Baby Food 101 – What’s Gaby Cooking
Here it is guys!! I’ve been working on a Baby Food 101 post for quite some time now and it’s here! I’ve got tips and tricks that I’ve gathered from pediatricians, tons of simple puree recipes, all the tools and appliances we used to get Poppy started on solids, WGC adaptable recipes for babies and so much more. All the baby food specific recipes we’ve been making (and honestly, eating ourselves too bc they are delicious and coming in about 2 weeks aka pancakes, snacks, zucchini cakes etc) Here we go!
First thing – I know not everyone here is interested in baby food – I get it. No shame in your game. BUT – if you are – go ahead and fill out the form below so we can let you know when new baby related content goes live. It won’t go out in the main feed so make sure you’re in the know. We’re shooting 15-20 of Poppys favorite homemade recipes next week and the below form will make sure they come right into your inbox.
Let’s start with some basic questions:
When are babies ready for solids: Your doctor might tell you sometime around the 6 month mark – but here’s the deal… you’ll know. Poppy started grabbing for our food when she was about 5 months. We’d let her nibble on a banana, eat a little guacamole, and gum a cucumber here and there (while I was holding it in my fingers). For us, we noticed she started wanting foods when she was able to hold her head up by herself.
What should be babies first food: another question with multiple answers! We opted for banana, avocado and pureed sweet potatoes. Things that are soft, pretty much impossible to choke on etc.
What is Baby Led Weaning: Baby-led weaning is when you introduce solid food to babies and completely skip the purée and spoon-feeding parts of baby food. Instead, you skip right to finger foods that a baby can feed themselves.
What is the alternative to Baby Lead Weaning: This is more traditional – and it’s when you start by serving your baby puréed or mashed foods. You spoon feed them for the first few months and then let them transition into finger foods down the road at 9/10 months usually.
Did you do Baby-Led Weaning or Purees: We did a combination of both. And let me preface this by saying, you do you. Not here to tell you which is right for your family. The reason we did both, is because I wanted to ensure Poppy was getting all the nutrients and flavors early on by spoon feeding her purees. We started incorporating finger foods around 8 months like roasted cauliflower, berries etc when she could really chew. In my mind, I wanted her to be eating real food rather than relying on milk for the majority of her calories.
Food Allergens: I get it, this is a scary subject and I’m going to leave it to your pediatrician to give you their take. Our pediatrician was of the mindset that you should introduce allergens early and monitor the response. For us, that meant letting Poppy lick a little bit of peanut butter, almond butter, yogurt, eggs, hummus (with tahini aka sesame seeds) etc off of a spoon and monitoring if she had any reactions. One other thing to note here – we didn’t introduce 1 fruit / veggie at a time. We just went for it with different combos. Apples and pears – game on. Zucchini and Peas and Parmesan – you know it. Etc. We always just monitored for a reaction but our approach was more to give her all the fruits and veggies and let her experience the flavors.
Let’s talk about SALT: It’s obviously not advised for a baby to have as much salt as a toddler or a full adult. We didn’t NOT salt any of Poppy’s food… but I did really hold back on adding salt to my taste. We occasionally added a pinch of salt to a large batch of purees just to really amp up the flavor.
A Note on Sugars: I’m just going to come out and say it – I’m not mad at sugars. Natural sugars are found in so many fruits and vegetables and I don’t mind if those are in Poppy’s diet. I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as TOO much fruit. I’ve said that before about adults and adult diets, and same goes for my opinion on babies. Take it or leave it – just wanted to be transparent.
Bottom Line (before we get into the nitty gritty): I think one of the reasons Poppy has been so great at trying new foods, is she sees us eating everything. We try to eat meals with her, or at least snack on her food and give her big happy reactions so she sees us enjoying food as well. I allow her to taste everything we eat when we’re out at restaurants, spicy things included, so she can get a taste for things. I’m very much of the mindset that I should let her explore as much flavor as possible!
Equipment for Making Purees:
- This baby food maker was our favorite purchase for months 6-11. We phased it out and stored it away once Poppy stopped being interested in purees and wanting more texture.
- Glass Baby Food Containers – These are a staple in our house and the best way to store home-made food in small portions
- Counter Top Highchair – We also have this for when we’re eating at the counter
- These cute silicon spoons that we loved
- Easy bibs that actually catch food and don’t let it drop on your floor
- Silicon placemat if you’re eating out and don’t want your baby eating off the table
Puree Ratios: if you’re making homemade purees in the baby food maker linked above – here are a few of my very very simple favorite combos
- Applesauce – 1 cup of chopped apples, skins removed and water level 2 // Or steam the apples until soft and puree with a tablespoons of water as needed until smooth. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon for extra flavor.
- Asian Pear Compote – 1 cup of chopped asian pears, skins removed and water level 2 // Or steam the pears until soft and puree with a tablespoons of water as needed until smooth.
