for more than a sip or two and then he either gets mad when you keep offering it or bangs it around. To transition from bottles I’m just switching from the regular nipple to the sippy nipple on his Nuk bottles.

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7 Eileen July 10, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Cooked beans are easy to pick up and chew. We also give our guy lots of salmon, which is his fave, and protein with every meal. He loves any kind of meat (chicken, pulled pork, etc). Pancakes and waffles are a huge hit. You can give little pieces of a quesadilla or sandwich too. Rice cakes are also well liked.

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8 Sarah July 11, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Oh, yeah, beans are awesome! My daughter ate kidney beans (cooked from dry, or straight from the can – there’s even at least one canned brand without salt or BPA in the can liner now) like they were going out of style when she was a baby. At 2, she still loves them.

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9 Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries July 10, 2013 at 4:50 pm

How old was Mazen when you started feeding him solids/baby food?

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10 KERF July 10, 2013 at 6:39 pm

6 months

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11 Laura July 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Thanks for all the great ideas! To add to the list, my little ones also enjoy all types of beans, frozen berries, tofu cubes and small kale chips! My littlest one is 13 months, so just a tiny bit ahead in terms of eating chunky things (especially the berries)…..

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12 Erin July 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm

My girls loved roast chicken! They gobbled that up and still do. I did a lot of pasta back then because it was an easy filler that I knew they would eat, but I wish I had done more veggies instead.

Pancakes, waffles, toast, and oatmeal were all big breakfast hits for us. My girls always had yogurt at lunch (plain flavored with a fruit puree). Not necessarily a finger food, but good to learn spoon control.

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13 Lauren @ The Highlands Life July 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I’ve mentioned it before but we are trying so hard to get our 9 month old to feed himself. That stinker loves being spoon fed and loves his purées still even though he knows how to chew. He is just now getting his first tooth in so hopefully he’ll want to break his food up more and more. Just waiting for him to grasp the concept that he can feed himself.

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14 Kimberly July 10, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Mazen is a cutie! Do you give him fresh fruit or frozen? How do you go about unfreezing the veggies/fruit? Thank you so much for a great post!

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15 KERF July 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Mostly fresh fruit. I thaw veggies by cooking them in just a bit of water in the microwave

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16 Kelley July 10, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Hi! Loved this post! I am a couple of months ahead and just did a post about this recently if you’re interested!

http://kelocity.com/2013/07/08/baby-gourmet/

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17 KERF July 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I will !

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18 Chrissy July 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm

We actually did overnight oats with just oats/greek yogurt pretty early on! It’s so thick, she could pick it up with her hands. But admittedly, we also did baby-led weaning so everything is/was pretty messy (and a finger food). I overnight oats were ok though… :-)

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19 Lindsey July 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Pasta is great! We did rotini shaped pasta and I would use a veggie puree as the “sauce.” I would usually throw in some shredded cheese and even an egg yolk (before he started eating the whites). Sounds kinda gross, but my son ate that combo a bunch around M’s age!

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20 Jessica July 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Like some others said my little guy will be a year next week and he loves all kinds of beans. I also make homemade whole wheat waffles or buy Vans brand and he loves them with a little cinnamon.

I will make a big pot of soup, usually a minestrone type soup and let him eat all the goodies from it. Mini meatloaves with shredded zucchini and carrots always goes over well.
I also make potato pancakes with grated sweet or regular potato and zucchini.

My son doesn’t seem to be a big fan of pasta which is strange to me because so many other little ones seem to love it.

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21 Leesa July 10, 2013 at 9:14 pm

once my guys got the two top and two bottom teeth they LOVED to chew on a small piece of corn on the cob. in the beginning i cut off the very outside edge so they could get to the meat of the corn, but after a couple of them they could do it all on their own. plus it keeps them entertained for clean up of the meal as well=)

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22 Julie July 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm

My daughter is a few days younger than Mazen and she eats much the same things as him. In addition, two of her favourite fruits are mango and watermelon. I’ve also given her little pieces of pasta a couple of times and I made her french toast one day which she seemed to really enjoy (wait until she tries it with maple syrup!). I’m going to try your blended greens with potato idea – thanks! I have to say, I’m finding the whole feeding the baby solids thing immensely satisfying and joyful. :)

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23 Michellle July 10, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Leah will be 10 months in a week. She hated purees, so finger foods have been so much better for everyone. In addition to everything you have mentioned, she loves French toast for breakfast! Also, she gobbles up any kind of pasta. I like the mini fusilli because of the way it holds the sauce, (usually ground beef and pureed veg). We struggle a little with veggies, (unless you count avocado and potatoes), but I recently found she loves sautéed greens, especially spinach. Leah is the same as Mazen in that she picks out all the protein before touching a veggie!

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24 Andrea July 11, 2013 at 12:03 am

My daughter Tatum is just a few days older than Mazen, and it’s been fun to follow along with you! We really like bits of PB&J sandwich with a soft bread (I know you said you’re getting ready to try peanut butter with him) and also, grapes cut into fourths are a fun snack, which she loves.

