I’m sure that starting solids with a singleton around 6 months is very similar to how we did it with twins. Oh you know, without the added fun of having Baby A’s hands come out of nowhere and knock the perfectly loaded spoon out of Baby B’s mouth. Or, having Baby A pull with all his might on Baby B’s bib to try and get him closer. If you think it’s messy with one baby, you’d love the experience of Baby B blowing raspberries (with a mouth full of food) directly in Baby A’s face…and then putting his hands all over baby’s A’s face to create more face food art. There’s also the joy of Baby B pulling food off of Baby A’s tray for the sole purpose of feeding it to the dog. Do you think it’s messy when your baby sneezes? You should see what happens when he’s looking his brother in the eye while that happens.
Starting Solids Philosophy
Before we started to introduce solids at 6 months, I had heard of many different types of approaches. There’s a wide spectrum of approaches all the way from ‘PUREE ALL THE THINGS!’ to Baby Led Weaning which encourages babies to eat small pieces of food (composed pretty much of whatever you’re eating) with their hands. The only thing that everyone seems to agree on is that babies can’t have honey before 12 months. Aside from that, you can find a philosophy to match whatever approach you like. I didn’t have a preconceived notion about how to introduce solids. I just wanted to do what was ‘correct’. When I asked the Pediatrician which method we should use, she turned it around on me and asked “what do you think is best?” And there you have it, the least qualified person to answer that question has the sole vote. I dreaded this gray area, but have come to learn that it’s gray because there are so many different things you can do that will work.
The fact that there are so many different approaches indicates that there are all kinds of ways to have success with introducing solid food. We ended up doing a mix of everything we had read and learned about. I was a little timid to jump right into Baby Led Weaning (that’s a tactful way to say that I was terrified of them choking on big pieces of food) so we started off with purees and food that was easily mashed. The very first food we tried was avocado that we mashed with a fork. Within a matter of days, we got more adventurous and introduced chunkier food. After 3 weeks, we gave them their first Puffs (which are essentially dissolvable Cheerios that come in delicious flavors). A few days later we gave them big bagels to gnaw on. After just a few weeks they were eating many of the same foods that we were eating, and doing so for 3 meals per day. (Read about how we make homemade pouches with these foods!)
There are all kinds of wonderful supplies that can make it easier to start solids. I could write a lot more about each of our favorite supplies (which I will in a separate post), but these were our essentials for getting started.
Baby spoons: These are deep, which means the food stays on them.
Fancy baby spoons: I love these because the tips of the spoons are like little rubber spatulas. You can scrape every little bit of food out of their bowls if you use these. They’re a little pricey, but wonderful!
Suction bowls: Our babies are yet to pry these off of their high chairs. That says a lot since we consider our boys to be human wrecking balls.
Sippy cups: As soon as we started to introduce solids, we also found that it was necessary to offer them water with their meals. We are still working on our sippy cup skills, but these are the different ones that we use:
- 360 Degree Sippy Cup – Recommended by our Pediatrician as one of the easiest for them to learn to use. The Munchkin Miracle 360 is also a popular one.
- Avent Sippy Cup – We have had the most luck with these. They’re the easiest for them to get water out of, and have nice big handles for them to hold on to.
- Tommee Tippee – This requires sucking and biting. Our boys can do one or the other, but not both at the same time. We’re working towards multitasking, so I suspect these will be used a lot more when we master that skill. The packaging says they’re 4m+, but I’m convinced that your child is a genius if he/she can figure this out at that age.
- Shot Glass – When they’re having a particularly tough time getting water out of their sippy cups, we use a shot glass to offer them water. It’s the perfect size for their tiny little mouths and doesn’t require much skill to get water.
Baby food maker: I debated long and hard about buying a baby food maker. On one hand, they’re only going to need pureed food for a relatively short amount of time. On the other hand, I didn’t want to be stuck giving them only jars and pouches of store bought food during this important stage. In the end I decided to splurge for this Beaba baby food maker and haven’t regretted it at all. It steams and blends food, so it’s very convenient. I can make several days worth of food in 30 minutes using this baby food maker. I have no doubt that I’ve saved more money in the end than I spent on it. More importantly, they eat healthier and have more variety because it’s so easy for me to cook for them. I will write more about making baby food in a subsequent post.
Homemade baby food storage: If you’re going to make baby food from scratch, you need a place to store it. There are 2 different types of storage that I like for different reasons.
- Silicone tray – This is my favorite baby food storage container because it’s really easy to pop the cubes out once they’re frozen. Since I didn’t want to buy a ton of these containers, I use them to freeze the food and once it’s frozen I pop the cubes out into a ziplock (which I then put back in the freezer) to free up the tray for more food. Just because you freeze them in these trays doesn’t mean they have to stay there until you use the food.
- Blocks storage containers – These blocks are good because the whole cube is clear and you can easily tell what is in them. After a few rounds of making baby food, it’s easy to forget what you made. It’s nice to have a few of these available, too.
