Baby Eats Real Food : )


We started Mazen on solid foods just a few days shy of his 6 month birthday. Waiting that long was hard! Recent research says there is no reason to start solids before 6 months, but I really think M was ready at the 5 month mark. He was showing all the typical signs. However, I waited to give his system just thaaaat much more time to develop, to avoid the solid poops and additional stress of solids just a wee bit longer. My gut told me at 5.75 months it was time.

Feeding a baby was scary and confusing at first! Despite being an R.D. I have little training in pediatrics since it’s such a specialized niche of the industry. A few good sites on feeding a baby are Kelly Mom and Wholesome Baby Food. Our pediatrician recommended starting with super smooth pureed oatmeal. In terms of what to add next, we’ve done all the popular first baby foods (avocado, sweet potato) and have been waiting 2-3 days between new ones. We’ve focused on whole grains, fruits and veggies. The latest from the AAP says that delaying highly allergic foods like eggs doesn’t really have any benefit. Our ped said trying yogurt, eggs and more in the near future would be fine. (We don’t have any family history of allergies). Heather actually just wrote an article for Babble on this and cited this lengthy paper that says: “There are no current data available data to suggest that cow’s milk protein (except for whole cow’s milk), egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish introduction into the diet need to be delayed beyond 4-6 months of age.”  As always, check with YOUR pediatrician for recommendations!

Mazen’s first food was oatmeal, of course! We used a locally ground oatmeal from Mimi’s Baby Grains in Richmond.


Mimi sent me a few of her baby cereals for Mazen. The oatmeal is whole oat groats ground into a really fine texture to create a baby puree. I loved that the oats were freshly ground for maximum nutrition. Alternatively you could do this yourself!


(Sidebar: The latest on Kelly Mom says that iron replenishment isn’t as much of a huge deal as once thought and that supplementation with iron-fortified cereals might actually interfere with the iron absorption efficiency so we didn’t worry about starting with an iron-fortified oatmeal. Instead we’re focusing on iron from real food moving forward – Kelly Mom has a great list here.)

Mazen enjoyed the oatmeal and likes the barley as well. (We haven’t tried the brown rice or mixed grains yet.) It only took him a few bites to understand “how” to eat and swallow, and he gobbled down the whole serving we made for him, much to our surprise.

We are trying to be very mindful of our feeding behaviors. He is great at opening up like a little bird to let us know when he’s ready for a bite. We both hate to waste food, so it’s tempting to encourage “one more bite!” just for the sake of finishing whatever arbitrary serving size we have prepared. But he lets us know when he’s done by no longer showing interest or opening his mouth, and we’re doing our best to pay attention to these cues.


Since his first bite, Mazen has enthusiastically tasted:

  • Oatmeal
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato
  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Barley
  • Peas
  • Prunes
  • Pears
  • Butternut squash
  • Green beans
  • Chicken (pureed into sweet potatoes!)

Favorites: sweet potatoes, avocado, oatmeal with apple.


Trouble with: Bananas, which didn’t sit well with digestion so we haven’t done them since.

Dislikes: None so far… although we haven’t given him onions Winking smile


Most magical: Prunes. Wow – they work!


A few people have commented that they are surprised we are not doing a baby–led weaning technique. I don’t think there is a right or wrong approach to feeding a baby. What is most important is that you pick a technique that works for both you and the baby. I have offered Mazen a few BLW-style foods, and each time he gagged and had me panicked he was choking. I gave him a very, very ripe banana, and he used his toothless gums to bite off a piece and proceeded to make gagging noises that had me fishing the piece right back out. On the other hand, he does very well with a spoon. I have read on some of the BLW websites that using purees is “force feeding a baby in an unnatural way,” but I hardly agree with that. I eat plenty of purees with a spoon myself! Early human parents could have easily mashed up food with a rock and fed their babies with a utensil carved out of wood. We have had no trouble with him understanding to open his mouth when he wants some and let us know when he is finished. Purees just require a bit more cue observation to keep the baby in charge of the eating. BLW is just not for us – at least right now.

