Feeding Babies: A Relaxed, Common Sense Approach
This post was originally published over a year ago, but I continue to find questions on feeding babies and introducing solids in my inbox, so I thought that this was worth re-posting. And with another year to see how Johanna has responded to this style of feeding, I can say with even more certainty that this approach has helped her to develop into an easy-going, independent and un-picky eater. Hooray!
When I had my first baby, I was strangely eager to feed her “real” food. I couldn’t wait to break out those baby spoons, to start grinding up food in my blender and moving in to that next stage of babyhood. I began when she was around 5 1/2 months old, a reasonable age I figured. I even drew up a lovely Type A chart for my fridge, to record her every bite, her reaction to each food, and how many days I waited before the next introduction.
My darling girl, however, had different plans. Her reaction to the food? Yawn… ho, hum. What’s all the fuss about solids, mama? More milk, please!
A bit dismayed and confused, I backed off for a while. I continued to hesitantly offer a bit of food over the course of the next several months, and though she took it from time to time, she didn’t truly care or seem to need it until she was more like 9 or 10 months.
Fast forward two and a half years. Now I had a little guy who began to approach that magical age of six months. I decide to play it a bit more relaxed this time, going far beyond 6 months to ensure that his gut is ready to handle and digest food. At around 7 or 8 months, I began to oh-so-slowly introduce my homemade babyfoods, one at a time. Success! He loves it, he’s ready for it, and I didn’t stress myself out by trying too early.
Then, while pregnant with my third this past spring, I read something that shook me up just a little bit more: Real Food for Mother and Baby, by Nina Planck.
Being the careful, cautious mother that I am, I had always made my baby’s meals with whole, nourishing foods. I slowly introduced them, one by one, working from smooth purees to gradually chunkier combinations. I thought I had it all figured out.
Enter Nina’s casual yet common sense approach. So long as it’s “real” food (that is, foods that are old, traditional, whole, and were eaten by our great-grandparents), allow baby to eat it without fuss, without comment, without pureeing, without stress. Could it really be so simple?
Bless the babies of experimental moms like me. They get to be the guinea pigs of all our brilliant (and not-so-brilliant) ideas. Thankfully, Johanna is a pretty chill third child, and her mama has gone from being a bit of a basket case to a rather easy-going, relaxed, “sure, why not?” kind of mom.
Image by xlordashx
Here are my oh-so-brilliant and oh-so-precise methods for feeding my darling girl:
1. Wait until she’s good and old. I had visions of 8 or 9 months, but this particular child seemed ready at about 7 1/2. I went with the flow. In the meantime, I gave her nothing but lots of warm, delightful, nourishing, always-available breastmilk for as long as I could.
2. Cook regular meals for the rest of the family.
3. Find something in those meals that seems to be safe for baby (ie. soft enough to gum, nothing that might cause a choking hazard, no grains until baby’s digestive system is a little more mature around a year old). My first picks? Ground beef and liver, lightly cooked egg yolk, boiled sweet potato, steamed cauliflower or broccoli with butter, ripe banana, soft avocado chunks.
4. Break into small-ish pieces (note the precision) with your fingers. Put baby in a chair or on your lap. A bib is nice.
5. Allow baby to go for it.
6. Sweep floor thoroughly (this is in bold, because yes, it is necessary).
7. Repeat the next day.
Here’s what I didn’t do:
- Record what I fed her.
- Puree anything. At all. The closest I’ve come is to use a fork to lightly mash something. And she had some homemade applesauce because my older children were eating some.
- Use a spoon or a bowl.
- Wait several days between each new food introduction.
- Worry about how much she did or didn’t eat.
The result? A happy baby who has not rejected a single thing I’ve offered her, including a myriad of different vegetables and liver. A happy mama who is able to sit and eat her own dinner with both of her hands, and who has saved herself the time and effort of preparing ice cube trays full of baby food.
Image by chimothy27
But What About…
Food allergies and sensitivities
A main reason that babies have reactions to foods is because they are fed too early. Babies that are given solids before six months (and many are fed as early as 3-5 months) do not have digestive systems that are capable of completely breaking down foods. Instead they have a “open gut” which means that particles of food (usually food proteins that their systems are not able to fully digest) make it through microscopic holes in the gut lining and into the blood stream. There, these particles create an allergic reaction, as the body treats them like foreign invaders.
By putting off solids until at least 6 months and longer if possible, the risk of food sensitivities greatly decreases. At this point baby is creating more of their own digestive enzymes and the “open gut” has matured and closed up.
Of course, if you already have severe allergies in the families (dairy, gluten, peanuts, etc.) then it would be wise and prudent to avoid these foods for as long as possible, and then only offer them in a very controlled and careful way the first few times to be able to observe any reaction to them.
Getting enough food
One of the things that I love most about this method of feeding is that it keeps breastfeeding as a priority and the main focus of baby’s diet. So long as mom is offering the breast often and ensuring that her own diet/beverages are sufficient to keep up an ample milk supply for a larger baby, this solves the problem of whether the baby gets enough to eat. Baby will gradually begin to eat more and more of what they are offered (and begin to request more as well) as their needs and appetite grow.
Until my babies are around a year old, I offer breastmilk before I offer food. I don’t make this an absolute firm rule, nor do I decide to not let them have food at lunch because I haven’t been able to sit down and nurse them yet. It’s simply a mindset of breastmilk being their primary food, and solids being secondary. This gradually shifts as baby grows bigger and becomes more and more interested in and capable of eating solids. The shift occurs naturally, I’ve found, if I let it happen that way.
But my baby is hungry before six months old…
I hate to say this, because it sounds insensitive or judgmental, and that is absolutely not how I want it to come across. But, when moms tell me this my first thought is that they may simply may not be making breastfeeding the priority.
(And I KNOW that there are absolutely exceptions to this and the occasional mom who just really, really struggles with her milk supply no matter what she tries, so please know that there is no criticism at all if you are one of those moms. I applaud your efforts to breastfeed in spite of difficulties!)
It takes a LOT to feed a growing baby. A lot. I eat and drink non-stop all day long, in order to continue to breastfeed my 8 1/2 mth old daughter (who is a bit of a roly-poly, chunky monkey, which equals a healthy baby). I feed her usually 1-3 times between 7pm-7am, and then another 4-6 times throughout the day. That’s a lot of milk and I would be lying to say that it’s effortless on a mama’s part to keep making enough milk to satisfy a hungry, growing baby.
In my experience with my three babies, it takes commitment on my part. 100% commitment to maintaining as much milk as my little one needs means that I nurse more often, I don’t try to force them to sleep through the night if they still need the milk, I add extra nursing sessions if my supply wanes, and I snack and sip continually. Yes, it’s a bit more effort, but it’s well, well worth it.
Can baby handle foods that aren’t pureed?
From my experience and what I’ve read, yes, most babies can. There will be the odd baby that struggles with some of the chunkier textures or has a stronger gag reflex. In those cases, just calmly observe and make a decision that only you as the parent can make. If it doesn’t work for your baby, then do something different. It’s as simple as that.
I’ve linked to some excellent posts below, both of which address the choking and texture issues, which I think you will find helpful. They also get into many more of the specific details and reasoning behind this method of feeding babies. It is referred to in many different ways, including Baby-Led Solids or Baby-Led Weaning (referring to the entire process of weaning a baby from exclusive breastfeeding to solids to weaning from the breast). Both posts link to some other useful articles and books as well.
