I thought breastfeeding was tricky, but starting my baby on solids has been an even bigger adventure. From watching him practically break into song the first time he tried a banana pancake (and go on to eat three trays full), to the time he refused homemade mac and cheese but happily gnawed on the raw onion slice he found on the floor, it’s been interesting… to say the least.
So I’ve reflected on a few tips that would have been helpful to know five months ago when we first started on our solids journey. Live and learn, I guess. And share the wisdom.
1. Figure out what’s worth making yourself — and what isn’t.
Once my husband brought home 20 pounds of apples because he thought we’d save a ton of money making apple sauce ourselves. After three hours of peeling, boiling, and processing in batches, I decided to price check (which, yes, might have been a better idea before I started; hindsight is 20/20) and found that I could find apple sauce for 5 cents an ounce.
Of course, if you want to control the quality of your apples or are buying exclusively organic apple sauce, it might be a better value to make it yourself, but either way, do the math to figure how you’re saving time and/or money.
2. Always buy back-up options, because babies’ tastes change… fast.
When my son first started eating solid foods, there were clear favorites: apple puffs, veggie straws, those freeze-dried yogurt bites. So, naturally, I bought TONS of these items and virtually nothing else. Only to discover that the next day he literally wouldn’t eat any of the above. Since then, I’ve starting supplying my kitchen with an arsenal of baby-appropriate foods for his rapidly changing moods and taste buds.
And if he doesn’t like something the first time, try again! Research shows that it can take upwards of 12 tries for a baby to accept a new food. Some of my son’s current faves are foods that he hated the first go around.
3. Embrace store bought baby food when convenience matters.
I used to pack homemade baby food in our diaper bag every time I left the house with my son, but after finding a limp, blackened banana and a long-forgotten container of chia pudding (which does not age well, y’all), I’ve adjusted my ways.
Shelf-stable pouches are your friend. Especially if you want to have emergency snacks safely tucked away in the car or in your diaper bag that you don’t need to change after each outing. Because if your life’s as hectic as mine, you might not remember to constantly pack and unpack perishable homemade foods.
4. Adjust your own meal choices, but stay true to your taste.
Letting my son share meals with my husband and I has been the most fun part of starting solids. Now I can introduce him to French bread, tacos, potatoes au gratin — some of the great loves of my life!
But when we first scooted his high chair up to the dinner table, I made the mistake of choosing mild, bland-ish foods over our usual adventurous fare. And guess what: We were all bored with it. My son made it clear that he preferred the coconut green curry leftovers I’d made for the adults to the avocado pasta I made with only him in mind. After all, we’re priming him for our family’s unique cuisine, not for the kid’s menu at the local chain restaurant. If you feel the same, don’t be afraid to be adventurous!
5. Make sure mom and dad are well fed too.
I put this rule in the same category as, “Adjust your own oxygen mask before assisting another,” because if I’m going to summons the necessary patience for the shrieking and food-flinging chaos of meal time, I need to make sure that I’m not hangry. For me, this means relying even more on my Instant Pot, so that I don’t have to choose between bedtime duties and feeding myself. And also using my weekends wisely; Kate’s tips for how to prep a week’s worth of dinners in under 2 hours (WHUT) has been a game changer too. Genius.
Top image: Tanaphong Toochinda via Unsplash