We been making most of his food so far, and have also tried a few jars/packets too. I’m not an all-or-nothing girl for much of anything, so I’m not putting pressure on myself to make ALL of his food, but I’d like to do the majority of it to save money and keep it as fresh as possible.


Coming soon: our first stab at making baby food!

88 thoughts on “BERF”

  1. We are also doing purees for our 6 month old (7 months same day as Mazen). He gagged the other day on a banana, too. Also gagged on a tiny bit of avocado. I understand that BLW works for many parents, but it sent me into a panic and I couldn’t handle it. My baby really likes spoon feeding and he’s even started feeding himself – I preload the spoon and hand it to him, and he knows where the food is supposed to go! It’s pretty impressive! I was puree fed, my mom was puree fed, as far as I know so was my grandmother – BLW is a new “fad” in my opinion, and isn’t based on any research that I could easily access. I am glad you linked to the Mimi’s Whole Grains! I am going to investigate buying some!

    1. I really think that as long as you’re feeding your baby, whatever method you choose is just fine. We pretty much did BLW, but we didn’t read the book or anything. All we did was give our son whatever we were eating, starting when he was about six months old. We let him feed himself, and that has worked out well. That’s is how our parents fed us, and how their parents fed them and so on. Commercial baby food wasn’t invented till the 1920s, after all.

      Anyhow, the point is, I don’t think BLW is really a fad- instead I think that there have probably been different ways in different cultures to feed babies for a long time and people are just now writing books about it.

    2. I’m doing BLW now, started on march 8. I think the people who try it once and give up after the first gag are better off going the puréed route. But gagging is something that happens, and some babies are very dramatic about it. But gagging will happen with purees, and it will happen when you decide to give more solid food. I believe that it’s best to have it happen early on when their gag reflex is more forward. My baby has had minor gagging with sweet potatoes, but the only thing she’s really gagged on seriously is water!

      So many people have issues with banana, and I’ve read that it’s because the banana is so slippery so it moves to the back of the mouth quickly and causes gagging. I would advise anyone trying BLW to skip bananas as an early food, they are nothing but trouble!

  2. He is absolutely adorable! I love the intense look he’s giving the spoon 🙂 It also makes me think, COOOOOKIES! haha.
    Is his high chair from IKEA?

  3. Don’t have a baby yet, so I have nothing to add in that regard. But just wanted to say that Mazen is BEYOND ADORABLE in those two photos of him opening his mouth to eat. Seriously, so cute!

  4. I like that you said it’s not all or nothing with any given approach. I think that’s so important. I put a lot of pressure on myself to ‘avoid any foods marketed towards baby’ because they are processed… but truth is, a lot of them now are organic and not processed at all. I don’t know why I put these barriers up for myself all the time, when in reality, sometimes easy is necessary.

    We did mix of purees (for daycare) and BLW (at home) and the gagging only lasts for a week or so until they get the hang of it. They’re not really choking since their gag reflex is so far forward in their mouths at that age. They will get used of it and eventually the gagging will stop. Don’t want the scary gagging to scare anyone away from BLW, because it can be really rewarding if anyone chooses to go that route.

  5. Boy is clearly passionate about eating!! I love that face! In my opinion, it isn’t really BLW if the parent is offering special foods (be they purées or finger foods), so do what works for your family. Unfortunately for us, my daughter had a serious aversion to solids, so at 12 months (and nursing a dozen or so times a day), we started occupational therapy. She met all her goals by 16 months, whether it was due to natural development or the therapy, and now at 19 months is eating the same meals as we are. We never got to enjoy the fun purée feeding stage, but thanks to breast milk and on-demand nursing, she was always happy and healthy. She still nurses a few times a day, but weaning has been all up to her. I had hoped to wean her at one year (ha!) and now hope she weans herself by two years! At least we’ll be meeting the WHO recommendation! How long do you plan on nursing Mazen? Am I correct in assuming you’ve established a feeding schedule for him? It was so dang impossible with my daughter; I felt like a failure by always comparing our situation to others. But I digress… Great job with Mazen!

