Baby Led Weaning – Weeks 7 to 10

As I mentioned previously, one way that we are having fun with solids, is that every week I buy one fruit and one vegetable that I would not normally buy in an effort to expand our horizons, and continue to introduce Baby Boy to new foods. I have had some challenges in introducing food groups other than fruits and vegetables, which I will write about in other posts.  Here, however are our latest fruit and vegetable successes:

Plums and collard greens – Plums were straightforward – I just cut them into wedges, and Gus ate away. Many of our vegetables of the week so far have been root vegetables, because for some reason I typically stay away from them in the grocery store. I’m more of a leafy greens person, so leafy greens are usually well represented in our diet. However, while we eat chard and spinach by the bucket (not to mention all types of salad leaves), I only remember ever buying collard greens once or twice before. This time around, I made the collard greens by sauteing them with olive oil, chopped onion and garlic, some chili flakes, a pinch of sugar and some sesame oil.

I thought they turned out quite well. The texture is definitely tougher – more like seaweed than other greens I’m used to. My husband, however didn’t like how oily they tasted  since we usually steam/boil our greens (though every collard greens recipe I found included some kind of oil). Gus, as always enjoyed the new food.

Golden melon and parsnips – Golden melon is similar to honeydew, and I served it the way I always serve melon to Gus – cut into cubes/small wedges, with the skin left on so it is easier to grip. Melons have been a big hit, and golden melon was no different. The parsnips turned out to be a hit for the whole family, so much so that I have since bought them several more times and incorporated them into our regular meal rotation.

The recipe I used for parsnips is very straightforward: peel the parsnips, slice into wedges/fingers and toss with oil and herbs, then bake at 450 for 20 minutes (or even longer, until they brown nicely). We lived in upstate New York for a year, where we bought our groceries at Wegman’s and fell in love with quite a few of the Wegman’s (aka Weggers) store brand items. Probably my favourite is the Wegman’s basting oil, which is a grapeseed oil with some herbs and spices mixed in. It’s great for meats, fish, and of course roasted vegetables. So this is what I used on the parsnips, and they turned out delish! If you leave them in the oven a bit longer, the sugars come out and they become almost caramelized. My husband couldn’t believe how good they tasted without me adding all sorts of crazy unhealthy ingredients to them. In case you’re wondering, Gus enjoyed them too.

Red bananas and rutabaga – this particular week I had a tough time picking a fruit. My friend had recommended starfruit, however the only starfruit left in the store was pretty sad looking. The red bananas were tiny little bananas, and based on the description in the store were supposed to taste quite sweet when eaten like a normal banana. The first time I tried the banana however, it was quite woody tasting. I soon realized that there is a reason that they are called red bananas – when they look black or brown they are not yet ripe and don’t taste good at all (this is the complete opposite of “normal bananas”). However, when the skin turned bright red, the banana inside was wonderfully sweet, but the taste was not as cloying as a ripe, sweet “normal” banana would be (the banana also stayed firm, unlike a ripe normal banana). Gus is a big fan of bananas, so he happily gobbled the red bananas.

I continued our trend of buying root vegetables with a rutabaga. Rutabaga looks like a giant turnip, and has a similar taste and texture. After reviewing a few rutabaga recipes, I chose one for rutabaga fries – cut the rutabaga into spears, toss with olive oil and minced garlic and herbs. If I remember correctly, I tossed them with some paprika too. This turned out well, and was a hit all around.

Pumello (Pomelo) and turnip – Pumello is a citrus fruit that looks like a giant grapefruit (and is about the size of a small melon). I was planning on doing something fun with it, but I wanted to serve it dessert style, and I kept finding recipes for pumello mains and salads. In the end, I just served it in slices. The pumello was pink on the inside, and had a very thick pith. The pith is apparently quite bitter, so you want to make sure you clear it all away from the flesh before you serve it. The taste was similar to grapefruit, but sweeter, and Gus seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. As a general comment, I should mention that citrus is one of the types of food that can be allergenic/harder on the digestive system, so if you are just starting out, it should probably not be among the first foods introduced.

Our (root) vegetable of the week was turnip. I’ve been roasting a lot of my vegetables, so was looking for something other than a roasted (or mashed) turnip recipe. I found one for caramelized turnips, which sounded pretty awesome, but I don’t think really turned out for me. The recipe calls for cubed turnip to be sautéed with some water and a chicken bouillon cube (I skipped the bullion cube, though I may have added some low sodium vegetable broth – I can’t remember now) for 15 minutes or until the water evaporates. Then you stir in some butter and sugar, and after cooking for another 10 minutes the turnips are supposed to get brown and sticky. Mine never did get brown and sticky; they just got really soft, so I was pretty disappointed with how the recipe turned out. But, it was good enough for Gus and we were able to cross another vegetable off our list. I think I will give this recipe another try in the future, as  it sounded so yummy and I suspect I screwed it up somehow.

That’s it for now!

