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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Call for ‘Recipes’: Introducing Solid Food to Baby

I have to admit something to you. One of my least favorite parts of parenting is feeding kids…of all ages! But I especially dread the days when it’s time to introduce baby to solid foods. It involves way too much thinking, it takes FOREVER to feed the baby, it’s super duper messy, my hand cramps up from holding that tiny spoon ‘just so’…you get the drift. Of course it IS cute, don’t get me wrong, but STILL…

Call me crazy, but I am tempted to eat that scrumptious baby! 

Owen is finally beginning to eat baby food. He’s not that into it yet, but we’re getting there. Today we let him have his hand at toasted oat cereal, you know, the classic first finger food. I thought for sure he’d pick them up and immediately stick them in his mouth, since that is what he does with everything else that he picks up. Funny enough, he just played with the o’s for 10 minutes or so before one ever found its way to his mouth. And when he finally ate one, well, he was not such a big fan…there was a lot of gagging going on there. So funny.

Going in for the o…

Look mom, I’m totally going to eat this…

Gotcha! Come on, why would I put that in my mouth? It’s food! Dirty shoes are much tastier.

Anyway, as I struggle through this process yet AGAIN, I am thinking maybe this would be a good Call for Recipes of sorts…a call for baby food recipes, advice, tips, favorite products, anything! I’m sure I’m not the only one frustrated and/or overwhelmed by the prospect of feeding a baby FOOD. Let’s share our wisdom with one another…hopefully it will make some of our lives a little easier. Or at least we can commiserate together! And if you love feeding babies solid food, please share some of that good positive food kharma. I need it!

All I have to offer is that avocado is a good first food and that I like the Earth’s Best Whole Grain Rice Cereal. Beyond that, I’m useless! It’s amazing what one can forget in just a few years’ time!


  1. 1

    My son is on solid foods/finger foods and I am going thru it with you! Avocado’s are good, baked sweet potatoes and I buy the Earth’s Best Whole Grain Rice cereal too. Although, it’s not hard to make your own cereal. I have a baby bullet so I grind up brown basmati rice into a powder and then bring it to a boil with some water. Stir it often and in about 20 minutes, it’s cereal! This is a good site for baby food ideas too.

  2. I was going to post the same link as Reynaul. The Wholesomebabyfood site was a lifesaver for me. This chart, in particular, was so great for keeping track and getting ideas:

  3. Here’s a list of all of the Wholesomebabyfood charts. As a side note, I had them “blessed” by our pediatrician, so I felt confident using them.

    Four to Six Months:

    Six to Eight Months:

    Eight to 10 Months:

    Comprehensive Food List:

    • Reynaul


      I used those charts too, especially the comprehensive food list. I would just check the foods off as I introduced them and it helped me keep track of what I had given him!

  4. 4

    I hear ya, lady! The baby food stage is my least favorite stage, for many of the reasons you listed. I’m a much happier momma once they start finger foods! When my first son was starting solids, I discovered a cookbook called “The Petit Appetit Cookbook” by Lisa Barnes. It’s broken down by stages, starting with first baby foods and going all the way up to four years old. It’s definitely become a cooking staple at our house and now that my youngest is starting solids, it’s been nice to revisit those beginning chapters. Many of the recipes have become family favorites.

    I’m also amazed with the flavors of baby food out on the shelves! I make most of our baby food at home, but like to have the premade stuff on hand for backup. Ella’s Kitchen has been my favorite brand so far. They have flavors like mango, parsnips, & ruttabegas (not together – Yuck!). Seriously, the kid eats better than us! 🙂

    Hope this helps! Can’t wait to see what others suggest, as I feel we’ve hit the baby food rut as well.

  5. 5

    I had one of the cheap, hand baby food grinders. I would just grind up whatever we were eating. Never went for one the fancy baby food grinders – I swear mine was so much easier to clean, and therefore I actually used it! Also – rice crispies stick to their grubby little fingers better than cheerios for a first self feeding cereal. He is adorable!!!

  6. I liked to steam/blend/mash whatever I was going to feed my girls (sweet potato, butternut squash, etc.) and then freeze it in ice cube trays. After frozen, I’d pop them out into a ziplock and keep in the freezer. At meal time, I could just heat up a cube or two. I also liked Annabel Karmel’s “First Meals.”

  7. 7

    I also love the website mentioned above. It was very helpful.

    I make almost all of my son’s food and freeze in ice cube trays or mini muffin tins and then put in ziploc bags.

    First food favorites were avocado, banana, and sweet potatoes.

    For convenience and taste, Tyler Florence has an organic packaged brand, Sprouts, which was my son’s favorite. Ella’s was probably his second favorite.

