I’m just starting a “Babies and Food” series that I’m really excited about! There are so many ideas going on in my head that I really needed to break it up into several posts. Who wants to read one long boring post anyways, right? So here we go with a “who knows how many part” series. Today is about transitioning from baby food to table food.
Does anyone else have a problem with this transition. Am I the only one? I am always hearing moms talk about how much easier it is to just feed the baby what you’re eating for dinner. They say they quickly jump from the baby food stage to the table food stage. For me, it has never been very easy. It has always been easier to just get a jar of baby food out and feed them. Having to think about allergies, do’s, dont’s, hot, spicy, etc. is hard for me. I always dread this transition and many times resort back to a good ‘ol jar of baby food and rice cereal. Safe and easy. However, they can’t eat pureed mush their whole lives now can they (or can they?)? Now, as my third child is going through this transition, I can finally say that I have a decent grasp for how things work. I put together some tips that have helped me with this transition in hopes that some of you might find them useful. If you have any other tips, I am all ears/comments! As I said, it’s taken me three children to finally feel competent, I’m sure I am missing something that you all have done!
Now, to begin. Your baby has mastered baby food, loves it, eats it, now what? They obviously can’t jump straight into a T-bone steak, so what exactly can they eat? They need more options. Options that introduce texture but not choking hazards, taste but not unneeded sugars, and still gives them all the nutrients they need to keep their little bodies right on track.
First off, always keep in mind the main food groups that your little one needs. This is how I break them down in baby terms: Baba (formula or breast milk), Grains, Fruits and Veggies, Dairy, and Protein. Basically the same as adults but Baba is it’s own category and I substitute the meats/fish with protein because I don’t love giving my babies pureed meat (for some reason I just can’t do it).
Next, assess how “ready” your little one is. Ask yourself these questions: Do they have teeth? How many? Can they pick up foods with their hands? How long have they been eating baby food? Do they have any allergies? (My next “Babies and Food” post will be addressing specifics on choking hazards and food allergies. Stay tuned!) I judge most of what I give my baby off of the number of teeth they have and how old they are. Before my baby has teeth I basically stick to only pureed baby food with maybe some soft crackers. Once they get a couple teeth, I try to start the transition. It usually happens around 9 months. Here is a list of foods to start introducing once when they’re ready to move on from their all baby food diet. Remember that your baby still needs between 18-24 oz. of formula or breast milk every day until they are around 12 months.
Crackers and Snacks: Like I said, this is one of the first things I introduce to my kids after baby food. I know it’s not a food group but I wanted to address it mostly because it is a great way to keep your little one busy for a few moments. I usually start with nilla wafers although they do have some sugar. I like them because babies can gum them pretty easily with breaking off huge chunks. Of course, you’ll always need to supervise when they are eating. Other crackers we like are graham crackers and ritz. We introduce cheerios a little later once they’ve learned how to chew on things and can use their little pinchers to grab on to those little O’s. Just be careful with how many they are eating because crackers can be sugary. You also don’t want them to become a substitution for a meal.
Fruits and Veggies: I usually stick to one jar of fruit a day and 1-2 jars of veggies. When transitioning I wing it but try to stick to 1-2 fruits and 1-2 veggies a day. Most babies like fruits and veggies. When transitioning to solids, you can start mushing up whole bananas into eatable chunks (or just give it to them whole) or make your own chunky applesauce. You can also feed them well cooked carrots or other vegetables. Be careful of those with thick skins because of choking.
Dairy: Cheese, Cottage Cheese, and Yogurt. While milk is a no no until 12 months, these other dairy products can be introduced well before your baby’s first birthday. I’ve heard even as early as 6 months (some say 8 months for cheese). This is because they have active bacteria cultures that break down the lactose easing digestion.
Cottage cheese is a great way to introduce a different texture and I usually pair it with some applesauce or another fruit. Your baby will probably make some funny faces while they’re getting used to it, but don’t rule it out saying “they just don’t like it.” Most new things will cause your baby to pull a funny face and possibly spit it out. Keep at it and after a few times, they’ll probably start becoming more accustomed to it.