Feeding Baby Naturally: What, When & How
Baby Essentials That Aren’t, Part 7: Baby Food
Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby’s First Foods(the book that started it all, for me at least)
I did exactly what you did and now do exactly what you do. It is so freeing to not have to think about making up baby food!
With my first I wanted to wait until 6 months but gave in to peer pressure as my friends and family thought I was absolutely nuts for not starting at 4 months. I was told over and over again how much he “needed” to eat rice cereal, so we started at 5 months. This time around, I waited until my DD was ready! When she hit about 7 months or so she started showing some interest so I gave her small pieces of whatever we ate.
She played with it.
At about 10 months she actually started eating a bit more and within a month she was *asking* for food. She LOVES steak and roast and ground beef!! Definitely my meat lover!!!! We also kept her away from grains until she was a couple weeks shy of a year old. And because we have some milk intolerance, we did the same with dairy. (though now that she’s over a year she is offered raw goats milk if mommas away instead of me pumping) We also stuck with giving her whatever was more *nourishing* off of our plates and she got eggs, meats, veggies in lots of butter, etc.
Breastfeeding has always been of utmost importance! I learned with my first (after he stopped sleeping well when I fed solids THEN nursed) that I always nurse first and then she gets solids. (again like you – there have always been times where that may or may not have happened – and sometimes we’ve nursed at the table because she wanted milk more than food).
I think it’s unfortunate that our society places so much emphasis on “are you feeding baby real food yet?” because breastmilk is the PERFECT real food for baby! It’s all they need when under a year old and only needs to be supplemented with solids during the second year (or until baby self weans).
Gotta love the 3rd baby! I also did and now do what you do!! It is so freeing, I wonder why I didn’t do this with the other 2.
If having a meal at friends or family people are often surprised that I don’t have “baby” food for her and look at me a bit strangely when I say “its fine, she’ll just eat some of what we are eating” and give her a chunk of food on the high chair tray!!
AMAZING post! Thank you for the information!
.-= Verna´s last blog ..Turkey Weekend =-.
Other than MSG, we really don’t have food allergies/insensitivities.
#1 was at least 6 months old before starting baby food, waited the recommended time period before introducing new foods. Breastfed until 13 months. Had NO problems whatsoever. He nursed and took breastmilk in a bottle easily. At 14 he eats nearly anything and everything. Very few foods he doesn’t like. He’s also pretty eager to try new foods.
#2 refused bottles at 4 months (expressed breastmilk) and had no interest in weaning until 18 months (very resistant to wean before then). He wasn’t interested in baby food at all. He wanted something with texture (and taste). He started eating probably around 7-9 months and I tried to wait the recommended time frame before starting new foods. I steamed and ground in a grinder quite a bit of food for him (especially meats). At 10 he’s a somewhat picky eater and hesitant to try new foods (like me).
#3 refused bottles after 4 months too. Didn’t try to wean her until 20 months (when I was pregnant w/#4). She only had a couple of jars of baby food, mainly when out and about for convenience sake. Mainly just ground up or mushed up what we were eating. She started eating probably around 8 months or so and forgot there was a recommended time frame for introducing new foods. My mom/dad were itching for her to eat food so they could take her for the day (even out and about shopping). She’s almost 5 now, trying to be picky about some foods–likes some one day and not the next–overall she eats pretty well.
#4 refused bottles too. She turned 2 in Jan and I have her down to nursing once about every other day. She’d nurse all day/night if I was willing. She really likes to nurse right before her nap. She started eating probably around 7 months when she demanded to have what we were “playing” with. Just fed her whatever we were having w/no regard to waiting to introduce new foods and really didn’t bother mushing things up either. Meat we tried to make sure it was “gumable.” Never bought baby cereal (none of my kids liked it) and never bought one jar of baby food. She’s 2 now and has a mind of her own, usually will try things, sometimes will eat things she’s previously refused (and vice versus) but overall eats pretty well.
One thing I have found to be true with all of my kids, when they were probably between ages 1-3—–they either ate meat really well or veggies really well, but not both at the same meal.
I did something very similar for my first kiddo. I understand the concerns of waiting till a kid’s stomach is more mature, but I’ll admit that I started solids at 3 1/2 months. If my daughter saw anyone eat or drink anything she made it known that she NEEDED it too (this was around 2 months). I held off until 3 1/2, and thankfully she doesn’t have any sensitivities except to tomatoes (which I never fed her, she would just throw up if I ate them and breastfed her). We started her with some basic cooked squash and oil, or baked sweet potatoes cut like fries. Soft, lovely veggies like that gave me no fear to feed her. I’ll stress that I kept breastfeeding until she lost interest at 11 months, since I definitely think milk is best for babies. At 1+ yr now, she loves food and will down everything from cayenne pepper to raw garlic. I know I’m blessed with a very good eater, and it’s been nice to share so much good food with her.
Before I had children I watched a friend feed her baby whatever the family was eating. She said she believed it made them less picky eaters. That made a lot of sense to me, however with my first baby I was still eager to use the baby food so that’s what we did along with the real food. Over the years though there has been less and less baby food bought and more and more food from our table used. I think our last baby only had baby food because we were out and it was convenient. I am so glad for my friend’s example. My babies have all nursed really well only weaning when they were ready (anywhere from 14 months with my first to 26 months with my sixth). They are not picky eaters and eat a much wider variety of food than even I like. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that we gave them real food from the start. It makes me sad to see so many picky eaters and so thankful for the healthy appetites of our children.
I also think that delaying the introduction of food is a big help too. With two of my children we started food around seven months, but they became constipated. We stopped all food and went back to exclusive breastfeeding for several weeks before trying again. Thankfully today none of our children have food allergies. Thank God for that liquid gold – breast milk. 🙂
very interesting post!
husband and i are foster/adopting soon, a child between 0 and 4 years old. if the child is at an age where he/she is still on formula i would like to transfer him/her to organic, healthy solid food sooner than later because infant formula seems like not the healthiest stuff (full of chemicals and stuff that is not real food. i wish i could breastfeed, but this is not an option with foster/adopting). i would love to hear others’ opinions on this if you have any thoughts!
@sarah, I would definitely agree with your sentiments about formula! It would be wonderful to avoid it if you can.
Weston Price has a fantastic recipe for homemade baby formula using raw cow’s or goat’s milk, which I personally think is the best option if you are unable to breastfeed (which I know you can’t, with adopting, obviously). Here’s the link:
If baby is older than 4 or 5 months, you could begin at least with lightly cooked egg yolks, as well as formula, until they are more like 6 months, and then begin to proceed with good solids foods from there.
Congratulations on your upcoming additions! Fostering/adoption is such a wonderful option!
Sarah at thehealthyhomeeconomist.com has an excellent post about making the formula with tips. Also be aware if your baby winds up dairy-intolerant there is a dairy-free version of the formula you can make. All the best!!
I am glad that you commented on the mom’s with supply issues. I have successfully breastfed 3 babies and do plan to do so with my fourth. I was shocked when I had my first and discovered I had supply issues. I met with lactation consultants with both my first two babies to try to insure I was getting them the milk that they needed. I have to work very hard to breast feed. My body does not respond to a pump. It is worth the hard work, but we must not assume that those who are struggling are ignorant or not choosing what is best for baby. I have told myself many times that “breast is best, but no milk is very bad!” My oldest went on cereal at 4 months. He wanted food so badly because of my low supply. I was able to better keep up my supply with my second so she got food at 5 mo. I only made one round of puree because she wanted to do everything herself anyway. My third I worked insanely hard on my supply he didn’t get food until 6 mo, but preferred breast milk. I made a lot of purees for him however because I ended up getting H1N1 and pneumonia. He has dairy allergies so purees were easier because many times he cannot eat what everyone else is eating. I plan to nurse my fourth as long as God allows. I do not plan on introducing solids until 6 months and with most likely introduce fruits and veggies.
