Waits does most of his eating in the a.m., so afternoons and evenings are more about exploring new flavors and textures. Every baby is different in terms of their enthusiasm for, and ability to handle, solids. Some are grabbing for food by four months and chomping carrot sticks before they reach their first birthday. Others, like our little bug, seem mostly disinterested. Waits would be happy nursing for all his calories. He didn’t really begin to eat until ten months or so, and even now (10 days shy of a year!) he’ll only eat mashes and purées.
Before, left, lentils simmered with onions, garlic, carrots, basil, and oregano. After, right, lentil mashed and ready for a trip to the baby belly.
I make all of our baby food from scratch – not because it’s cheaper (it is) or because it’s healthier (it really is) – but because, well, it simply makes so much sense to me. I just make Waits a portion of whatever it is we’re eating. It takes a little more forethought and it means I don’t add spice or salt until after the dish is cooked, but otherwise it makes no difference. I cook up our dinner, portion some out for the wee one, and then finish off with seasoning. I mash by hand – I don’t even own a food mill. (Though I’d love to and I do recommend one. They’re certainly not necessary, but damn are they handy!)
Sprouted mung beans ready for cooking.
Here at HQ we eat a lot of legumes, and not a lot of grains. I buy in bulk and prepare them myself which is a great way to reduce sodium. All organic! And always properly prepared by soaking and/or sprouting. Lentils, beans, peas – these are a great source of protein as well as calcium, folate, iron, and other minerals.
Waits adores a good bean mash. A legume, a little flavor (cumin, basil, etc) and some oil – that’s baby hummus from heaven! Though I must admit, he’s much more likely to dig in if it’s salted . . . he takes after his mama!
Hemp oil is a great source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Flax is also good but flax contains phytoestrogens, so I choose to use the hemp. I was given a bottle of Manitoba Harvest and I have to say I really love it (read about why I heart hemp here). It has a great mild flavor and best of all, it’s bright green! FUN! Olive and coconut are also excellent oil choices.
Steamed broccoli blended with full-fat coconut milk.
We also do some steamed veggie mashes and purées, but with less success. I have a feeling these are bland and the key will be adding salt . . . but I’m hesitant to do that just yet.
Parents: Do you think it’s better to keep food unsalted, knowing that much less will be eaten, or is it better to add the salt in order to encourage more substantial portions? I’d love some input on this!
Ahh, nutritional yeast, another one of those questionable “is it a food or is it a supplement?” items. Well for me, I think it’s just about the greatest condiment ever created. And for Waits, I consider it a super baby food additive extraordinaire! It’s got oodles of protein (and it’s ‘complete’ protein), it’s bursting with B-vitamins (including B12 in most), and best of all, Waits thinks it’s the bees knees. He loves it sprinkled on sweet potatoes, mashed into green peas, or even just off mama’s finger!
Eating at this age is all about exploring and having fun, and that’s just what we’re doing! I have a blast planning and preparing diverse and nutrient-rich dishes for my little man. And it makes me smile to know that he is getting the absolute healthiest food available.