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Baby Led Weaning – Week 1

As I mentioned in my last post, we took some baby steps with solids last month by sporadically introducing rice cereal when Gus was five months old. However, ever since I first learned about baby led weaning shortly after Gus was born, I decided that would be our primary method of introducing solids. For those who are unfamiliar with baby led weaning, the basic premise is that your baby feeds himself and eats what you do. That’s really all you need to know, but it is explained in more detail here: http://www.babyledweaning.com.

We are now six days into doing solids the BLW way, and so far I am a huge fan (and more importantly, so is Gus)! Since everyone has their own spin on how they proceed with BLW, I thought I would share what we’ve been doing so far, and what I plan to do in the future. As seems to be the case with most people who do BLW (as far as I can tell anyways, it is still pretty new to me), from time to time, I will stray from the pure BLW approach.

Variety of Foods Offered

I have been offering 2-3 different types of foods per sitting, which is working well. I have introduced a ton of different foods (which I will list below), but after the first few days, I am now trying to have at least one familiar food offered at each sitting.  I think for the time being we will stick with some trusty fruit basics at breakfast (apple, pear and banana are what we’ve done so far), and introduce new foods at lunch/dinner.

As part of the BLW exercise, I have a goal of introducing Gus to every fruit and vegetable in our grocery store over the next 6 to 12 months (I actually don’t know what a reasonable timeline is for such a goal…6 months seems ambitious, but 12 months seems generous).  This goal makes the weaning process even more fun and exciting, and will be good for the whole family, as I know that there are certain fruits/vegetables that I stay away from buying, either because I don’t like them (hello brussel sprouts! hello okra!) , am not comfortable cooking with them (hello squash!), or just plain don’t know what to do with (hello persimmons! ). For now, the plan is to buy at least one fruit and one vegetable on each shopping trip that is out of the ordinary for us, so I started a few days ago by buying papaya and eggplant.

My overall plan is to focus on fruits, vegetables, meats and fish initially and stay away from breads and pastas as long as possible, mostly because I think there’s less nutritional value in the breads and pastas and because I’m not worried about whether he will like them or not (what kid does not like pasta?).

Complexity of Foods Offered

I bought the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook as my primary BLW reference, and it includes some fantastic sounding recipes (green curry chicken anyone?) for meal times with baby. For now though, I am keeping things simple and primarily offering one ingredient foods (raw or steamed fruits/veggies) or very simple preparations (salmon with a mustard/ginger/brown sugar glaze).  I look at what we are eating and select foods/ingredients that meet this criteria, so while Gus is eating a version of what we are eating, strictly speaking it is not the same meal. I think we will probably continue on this path for another week, maybe two before offering more complex meals.

Variations on a Theme

I am doing a few things which are not part of the BLW approach. The biggest deviation so far has been the baby cereal, which I started last month before Gus was old enough to try BLW. I started with rice cereal, and have now also done oat cereal. The plan for now is to give him one serving of baby cereal a day to ensure that his iron needs are met. Now, like everything else, there are several schools of thought on how necessary this actually is, however I feel like I am able to “check a box” by doing this and worry less about the risk that by doing BLW I am not meeting his nutritional needs.

I have also been using a little mesh feeder for certain foods (it’s a mesh bag that you put the food in, and then screw into a plastic top which has a handle baby can hold). It is a nice alternative for foods like apples which are hard and potential choking hazards, and as a bonus I can tether it to his high chair so when he throws it around, it does not end up on the floor like the other food. Since part of the BLW philosophy is that it gets babies used to different textures, mushing food through mesh does not accomplish this goal, but I have found this variation to be very helpful.

Lastly, I am planning to offer Gus soup in his bottle from time to time, since I have some soups that I think he would enjoy fairly early on.

Foods Introduced So Far

Gus has enjoyed the following foods to date:

Fruits – apple (in mesh bag), pear (in mesh bag and alone), banana (served as 1/3 of banana, nibbled like a cob of corn), stewed apricot, nectarine (cut in a wedge).

Vegetables – turnips (steamed and mashed with carrots – surprisingly like baby food, but actually part of my mother in law’s Christmas dinner), carrots (see turnips), asparagus (steamed way softer than I would normally do for ourselves and served in an individual stalk), basil (one giant leaf), beets (borsch soup in a bottle – I think this one upset his tummy a bit).

Meats – pork (marinated in Italian salad dressing and roasted on the bbq), turkey breast (part of Christmas dinner), salmon (broiled, with a brown sugar, mustard and ginger glaze).

Other – buffalo mozzarella (a big slice).

So far, everything has been a hit. He mostly sucks on things, but from time to time I will see him take little nibbles of stuff, so he is actually eating a tiny bit here and there. It’s been super fun watching him explore and shove food into his mouth, though it is also nerve wracking as I am constantly watching to make sure he hasn’t bit off a huge piece that he can choke on.

That’s the scoop for now. I had other thoughts I wanted to share, but since this post is sufficiently long as is, I’ll save them for a future BLW post.