I am frequently asked questions about all the glorious obstacles we are faced with when it comes to feeding the most important members of our family, our children. First off, I start by telling moms to “do what works for them.” As concerned parents, we are always seeking advice and experience gathering, but at the end of the day, the best advice is the one that works best for you and your child. Do not try to force something that doesn’t make you or your child comfortable.
With this being said, I decided to take a few of the common questions and share my responses, because at some time or another, one of you readers may be faced with the same issues. If these suggestions work for you, great. If not, keep trying and you will find the answer!
Disclaimer: The questions below have been rephrased for clarity or to omit personal details.
1) How do you go from baby food to finger food without having a heart attack? I have a 13-month-old with a terrible gag reflex. What are some good finger foods and how do you cook/prepare them?
- Jessica Jane
Starting solids can be a very stressful experience, so don’t panic – you are not alone. The fear of choking is very real, especially when you are watching your little one struggle and gag to make the transition to finger foods. I was always on the edge of my seat, ready to give the Heimlich to my 8-month-old!
In my experience, the easiest way to transition is to gradually move from a smooth purée to a slightly thicker and chunkier textured purée before moving to bite-sized pieces. They need to get used to particulates in their mouths before taking the leap into finger foods. This gradual transition prepares them for texture.
If you make your own food, instead of puréeing into a fine, smooth consistency, try pulsing in the blender/processor to create a chunkier texture – no larger than a grain of rice or pearl of barley. This texture will encourage them to smack their gums. If you are noticing a gag reflex, add a little more fluid to thin out or mash with a fork.
Once baby is used to chunky purées, you can transition to finger foods such as small pieces of slightly overcooked pasta, or cooked and diced sweet potato or carrot, all of which are very soft and malleable for baby to break down. Baby Gourmet offers chunky purées such as Vegetable, Beef & Barley as well as Mushies, a healthy, no-sugar-added, melt-in-the-mouth finger food that can help you through this transition and for on-the-go convenience.
2) To snack or not to snack? Should you offer your little one snacks between meals, and if so, what kind? I currently offer Mushies and Greek yogurt, but I want to mix it up and give some variety.
- Sarah Willock from Brampton, Ontario
I believe babies can send cues as to when they are hungry. Outside of the standard breakfast, lunch and dinner, I feel snacking can occur as baby is growing. Babies may not eat much at mealtime, so will be looking for something in between. It is completely up to baby and mom to determine if baby should snack.
I always offered snacks to my baby – the wider the variety, the better. Our Mushies are a great, no-added-sugar snack for on the go, but if you want to add more variety, consider homemade mini muffins, cooked chopped veggies, yogurt and diced avocado or fresh fruit. I have included a recipe at the bottom of the article for my Harvest Pear, Pumpkin & Banana Mini Muffins, one my baby’s favourite snacks. The Baby Gourmet purée replaces added fat with natural fruit… very yummy!
3) My 21-month-old refuses to eat meat. How do I ensure he gets enough iron?
- Tiffany from Calgary, Alberta
Introducing meat can be a difficult experience, usually because of the texture and chewiness. As baby grows, so does their requirement for iron, so I can understand your concern for ensuring they are getting enough of it.
First off, look at how you are introducing meat. If you are simply cooking it and dicing into bite-sized pieces, I can see how it can be rejected. Have you tried using ground meat?
Try using ground beef, turkey or chicken and adding it to your pasta sauces, soups or a cheesy quesadilla. If this does not work, look at alternative sources of iron and ways to incorporate them into your meals, such as lentils, black beans, quinoa, tuna, eggs, spinach and broccoli.
I’ve added a recipe at the bottom of the article for one of my family’s favourite go-to pasta dishes and the top-selling toddler meal from our early farmers market days, Creamy Beef & Pasta Bake.
4) How do you get your 18-month-old to take his medicine? My son has to take Benadryl for his sinuses and he hates the taste.
- Rachelle Dixon from Kansas City, Missouri
My son was a little more finicky when it came to taking his medicine, so I had to use a syringe (dropper) to squirt it into the side of his cheek, followed quickly with a drink of water between drops. As he has grown, I have tried every flavor and found one he will take (grape).
I also asked my sister about her experience with medicine rejection, as I recalled she experienced this stressful situation. She would have her daughter plug her nose, take a sip of chilled medicine, then follow with a swig of orange juice. Chilling the medicine was key to subduing the flavor. I have also heard of having your child suck an ice pop beforehand to numb the tongue and taste buds, which makes swallowing the yucky stuff a little easier.
5) I am a first-time mom and finding it a bit difficult to know what to give my little one. For breakfast, I have been giving her oatmeal, and for dinner I have been giving her the Sweet Potato, Apple & Chicken (purée). What can I give her for lunch, and what other things could I give her for breakfast and dinner? She is 6 months.
- A Facebook fan
I was a first-time mom too… I know the stress that feeding can cause! First off, you are doing great! Every baby is different and the amount can vary from one to another. Follow your baby's cues; they will tell you when they are full and have had enough. I would start adding some purée into your morning cereal. For example, you can stir in some Harvest Pear, Pumpkin & Banana or Juicy Pear & Garden Greens.
For lunch, I would serve cereal again with another veg and fruit. The cereal is a good source of iron and protein (especially if mixed with breast milk or prepared formula). Dinner, add a little fruit purée for after dinner. I used to serve a little cereal with each meal, because of the added nutrients.
In general, all babies are slightly different and have varied likes and dislikes. Be patient with this experience, and don’t give up trying new things – even if baby doesn’t take to it on the first try. Creativity is key, so don’t be afraid to try new approaches. Texture plays a big role in the early days of exploring food, and it’s important to play with various textures and tastes. Don’t take anything personally – you’re doing great! Happy feeding!
Do you have a question that you would like answered? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to throw in my experience!