Mazen’s Meals Lately

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I never would have guessed a few months ago that we would have a picky eater on our hands. Mazen gobbled down all sorts of things, vegetables of every kind included. For some reason I thought we had a long time before the toddler picky eating attitude arrived.

But these days, as I should have figured, he is much more particular about what goes in his mouth.

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He likes cheese and meat and bread and fruit. But he does not want anything to do with anything green. Clearly his parents love their veggies, so I don’t think it’s a learned behavior from us. He’s too young to share gossip about “gross veggies” with his playmates. The only thing I can conclude is that there is something biological about the way kids just don’t like vegetables. I’m sure there are some kids who never reject green foods, but perhaps others just have an aversion. I even wondered if it had to do with their high growth needs. Vegetables are very light in calories, so maybe with all the growing babies need to do their bodies crave more calorie dense foods and might go as far as to find the taste of vegetables displeasing. Just a thought! It’s also odd to me how pregnant women in their first trimester and babies have this aversion in common. There has to be something to it we don’t yet understand.

The good news is that M still eats veggies. He just doesn’t know it. Here are a few of the meals we’ve been feeding him lately.

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Frittatas. This was our favorite staple until just this week! M has decided he no longer likes eggs. I guess I gave them to him too much! But for weeks we could get him to eat anything in little bites of egg. We would cook some vegetables and then pour over 2 beat eggs and let that cook on low heat with a lid on so the top would cook through. Worked great when he liked it!

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Green smoothies. So far so good on these! I make them with whole milk yogurt, milk, banana and greens.

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Now that it’s pumpkin season we’ve been giving him pumpkin yogurt with a little cinnamon like this mama. Since he doesn’t like us to feed him with a spoon, I’ve been serving yogurt in the Sili squeeze.

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Pumpkin is a vegetable, yes!? Actually I think it’s technically a fruit…

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Emily wrote about making rice cooker applesauce for Cullen last year and with the return of apple season I made some.

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In went a bunch of sliced apples with cinnamon and a quarter cup of water…

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And out came roasted apple sauce after a whirl on the quick cook setting.

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Wish I could say that Mazen loved these, but he was only luke warm. I, however, gobbled them down!

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He also LOVES using a fork for meals. He’s actually pretty good at it too.

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He did love the quinoa and black bean balls I made for him from my Cook Smarts post! And his current favorite food is raw tomato.

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I thought I would be smart and bought him fresh spinach gnocchi, but he didn’t really love those either – even with pesto and cheese all over them. Silly guy!

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Lastly, for the days that I don’t have my act together, I have some of these pouches on hand. I mostly use them when we have zero other options to eat – as a supplement for restaurant food when we’re out to lunch or as a snack. I like all the brands and always look for ones heavy on the veggies that also have some protein. The Mish Mash ones are my favorite for snacks.

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Speaking of snacks, M likes applesauce, yogurt, cheese, toast, fresh fruit (berries and bananas especially) and graham crackers if I’m spoiling him. I never though feeding a baby would be so hard, but man is it challenging to keep a variety of foods on hand for him. Generally he does eat what we eat, but the difference is that his foods need to be prepared STAT when he wants them, so we can’t wait around for things to cook. Most of the time I have a plate of leftovers or pre-cooked food that I can heat up very fast for his lunch or dinner. He often eats that and then has bites of our dinner when we all sit down together. He likes bites from our dinners most of all, and sometimes he’ll even try something green from our forks!

Battle Of The Sippy Cups

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We started giving Mazen water when he was about 7 months old and we went to Arizona for vacation. It was hot and in the dry heat he seemed to be thirsty beyond his breast milk intake. As his solid food consumption has increased over the past 4 months, he now drinks water with his meals and I offer it to him on walks and throughout the day as well.

When we first started offering water we used a bottle because he was familiar with how to drink out of it. That way we could gauge exactly how much water he really wanted rather than using an unfamiliar cup. We have gradually transitioned to a sippy cup, but it’s been a long road finding the best one. For the longest time M couldn’t drink out of it by himself – we had to hold it up to his mouth for him.

Then we discovered THE STRAW. What a genius invention. I can’t remember exactly how M learned to use a straw, but I would let him practice on my adult straws and he seemed to get that pretty quickly. Learning the baby cup straws just clicked for him one day (after lots of straw chewing first!)