@Tara, Good for you to work sooo hard to try to keep your supply up! I know that there are other moms like you out there, and I honestly think you ladies who give it such a true effort are amazing! 🙂
w/my 3rd baby, around 4 months she out of the blue refused one side and became extremely frustrated because it was taking forever for my letdown. I also could feel my supply diminishing. I tried the herbs to try to increase my milk w/no luck. Pumping wasn’t helping either. We were both in tears and I didn’t know how much longer I could continue. Out of desperation I asked my chiropractor (while I was there for an adjustment) if there was an adjustment to help with supply issues. I told her my story. She looked over my baby (she’s a pediatric chiro too) and did a very gentle adjustment, one on the roof of her mouth and another around base of the skull. It was a night and day difference within 24 hours. I was amazed and never would have believed it if I hadn’t experienced it myself! My milk supply went back to normal, letdown back to normal and I was very thankful.
When nursing troubles arise, it takes a great deal of commitment to continue. I never realized how so until I had some troubles myself. It is beyond heartbreaking to know your baby is hungry and wants to eat and you aren’t fulfilling that need and you are doing everything that you know of. My hat goes off to you ladies who struggle with this and yet you still hang in there, doing whatever you can to continue.
@Tara, I so admire you for doing this!! Excellent work, mama!
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this!! I’m seriously bookmarking this blog post and re-reading it when my next baby comes and hits food-age (due early July). With my first baby I pureed everything…and it was SO much work! Plus, once I got pregnant with my second, the very IDEA of pureed foods GROSSED me out to no end. In fact, the residual memories were so negative that by the time my second hit the food-age I wanted nothing to do with homemade baby food. So I bought jarred foods. And felt incredibly guilty the whole time. Sure, it was easy and convenient, but it was horribly expensive and the thought of feeding my darling baby processed food was so upsetting. For this next baby I had been torn about what I was going to do. I wasn’t going to go the Gerber route again, but I dreaded taking the time and energy (with 3 kids under 3) to puree foods again. Now I know there is a third option! Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH, you are such a blessing!!!
.-= Emily Kay´s last blog ..Best Buds =-.
@Emily Kay, You’re so welcome, Emily! I’m glad this is so helpful for you!
I did this with our youngest son. It felt so right! I’m so happy that more and more people seem to get getting on the band wagon with it too. 🙂
.-= Tammi´s last blog ..Murphy came back =-.
We love Baby Led Solids/Weaning! We chose to wait to offer any solids until our little one was 6 months old and his first taste were sticks of steamed sweet potato (that basically turned to mush as soon as he picked them up 🙂 ). He’s been going great with food ever since. His favorite by far is steamed broccoli, but he also especially enjoys fresh from the freezer blueberries and raspberries.
We love that he joins us at the table for every meal and eats what we eat. We were majorly concerned about choking, but we took infant CPR and informed ourselves and haven’t had much trouble. I highly recommend Gil Rapley’s book Baby Led Weaning if you’re curious on this method of introducing solids. One thing I found particularly interesting was that at 6 mos, a baby’s gag reflex is more forward in his mouth (closer to his teeth), so his chances of choking are actually less trying solids at this age than they are later on because the gag reflex moves more toward the back of the mouth as the baby gets older. They’ll gag some, but that’s just them learning how to maneuver the food in their mouths. We have only ever had one instance of choking and it was short lived and our little man handled it on his own, then went right back to eating- he was not at all phased.
Yes, it’s messy, but messes can be cleaned up and it’s so worth it to see him stuffing his face with fruit and veggie goodness without balking at all. At 10 mos old we haven’t had any food refusals yet, though he does seem to have his favorites. We love that we don’t have to fight with him to get him to eat!
Sorry to ramble, this has just worked really well for us!
From a First Time Mom,
Thanks for this, I will have to check out that book and other links. I am expecting baby #3 in three weeks and I just might try this. My husband and I absolutely hate the baby food stage. It always seems like more of a battle than necessary, having to “teach” them how to eat. We started our first 2 at 4 months because we were told that was why they were not sleeping through the night after previously having a long period of sleeping through. Surprisingly though it never really helped with the sleeping, they really aren’t getting that much more food for 2-3 months after you start solids anyway! I have big babies which has resulted in having to nurse them more, no matter how much extra solids they got. On a side note, both of mine seemed to crave texture. Neither liked the runny baby food. I always had to thicken my homemade stuff with cereal, which looking back probably wasn’t best to add all that extra grain.
Have you had to deal with any negativity from family or friends for waiting to introduce solids? I remember when my first was 2-months-old my MIL insisting on us giving him a bottle with added cereal (even though I was nursing) as a solution to not sleeping well. This is what the doctors were saying back when she had babies.
Thanks for the post!
@Sheri, I personally haven’t dealt with much negativity from people wanting me to start solids earlier. Some people would ask if he started solids yet and my answer was just, “No, we are going to wait until he’s six months old” which I think is the AAP recommendation. That usually was all we said. I have had quite a few people think I’m crazy for just handing him some florets of steamed broccoli until they see him eat it. I also cloth diaper my baby though and so I think my friends and family just know that I tend to do things “differently.” 🙂
Thank you for this post! So timely for me too. I love Real Food- one of my favorite reads. 🙂
With my 1st, we waited on solids until she was one year…wow, did people think I was crazy! But in the next breath they say she was one of the healthiest babies they’d ever seen. 🙂 It seemed crazy when my midwife suggested waiting for that long to me, but she just thrived on milk and I didn’t have to deal with the whole baby food stage. Your method here is so common sense. I love it.
#2 is now 7.5 months and he’s still just on breastmilk. I don’t know yet if we’ll wait to a year for foods for him, but whenever we do start, I’ll be coming back to reference this post. Thank you!
With my youngest being 13, I missed this one! I did wait until 6 months, but fed grains like my pediatrician recommended. And I always kept the focus on breast milk, though, nursing from 12-18 months each, and the baby food stage was short. Honestly, though, I think sometimes the baby was getting better nutrition with jars of liver and sweet potatoes than the rest of us were in those days!
I posted this on your facebook fan page, but you’re probably more likely to see it here, and since it’s relevant to this post, I’m going to post it again here.
According to our pediatrician, my 6-month-old is iron deficient. She has not started solids yet and is exclusively breastfed, with no plans to start solids for a few more months unless necessary (or she wants to). Her pediatrician wants to put her on iron drops, but, of course, I don’t. When I was iron deficient, I purchased some freeze-dried beet juice powder to take to get my iron up so I could avoid iron pills, and I was wondering if that would be safe for my baby? If not, is there anything else I could do to get her iron levels up safely and naturally? Or should I just forget about those tests? I don’t know if I’ll be able to forget about the tests, since when I was iron deficient, I had a rough time health-wise, and I don’t want her to feel as awful as I felt during that time. I don’t want to ask the pediatrician, because we just moved and I have yet to find a doctor who is not “conventional”, so I know if I ask the pediatrician, she will say “just take the iron supplements!” (or “just give her iron-fortified rice cereal!”) Did you (or anyone you know) have this problem with your breastfed baby? What did you do about it?
@Audrey, If it was me, I would not do the iron supplements. Instead, I would up my own iron content (because you said she’s exclusively breastfed). Focus on getting lots of iron rich foods yourself, and if you’d like, try taking a really high quality supplement. My preferred iron supp is Floradix Iron. It’s amazing.