- Banana Mango Strawberry – 1 banana peeled and chopped, 1 mango peeled and chopped and 4-5 strawberries tops removed on water level 2 // Or steam the fruit until soft and puree with a tablespoons of water as needed until smooth.
- Zucchini Quinoa and Feta – 2 zucchini chopped on water level 2, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa and 2-4 tablespoons feta // Or steam the zucchini until soft and puree with a tablespoons of water, quinoa and feta as needed until smooth.
- Peas and Parmesan – 2 cups fresh or frozen peas on water level 2 // or steam the peas until soft and puree with a tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of parmesan and a squeeze of lemon as needed until smooth
- Carrots and Squash – 1 cup chopped carrots and 1 cup chopped yellow squash on water level 3 // or steam the vegetables until soft and puree with a tablespoons of water, 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves and squeeze of lemon as needed until smooth.
What kinds of food did you start incorporating after Cooked Purees:
- Mashed Avocado (5-6 months)
- Mashed Bananas (5-6 months)
- Scrambled Eggs (6-7 months)
- Oatmeal (6-7 months)
- Salmon and other flaky fish (6-7 months)
- Poultry (6-7 months) either ground up and mashed, or shredded very small)
- Roasted Eggplant (6-7 months)
- Hummus (6-7 months)
- Nut Butters (6-7 months)
- Lentil Curries (8-9 months)
- Bread (8-9 months)
- Roasted Vegetables like Brussels, Mushrooms, Potatoes (8-9 months)
- Cottage Cheese (8-9 months)
- Mozzarella, Cheddar and Goat Cheese (8-9 months)
- Whole Berries (10- 11 months)
- Orzo and other small pasta (10- 11 months)
- Segmented Mandarins + Tangerines (10-11 months)
- Cheerios (11-12 months)
WGC recipes that are easily adaptable for baby: (just kinda don’t salt it AGGRESSIVELY like you might normally lol)
- Steamed Salmon – don’t worry the alcohol cooks off. And Poppy LOVES this recipe. The fish is super soft and easy to flake apart for her to eat.
- Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili – optional to leave out the Chipotle powder but I leave it in. Once it’s cooked, I take a portion for Poppy and either mash it up further or leave it whole and spoon feed her.
- Italian Meatballs – love this recipe because it’s great to prep ahead and then whip out a meatball or two for dinner. Same goes for these Turkey Meatballs
- Zucchini Fritters – we make these on a weekly basis and serve them with tzatziki or hummus to give them some extra moisture for Poppy. I omit the red pepper flakes for her.
- Summer Grain Bowl – yes this might be made for summer produce, but if peaches aren’t in season, it’s great without them. Or add in some halved blueberries. The feta and the dressing make it extra flavorful
- Mushroom Beef Burger – One of my fav ways to get mushrooms into Poppy’s diet. I’ll go through with this recipe like I’d be making a burger, and then just chunk it up so its easy for her to grab and chew. Also love this black bean burger for a veggie option.
- Sumac Fries – these are a staple for us. Since it’s hard to get home-fries really crispy, this is actually great for a baby. I just cut the fries up once they are roasted and let her shove them in her mouth. Bonus – you can mix up the spice mixtures to expose them to new seasonings early on.
- Lemon Kale Pasta – I’ve done this kale pesto and handful of times but serve it over orzo. I actually like to let it cool before serving so the pasta clumps together a little bit and she can grab it with her hands and feed herself.
- Crispy Chicken with Smashed Peas – ignore the chicken part of this recipe (although it’s delicious) but the peas are truly life changing for babies. Smash them up and let them go to town.
- Homemade Tzatziki – I spoon this over some roasted vegetables all the time.
- Veggie Lasagna – one of our favs when having company over – I just peel off the top layer of cheese (and eat it myself) as I’ve found its very stringy and hard for poppy to swallow unless I tear it into small piece.
- Roasted Vegetables – we do roasted veggies every few days in our house. I obviously tone back the salt, but use them as a vehicle for adding spices to her palate. Just don’t let them caramelize a TON as that would make them super crispy and harder to gum if your baby doesn’t have teeth yet.
- White Fish with Tomato Basil Beans – another perf recipe for the whole family
- Curry Lentil Soup – one of my favorites for Poppy when she was letting me feed her with a spoon!
- Smashed Avocado Fish Tacos – deconstruct the taco and it’s game on for babies. Tortilla included.
- Quiche – omg I can’t even tell you how many quiches we make on a monthly basis. We’re obsessed. Just be sure whatever veggies or add-ins your adding in, are small enough for a baby to chew/gum.
- Calabacitas – chopped up and sautéed veggies, it’s perfection. I just reduce the cheese by half to avoid it being too hard to chew.
- Roasted Eggplant dip – is an incredible one that’s kinda puree kinda real food.
- Green Goddess Hummus – truly Poppys favorite food.
- Smoothies – we drink these ALL THE TIME. These too.
WGC Baby Food Recipes:
- COMING SOON! I’ll add them all here so you can use this post as a quick reference.
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