- Everyday bibs: We originally found these at IKEA. Of all the bibs we tried, these offered the most coverage. Also, you can put them in the washing machine. I originally thought the Tommee Tippee bibs would be practical with the gutter at the bottom, but they are too narrow to catch the vast majority of food.
- Heavy duty wearable bibs: This is another IKEA gem. If you know it’s going to be a particularly messy meal (or you’re out at a restaurant), these are great. Think of them as outfit savers. These bibs can go in the washing machine as well, so they’re easy to clean.
Highchair: Think about your priorities for the highchair. #1 it has to be safe. #2 it has to be easy to clean. As far as I’m concerned, there are no other priorities for this short lived piece of equipment. This IKEA highchair meets all of our criteria and is much, much less expensive than some of the fancy wood ones that have lots of nooks and crannies and are harder to keep clean. I highly recommend this highchair.
Mat under highchairs: They sell lots of tarps to put under highchairs, but those tarps look so difficult to clean. They get wrinkly and I can’t image trying to keep them clean. We bought hard plastic mats (the kind that you put under a rolling office chair) to use under the high chairs. If you have carpet, be sure to get the kind that has little nubs on it so that it doesn’t slide around. These mats work like a charm. They couldn’t be easier to clean…especially with the help of our dog.
Most sources advise you to introduce one food at a time to ensure that you can easily identify any allergies. When we introduced new foods, we always did it in the morning so that if there was a severe allergy issue we would catch it before they went to bed. After a few weeks of slowly introducing new foods we got more adventurous. Pears, peas, and broccoli? Sure! Beans and apricots? Why not?! Meat sauce? They love it! Scrambled eggs? Great practice for feeding themselves!
I’m into healthy eating, and I’m consciously working to make sure the babies have a healthy relationship with food. I’m not into snacking all day. I believe that if you eat appropriate quantities of healthy meals at regular times, you should be able to forgo infusing yourself with Goldfish all day long. We built 3 solid meals per day into our schedule starting at 6 months, and the babies rarely ever need snacks.
Ideally I would make 100% of their food from scratch, but sometimes we need to supplement with jars or pouches if we run out of the good homemade stuff. One thing that makes it easier to keep homemade food available is to buy frozen fruits and veggies. Frozen fruits and veggies are known to have equal, and sometimes better, nutritional value since they are frozen at the peak of freshness. I steam them in the baby food maker and then blend together for a quick meal.
On an average day, their meals look like this:
Breakfast – yogurt (whole milk), banana & peanut butter, mandarin oranges
Lunch – black beans, eggs, nectarines, avocado
Dinner – grilled chicken, carrots/peas/broccoli, applesauce
Food Delivery Methods
There are all kinds of delivery methods for baby food. As with everything, there are pros and cons. Here are the pros of each different delivery method:
Pouches: If you can teach the babies to eat the puree straight from the pouch, it will make meal time on-the-go much easier and cleaner. You can buy pre-made food in pouches or put your own food in refillable pouches. Our boys love these pre-made pouches:
Jars: It is easy to find organic baby food in jars at the supermarket. Our boys love these jarred foods:
- Earth’s Best First Fruits and First Veggies – We bought the variety packs and they lasted a long time since we used them to supplement homemade baby food.
- Earth’s Best Organic Very Veggie – Stage 2 – After we tried all of the first fruits and veggies we moved onto this pack. mmm
Homemade frozen cubes: This is the majority of what we serve our boys. Using the baby food maker and freezer trays I mentioned above, I keep a good sized stash in the freezer. In addition to defrosting these cubes, I also try to give them food with more texture during each meal.
Cut up pieces: If we offer the boys pureed food, we also make sure it’s accompanied with texture. These are among the many things they like:
- Pieces of banana with peanut butter
- Cut up mandarin oranges
- Orzo with tomato sauce or veggie puree
- Scrambled eggs
- Chicken soup
Food to build dexterity: I’m not impressed by the nutritional value of any of these foods, but they serve an important role in helping our boys learn to feed themselves. They won’t eat these things for very long since they’re void of any nutrition, but they do help build eating skills.
- Puffs – If you’re afraid of choking (like we are), these are a good gateway before you introduce Cheerios and other similar foods. Our boys love the Strawberry & Beet and Blueberry & Purple Sweet Potato. It’s worth trying the variety pack if you haven’t had them yet…they’re all delicious. I consider myself a connoisseur of Puffs at this point.
- Yogis – Freeze-dried yogurt. Our boys lose their minds over these. You should see what our dog does if one hits the floor. mmm
- Teething wafers – These barely qualify as food, but they are great for teaching the babies to hold food and eat. Despite the convincing label that says they’re mess-free, they are mess-full. We have found these behind their ears, on their heads, feet, dog’s head, etc.
These are my favorite books that have helped me to introduce solids:
- Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater – Great overview of Baby Led Weaning with food ideas.
- Sage Spoonfuls Simple Recipes – Excellent cookbook and ideas for different foods you can introduce. It’s well organized, so if you have a food you want to introduce you can get ideas for what might pair well with it.
- The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler – In addition to recipes, this book talks about health and nutrition.
Like this post? Read about the next step in introducing solids…making homemade baby food pouches!