You could also just start her out on just one solid- liver (and wait on any other solids). If you get it from a really good source (grass-fed, clean beef) then it is an ideal first food. Grind it up and cook it, and let her just feed herself the little bits. Mine really loved it and since it’s ground, it’s fairly easy on the tummy. You could even puree it if you prefer.
My understanding is that lots of babies begin to get low on iron between 6-12 months, and this is natural. Their stores from birth are beginning to run a bit low. This may be why foods like liver are very traditional first foods in many countries around the world. A perfect way to up baby’s iron intake.
I wouldn’t stress out about those tests. Does she seem pale and lethargic? Is she sleeping particularly more than usual? Has she lost weight or is her growth seeming particularly slow? Remember, I am NOT a doctor, just a mom. These are simply things that I myself would consider.
I have to agree about the liver. I think it’s great for babies. We started grass-fed liver at about 7 months (although my dd wouldn’t take it unless it was pureed and mixed with yogurt) and we never had any trouble with her iron. She would eat it about once a week. I cooked it just like I like to eat it, dredged in flour and a little sea salt then fried in butter with a little onion. I pureed it and froze it in ice cube trays which I thawed when needed, and mixed with the whole yogurt. She still eats it very often even though she’s almost three. We call it meat gravy :). She loves it on brown rice.
Our rule of thumb, wait until baby is grabbing food off your plate!! And if you have a family dog, you won’t need a broom!! I always appreciate our dog more when I’m at someone else’s house and have to clean up their floor after my baby eats!
Love this post! we have approached solids a very similar way with our now 11mth old daughter. It was so great going out to restaurants/peoples homes for meals and not worrying about taking ‘baby’ food.
Although now we have discovered she has some pretty serious food allergies so I have to pack food to take with us due to that.
I still wouldn’t have done it any differently though – saves a lot of hassle, and you are never battling with baby to get them to open their mouth while you shovel more in!
.-= Jenn´s last blog ..Daisy 10 months =-.
I do this too. This is what I figured out when my first would NOT take pureed food. I did try it the first time with my second daughter, more to see what she would do…nope. Neither one even wanted to be spoon fed and pureed foods. Both my girls have followed the same patterns. My first did not really eat what I would consider very much until 14 months. This one is 15 months and has some days where she eats, and others not really. She did not get into eating anything until 13 months. I did offer.
This works really well for us, but I do get comments. Mostly about how messy it is! LOL I feel like all I do is sweep.
The only thing I have to add is that for us, my first daughter did not reject much food this way. But my second, she rejects A LOT. I keep trying but know that she is getting lots of good breastmilk too. I think each child is different.
My story is very similiar to yours except it took until baby #4 to be freed of the battle of baby food and feeding by spoon. My baby who is the same age as your Johanna really was grabbing at my plate by 8 months so I sat her in her chair and gave her bits of mine and she has been eating REAL food ever since. Very little of it I think but what a delight for both baby and me to enjoy our meals–same food, same time. And the only downer is the mess. Both her and the floor take a bit to clean. But no more special preparation and the long process of feeding her. I’d rather spend that time nursing her.
I do not understand the rush to give solids to babies… I also breastfed and felt that was the most important part. My first baby wasn’t interested in food at 6 months, so I just took it really slowly with her. My second baby started eating solids closer to 6 months because she seemed ready.
.-= Susan (5 Minutes for Mom)´s last blog ..Tell Us Over or Under and Win a Marc By Marc Jacobs Satchel =-.
Interesting. I breast-feed and formula feed (after lots of herbal supplements to increase supply, and even going to a homeopath and getting lactation drops for under my tongue), but we start solids when the baby starts grabbing off our plates. This has happened around 5 months for each of our children, as I often nurse at the table (same dinner time for all!), and at about five months, they’d snatch food. We’ve saved a lot of $$ this way, though our families think we’re crazy! Must work out OK, though. Since they are alive and healthy at ages 6,4, and 2.
.-= Jillian´s last blog ..Our Own Hidden Wonderland… =-.
I’m so thrilled to read this post! This is the way I’ve fed all six of my babies (now ages eight to almost 30!). #4, son Evan, has Aspergers with the accompanying need for gluten-free, so I purposed to breastfeed for the entire first year exclusively with #5. It was lovely. When he began solids at one year, it was with the informal whole foods approach you’ve espoused here. Nursing was ALWAYS first. My son didn’t really eat three square meals a day until ages 2-3, and he weaned a few months after his 3rd birthday. Baby #6 was a surprise blessing from God who arrived ten days before Momma’s 44th birthday. After a three-minute water birth (!), she began nursing and didn’t stop until she was nearly four. I never struggled with milk supply though I was in my mid-to-late 40’s at the time; I attribute this to my healthy diet with the addition of raw goat milk. Elianna Grace was also exclusively breastfed her entire first year. It was ludicrous to hear family and total strangers remark on how incredibly healthy she was, at which point they would inevitably remark, “But how is she ever going to learn to eat if you wait so long?!” HELLO?! She’s now eight years old and the healthiest of the lot. I think she’s had maybe two mild colds and a minor bout of chicken pox at almost two; going back to full-time nursing for a few days took care of that. This is the child who eats sauerkraut for a snack and drinks her raw goat milk from a large beer stein :).
Years of breastfeeding: 15-plus
Money spent on infant formula, baby food, or baby cereal: $0
Ease and peace of mind: Priceless
Just my two cents worth — from an older momma
Thank you for your post! I wasn’t sure where to post my question, but figured you maybe able to help me out. We just had our DD 3 1/2 months ago. She is exclusively breastfed and I’ve noticed some blood streaks in her diapers. It’s only happened a few times so far. I’ve read that it could be from me eating dairy? We drink raw milk & I wouldn’t say I drink the milk in excess. Just looking for some help from those who have experienced this. Ideas, suggestions?
thanks in advance for your help or anyone else that replies.
Have a blessed day!
@shelley, It could be from an allergy from something you’re eating, but blood in the stool is NEVER normal and you should consult a pediatrician right away. At that age, stools should still be soft enough to pass without too much trouble, so there may be something more serious going on. Don’t wait it out and see if it goes away on its own.
@shelley, I’ve also heard it can be from dairy that the mother eats (or other things). Dr. William Sears has some info on this I believe. There is a diet for mothers to go on. You have to completely eliminate the food (and all the places its found) for 2 weeks and then see what happens and try again.
I wait until baby can grab food off my plate too. With number 1 I did purees and all the ones you can buy here are heavily tomato based, I did make my own as well but that’s hard when travelling. The poor boy was tomato sensitive and his diapers and bum were just terrible. With number 2 she wanted solids a few days before she turned 6 months. I always breastfed her first and her first meal was broccoli florets, roast chicken leg (bone and all) and a banana (just peeled). By 8 months she was eating 3 meals a day and at nearly 2 she eats everything and anything we do, she isn’t picky at all, she is actually less picky than my first. It was also so easy going out to eat with the kids, no special meals at all to worry about, but we did get funny looks when she was under one and she had her own plate with selections of food that we had taken off ours.
Number 3 is due in a few days and I am just going to do the same thing when she is ready.
The book Baby Led Weaning by Gil Rapley is a good source to check out.
This is really fascinating. My baby is now 10 1/2 months, and we have moved from giving her pureed foods to more of solid pieces so she can feed herself. I am still breastfeeding. I really loved what you said about the extra effort to breastfeed a bigger baby. I wish I had read this a couple months ago; I might have changed a couple things I did.