    Tyler Florence also has a new cookbook out called Start Fresh,

  8. 8

    Are you familiar with baby led weaning? The idea is to skip “baby food” and go straight to real foods that your family already eats. No spoon feeding, just give them appropriately sized pieces (either really small that they can pick up or really large that they can gnaw on) and let them feed themselves. We did this somewhat with my first, and 100% with my second. We followed his lead, waited until he was grabbing food off our plates, and let him eat as he wished within reason. We skip a few things that are choking hazards, allergens, etc. but otherwise pretty much feed what we eat. He literally eats everything we give him at 11 months, which is quite a wide variety of foods. It’s a mess, but I think that’s the case no matter what. At least I can eat while he eats.

    • Beverly

      This is what we did and I loved it! So much more natural for me and easy! No planning separate baby meals, no packing up all that stuff for when you eat out, and no begging the kid to eat what’s on the spoon.

    • Jane Maynard

      going to have to check it out!

    • YES. Baby-led Weaning.

      Purees are stupid. So is spoon feeding. Rice cereal should be banned.

    • christie

      I agree– this is what I’ve done– though didn’t realize there was an official name for it. Soup was a favorite as we were just starting out– vegetables were soft and easy to just pick out what she would eat. Tonight, she was slurping up handfuls of tomato artichoke spaghetti and it was the cutest thing ever 🙂 Good luck– he’s a cutie!

    • Soybeanlover

      Haha, this is what I did with #3 for the most part too. I thought it was just me being lazy. I did cook her rice or carrots a little longer than for the boys, but it has made her by far my best eater. At 16 months she’s happy to gnaw on bell peppers, and will take quinoa over cupcakes.

  9. 9
    Kate is a great source for baby food (and older kid) recipes. Lots of things I wouldn’t have thought to try.

  10. 10
    Melissa M

    I had a grinder and just fed my kids whatever we ate. Rice and gravy, red beans and rice, mashed potatoes and carrots, even chicken (minus the sausage) gumbo! They all loved it, al! I had trouble with serving sizes but once gerber came out with those little plastic containers, I used those to judge and I often froze an extra meal or two in them for night when they couldn’t eat what we were eating. it wasn’t until much later my littlest one became a picky eater.

  11. 11

    We are totally going the jarred food route. I just don’t have the time or the freezer space to make and freeze individual portions. I am impressed by people who do though!

    We tried avocado with our 7 month old and it totally gave her a stomach ache. Maybe I gave her too much? I am not sure. She loves all the other things we have tried so far.

    She still has no teeth so I feel like she can’t handle cheerios yet.

    • Jane Maynard

      my girls’ pediatrician in san diego said they don’t need to teeth for cheerios – they get soft and dissolve enough that they are totally safe, so go for it!

      and, I must admit, I end up doing jarred food too…I get organic in glass jars to make myself feel better about it! 😉

    • Yep, Cheerios are completely safe pre-teeth!

  12. Oh my goodness! I just wanna snurfle on dat baby shnook’ums!!!

  13. 13

    I did the homemade route with all 3 of mine (with some exceptions for travel, where I would use jarred). I did a lot of steaming and roasting, then mashing. With the first I used a hand blender and froze things, but by the third I just made sure things were REALLY soft and gave small chunks, similar to the baby led weaning idea. It worked great. Sweet Potatoes, apples, pears, acorn and butternut squash were all hits. I also fed them orzo pasta, quinoa (this was later, about 9-12 months), steamed peas. I tried to do as much finger food as possible. It’s messy, but WAY easier than the whole “spoon, feed, wipe” thing, which I hated. Good luck!!!!

  14. 14

    I’m loving baby-led weaning. No purees. Beyond nursing, she eats what I eat, chopped smaller. No extra prep, little mess, great for hand-eye coordination and flavor introduction. I’m always toting a small container of blueberries and cheese squares for a quick snack.

    Jetset Carina converted me. I now share this essay of hers liberally and have converted a half-dozen moms with it 🙂 Seriously — read it.

  15. I loved making baby food, and made and froze dozens of different purees for my now-3-year-old. Had to toss them all once we finally figured out she was allergic to my breast milk, though. Sad day. Then we started on the Earth’s Best and Happy Baby brand jars because my morale was shot.
    Anyway, my in-laws gave me one of those Baby Food Makers with a cookbook, and it made things a little easier to do everything in one pot.
    One thing that helped me was to feed meals in the morning when I was awake, she was awake, and neither of us were cranky yet. Worst thing was trying to do it at dinner time when everyone was done with the day and done cooperating 🙂

  16. 16
    Emily Wignall

    jane…i’m with ya…feeding is also my least favorite part of parenting. and it’s hard with a baby, because you have to feed them twice – solids and milk. luckily it goes quick!

  17. 17
    Jane Maynard

    one of you lovely people emailed me a bunch of great info, so I’m copying and pasting here so everyone can see it! 🙂

    I am 7.5 months pregant with my second baby and have a 2 1/2 year old. I’m a food blogger and cook on a local television show in MN and also do cooking classes. I did two seminars recently on baby food and then another one on establishing healthy eating habits for kids too.