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25 Jenny July 11, 2013 at 1:25 am

Kath,

I used to use those placemats, but then I got this: http://www.fisher-price.com/en_US/brands/babygear/products/27475

My mum got it at a garage sale for $5. It’s amazing! You can wear it over your shoulder and I take it everywhere. Playmates, coffee shops, dinners and camping! And you don’t have to chuck anything in the garbage. I can’t stop raving about it. Three of my girl friends have bought one as well because they are so great. It doesn’t leave my car. Especially because my daughter wants to walk or crawl around and this keeps her contained when she’s eating and we’re out, like at the park.

Think about it, but I think it’s my most used baby gadget.

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26 KERF July 11, 2013 at 7:25 am

Awesome!

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27 KERF July 11, 2013 at 9:10 am

Looks like the link is broken. :-(

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28 Jenny July 11, 2013 at 9:28 am
29 KERF July 11, 2013 at 9:34 am

Thanks!

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30 Abby July 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Using this as I read this blog! Sitting in a hotel room, it has come in soooo handy this summer!

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31 Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) July 11, 2013 at 7:11 am

Mazen is doing SO well. Way to go!

Clara, my 14 mo old, has a strong texture aversion so any finger food she is given she puts in her mouth, chews it somewhat, but then spits it out. Sigh. We are working on it in therapy but I am SO SO ready for the day when I can put a tray in front of her and let her eat, sans spoon feeding.

We are also having no luck with any form of sippy cup (straw or regular). Maybe y’all could write a post on how you taught Mazen to suck from the straw? If Clara could figure it out, she would do much better with a straw cup, since coordinating all the movements of a regular sippy (hold, lift up, tilt back towards mouth and suck) is way too much for her to grasp right now, plus she’s not strong enough.

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32 KERF July 11, 2013 at 7:29 am

Sorry you are having trouble. :-( M seemed to chew on straws before he figured out to suck. I put water in then stopped with my finger and let him suck while I let a bit of the water out and I think that helped.

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33 Kristina July 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

I bought the Playtex Easy Gripper with Straw. I filled it up and the first time Braiden didn’t know what to do with ti. But the second time I realized that water squirted out so the next time he was playing with the straw in his mouth, I squeezed it and it clicked that water came out. I use those pouches a lot though too so he might just be used to the sucking action.

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34 Jessica July 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I read a tip in a baby magazine once that said to teach your little one to suck from a straw, tell them to “give the straw a kiss” and it helps them figure it out.

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35 Molly July 11, 2013 at 7:54 am

Chunks of lightly boiled/sauteed liver! Chicken, duck, cow, lamb… my kids loved them all! Especially as a puree first, but chunks were easy and soft enough after a bit.

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36 Tina July 11, 2013 at 8:53 am

When did you start giving Mazen water?

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37 KERF July 11, 2013 at 9:10 am

When the weather got warmer…he seemed to want it then

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38 Ashley July 11, 2013 at 9:40 am

LOVE FOODIE BABIES!! <3 Clementine eats many of the same things, but has decided in the past week or two she only wants eggs in the morning. She leaves all the fruit, and points at my plate for more eggs, ha. I've switched to pouches instead for the fruit in the morning, because she loves those too, but this post has me thinking I should switch back. Just keep offering, right?

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39 Amber July 11, 2013 at 10:54 am

I do hard boiled eggs because it’s so easy to have on hand and not have to do dishes in the morning. I’ll also give them at lunchtime if we haven’t had eggs for breakfast. Portable too!
Also smoothies, since M has the sippy cup down. I made a huge batch of pureed carrots and froze into ice cube trays, so smoothies include the frozen carrot puree, spinach, berries, bananas, and can be blended with water, breastmilk if you have any extra, or a small amount of juice. Great way to get extra veggies in the belly and not on the floor :)

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40 aimee July 11, 2013 at 1:47 pm

does mazen tend to put too much in his mouth ever? my first daughter was a ‘shoveler’ lol. I could only put one or two pieces of food on her tray at once or it would all go in!

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41 Laura N. July 11, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I love the photos-his fingers and the shadows of them look vaguely sinister, and it’s unintentionally funny-like a baby godzilla has come to eat the veggies!

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42 L July 11, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Hi Kath! I was curious how often you breastfeed now that M is eating more finger foods?

That’s awesome how well he does with feeding himself! My little guy is about a month behind M, and the few times we tried out puffs, he didn’t seem to want to bring it to his mouth and when we help him out he ended up gagging on it. :(

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43 KERF July 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm

We still nurse about 6 times a day – morning and evening and before and after naps (one side each). I’ve dropped a feeding here and there but he seems to revert back to this schedule by request

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44 heather July 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Hello! Your sweet boy is SUPER cute! We have recently started finger foods with our son Graeme (9 months old). I was just curious if you put everything on the tray at once? Graeme likes to keep stuffing his mouth full, so I have been just putting a few bites at a time. Just curious! I need to go find your Baked Oatmeal recipe, yum. Thanks!

