Let's be honest, none of us know what we are doing most of the time. I mean, maybe you do, but I sure as hell don't. With that said I strongly believe that you know your baby best. You know you baby's cues, likes and dislikes which also means you know what makes you comfortable and what stresses you out. All of that has taught me to listen to my gut, to not over stress about what other babies are doing or what mine is not. I've learned to not worry about milestones and focus on my baby and her own curve, her own journey.
Needless to say feeding your baby can be stressful. From not knowing what foods to start with, when to start, how often to not knowing allergies, baby led weaning and food combinations, its a lot! My biggest piece of advice is give yourself grace and don't make feeding your baby something you are worried about, trust me I did that with the twins and I'm so upset about it. So this time around I'm trying to do two things, make sure she is fed and make sure we are enjoying these moments and milestones together. PERIOD.
But I wanted to talk about everything we've done and have it in a more organized place. I did post about most of this but I thought it would make sense to make a blog post about it just to have a bit more detail, so here we go.
I started Eriela on solids at 4 months. She was able to sit in a small supportive chair at that point. We fed her baby oatmeal mixed with breast milk (of course you can mix it with formula or even water for that matter). But since Eriela was having breast milk, this made the oatmeal more of a familiar taste. The idea here was to bring in more calories and nutrients and also get her used to the spoon and the new texture. We did this for 2 weeks. We did it once a day around 5pm. She loved it! She took to the spoon pretty quickly so we knew we could start bringing in more foods (also our pediatrician approved this introduction).
The next food we introduced her to, as a puree, was avocado. We first placed a bit on her hand and made sure she wasn't allergic to it (place the avocado on baby's hand for 2-4 min and watch for any reaction of the skin). Since she didnt have one we gave it to her. I also mixed in some breast milk so that again she had a bit of a familiar taste. She LOVED it. So we started to give her this (about 1-2tbsp) a day and would also mix in some oatmeal to give her more of the iron that the oatmeal has. We kept her on this food for a week. It might be an old wives tale, but I like to keep her on one food for a couple of days to make sure she reacts well to them.
The next puree was butternut squash followed by carrots, peas, broccoli,green beans and squash. She loved all of them to say the least. After all of these became a hit, we started to bring in some fruit. I put some frozen pineapple in a baby teether/food holder and she loved it for her gums and loved getting the juice from it. I also made banana popsicles (literally mashed and froze banana in small popsicle tray). She loved that too although was a little frustrated because she couldn't eat it fast enough LOL. I started giving her fruits as a "dessert." I gave her the sweet fruits after a vegetable puree.
Slowly we brought in new fruits and just alternated since we knew she was able to tolerate them all. I made a lot at once and use a blender to puree the foods. Once I make the puree I put it in ice cube trays and freeze it. This way I have plenty for the week. I make 3-4 different purees and freeze them this way and then I am able to quickly take out 3 cubes and either mix the foods or give them to her individually (so I can mix broccoli, papaya and squash for example). Also, don't ask me why I do 3 cubes, it just felt right and she seems to have enough after the three cubes.
At 6 months we dropped a nap and changed our feeding routine. Our current routine looks like this (please note this is what works for us, no suggesting you do this but this is our day):
-7:30am 7oz bottle
-8:30am breakfast (usually papaya mixed with a banana or other fruit. Papaya helps her bowel movements stay regular and consistent)
-11:30am (or when she wakes from nap) 7oz bottle
-1pm lunch (puree and NOW other foods she can grab - examples under BWL sections below)
-2:30pm 7oz bottle
-5pm dinner (puree and more food she can work on handling herself)
-6/ 6:30pm 7oz bottle
**note that all of these times can and do vary by 30min or so BUT she never goes to sleep past 7.
And now, lets talk BLW (baby led weaning)
Honestly, I had no idea what this was until a few months ago. It made me nervous, I was hesitant and anxious about it. So I decided not to try it until Eriela was 6 months + and I felt comfortable with exploring. I also had amazing resources to help me like @bringingupbambino and @modernfamily_travels as well as @theperfectmom, follow them, they are great! Anyway I currently still ask them all the questions and having support has been very important to me.
The biggest thing I've learned is that you have to trust your baby. That's hard for me to do because I am terrified of her choking. So obviously you have to watch them like a hawk, and I do. Learning and understanding her chewing and eating habits has allowed me to relax a bit and yes, trust her. The idea is to allow your baby to eat whatever you're eating essentially, to eat until they feel full and to learn to pick up their food (via spoon even) and enhance their motor skills by feeding themselves.
To be honest I am still learning myself. But I think I get a braver every day. Our typical feed starts with me giving Eriela pureed foods, allowing her to use her spoon to eat some of it, and then put a plate in front of her with some food for her to grab. This includes:
-toast (plain or with avocado or PB)
-strawberries, banana, apples, pears, grapes (cut very small and peeled), watermelon, pineapple
-peanut butter puffs
-sweet potato fries
That is what she has tried so far because that's what I have had available! I am not a great cook, nor do I love to cook, so this is what I've done and honestly I'm happy about it. I'm sure I could do more, but I am reminding myself that I am doing great and Eriela is happy and fed and that's what matters.
My take away is that nothing is easy, some babies might resist food, might resist purees and might resist feeding themselves. But what I do know is that from my experience practice and re introduction of things really helps. SO I am a strong believer in trying things more than once, heck try them 10 times because babies (for the most part) learn to like things just like humans do! I also think that you have to do what works for you. Clearly I know I'm not doing everything that BLW involves, so I consider myself taking a "mild" approach to baby led weaning simply because that has been working for us.
Babies, schedules, parents, all of us change and the beauty of all this is that you can always change your course. Just because you start with purees doesn't mean you can't introduce other methods of feeding and vice versa! So remember to have fun, enjoy this stage because something I can 100% guarantee is that this doesn't last long, this stage, this age, it goes by in the blink of an eye and you won't realize it until they're eating with a fork and a spoon, drinking out of a class cup and telling you about their day as a 10 year old. Oh and btw, the twins never did BLW and they love ALL foods, are great eaters AND can use a fork and a spoon like pros ;)