    My blog has several puree recipes I did a couple years ago when I was doing solids for my daughter (the EWG rankings have changed since then). Here are the links:


    Pear Banana:






    Sweet Potato:

    And here’s some recent posts I did on starting healthy eating habits.

    Healthy Eating For Kids Blog Post

    My Guest Post on Avocado Baby on Starting Kids Off Right


  18. 18
    Jane Maynard

    for REAL…I am LOVING all of your comments to pieces and can’t wait to check out all the websites, ideas, etc, etc…I knew this post was a good idea. 😉

    keep it coming!

  19. 19

    Baby-Led Weaning. For people who are complaining that they “don’t have time” to make baby food, this is pretty much THE laziest thing you can do.

    Would never do it another way. No purees and no spoon feeding. I briefly spoon fed at 9 or so months because my little one fell in love with applesauce and couldn’t handle a spoon yet. But now at 18 months she’s a pro with a spoon, fork, and glass.

    Don’t “make” baby food. It’s a waste of time, and purees are really not a great way to start off a relationship with food.

    Pineapple spears were a favorite first food, they’re great to gnaw on. Roast an acorn squash and spoon it out of the squash in small pieces. Etc, etc.

    Good luck!

  20. 20

    Your baby boy is so cute. Look, I have no children on my own but I usually take care of my brother’s baby if I have time. His wife usually give the baby mashed sweet potato. She would steam or boil the sweet potato and then mix it with little milk. I did taste this food and they taste great. I think I need to try this also lol!
    How to Make Sweet Potato Fries

  21. 21
    Heather M

    I have boy/girl twins that are about the same age as your son! I’ve tried a couple of these baby food recipes that are pretty easy.

    My twins loved the apple cinnamon prunes and the cinnamon smells heavenly when the apples are roasting in the oven. I thought I had to wait for teeth to introduce Cheerios so I am going to try that! Thanks for the tip.

  22. 22
    Nikki CB

    With my first baby I made pretty much all of his food from scratch…with my second child he got a lot more Earth’s Best in a jar. 😉

    With both, we love the bibs that are made of dish towels, have a stretch opening for the head/neck, and just cover everything! A friend’s mother made some for us, and we love them.

    And lastly, but most importantly, that little guy is SO CUTE!!!!

  23. 23

    Hi Jane,

    I just discovered your website, and I absolutely LOVE it! I wish I had discovered it sooner. The worst part of cooking is figuring out what to make (well, that and doing the dishes!). I’m going to have to frequent this site for inspiration when I’m trying to figure out what to make for dinner.

    I have a 7 month old daughter so we are doing the solid food thing too, and I agree with the other commenters that the Wholesome Baby Food website is fantastic. I consult it almost daily.

    Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics has some useful stuff on their website:

    A good resource for recipes is the book, Start Fresh:
    It’s written by a chef, so I expect the recipes will be good. I haven’t tried any yet, but I definitely plan to, once I move on from single ingredient purees.

  24. 24

    We just use a larger medical syringe, slurp up the baby food with it, then give the baby little squirts at a time! It’s a lot cleaner and the baby is too young for a spoon at this point anyways so I’m not worried about the spoon learning aspect yet!

    Love your blog btw!

  25. 25

    At age 9 months my daughter ate her first food, avocado. I never gave her the cereals, I felt they were too gummy for the GI tract. I steamed sweet potatoes until they were soft-firm and diced them into little finger sized pieces. Also, uncooked frozen peas that are defrosted are great little finger foods. I never used a spoon really with her, by the time she was this age I just let her pick food up, would set a bowl with a spoon in it and ate next to her and she would just mimic me, all while making a mess. It was fun to watch her try to get the spoon in her mouth. Bananas are good too cut into little pieces, hard to pick up though as they stick to the tray LOL. I would peel and steam carrots and cut into small pieces. Basically any firm veggie can be steamed to a soft/firm stage and cut into appropriate sized finger food pieces. After age one, I made fun little veggie pancakes and little rice balls to bite into.

  26. Oh baby food is such a fun part of this stage! I love the book Super Baby Food but it is pretty large and overwhelming (especially if you do not enjoy the process to begin with) but I have a blog and have the typical puree recipes but I try to focus on ideas for easy meals that are loaded with nutrients. I follow the Super Baby Food daily meals.
    Breakfast – porridge cereal with veggies
    Lunch – yogurt with nutritional add in’s fruits and veggies
    Dinner – porridge again or when old enough grind up what you are eating
    Snack – tons of options! tofu, eggs, toasted O’s, beans, etc.

    If you want to check out my blog everything is listed in full detail

    I hope you can enjoy this! Plus following this simple outline of porridge, yogurt, your dinner it makes it way less stressful coming up with what to feed!

    Good Luck!

  27. … i just realized this was posted forever ago 🙂 oops…well there is good information incase anyone else finds this

    • that’s okay, I’m sure it will come in helpful for folks anyway! 🙂 thank you so much for all the great info and (honestly) I sure am glad I don’t need it! 😉

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