Look forward to reading your blog!
Hello. I just found your blog via Simple Mom.
My experience with babies, food, and baby food has been the same. At first I felt guilty about not taking the time to feed my kids pureed foods and mushy cereal. As though I were a “bad” mom for not doing it. But in the long run really I was in tune with my little ones who were letting me know that the stuff on the spoon was gross and that real food was what they wanted to try!
I even blogged about it a while back: http://thoughts-of-home.blogspot.com/2007/09/when-to-start-solids.html.
Just recently found your blog and love this post! I read Real Food for Mother and Baby when my daughter (first child) was about 3 months old. We waited until she was around 7 months, mostly because we just couldn’t keep her from grabbing our food! She barely ate anything though, just played with it until she was about 10 or 11 months old. Now she eats everything, though currently she is going through an all meat phase which I’m assuming is just what she needs. I read that 80% of a baby’s diet should be breast milk at a year old, so we haven’t been pushing solids all that hard. She seems to be increasing her intake all on her own.
Another bonus to this method is that it preserves their gag reflex because you’re not pushing a spoon to the back of their mouth. Because I have seen how my daughter handles food, I’m not as concerned that she will choke on other things. We’re obviously still careful, but I know that I don’t need to freak out if she puts a rock in her mouth or anything.
Thanks again for this post!
This is going to have to be a quick comment since I hear babe waking and he’ll want to nurse, speaking of food. This was a fascinating post. I’ve delayed solids with my first 2 till about 9 months. I’m going to have to check out the links and the book later on. Always fun to learn something new. Your line about your type A chart on the fridge made me smile.
.-= SaraR´s last blog ..it’s raining today =-.
My son was fed breastmilk (pumped in a bottle due to his first 2 weeks spent in NICU) from birth to about 8 months when I got pregnant with #2 and had severe supply issues. Started supplementing with formula and he was having trouble with switching back and forth so we had to move to formula exclusively.
Around 8 months he also started wanting food. Since we are on WIC assistance we have an overabundance of baby food so that is what we use. But now I’m wanting to move him more to whole foods out of convenience.
But I’m wondering how you handle eggs? My family doesn’t have a history of egg allergies (nor does my husbands) and I was curious if you ever did scrambled eggs with egg whites for the babes?
@Brianah, As long as baby isn’t too young (under 6 months), I just start with a bit of egg yolk to make sure there is no reaction. If nothing, then I introduce the whole egg and again, watch carefully for a reaction. Most babies don’t actually have a problem with egg whites, and particularly if there’s no history of egg allergies then I wouldn’t worry about it. Eggs are a fantastic whole food!
Hi: Love this post–we have switched our daughter to formula now, and wondering what your thoughts on this system when formula feeding. I know you commented on the foster/adopt mom’s post, but I would like more detail. Are you agreeing that you would do things sooner rather than later in this case? In other words, start introducing real food sooner if not breastfeeding the child? I understand breast is best but for those who are not breastfeeding but would like to do this “feeding real food” thing, what’s your advice? Does the book you mentioned talk about this at all? Thanks so much, love your blog. 🙂
.-= Michelle G.´s last blog ..Madelynn is 3 months old- =-.
@Michelle G., I would think that postponing is still your best option. I assume your little one is on formula, which can still be a fine option for babies that can’t get breast milk (I would recommend organic if you can afford it). Feeding them “real” food too early greatly increases food allergies later in life (as mentioned in the post). Keep up with the formula for as long as possible and wait on the solids.
Thank you for this great post! I’m on my 2nd and was wanting to wait longer with her (she’s 3 mo), but never even realized I could wait that long. With my son I made his baby food, but I think I’ll try the gumming table food with my little Muffin. I look forward to delving deeper into your blog. Just came across it today via Frugal Granola’s site.
.-= Caitlin´s last blog ..Poor Ella =-.
With my daughter (my only child so far–we’re expecting again any day!) I breastfed until 11mos when my supply completely was gone. (& I tried EVERYTHING with a lactation consultant, from herbs & pumping after nursing + extra pumping, to finally taking domperidone…) In any case, I did some homemade purees for my daughter, but mostly mashed food up that we were already eating. I started solids at 5 mos–I had had definite plans to hold off until as long after 6 mos as possible–but at 3-4 mos, she was watching ever bite & sip we put in our mouths & demanding some to try! We delayed giving her any until between 4-5 mos…but she really was very loud about what she wanted (at 3 1/2 she still is!). At that age (4mos) I think she wouldve had a hard time with, say, broccoli florets, but we didnt pre-prepare much (except maybe applesauce)–I just used a fork to mash up what were already eating & maybe steamed her veggies for a little longer than ours so they weren’t still crunchy.
I’m a grandmother now to 4 little ones after raising six kiddos…..I nursed my children this way and started them on food when they seemed ready…usually six or seven months…never stressed about what they were eating or how much, BUT, I did /do cook from scratch and I think you nailed it when you said it takes commitment….yes, to breastfeeding and raising little ones…it takes time, and so many just don’t understand that principle. Having said that, none of my now adult children have weight problems, health issues, allergies, etc. All raised on raw milk, and a traditional diet.
I know this might seem like a weird comment/concern, but my only problem with this idea would be… how do you kick the habbit of eating with their hands? I can’t stand when a seven-year-old doesn’t know how to use their silverwear. I guess this was always my main reason for spoon-feeding the majority of my kids food. I can see the benefits of feeding this way, and it’s a great idea, I just wonder how it would work in reguards to being messy or neat eaters a few years later.
@Cheryn, But even kids that are spoon-fed eventually transition from spoon to feeding themselves, which means using their hands. So it seems like down the road it’s still the same transition – from them using their hands to using utensils. (I suppose if you wait a long time to allow them to feed themselves then they could use utensils.)
@Cheryn, Both my kids just naturally asked for a spoon (in baby talk or just pointing) at around 15-18 months and then later, a fork, My oldest now also uses a knife sometimes (5). They both mainly use utensils to eat unless its finger food (they are 2 1/2 and 5). My MIL had this same concern but it wasn’t an issue for us. They want to be like thier family and imitate us.
@Cheryn, I just began offering a spoon for “spoonable” foods once she was around a year old. Sometimes she used it, other times she just used her hands. But gradually, she learned to use it more and more and now she feeds herself quite well with a spoon. She just needed to have the opportunity to learn it naturally as she was ready.
I love this article….mostly. I do have to take exception with one small part. You can make breastfeeding a priority AND have a child wanting food before six months. Every baby is different. Breastfeeding was my ABSOLUTE priority. I sat for hours nursing, I educated others (including my own pediatrician) about being sure your nursing session lasted long enough to include the filling hindmilk, I nursed on demand. All day. All night. In the shopping mall. At friends houses. My son continued nursing until he was 3 years old and my daughter nursed until she was 3 1/2 years. I was COMMITTED. Both of my babies began snatching my home-cooked, mostly organic food off my plate at about 5 1/2 months. I was fully prepared to nurse exclusively until they were around 1 but they had other ideas. I always nursed before a meal but still, they were interested in what Mom was putting in her mouth. I know that you do note there are exceptions but you also prefaced that with a blanket statement that I did find rather judgmental and could only stand to hurt feelings. Which surprised me coming from your blog which is usually very helpful. You are linking the individual behavior of the child to the commitment (or lack of) in mom. That was unfair.
