Nutrition Tips 02 / Feeding the Littles

One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive is about how we feed our little guy without turning to standard sugar and gluten-laden foods that are, unfortunately, so prevalent in our infant and toddler food options. Maybe it's because we have been at this whole food diet thing for so long, and maybe people over think these types of things, but honestly it isn't hard. I promise! It may seem against the grain (pun intended) to start your infant on pureed vegetables instead of oatmeal or rice cereal, but I am fairly certain that our nomadic ancestors didn't have access to Gerber Good Start cereal. #amIright?

My goal in this little space of the interweb is to help you make positive changes for your family, to share information that brings you to a place of health and wellness, and to support and encourage you along the way. For you as an individual and for your families. So with that it mind, here are some tips and tricks and recipes that we have found to be successful when starting solid food while living a whole food, paleo-esque lifestyle.

+ First foods: sweet potatoes, green beans, zucchini, carrots, butternut squash, acorn squash, cooked apples, bananas, avocado
Elliot's first food was a pureed sweet potato. We started him out around 4&1/2 months with just a tiny bit of solids every day to get him used to the idea. At this point, his primary source of nutrition was breast milk. He didn't start eating solid food consistently, three times a day until about 7-8 months.

+ Purees v. baby led weaning
This is a topic that you need to research and discuss as a family to decide which school of feeding is right for you. We tried more of the BLW approach, and it just wasn't working, so we did a hybrid, with purees being the primary source of solid food with soft chunks of food mixed in. My son has a super sensitive gag reflex, so for us this was best. 

+ More advanced foods: baked sweet potatoes cut into chunks, scrambled egg yolk with zucchini chunks, paleo zucchini bread or carrot muffins, roasted root vegetables, pieces of soft fruit, avocado slices, steamed broccoli or cauliflower 'trees', a whole, peeled apple, chunks of soft chicken, ground beef mix with butternut squash, goat milk yogurt, coconut milk/cream, other soft fruits like peaches, pears.

+ As your child gets older, start to slowing increase the consistency of his food and the size of the pieces. We went from pureeing a boiled egg yolk, to scrambling it in grass fed butter and mashing in some avocado and sometimes banana. Then we slowly increased the size of the avocado and banana pieces, and now he just east the scrambled egg.

Here is a peek at what a typical day for Elliot looks like:

BREAKFAST: egg + zucchini scramble OR a piece of paleo zucchini bread, half a banana or some blueberries, avocado slices, baked sweet potato or butternut squash, coconut milk/cream mixed with a little fruit puree
+ To make the egg and veggie scramble:
Steam sautee peeled chunks of squash or zucchini in grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil until soft. Add in your egg yolk and mix it into the vegetables until it's fully cooked. For a younger babe, we mashed it up more and added in mashed avocado. Now, we just put the pieces of egg/zucchini on Elliot's tray and let him pick them up to eat. Sometimes we use broccoli instead of zucchini for something different.

LUNCH: chicken salad, half a pear, sweet potato chunks, steamed broccoli or roasted veggies, a little bit of goat milk yogurt, some zucchini bread if he didn't eat it for breakfast
+ To make baby chicken salad:
Boil chicken breast (or cook in a crock pot, then shred) then cut it into small pieces. Add in a little bit of mayo (we like to make our own) and some seasoning if you wish (we like 21 Season Salute from Trader Joe's because it is tasty and salt-free). You can also just give your little one chunks of soft chicken without making chicken salad.
+ For sweet potato chunks:
Bake some whole sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week. To use, just warm slightly in a toaster oven, then cut off small pieces. Since it is a baked potato, it will be really soft.

DINNER: grass-fed ground beef with sweet potato or butternut squash, roasted vegetables (zucchini, parsnips, winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), maybe some more avocado
+ For the ground beef:
Cook your ground beef as you normally would, then take out a small portion and mix in some soft baked sweet potato or butternut/acorn squash. We add in some grass-fed butter for healthy fat.

FORMULA: Elliot self-weaned around 9 months, and pumping at work isn't possible (long story), so we are making our own formula following this recipe. We only use 2tsp of sugar per quart because E gets enough good carbs from fruit and starchy vegetables at this point. We also decrease the amount of oil because we give him good fats from avocado, coconut cream and grass-fed butter. He takes about 3 bottles a day, one before each nap and one before bed. This works for us, so we are doing it. Do what works for you and your kids.

BOTTOM LINE: Elliot eats the same foods we eat, just in softer, more manageable forms. 

Other things:
+ We also make the Hidden Veggie Muffins from this cookbook (one of my favorites!). We make it into a bread because washing a bread pan is so much easier than washing a muffin tin.
+ We love the book 201 Organic Baby Purees and used it a LOT when starting solids.
+ When we were making purees, I would go to the farmer's market and stock up on organic produce, then cook and freeze it using this silicone freezer tray (LOVE) and these storage cubes. I would then take out enough cubes for a few days and place them in the fridge to defrost. So easy and convenient for taking to a sitter when you have a hectic schedule!
+ For convenience and for when we were out and about, we like these organic pouches in various fruit and vegetable combinations (just steer clear of yogurt and oatmeal/grain-containing flavors).
+ Now that Elliot is older, we like these glass bottles for his formula. When he was still nursing, however, we used these bottles that are more similar to breast-feeding.

It is so incredibly important to all of us as parents to give our kids the best start in life and support them as much as possible. Hope this helps give you some direction when it comes to feeding your littles!