Cheese is a great way to introduce finger foods and self feeding. I just started my little boy about a month ago at 9 months. I’m sure I could have started earlier, I just wasn’t thinking. He loves cheese. All my kids have.
Yogurt is one of my favorites. Doesn’t require a transition and they usually scarf it up. You can also try some with fruit chunks to introduce some texture. One important thing to remember with yogurt is that babies need 100% whole yogurt or all fat yogurt (not quite sure of the correct term on that). You just don’t want reduced fat, which you’ll find most yogurt IS reduced fat. You also don’t want to be giving them yogurt with added sugars on a regular basis. I do it every once in a while and don’t worry about it, but I try to stick to the plain, no sugar added yogurt. There’s a brand called Stonyfield “yo-baby” that is a good one. I have been buying Dannon’s All Natural plain all fat yogurt. Plain yogurt still does have sugar in it and that’s because milk has natural sugars. I just make sure to not buy the ones with added artificial fruit flavors.
Probably my favorite part about giving my little boy yogurts and cheese is the help it’s given to his spit up problem. It’s been a battle since day one and NEVER eased up until 9 months (coincidently the same time he started on cheese and yogurts). At first I thought it was crawling that helped, but I’m convinced now that it’s the cultures in the yogurt that he’s been eating. We went a week without having yogurt and the spit up came right back. So, if you are having some spit up problems, may I suggest trying yogurt (for those 6+ months)!
Just another idea you can do with yogurt. You may have all seen one of the pins going around about frozen yogurt bits, but they really are yummy treats for babies. Super easy to make, freezes in just 30 minutes and they’re great for little mouths that are learning how to eat smaller foods. Plus, they melt quickly so it’s less of a choking hazard than other solid foods. Just put some yogurt on a bag, snip the tip and squeeze out little dollops onto some waxed paper. Freeze for 30 minutes or until frozen. Great for summer!
Grains: There are many different ways to add some more solid grains into your baby’s diet. You can do breads, but be careful because it can moosh into a ball which can cause choking. Lightly toasting bread or using bagels can help. Aside from breads, you can do well cooked pasta noodles. The chunkier noodles are better than spaghetti noodles and easier for their little fingers to handle. You can also try well cooked rice and moosh it up a little.
Protein: This is one that can easily be forgotten about. I’m good at sticking with grains, fruits & veggies, and dairy, but the protein can be a little tricky especially when phasing out formula/breast milk. Personally I think pureed meats are pretty yucky (going in and out) so I try to hold off on meats until they are basically eating whatever the family eats. I also know that as long as they are getting the right amount of baba’s they are getting all the protein they need just with that. However, it’s always good to start introducing proteins early on to make transitioning easier when the time comes. One way to do this is with cooked and mashed lentils/beans. Just be careful about the salt intake because most refried/canned beans have lots of sodium. Another good source of protein can easily be obtained through yogurt. Yo Baby has 29% DV (daily value) protein in their yogurts while Dannon has between 18-19% DV protein in their All Natural and Dan-o-nino’s yogurts.
Here’s a basic guide for protein in case you are concerned or just curious (like me!)
For every 2.2 lbs, they’ll need 1g of protein per day. (So, a 23-pound child needs about 10 grams of protein daily-source) Just take your babies weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2. That will get you how many grams of protein per day your baby should be getting. My baby is about 18 lbs, so he needs 8.2g (or just 8g) of protein each day.
-2.5g protein in every 6 oz. of formula (for most regular formulas)
-3g protein in a 50g container of Dan-o-ninos yogurt, 2g in 50g of plain Dannon All Natural (50g is a little less than 1/4 cup)
-15g protein in 1/2 cup of cottage cheese.
-8g protein per oz. of cheese
-7-10g protein per 1/2 cup cooked beans
-8g protein in every 8oz (1 cup) milk
Honestly, if your baby is getting 18-24oz of formula or breast milk a day, they are getting all the protein they need. Once they stop drinking formula/breast milk you’ll want to start adding in more protein rich foods.
Come read my other “Babies and Food” posts!