Thanks so much for this! I’ve been feeling that I need to start solids because she’s 5 1/2 months (timing! ha) and she’s itching for real food. Seriously. It’s not a milk supply issue. Thankfully, the Lord has blessed me with having plenty! Nursing has been easy, and both she and I love it. But every time I eat or drink in front of her, she tries to take my food or drink from me. I think she’s ready. Could it be that each child has different timing, and that 5 1/2 months for my child isn’t actually too early for her? Just wondering your thoughts or if I misinterpreted what you wrote.
By the way, breast milk will still be the priority – the main source of her nutrition. I’m big on that.
And the thought of not pureeing is freeing!! One other question – People say that if you start with the sweet veggies and fruits that your baby will grow to be picky. But what do you think about that? My pediatrician said veggies first, then fruits, eggs, and then grains last. I remember somewhere in there he said meat, but now I can’t remember where.
I was so glad to see your comment. I was beginning to think I was in the minority for not waiting until my daughter was much older for solids. At five months our daughter was stealing food off our plates. By six months she was in love with squash, carrots, bananas and avocados. For a while, an avocado at dinner was the only thing that helped her sleep through the night. I wasn’t anxious to push solid foods on her, but she was the one pushing me. I think the only thing I gave early was yogurt. We introduced it at 8 months rather than waiting for a year. She loves it and still does. Though unfortunately I was stuck with baby cereal as a thickener (I couldn’t think of another convenient one). I did puree many of her fruits and veggies though because other wise she ended up with uncomfortable chunks in her stool which disturbed my husband.
@Ashleigh, I think that some babies might be ready a bit earlier than others, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with getting enough milk. I’m referring more to moms who say that their babies “need” the extra food, but that’s because they aren’t getting enough milk. It sounds like your baby gets enough milk, but she’s just really curious about food! I think that’s totally normal, but I would (personally) still try to hold off as much as possible, simply to allow the gut more time to mature. Babies can be interested and grab at food, but that still might not equal a mature gut. If you do introduce food now, just keep it minimal.
As for introducing food, my general order is meat/egg yolk, veggies, fruit, dairy (like yogurt) and then grains last (I personally do grains after 1, and I hold off on wheat even longer). But I say general because I’m still a bit casual about the order.
@Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home, Thanks so much for your response! I find that very helpful! We did try avocado today – first official time – and only maybe half a baby spoon altogether. Thanks for the tips on your ordering. Does anything need to be done to the egg yolk before giving it to a baby? Like cook at all or anything?
I drink raw milk, so totally on board with the raw thing if that’s the case. Just wanted to ask first! Thanks, Stephanie, for all of your great content!
@Ashleigh, I lightly cook the egg yolk. One easy way to do it is soft-boil the egg and scoop the soft yolk out. Or you can separate the yolk and white first, then very lightly fry the yolk.
Thank you so much for this post. I couldn’t agree with you more. We waited until after my daughter was 6 months before we started in on the typical rice cereal, and then kept it at that for a few months before moving on. My pediatrician said that babies are being fed “real” food WAY too early and she believe (as do many others) that it’s for that reason our children are developing so many food allergies. She said that in actuality, a baby needs nothing more than breast milk (or formula, depending on your own personal methods) for the first year of life. It’s only for “social reasons” that we want our babies to eat like adults at the table, with real food. I always tell my friends and family with little ones to wait as long as they can before introducing solids, but most don’t listen. Hopefully this trend will continue.
Love it ! I followed this method with my children, now 13,11 and 7. Each child ate real food, unpureed on their own schedule. They began eating anywhere from 6 months to almost 9 months.
My son just turned 2.
At 6-ish months he was very interested in our food, so I gave him some carrot sticks and such to chew on — he didn’t have teeth yet. He also did not handle any veggies well, I discovered, even cooked in stock.
At 8 months I began offering him ground beef and plain yogurt. He loved both of these — still does. He is the only one in the family who eats and enjoys yogurt in any form. He also got some avocado soon after this and is the only one of us who enjoys that (my first gagged on it and still won’t eat it at 3.5). I never pureed a thing for him, though I did “help” him eat his yogurt or applesauce (once he started that, past a year) sometimes with a spoon. I often did let him go for it himself though and yes, it made a mess, but he was pretty good with a spoon by 15 months.
He joined us at the table in a booster around 17 months. He now eats almost anything. He doesn’t seem to like peas much but other than that I don’t think there’s anything he won’t eat. He loves any sort of sauce, too, and especially seems to like sharp/bitter/slightly spicy things. Loves salsa, plain yogurt (more than ice cream!), brown mustard, and so on. People are shocked by what this kid will eat.
I plan to wait even longer with #3, due anytime now. Although #1 and #2 are both still nursing so there is that. 🙂
My little girl is just shy of one year and I am still breastfeeding at least 2 – 3 times a day. We didn’t start feeding her solid food until she was 7 months and I rarely pureed it – really the only time I feed her with a spoon is when she gets homemade yogurt, but that is because I can’t see having to deal with the clean up yet. She has always eaten what we eat, just in smaller pieces and she is a content and big baby. Almost everyone comments on what a good eater she is and how their babies were “so picky”. I was never nervous about giving her real food, especially after I read Real Food. If we decide to have another baby, I will do things exactly the same way – for their health and my sanity.
I did the baby food jar thing with my first. He was exclusively BF until 5 months when I went back to work. I pumped and BF till he was almost 1, then continued BF till he was 3. He did get baby food jars for a while but he also got real food.
With my second I introduced food slowly and later. I was able to stay home for 10.5 months and BF on demand. I pumped until he was almost 14 months old and continue to BF him (he’s 18 months now). He didn’t care much for jar food so I didn’t feed him any!! He loves real food and tried almost anything. I have him pretty much on full GAPS diet with some illegals thrown in (occasional cookie or cereal which I’m about to nix and substitute with real stuff). Lately he’s either been teething or stresses (DH left on a 3 week vacation last weekend and older brother has been gone all summer) so he’s been nursing more than ever. I stressed about it a bit because he wasn’t eating too many solids but now I just go with the flow. I nurse on demand (can’t get the shoes off fast enough after work before he’s lifting up my shirt and leading the way to the bedroom!!) and feed him my GAPS foods – he loves sauerkraut and avocado, all sorts of veggies, eggs, butter… haven’t tried much liver since I don’t like it but will give it a go. Same for kefir. Thanks for writing this – I needed the support.
i did the purees with my first son because that’s what everyone said was good for baby, with my second son i had a lot of stress in my life from other things, and while my milk supply seemed to hold up fine, i just didn’t want to add one more thing to my to-do list. so i just waiting til he was bigger and one day he just started taking the food off of my plate and eating it. 🙂 it was such a relief that i didn’t have to mess with the blender or with the baby dishes. after that i just sat him in his chair and put the food right on the table. he loved it! at 2 he’s still a laid back eater and will eat just about anything i cook.
What a great post!
My fourth child shocked me because she was ready for solids so early. How did I know? She started grabbing foods from my plate, putting them in her mouth, gumming them, and swallowing them. I made sure that I always kept fork-mushed solids closest to her. I did offer her grains because it’s one of the only things that will totally melt in the mouth (don’t you just love amalyse?), but it was the type of grains that we eat and not a baby-food cereal.