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45 KERF July 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm

I do most of the time, but if he starts to push it off I take it back off and re-introduce slowly

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46 Amelia July 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Love the pics that include that sweet pudgy little paw going in for a bite :)

Lucy always loved super tiny grape tomatoes that I’d cut in half or quarters. Soft goat cheese crumbles, Israeli couscous or pearl barley, and soft beans (cut in half) like Great Northern or Cannelinis.

I loved these placemats because they are made from bamboo rather than plastic, and later fun to color on: http://www.amazon.com/green-sprouts-Count-Disposable-Placemat/dp/B008818KW8/ref=sr_1_1?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1373586632&sr=1-1&keywords=green+sprouts+placemats

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47 KERF July 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Those placemats are great!

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48 Ashlee July 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Great post Kath! My daughter is 14 months now and a finger food queen, we’re working on utensils and plates. We love the dexbaby bibs where the bottom “bucket” unsnap so you can wipe everything clean without any cracks and crevices.

On the weekends I make a batch of whole wheat pancakes about silver dollar size and freeze them. Make for great quick breakfasts. Keep up the veggies, we hit those hard from the get go and she is a wonderful little eater, hardy refuses anything. She does love a good fruit though, blueberries, strawberry, banana and pineapple.

I can’t believe what a great blend Mazen is of you and Matt, such a cutie!!

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49 Mandie July 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm

http://www.target.com/p/happy-baby-happy-creamies-organic-baby-food-kiwi-spinach-peach-green-apple-8-pack/-/A-14233221?ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001&AFID=Google_PLA_df&LNM=|14233221&CPNG=Baby&kpid=14233221&LID=PA&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=14233221&gclid=COuM4qLwqLgCFVRo7AodOxsA_w

I’m really trying not to give our guy puffs, so these have been great for us when on the road. They are made with coconut milk and probiotics (we get ours at whole foods).

Also this is what we use for a portable /re-usable table mat

http://www.amazon.com/Kiddopotamus-10319-Tinydiner-Placemat-Green/dp/B000TVWIPU

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50 Sarah July 13, 2013 at 2:07 pm

We have this placemat and LOVE it. So easy to roll up and take everywhere. I really wanted something reusable. Always trying to minimize our waste (balances out the pouches I have for on the run!)!!

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51 Reghan July 12, 2013 at 7:49 am

Just made this recipe yesterday for my 11 month old and he loved it! It’s a great way to get lots of healthy spinach in too!

2 cups cooked chopped spinach
1.5 cups shredded cheddar or jack cheese
1tbsp olive oil
1 cup breadcrumbs (they say to use wheat free but I used regular since my baby is fine with wheat)

Mix ingredients together, press into 8×8 greased baking dish and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees! I would bake for slightly less time since my edges came out a little crunchy but I just don’t give him the edges. He loved this!! And can probably be frozen so easy to pull out a chunk when you need something for lunch/dinner. I even thought they were really tasty!! I added a little garlic powder and onion powder for some more flavor.

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52 KERF July 12, 2013 at 7:52 am

Awesome!

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53 Kate July 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm

We use Arrowhead Mills puffed rice cereal in place of puffs with our 9.5 month old… They’re not flavored but are single ingredient (brown rice) and are super inexpensive. Great to combine with veggies or fruit on the go.

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54 Kiersten July 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

I just made Ethan quinoa burger’s. He loved them!

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55 Laura July 15, 2013 at 11:57 am

I get my guys to eat greens by chopping them up and cooking them in scrabled eggs. Spinach, kale, beet greens- anything goes. Come to think of it, I use eggs as a conduit for all kinds of veggies

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56 elizabeth@ourcrazysweetlife July 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm

My Ava, 1 day older than Mazen, loves eggs, too. I try to mix in veggies – tomatoes with parmesan cheese is a big hit. I find she struggles to pick up avocado so I often mix it into her oatmeal in the morning, along with some nut butter for a little added fat.

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57 Lisa @bitesforbabies July 16, 2013 at 10:23 am

I had a good laugh when you mentioned that the puffs were coming out whole! lol! I think it’s great that you are offering such a variety of foods to Mazen. Do you also add herbs and spices to Mazen’s food? I ALWAYS do…I find it adds even more flavour and variety! Do you make frittatas? They’re a good option for finger foods…here’s one my son loves:

http://www.bitesforbabies.com/recipes/chorizo-zucchini-and-saffron-frittata/

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58 lauri July 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Hey!!! Mazen is getting so big!! Brantley is walking now and eating everything we eat!! The fruit leather strips from Trader Joe’s is a new favorite. And I just bought some baby popsicle molds from walmart the other day for cold treats in the summer time (Currently have cherry greek yogurt mixed with some unswt cocoa powder and milk in rotation!). For super quick meals B loves the cheese tortellini from trader joes with frozen mixed veggies and grilled chicken (this is my ‘go to’ meal in a pinch!).

Have you seen these reusable placemats from Amazon? They are GREAT! Plan to buy another one soon!! http://www.amazon.com/Kiddopotamus-10319-Tinydiner-Placemat-Green/

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