My sister had her third baby boy last week and having the opportunity to snuggle with a newborn again is such a blessing!
My youngest is now 5 years old and his idea of snuggling entails a running start and a leaping jump, which typically results in me falling backward after catching all 45 pounds of him! Babies are synonymous with renewal. They are a fresh start, a clean slate. For most parents, the first baby is an adventure through an unknown land, trying to figure out how to manage keeping a helpless creature alive despite some serious sleep deprivation. By the second, and certainly the third, we know how to go through the motions. We multitask, we dress our babies in hand-me-downs, and we don't worry about the big kids running around the house when the baby is sleeping - it's all white noise now! Everything is about convenience and ease. Most of us lack the time we had with our first child.
But feeding babies is still an area of nutrition that I find fascinating. New parents are faced with deciding whether to breastfeed, formula feed, or both. That's actually the easy part! The challenging decisions come when your child is about 4-6 months old, when babies are ready to start consuming foods other than milk. The recommendations have changed since I first had my oldest daughter eleven years ago. I introduced real food to my oldest at 4 months. By the time my youngest was born, research dictated it was better to wait until six months; that's when they start requiring more macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals and, most importantly, iron and zinc.
Best First Foods
Vegetables, iron-fortified cereals, fruits, lean meats, fish, beans and legumes are good foods to start with. Since 6-month-old babies do not yet have teeth to bite and chew these foods, they must be puréed into a thinner texture. Once baby gets the hang of tasting and pushing food back with their tongue, the consistency can be altered.
I suggest thinning out first foods with either breast milk or formula, so that there is a familiar taste to go along with the introduction of a new food. Feeding time is much more successful when this occurs. Always start with single foods and, after a few days, introduce another single food, making it easier to pinpoint any potential food allergies.
Babies are exceptionally good at managing their hunger. When they are done they will let you know! This typically ends in a messy high chair and an even messier baby. Sometimes a messy parent, too! When parents try to force feed children or say "one more bite," this interferes with their natural ability to listen to their hunger. The best piece of advice I give to new parents (and to veteran parents) is to stop feeding when the baby starts spitting out food, shaking his/her mouth, or stops opening his/her mouth altogether.
NutriBullet Baby Food
Like I said before, there is nothing more appreciated by new parents than convenience. My sister now has the luxury of owning a NutriBullet, which helps her prepare single food purées and combination food purées in batches. She freezes them, which saves her time and sanity as she holds the baby and chases after her two older boys. Ahhh. The joys of parenthood!
If you're looking for nutritious whole food purées, try these recipes - easy and quick to make in your NutriBullet!
The directions for each of these are quite simple. Combine all the ingredients into your NutriBullet and Blast. You may alter the consistency based on your baby’s abilities and preference.
Butternut Squash Purée
1/4 cup baked butternut squash
3 Tbsp breast milk or formula
Sweet Potato and Lentil Purée
1/2 baked sweet potato (skin removed)
4-5 tbsp breast milk or formula
Sweet potatoes will absorb liquid, so you may need to add more depending on the sweet potato's properties.
Green Bean and Turkey Purée
10 steamed green beans
1/4 cup extra lean organic ground turkey
5 Tbsp breast milk or formula
Carrot and White Bean Purée
1/4 cup steamed carrots
1/4 cup white beans
5 Tbsp breast milk or formula
Avocado and White Fish
1/2 filet of sole (or other mild white fish)
3-4 Tbsp breast milk or formula
Hopefully you're feeding your little ones healthy, nutritious whole foods - they'll grow up loving it!