    1. I hope to nurse through a year – then we’ll see what happens. And he eats about every 3 hours, but that has been his decision, not mine.

  6. Mazen is adorable!! My daughter does the same with opening her mouth wide like that when she’s ready. Our babies are a week apart and like you, don’t think BLW is for us for the time being.
    I like your approach to trying everything and going with what works for you and M.

    Can’t wait for your post on making baby food. We’ve been making smoothies in the blender with a little spinach, baby yogurt, blueberries and strawberries and she goes crazy for it! What she doesn’t finish, I finish for her..yum! We’ve also tried the Ella’s brand packets and so far she’s liked them all.

      1. I either just add either some breast milk or some water. (obviously, i only drink what’s left when I use water!)

    1. Smoothies are so great to help you get through the picky stages! You just sneak in lots of nutrition without a battle. 🙂

  7. We are using those same bibs, and I questioned whether having the pocket forward was correct because of the tag, but your picture confirms we’ve got it on right. =) Agreed on the prunes, WOW. Sweet potatoes are this weekend, I can’t wait!

    1. We’ve actually stopped using a bib for the time being because he ends up chewing on it and getting food everywhere. Much less mess if we just feed him without one!

      1. Glad to know I don’t have the only little monster who does this! Maybe I’ll try tonight without the bib, because last night he had green beans stuck in his eyebrow from trying to eat his bib.

    2. Thanks so much for this post! Starting solids can be confusing so it’s great to hear what has worked for you! Bibs are fun for babies to nibble on! I’m not great about always putting a bib on my little one, but I’ve heard it’s good to make it a habit so they are used to them when they really need to wear them during the finger food/utensil learning stages. Again, I usually don’t get around to it, just a tidbit I picked up from some other moms.

    3. Alexa and Kath, these types of bibs are “supposed” to be used with the tag in the back, and the pocket folded over to the front (kind of like flipping a sandwich bag to seal them)…that way the excess food drips into the pocket. But even that way, the babies still chew on them. 😉

  8. How different babies can be! My little one is a week younger than Mazen and we tried purees at 6 month on the dot, but he was not a fan. The next day he grabbed a mango off his older brothers plate and ate it all – chewing (without any teeth), moving it around his mouth with his tongue and swallowing without a problem. Since then he has eaten sweet potato chunks, steamed apples and broccoli, steamed asparagus, watermelon, bananas, avocado, rice crackers, dehyrdrated apple chips. I had no idea this was a “thing” until I looked up babies and real food on the internet. We’ve tried purees since then and he was still not a fan. He ate one bite and then proceeded to reach for the real food on my plate. I dont know if it is because he is the second child, but we are just letting him lead. It appears he is leading us out of the baby aisle and into the produce section!

  9. He just gets cuter by the day! Two cookbooks that really gave me great ideas for Lucy were Tyler Florence’s Start Fresh (great ideas for purees beyond the basic) and Weelicious. Both emphasize real food!

  10. This is a timely post…Linden started solids yesterday! I wasn’t really planning on it; I was eating a banana and she looked really into it so I gave her some and…she LOVED it! She knew exactly what to do. And so we had a little again today after breakfast.

    (When you say bananas gave M digestive issues, what do you mean? Constipated?)

    So yeah! Thus we begin our foray into the world of solids. I think I will go peruse the links in this post now because I am not at all prepared for this new development yet 🙂

    1. Yay congratulations Linden! Banana led to bad gas for us and questionable constipation…I haven’t been brave enough to try it again after reading they can be hard to digest.