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Here are the sippys we have tried and their pros and cons in order of preference:

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Babies R Us brand sippy $4.99

Love: Nothing

Cons: No handles so it’s hard to hold, sippy mouth is hard to sip, leaks from top

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Babies R Us Purely Simple Training Cup $5.99

Love: Baby-friendly top, good handles

Cons: A bit leaky, M couldn’t figure out how to tip it up, not the cheapest

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Munchkin Click + Lock Sippy $3.75

Love: price, the click + lock feature is awesome, big handles

Negative: M doesn’t drink out of it well

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OXO Tot Straw Cup $6.99

Love: straw, awesome locking lid tucks straw away, chic colors

Cons: straw is high flow so it spills out easily but would be good for thicker smoothies and things, price, no handles so hard to hold

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Munchkin Click Lock Flip Straw Cup $4

Love: straw, price, click lock is great, no leaking

Cons: no handles so hard to hold

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Zoli BOT Sippy Cup $12

Love: this was our favorite for a long time. Handles are great, straw is great once M learned to use it, love the straw flip for upside down drinking, if necessary, spill proof, lid is nice

Cons: surprise puddles started leaking from the rim during our Williamsburg trip. A huge negative with fancy cameras and cell phones in the diaper bag! Price is high. Straw is hard to clean (I wouldn’t serve smoothie in this)

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Nubby 2 Handle Flip n Sip Straw Cup $6

Loves: Our current favorite because it has handles, flip straw, no leak and low price

Cons: None so far

So the Nubby wins – for now. I’m sure our preferences will change, and I’m keeping all of these in case Mazen learns to sip the spouts in time.

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Every baby is different, so what’s your #1 sippy?

The Time I Made Homemade Mum Mums

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I can’t say I really recommend this, but I wanted to share my experience anyways.

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You know the Baby Mum Mum crackers? Mazen LOVES them. Like goes bonkers when he sees the package. I haven’t given him too many of them, so I’m not sure why the reaction is so dramatic, but it must be some kind of shared baby thing. I don’t have a problem with them nutritionally at all, and I think they are great for teaching babies to crunch food. But I don’t love that they are from China. The distance just seems…far.

So I searched the net for a homemade recipe and decided on this one. Wholesome Baby Food has a handful of teething biscuit recipes too. I wasn’t after a hard cookie for M to gnaw on, rather, I wanted something light and airy that I wouldn’t have to worry about choking so much. {I tried this brand from Whole Foods and while I loved their taste, the choking hazard scared me too much because they were so hard.}

So back to the homemade crackers. I bought rice flour from Whole Foods and used applesauce as my puree. I used my food scale to get the weights perfect since I knew texture would be key here.

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I rolled out the dough

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Lookin’ good

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I cut them into little crackers

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And then this happened:

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Take two had me scoring them on the pan, and that worked out quite well. I made a few different shapes – from logs to long crackers to shorter rectangles.

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After 25 minutes in the oven they seemed hard to the touch and I pulled them out.

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And? They were rather bland, crumbly and chewy. Mazen really liked eating them because they were new, but he had lots of trouble. Some coughing. Goo falling out of his mouth and getting everywhere. Ball of chew making me nervous for choking. They were hard for a baby to eat. So…I give these a thumbs down. They probably needed lower temp and longer bake, but I doubt I could ever have gotten them crispy like the real things. Have any of you had mum mum success?

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In other news, M tried pancakes this week and loved them! We have a new breakfast food in our rotation.

BERF: Finger Foods

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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?

Bébé Gourmet

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Baby cookbooks are just so….sweet! I have found baby food to be both incredibly simple (puree some peas, yo!) to a bit intimidating (am I incorporating enough flavor?) I was sent this book, Bébé Gourmet, to review and fell in love with its beautiful photography, creative recipes and ability to grow with your child.

The book was written by Jenny Carenco, mother of two and founder of the French baby food brand Les Menus Bébé. The recipes are organized by age and go well beyond the simple puree stage. And the recipes are also adaptable to turn into meals for adults – a two-in-one cookbook : )

I’m not sure I’d make a chicken or lamb tagine for Mazen alone, but if our whole family could enjoy it then it’s worth the effort. In some ways this is a regular cookbook with baby friendly techniques.

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As I said above, the photography is just stunning.

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Here’s a peek into the table of contents – recipe categories go from compotes to lunch and dinner categories for older babies. I read through the cookbook in a few nights and am inspired to have Mazen try some new flavors in the coming weeks.