Yes this is what I used with my second child. However even though I offered food in this way she didn’t want to eat it until after her first birthday! (The next week). She still doesn’t eat much, and unfortunately, even though we used this style, I think it also has to do with personality. My daughter is a very picky eater, and I am not able to ever relax during meals (I often eat at a different time for breakfast and lunches due to this stress). She sometimes out right refuses to eat, even now at 2 1/2. I wish it were easier! At least I didn’t have the additional stress of pureeing things etc. My oldest child was not this picky and by 15 months was eating well. In fact I wouldn’t call her picky at all. So I think even though I pretty much did mostly the same thing with each kid (the way you do with Johanna) it also has to do with each of their personality. We’ll see next time around!
I did this with child #1 exactly. I don’t know where I read this information about feeding what we were eating–no purees, only whole foods–but it worked nicely and was SO much easier than making baby food. I also exclusively BF until she was nearly 9 months and she was perfectly content with just milk. Now with child #2, she was approaching 6 months when I started making my own rice cereal. I fed her all the time and she was simply always hungry. It didn’t matter what I did; she was never satisfied. So, after the rice cereal, I began pureeing foods and thought, “Why am I doing this? I didn’t do this with #1; why with this child?” So, I stopped and now she just eats what we’re eating, too.
Thanks for your post. I have been trying to “teach” other mamas who use jarred baby food to stop buying that stuff and just feed their babies what their family is eating. This is an excellent post for that! : )
It’s so funny to see that a large majority of these posts say they knew their child was ready when they started grabbing food off of their plates. How is this happening? Are your kids Stretch Armstrong?!? 🙂 My daughter was sitting in her high chair in her own spot during meals when she was old enough to sit on her own (so she would be with the family at meal times). She couldn’t reach anything on anyone else’s plate. I think that sometimes parents mistake a baby’s curiosity with what you’re doing (eating) and their desire to duplicate you with “being ready” for solid foods. Just because my four-month old is fascinated with earrings doesn’t mean she’s ready to wear jewelry. Try to use your best parental judgment and don’t give in to something if they aren’t ready for it. Just my two cents.
@Emily, I actually agree. My son was eagerly attacking any food he could get close to by about three months (yes, he was a fabulous grabber by then). He seemed desperate to eat. I offered him a taste here and there once he was over four or five months, but he was really not interested in actually eating until 6 or 7 months.
I stumbled across the idea of not making baby food when visiting my cousin who has a son only a month older than our. Prior to that I was making my own applesauce, butternut squash puree, banannas, peas, carrots, etc, etc. After watching her fed her son “zuchinni fries” (stips lightly sauted in butter) I started the same with our and he does very well. I still spoon feed him applesauce and things like mashed potatoes or bbq but otherwise he basically feeds himself.
Thanks for the encouragement!
Thank you for this post! With my 3rd I tried doing no pureed foods – just soft, whole pieces of food that were appropriate for her to eat. My question, though, is, do you feel like your baby is really absorbing and digesting the food if the baby is not eating it pureed? I liked giving Hannah whole chunks of food and letting her feed herself. It was so much easier for me, and she enjoyed it! But, I noticed that she most often pooped out the whole pieces of food that she was biting off – she wasn’t chewing them. She was just swallowing them whole. And now that she’s 16 months old, I feel like she isn’t the best at chewing her food, and still wonder if she’s getting all she needs. Is this common with this type of feeding? If we are blessed with another child, I don’t know if I will try this method again, or if I will puree my homemade food so the baby absorbs the nutrients better.
What are your thoughts on this, if you have any?
I figured this out with our third, after she refused all solids (even those I oh-so-lovingly pureed and froze in ice cube trays) until she was 10 months old. I finally figured out that she’d eat them when she was ready, and by that time, I figured she could eat whatever we were, so long as it was gummable. I did feel some pressure to start on the earlier solids because of Sally Fallon’s strong recommendations in NT to start egg yolks around 4 months, but when I saw it wasn’t working, I figured the breastmilk and my nutritious diet was what she needed, and solids would come into play when she was ready to handle them.
Sounds exactly how I started out and how I have ended up. After practicing baby-led weaning with my most recent baby (15 months) I will never go back. He was one of those babies with a very sensitive gag reflex so he had very few solids before 12 months. But now he eats anything and everything with no problems, and of course is still nursing. I feel confident in my decision to allow him to go at his own pace. I have nursed all of my kids exclusively and for a long time but did pureed foods before. With each successive child I have gotten lazier and lazier (or busier and busier 😉 so this is definitely something that works for us. Love this post-great advice!
Love this post. I’m due today (quite literally, but no contractions yet) and am definitely looking at low-key baby care. I was a nanny for a number of years and worked with a lot of paranoid moms (one who made me write down every single tiny detail about eating, sleeping, pooping and even play time), and I think I (hopefully) got that “first-time mom” paranoia out of my system! I’ve been very relaxed this pregnancy (freaking people out all the while with my midwife’s permission), and feel that will probably carry over. I’ll most likely forego sippy cups and the big fancy high chair (hello $30 hook on chair) and do something similar to what you’re doing with solid foods. We don’t have all the baby gear a lot of people find essential (how can you NOT have a bottle warmer?! I get asked), and I’m fine with my baby wearing hand-me-downs. I like your perspective on waiting longer to help a baby’s digestive system develop a bit further, too…I hadn’t really pieced those two things together. Thanks!
Great post! I wish I had it to read when I was first starting out. I was a lot like you with my first. With my second I did put off feeding a lot longer but continued down the “making baby food” road for a while. I have seven children and I didn’t really learn to relax about what to feed until probably my fifth child. As you said, there is almost always something baby can eat at a whole foods meal. Occasionally something else might need to be added, but rarely. I also agree with how important it is to really prioritize nursing. It is a big key to long term health.
I learned something interesting in my Anatomy and Physiology class that might be of good value to know. Babies digestive tract continues to form between the age of 1 to 2 years of age. I thought this might be helpful to those who are wondering a little bit more about the GI tract and babies. Here is an article on Livestrong.com that may be useful to those who find this fascinating 🙂
@Jennifer, Thanks for the great link, Jennifer!
I loved Real Foods for Mother and Baby! Fabulous book. Although I have found that I have a baby that does indeed have a very sensitive gag reflex, requiring me to feed him mashed food or to grind food in a food mill. But that’s ok, I’m willing to do that, even though it wasn’t part of my plan. He loves food! I would hate to deprive him on principle. He insists on feeding himself by hand or with preloaded spoons. He is getting better at 8 months (we didn’t start solids until 6+ months) and I plan to offer him more chunks as he matures.
Great post! Though my babies are all grown up kids now, I have the same issue with feeding time before. It’s really hard and upsetting sometimes when I’m having a hard time feeding them. Good thing I gracefully survived that phase of mommyhood!
I did the same with my last few kids. My oldest only had two jars of store-bought baby food and some homemade purees because I was a gung-ho first time mom. After that, I was busy enough with a toddler and baby, that I just threw little chunks of food at the baby in the little high chair/seat to play with and eventually shove into his mouth. Worked fabulously with the second, third, and fourth children. People are shocked when my kids answer the “what’s your favorite vegetable?” question with broccoli, or see my (still nursing) 18mo chowing down on salad or my 3yo sucking down sauteed zucchini, or all of them snarfing brown rice. And really, this mama’s got enough on her plate with making regular meals – I’m *not* making separate little ones for toddlers.
Oh, and my kids all started solids at different times to boot! Since we waited until they got all excited and trying to grab stuff off our plates, they thought it was the most exciting thing ever. 🙂 With one it was about 6mo, the next it was 9-10mo (although she didn’t *really* get into solids for another few months), the last babe was 7mo.