      1. Totally TMI and gross, but it’s (now) a laughable parenting moment. When my daughter was around 6 months old, we tried bananas. She loved them, but man oh man – they didn’t like her! We had to take her to the ER the morning after – not banana related, her first and only (so far) ear infection – but whle we were at the hospital, she had to go poop (first time in like 12 hours) and it was a light teal blue! The oddest thing I’ve ever seen LOL. The doctor said it was because she was so binded up. Needless to say, it was a while before she ate bananas again! 🙂

  11. Our son is a bit older than Mazen but we started him at 5 months on solids because he was showing every sign of being ready, and had been since 4 months (waking up for feeding he used to sleep through, making chewing motions while staring at us while we ate, reaching for food off our plates, etc.) I know that a lot of times people have opinions about what you should or should not do and that putting your life out here on a blog opens you up to all sorts of criticism. I just wanted to say I’m so glad that you’re so open and honest about this and that you’re doing what is right for YOU and YOUR baby because every baby and every family is different. Only YOU know what is truly best for YOUR baby. It’s what being a mom is all about. You know things instinctively that no book could ever tell you. Makes sense since you’re the one who created the babe 🙂

  12. Kath, you and Matt are SUCH AMAZING parents! You totally rock and I commend you on the way you’re caring for your gorgeous, sweet baby boy!!! <3

  13. I loved introducing solids for another reason, which was my husband could have a bigger role in feeding our daughter (breast-feeding mostly, very few bottles). I saw the baby/father picture and that made me think of that. I have so much fun cooking for my daughter now that she’s into finger foods at a year old.

    I think in our daughter’s case, we started with purees, then gradually added bites of food as she seemed ready for them (very small ones).

    I’ve got to say the mixed recommendations on when to introduce baby to foods is confusing! I talked to the doctor during my daughter’s 12 month check up and he cited the new research but officially recommended age 3 to introduce peanuts…talk about up for debate. Needless to say, we are still not doing peanuts. We have tried sun butter on bread in small bites so we’ll stick with that now. I’m such a fan of nut butters I guess I’m trying to start my girl early on them :).

  14. I love those pictures of him with his mouth open waiting for his next bite. I, too, have a problem with digesting bananas unless I eat them with something, like in Cheerios. 🙂

  15. I really like your approach of not forcing anything, nor BLW, nor ,asking everything at home. we started last week too and she didn’t know to pick up the food so we didn’t insist with BLW.

    you said banana didn’t do we’ll with digestion, what do you mean? did M have constipation the first time you introduced solid? my baby hasn’t have a bowel movement for 5 days, I’m really worried although she doesn’t seem bothered. prune is magic? you mean to get things moving?

  16. and do you feed him between breastfeeding? or before or after?
    I thought doing in between feedings but then it seems that she’s eating every 1-2 hrs.

    1. You should breastfeed first since that’s the most dense nutritious “food” they can possibly eat and then offer solids after 🙂

  17. Mazen is the cutest baby, his eating habits remind me so much of my little one’s eating habits at that age, he is now 9 months. We also started with pureed fruits and veggies at almost 5 months, now that he’s a little older and we have started to give him pieces of food (like soft veggies, fruits and chicken) our pediatrician recommended we try and see how he does, so far he’s doing really well, he loves to feed himself, he makes a HUGE mess but it’s really cute. I don’t regret for one second starting solids (in pureed form) earlier than the 6 month mark. Every baby is different and we did what we felt was best for our family.

    I love reading you posts and seeing the pictures of your beautiful baby boy! Thanks so much!

  18. our guy is a few weeks shy of Mazen and we introduced solids right before 6 months too. Question, do you feel Mazen is nursing less? My mom said when she started solids with me and my siblings we cut down on the nursing, but my guy is still nursing 6 times a day. Also, when do you offer him food, right after nursing, at set times during the day, an hour after nursing?

    1. We shoot for30-60 minutes after nursing. He doesn’t seem to nurse less at all. Maybe as he eats more that will come

  19. Just a note about the allergy issue. While the data is inconclusive about whether introducing allergenic foods early leads to increased allergies, what remains true is that IF (God forbid) a child ha a serious reaction, you want them to be big enough to handle drugs like epi, hense waiting til afyer 3 This point is often overlooked when discussing the risks in giving your kids foods they may be allergic to if you have a family history.

