Whenever the time comes for my babies to transition from breastmilk to solids, my goals have always been fresh and easy. We’ve tried different things, from traditional spoon feeding to baby-led weaning and honestly, different things have worked for each baby. The best results have been a hybrid of the two methods, so I thought I’d share what we’ve done that’s worked for us.
What you need to know before reading any further. There is no “right way” of introducing solids. What works for us, might not work for you. Baby-led weaning is a method of introducing finger foods, skipping purees and spoon feeding. There are lots of benefits to that method, but there are pros and cons like anything too.
Many people begin introducing solids around 6 months old, but I’ve waited until 8 months with all three of my little ones. (Give or take a few weeks, because some of them were more interested in food than others.) This is definitely a personal preference, but my babies were healthy, satisfied with breastmilk, and uninterested in food until this point. It just made sense for us. And let me be honest, I’m not about to give myself more work unless it’s necessary.
With Joy Belle, we introduced purees first and I’m glad I did because her gag was something you’d witness on Fear Factor. It took her weeks to actually eat the purees and not gag and spit them back at us. Per recommendations by her pediatrician, we started with green vegetables and moved on to yellow and orange vegetables before introducing any fruits. By 10 months, we were using the baby-led weaning method. We were giving her cooked vegetables and fruits she could pick up and feed herself, with pureed foods filling in on occasion. She would tolerate food, but was never overly interested or eager to eat solids. Even today, she’s my pickiest eater.
With Britt, we dove right in with finger foods at 8 months old, letting him initiate the feeding. He was super interested in the foods we were eating, which is why I opted for this method with him. We would serve him the same dinner we were eating, only cut into graspable pieces for him to enjoy. He loved to eat, so we incorporated a hybrid of the two methods and gave him both finger foods and purees before topping him off with breastmilk. There was not much he refused. Even today, he’s willing to try just about anything, but not shy about saying he doesn’t like something.
As Aurelia neared the 8 month milestone, I researched the methods further and decided to stick with the hybrid of the two methods. Her first taste of food was mashed avocado – not pureed. She gagged initially, but would come back for more, so we kept it up. We introduced celery stalks and carrot sticks next, things she could pick up and hold on her own. Both are great for teething babies too. With squash and zucchini in season, these were next up on my list to introduce. We did sort of a mashable/graspable method here, making sure the pieces we gave her were mashed enough for her to gnaw on but not mashed enough she couldn’t grasp them.
I shopped locally at farmer’s markets for in seasonal produce and slowly figured out a handful of vegetables that Aurelia enjoyed. Her list includes squash, zucchini, asparagus, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, watermelon, raspberries, and blueberries. Keeping the produce on hand, made meal prep easy and all of these are vegetables I prepare with our meals.
As some of the produce neared spoiling or becoming overripe, I cooked them in batches and prepped them for textured purees. Which is basically cooked veggies or fruits, tossed in the blender but pulsed instead of liquified. You can add breastmilk or water to adjust the level of texture. In the past, I stored these purees in ice cube trays, but never really enjoyed the hassle. Cue the Infantino squeeze station. Even my older children are fans of yogurt or fruit sauce pouches, so I thought this would be right up our alley for food storage.
With 3 medium squash, 2 large zucchini, a handful of blueberries, and about half a bag of precut carrots, I made about 60 ounces of purees. I used the Baby Love book to determine how long I cooked each vegetable or fruit and how to prepare them to be mashed. I put each batch into squeeze pouches, labeling and dating each one. These can then be stored in the fridge for 48 hours or 2 months in the freezer.
In the words of Joy Belle, it is “easy peasy squeeze-y breezy,” which is accurate in so many ways. From prepping the produce, to packaging it into the storage pouches, it’s never been easier to have fresh food for your baby. Overall, it took me about an hour and a half to prep, cook, store, and clean-up. Not only have the pouches been convenient for family to feed Aurelia when I’m away, but they are ideal for when we’re out and about or at a restaurant. It helps me guarantee that Aurelia is getting the best foods for her little tummy.
A few of Aurelia’s favorite purées:
- green beans & avocado with lime juice (to keep it green!)
- simply squash
- squash & zucchini
- asparagus & squash
Aurelia’s favorite finger foods:
- black beans
- celery stalks
Aurelia uses the pouches almost like a drink and sucks them down while eating her favorite finger foods.
Whenever I don’t have time to make pouches or food-to-go and when I need convenience, these Happy Baby clearly crafted are my favorites. We trusted this brand and various flavors since Joy Belle was a tot. Pouches in general are a great way for me to ensure that my little ones are getting their vegetables. Britt’s favorite are actually these Happy Tot super foods. And I also love the Happy Baby superfood puffs for when Aurelia wants to feel like a big kid.
Did I miss anything? Shoot me a message or comment below with questions.