I have not read this book, but we have done this approach with our youngest. I totally throw the food rule book out the window. So far she’s doing great and not picky at all (at 14 months). I didn’t give her cereal to start out with instead I started her on avocados and bananas. It was SO much easier to cook food for the whole family than just her and us separately. And, it saves so much money instead of purchasing extra pouches of baby food.
I absolutely loved Nina’s books. I had the privileged to read both of them before my DS was born. It was so freeing. After watching family members struggle with feeding their LOs and watching one kill two food processors pureeing food. I felt lucky not to be bound by the conventional method.
Regarding the food allergies… it’s not 100% accurate to say that they are the result of feeding baby too early. My boys were both diagnosed with food allergies well before they ever had their first bite of solids (between 2 and 4 months); their symptoms were severe eczema, coughing/wheezing, and vomiting. There is no clear-cut answer as to why so many people today have food allergies and/or sensitivities, and it’s a bit simplistic to suggest that eating solids too early is the reason. The reasons range from a lack of good gut flora to over-cleanliness, to medications to vaccines and who knows what else. To be honest, I think early solids really has very little to do with it in light of all the more serious issues that affect the gut.
Having said that, I waited until my boys were at least 6 months before feeding them solids, and they were both ready at that point; I wasn’t able to breastfeed my first past 9 months (long story), but I’m hoping to keep this one going at least a year (if I can stay off cheese that long… he’s allergic to dairy:).
I also totally agree with the concept of feeding baby real table food from the beginning, but I also believe that purees play a part as well (or at least mashed foods). Let’s not forget that previous generations (before Gerber) would also mash their babies’ food, or even chew it themselves before offering it to their little ones. If we believe that people in previous generations practiced better eating and nutrition than we do, then we would not be remiss in following their example in this regard.
It’s SO reassuring I’m not the only one doing this! I picked up that book by Nina Planck and was mesmerized. I breastfed my daughter and when she was ready for table food (7 months), I fed her from my plate. She still primarily nurses, but I give her food and she LOVES it all! My husband and I shake our heads everyday that we didn’t do this with our son. It’s SO EASY!! No purees or cans of food or cereal…just real food. I do find that I nurse a lot still, but it’s worth it to me.
Also, many people question what I do and I simply answer, but make no suggestion for others to do this unless I know they eat real food. I don’t want to mislead others that it is healthy for babies to eat everything, especially in our processed world.
One other question for ya – Do you have articles you could refer me to or other blog posts you’ve done regarding the development of the gut and dangers of solids too soon? We have just done solids thus far very lightly. Just once a day (really like 3 times a week) and somewhere between half a baby spoon full and one ice cube of food.
I like your whole food approach, and I think I’ll do that soon. Just pureed a little to start with. But I’m not stressing about the texture (as long as it’s small enough for her to eat) or the timing of feeding etc. Just go with the flow.
But wanted to read more about the gut thing. Thanks for your reply about the egg yolk by the way!
@Ashleigh, I haven’t written any other posts on that topic myself. but I think that there are some useful articles on the Weston Price website, in regards to how/when to feed babies and why. wish I could help more but I am responding while on vacation and my internet availability is really limited. Sorry!
Hi Stephanie! We followed these exact same principles with our girls…especially baby #2.
They’re now ages 2 and 4…and GREAT eaters (plus, no allergies!). 🙂
Dear Gina, Please take a look at “Breaking the vicious cycle”. This book is amazing and talks about a specail diet for Autistic people and for people with gut problems. I’m gluten intolerant and went on this diet for one year. It is a hard diet to follow but I felt great and healthy. Good luck.
i hope someone can help me. my daughter just turned one. she was on the weston A price formula since about 3 weeks old, as i could not produce breast milk after 3 weeks. she is simply NOT interested in anything other than organic puffs/veggie straws, etc. for a while there i was able to get her to eat some bited of banana or avocado (always from my hand, she pushes the spoon away), but now if i am able to get the food in her mouth, she spits it out. we want to ween her off of the formula, but i am so scared she won’t get any nutrition. i also want to get her off of the dried snacks. she has some exczema, and i believe it is gut related (as does her doctor). ANY advice would be so appreciated, as I am baffled on what to do. Her 2 1/2 year old brother was just diagnosed autistic and has some food adversions but will eat most everything I give him……thanks so much.
@gina, I would like to offer some help, Gina, but it sounds a bit beyond my own experience feeding children. Sounds to me like something to work with a certified nutritionist or naturopath on, perhaps. There definitely may be gut issues, but you need to get her to eat first, or it will be very hard to put her on a specific gut-healing diet, so I would try to deal with just varying her diet first.
i understand…it’s not your typical situation that’s for sure! thanks for getting back so quickly!
As a nurse practitioner, I can fully say I agree with the “Real Food” philosophy of feeding a baby. Rice cereal is empty food with artificial iron added- no real nutrition. Egg yolk is the perfect first food- a lot of iron, protein, tons of vitamins and brain healthy fats. Also, avacado is great due to it’s high fat content. Most people I talk to don’t realize how important fats are for a baby’s brain- brain matter is mostly fat; no wonder human breast milk has 50% of it’s calories from fat!! 🙂 Great article!!!
I LOVED this article. I really needed some reassurance, and I got it. I’m working with my first, who’s 7.5months, and still nursing at night, and practically all day long. I was lucky and have had a good supply. I just wish I didn’t have to work! Any advice on how much breast milk a baby should drink from a bottle? I’m always worried she isn’t getting enough when I’m not home, nursing on demand. Anyway, thanks so much for the great read!!
I’m sorry, I really don’t know how much it should be from a bottle. I guess that’s something you don’t pay attention to when you nurse on demand. Glad this gave you some reassurance, though! 🙂
Thanks for this article! I am currently researching appropriate first foods for when my daughter is ready. I find your no-fuss attitude refreshing. But the most important thing I got from your article was reassurance about how frequently my 3 1/2 month old daughter nurses. At night she feeds at about 7:30 pm, 12:30 am, 3:00 am, 6:00 am. Then she snacks and naps in little intervals all day at her whim. I am lucky enough to have a year off work to indulge her. Now I am not so worried that she is feeding too often and not as keen to start supplementing her diet yet.
This was my exact experience: My babies refused solid food at six months. They wanted table food at 8 months or so. The end. Or rather, the beginning. That was my first two. After that, I didn’t bother to start until 8 months. And even then, I watch for signs of readiness: reaching for food, putting it in their mouths, watching me chew while they move their own jaws up and down. To smash things up, sometimes (when we don’t have company) I’ll chew something for them and then put it in their mouths. I know that sounds gross, but we lived in a SE Asian village where that was the norm for “grinding your own baby food” and it seemed to work well. Perhaps the mother’s saliva helps to pre-digest the food for the baby? I don’t know, but I don’t hurry to introduce foods anymore and none of my babies has suffered for it!
Thank you for posting this! This is great encouragement to me b/c I slightly followed this with my first (not knowing that I was), however, I was ridiculed by my family for not giving him more solids and I felt like I was a “lazy” or “unprepared” mama. I now am on #2, who is 4 1/2 months old and I have had a LOT of people encourage me to start him on cereals, which I cringe at the idea of. This seems so much more natural, and right up my alley…I feel so much better knowing that I’m not crazy for feeling this way, and will as I always do, stick to my guns and do this. I’ll post my experience with my little guy as they come.
Just wanted to note that while it is counterintuitive, current research says that celiac parents and those with a strong history of celiac in the family SHOULD introduce wheat between 5 and 6 months, and then breastfeed as long as possible thereafter. Something about that open gut provides a window that has a protective effect and significantly reduces risk of developping the disease.