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This book would make a beautiful gift for a new mom.

To win a copy of Bébé Gourmet, enter here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Here is a link to Amazon for more info on the book. And you can talk to Bébé Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.

BERF: The Prep Part 2

My first batch of baby food lasted us beyond a week, but by the time batch 2 was ready for cooking I felt a lot more prepared. I put M down for his morning nap and got to work on peas, oatmeal, green beans and butternut squash.

I’m storing his bottles in the small bin on the right and all of his food props on the left on a shelf in our upper cabinets. Wish our kitchen had more drawers!

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I ended up buying this OXO tray with a lid. The cubes are easier to get out, but not by much. But it’s nice to have two trays now. One wasn’t enough for bulk prep + freezing.

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First the oats. I made some of Mimi’s Baby Grains and added some organic plain applesauce to them for a bit more flavor and nutrition. 1/3 cup of oatmeal with 1/3 cup applesauce yielded 6 servings. I kept two out for the next 2 days and froze the other 4.  The applesauce has been nice to keep on hand for when I need a quick meal and don’t have anything thawed. Sure a freshly steamed apple might be better, but I’m ok with organic applesauce with an ingredient list that reads organic apples only.

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Next up: peas! Frozen peas were steamed and then blended and 2 cups filled this tray perfectly. After they were solid, I popped them out and put them into a zip lock with the sweet potatoes.

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Next we tried two new foods: green beans and butternut squash. Yet another great purpose for frozen squash! I’m happy to let someone else peel it for me.

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1 cup of beans were steamed and pureed with a little bit of water. They turned out quite watery and the texture didn’t look great to me, but M didn’t seem to mind. I wonder if they’d be better blended with something creamy like the peas or sweet potatoes. I kept one out for short term and froze the rest in the OXO cups.

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Everything I labeled with the food and date with simple masking tape. Works for now!

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Lastly the squash. I steamed 2 cups of it in a pot over hot water for about 10 minutes and then pureed that. Added a little bit of cinnamon too!

Then once it had cooled, I filled it into 4 of these Little Green Pouches. I was sent these to review and LOOOOVE them! They are $15 for 4 on Amazon. I’m definitely going to order a second set.

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Have you seen these commercial pouches? When I first visited the baby food aisle of the grocery store I thought they were for older babies to suck from, but I didn’t realize this is just how most baby food comes these days instead of in glass jars. You can just squeeze the food onto a spoon and feed a younger baby – duh! Or squeeze into a bowl. There are so many fun flavors that appeal to my granola mom side – ingredients like quinoa and cute labels! But these pouches are expensive, so the Little Green Pouch was fabulous to create my own squeeze packs. We used the pre-made ones when we traveled to Arizona because they were shelf-stable, but around town you could use your own.

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I scooped in the squash and froze 3/4 of them. They are dishwasher safe and freezer safe – two awesome must haves. When I feel Mazen I just squeeze from the pouch into the spoon. Eventually I’m sure he’ll like to slurp out the food himself.

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Love that you can see the ounces on the side too.

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Last favorite food tool: I’m loyal to OXO and the color green so these are our favorite spoons!

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So for round 2 I made:

  • 14 cubes of peas (I usually do 2-3 cubes per meal)
  • 6 servings of oatmeal
  • 4 servings of green beans
  • 4 pouches of squash

That lasted us 2 weeks (with 2 meals per day and fresh foods like mashed avocado mixed in)

Not bad for an hour of prep! I think for round 3 I’m going to start mixing more foods together. Even though breast milk is still his primary nutrition, I can’t help but think about things like pairing a starch + protein or fat + fruit.

BERF: The Prep Part I

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Like I’ve said before, I’m just kind of going with the flow when it comes to baby food. We did start with oatmeal, but after that, it was easier just to make purees myself than navigate the scary baby food aisle, so that’s what we did. (I have since explored that aisle and found some cool, expensive options though!)

Just like the cloth diaper laundry, I am surprised that I find baby food making a joy! Maybe I won’t feel this way in a few more months of it, but so far it’s much more fun than making dinner for hungry adults at 6pm every night. Baby food is so pure + simple.

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The star of the event is my new Cuisinart Smart Stick. We used to have a stick blender that was battery operated. Matt hated it, and it always lost charge. We never used it and I gave it away. Then I started to miss having one and knew that it would be perfect for baby food. I was happy to find the Smart Stick in a rainbow of pretty colors for less than $30. A bonus: it’s dish washer safe (the bottom part) and plugs in so the power never fades!