    1. This is completely untrue and at odds with the recent evidence, which seems to indicate that doing as you suggest (and which was at one time recommended, maybe not to the extent you describe) has led to an increase in the frequency of food allergies. Now they are recommending pretty much any food, including allergenic foods like nuts, during infancy, which may reduce the risk of the immune system recognizing it as an allergen. (Of course, foods like honey should be avoided due to the risk of botulism.)

      My daughter was diagnosed with a milk allergy when she was less than 3 months old. She is not yet 2 and has an EpiPen (luckily not ever needed) for some time.

  20. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I have an (almost)11 month old and we are still on spoon feeding. She is developmentally delayed and has a hard time picking anything up (we are working on building hand strength) long enough to get it to her mouth. We had a huge milestone this week though – our occupational therapist suggested letting her play with a graham cracker (instead of puffs or those teething biscuits) since they are longer, easier to hold, and won’t get lost in the middle of her hands on the way up to her mouth and it worked!!! Gave her the graham cracker and within 2 minutes she lifted it up and stuck it in her mouth to suck/try to bite! Not sure why I am sharing all this but it was a huge milestone in terms of baby feedings this week :).

  21. So cute. Am curious where people stand on the waiting 3 days front. We also don’t have any family history of allergies and so our pediatrician said no need to wait or space things out. We didn’t and there were no reactions anyway. I also introduced yogurt at around 6 1/2 months. Axel’s favorite is steamed / pureed blueberries mixed with plan yogurt. It does seem like there’s so much conflicting info out there. And I hear you on the gagging, it makes me SO nervous. His nanny did give him a clementine slice one day and he did fine with it, but when I give him bigger things like a piece of pear to chew on, I hold the other end and take it away from him when he really starts to chomp down. Mama is just not ready for the stress yet.

    1. We’ve been doing 3 days just because it’s been easy. I’m getting bolder about mixing though because he hasn’t had any trouble except banana, which I’ll try again soon

  22. I love reading all your blog posts about Mazen!
    I just wanted to point out that the American Academy of Pediatrics actually has a much more recent version of their policy on complementary feeding than the one in the link provided above. The AAP supports introducing solids before 6 months of age due to family or medical history, individual developmental status, and/or social and cultural dynamics. There are certain developmental milestones that babies may reach before 6 months of age that show they are ready for solids (e.g., sitting up in a chair, making movements with the mouth like eating, etc.). So, some babies are just ready before 6 months of age (like Mazen!). However, it has been shown that babies who start on solids prior to 4 months of age are at risk for obesity.

  23. Surprised you haven’t tried pumpkin yet! it is our daughters favorite. esp mixed in with her oatmeal 🙂

  24. We tried BLW too with the same result so we did purees. As soon as my little one had a good pincher grasp (just shy of 8 months) we switched back to the BLW method because it is soooo much easier. He loves it, and now I feel like the risk of choking (or gagging) is so much less simply because the pieces he gets are only pea size. Now he won’t deal with a bland puree.

  25. Love your post! I saw BERF on your KERF sidebar and thought in my head “BERF…Baby Eats Real Food…This is Kath’s baby food post!!!” We started solids around 4.5 months because she was ready. I am enjoying making her food but feel like I need to take notes in the baby food aisle to see all the different combinations. So far we have mixed sweet potato and butternut squash, blueberry apple, and last night we did sweet potato, blueberry, apply and she LOVED it! She really likes pears too. Thanks for posting!

  26. I agree, following the feeding/hunger cues are SUPER important!! But, it so *SO* hard— I also find myself saying ‘just finish this bite’…… Ugh, it is a mindset that is so hard to get myself out of!
    ……Did Mazen just like avocado naturally? I thought Jackson would like it but I haven’t had any luck with it! (bumming me out! because he likes everything else!) Did you do it solo or add it to something? I want my little man to like it so bad!
    LOVE the post, Kath! (and can’t wait for the next!) Hope you know how many of us mamas appreciate all of your work and your open nature as we all try to raise our kiddos the very best we can!

  27. Love that hungry bird face! So adorable! And so glad to hear solids are going so smashingly for you guys.

    We followed much the same route you are, and also worked hard from the get-go to make sure we all ate together. It has meant that we have to eat dinner at 5:30 now, which wouldn’t be our first choice, but I feel like it’s a great habit to start. And I have no idea if we’re just lucky or if it really does make a difference eating all together, but she’s always been a great eater. Even as she’s approaching 2 she still eats a good variety and is generally happy about mealtime. Fingers crossed that sticks (I hear 18 months to 3 years is when they suddenly stop wanting to eat anything)!

  28. I SO agree that everyone needs to do what’s right for their family! My little one is a week behind yours and while we are doing BLW i know it’s not for everyone. Your little man looks like he is L-O-V-I-N-G those purees, kudos to you guys for doing what works best for him!

  29. Great post, Kath! Our feeding journey with Harry started out a lot like yours with Mazen, except we skipped the grains and just went with fruits and veggies. We tried Mum Mums and little puffs a couple weeks after we started purees so he could learn to self-feed.
    We did the puree thing mixed with finger foods until about 9 months when we switched to just finger foods.
    GL and more important, have fun 🙂

  30. He’s so darn cute! Love his little baby bird mouth! We tried doing BLW but MacKenna just was not into it. She also wasn’t really “ready” for solids until around 8 months. We switched to purees to at least get her to eat something and we were happy we did. I think how you feed your baby depends on your baby. BLW wasn’t right for us and that’s ok. Yes, she’s picky but I don’t think that has anything to do with feeding her purees!

  31. I couldn’t agree more with everything you stated! I get too nervous with the gagging. He will slowly be able to eat thicker purees, then chunks, then larger pieces. I think it’s a natural process that evolves as they grow. It’s just not worth the risk of choking, IMO.

    I do like the idea (that is part of the BLW philosophy) of letting baby explore his food, never force feeding, and not giving too much feedback. I try not to whoop and holler when baby eats something that I desperately want him to. LOL

    He’s adorable, as always.

  32. Our kids both loved bananas mashed WITH avocados…it’s super sweet and creamy, plus it “dilutes” the concentration of bananas a bit and should help with digestion issues.

  33. Mazen is a great eater! What a cutie! I can’t get Evan to eat anything and he’s almost 7 months. We tried purees but he didn’t like anything – avocado, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, broccoli, or carrots. Then I tried some BLW stuff and he played with it a bit and put it in his mouth, but didn’t eat anything. He is just not interested. I am trying not to force him but I sure would like him to eat something! Oh well, maybe he’ll be ready next month.

  34. Hey Kath! Are you making food in a blender? I too am an RD and tried to make baby food but found the blender and food processor too cumbersome. Do you think you could use a stick blender? I don’t have one but would consider getting one for baby #2 who is on the way.

  35. That last pic is priceless! I don’t have a baby yet, but Im glad to read already all this info. Thanks to share!

  36. I haven’t stopped by BERF in a long time – and oh my goodness, this little eater is so cute! Love how he enthusiastically opens up his mouth!! So adorable. Thanks also for speaking about Baby Led Weaning – there are many hardcore proponents but it’s not for every baby – or mom!

  37. Hi Kath!
    I just spoke with Maureen from Mimi’s Whole Grains about her baby grains and she is awesome! I have a few questions with how you prepared Mazen’s foods. Do you mix the baby grains with breast milk? The instructions on the bag say to boil the milk/water with the grain but I’ve been told not to microwave breast milk so I didn’t know if boiling it was ok. How much would you make at a time and how long would it keep? Last question is, if I take the food on the go, I assume it would have to stay in a cooler? Then would he eat the cereal cold? Ahhh, so many questions! Sorry to bombard you!


    1. I just use water because I don’t have a lot of extra breastmilk (I don’t pump unless necessary). If you want to get more milk in there, I would stir it in once the grains are cooked. I agree with you – I don’t know if boiling is a good idea. As a prepared food it should be kept cold. And I only keep 2 days in the fridge and freeze the rest

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