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This book got me going. I got it as a shower gift and it was really helpful to provide some guidance on cooking and water levels as well as foods that are good for six month olds (although I think the latest research is more generous with a greater variety of foods than the guidelines in this book).

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Our first batch of baby foods included sweet potatoes, apples, oatmeal and peas.

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We microwaved the potato and then scooped out the insides to puree with a little water.

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The first round I just used an old ice cube tray and it worked just fine.

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Apples, minus the skin, also got a blend with some water.

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Lastly, peas. Yummy! We just used frozen peas – so easy.

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I bought some OXO Tot Baby Block containers to use for storage and freezing. They come with a little tray so they don’t get lost in the freezer.

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M loved all of his foods, and it was great to have them all ready in advance. I kept a few in the fridge and froze the rest. I get his frozen meals out the night before and then heat them up in the microwave (not to hot – just to luke warm – be careful of heating too much!) when it’s meal time.

We also love this Boon Spoon that was a gift from a friend too! Just fill with food and squeeze out onto the spoon.

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That recaps our first attempt at making baby food. Round II was even better! Coming soon.

BERF

Baby Eats Real Food : )

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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.

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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!

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(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.

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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.

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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

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Most magical: Prunes. Wow – they work!

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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.

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Coming soon: our first stab at making baby food!

30 Weeks: Healthy Living While Pregnant

For the most part, healthy living now is not that much different than before. I’m still staying active for about an hour a day, and I’m still eating a variety of real foods in the form of 3 meals and a snack or two everyday. And one other positive for my health: fewer hangovers ; ) I luckily haven’t had major cravings that send Matt running for Ben & Jerry’s at midnight or put chocolate cake on my plate for breakfast. Real Food still makes me feel best, inside and out.

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But both my exercise and my eating have changed somewhat:

-My workout intensity is drastically different than before: I am rarely out of breath or covered in sweat now – something I used to aim for daily

-My diet doesn’t look exactly the same since vegetables just don’t taste as good

The other day I was trying to put into words to Matt why I just don’t want to run or eat tons of vegetables even though I could force myself to do both. And what it comes down to is this: high intensity exercise and huge salads just don’t make me FEEL as good as they used to.

Before pregnancy, there was nothing like a sweaty run followed by a Hugh Jass salad filled with all kinds of hearty vegetables. I used to love the feeling of racing, being out of breath, being covered in sweat. At 30 weeks pregnant, a run would probably leave me uncomfortable, dehydrated and exhausted. Maybe even sick.

I used to bulk up my plate with all the veggies I could find at buffets and restaurants and would never turn down extras. I wanted them to fill me up but also because they tasted really good. These days I have no reason to fill up my shrinking stomach, and my salads are more like side dishes of simple greens without all the bulky veggies. I used to eat 2-3 servings of veggies but now 1 serving is enough. Enough to get in the nutrients and balance out my plate.

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Walking, yoga, swimming, lighter weight lifting feel good to me.

Running, intervals and pushing myself hard don’t.

While I do still enjoy most vegetables and eat them daily, including salads, they just don’t bring on the same feel-good feeling that they used to and my portions of them are smaller.

Fruit, lightly-dressed greens, yogurt, cheese, eggs – these make me feel good.

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So I guess my point is this: do what makes you feel good.

Run marathons at 39 weeks if that’s what it takes to raise your spirits. Or drop down to only slow walks and yoga. So long as you’re staying active in some shape or form given all the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, then pick what you want to do most.

Similarly, there are so many healthy foods out there – choose the ones you want to eat most and enjoy them. Have smaller portions of the ones that you’re not as crazy about (likely the green ones).

While exercise and nutrition are extremely important during pregnancy, don’t feel bad if you can’t keep up with your old self. Because your old self is gone – at least for the short term!

I actually can’t WAIT to run again – and hopefully get my taste buds back! You know how when you go on vacation for a week you come home just craving the way you felt before the vacation with your healthy habits in place? Pregnancy is like one looooooooooooong vacation. It hit me about 6 months in when I started to miss my old body – not so much its shape or appearance, but how it felt. Now that I’m closer to the end than the beginning, I absolutely cannot wait to go back to my old self. Or rather, Old Self 2.0!

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