Saturday, October 3, 2009

Food for babies and preggos


One of my favorite activities is feeding my son solid food. We started on rice cereal mixed with breast milk when he was just over 4 months old. Many babies don’t start until 6 months, but he had been enviously eying our food for weeks. When I finally started him on the cereal, he scarfed it down and gave me this look, like “Finally, I’ve been waiting!” It is so much fun! We’ve been doing it for a couple of months now and are up to 3 times a day. He slurps it up, but half of it ends up all over him. I’ve given up wiping between bites. I just keep the spoonfuls coming, and at the end of the feeding I almost have to just take him, the highchair, and myself into the yard and hose us down!

We started adding fruits and vegetables recently by mixing a small amount with the cereal, but as the menu expands he seems to really enjoy bites of each separately. His favorites are yams and peaches. I always select fresh foods for myself, avoiding pre-packaged and pre-made foods, so naturally I had the desire to make fresh baby food for my little boy. What I didn’t know is that it would be so easy! On my mom’s recommendation, I bought a hand-crank Kidco baby food grinder because she said they are easier and work better than electric ones, but I hadn’t the slightest idea how to start.

Then a friend gave me a baby food cookbook called “Pure and Simple.” Many of the instructions for first foods literally have 2 lines of instructions. For example, for peaches or apples, peel and boil then mash or strain. That’s it! For yams (my little guy can’t get enough yams!), simply bake, then scoop out the insides and strain or mash. Bananas and avocados are even easier – all you have to do is mash or strain them! As long as they are ripe, they are perfect for baby raw.

We were away from home longer than expected a few days ago and I hadn’t brought any solid baby food with me. At just 6 months, he still gets most of his nourishment from breastfeeding, but I didn’t want to disrupt his routine. We happen to be at the hospital because my husband was ill, so we hit the cafeteria. I bought a sandwich for myself that came with a banana. I grabbed a plastic fork and mashed up a piece of the banana for baby and we had lunch together. He absolutely loved the banana by itself (until now he only had it mixed in with baby oatmeal). I did happen to have a baby spoon in the diaper bag, but I’m sure we could have made do with a plastic spoon too.

As we transition to solid foods from breast milk over the next few months, I am happy I am using real food instead of jars. In addition to the health benefits, I think it benefits both of us psychologically. It helps me to see him as a little person.


At this time last year, nausea became a bad memory and I was able to focus on my eating habits. Eating healthy is already a near-obsession of mine, except on weekends or when there is chocolate available. Eating whole grains, lean proteins, and lots of fruits and vegetables is a way of life. So during pregnancy, I continued the same diet as before, just adding a few calories here and avoiding a few high-risk foods there. I did splurge allot more often than before, as I lacked the incentive to hold back with the meter on the scale climbing anyway. It was about this time I was starting to show.

A typical weekday menu for me consisted of natural whole grain cereal and milk or a bran muffin and yogurt with fruit and coffee (yes, I kept drinking coffee but limited myself to one small cup) for breakfast; peanut butter with toast or apples dipped in peanut butter for snack; a green salad filled with all kinds of veggies, protein like chicken or fish, and a fat source like avocado or dressing with whole wheat bread for lunch; raw almonds and raisons or a Luna bar for snack plus some sweets if I was craving them; whatever my husband and I decided to make for dinner whether it be steak, tacos, turkey burgers, or stir-fry, as long as some more veggies were served; a little snack like a granola bar or crackers with milk for dessert.

The only thing really disappointing to give up was raw fish. Sushi is my favorite food and of course I craved the one thing I couldn’t have. It was easy to avoid lunch meat as I wasn’t in the habit of eating it much. The caffeine was a bit tough to cut back on because pregnancy made me even more tired than usual. Many people steer completely clear of fish for fear of mercury. However, so much of my reading touted the benefits of fish for baby that I continued eating it, cooked of course. I was just careful not to eat more than 12 ounces a week and to select fish with lower mercury content like wild salmon. Some fish with higher mercury content that should be avoided are shark and catfish. I don’t really like those anyway so stuck to salmon and tuna.

I thought I would stick to my “diet” well during pregnancy for the health of my baby, but it was a challenge because of cravings. I gained weight at the maximum rate that was still considered “normal” throughout the entire 9 months, with a grand total of 35 pounds gained at the end. There was no cause for concern though, as my baby was actually on the small side and I shed 20 pounds within the first 6 weeks. The rest came off within the first couple months of breastfeeding. So my advice is splurge away! Just make sure the healthy things are getting in first so baby doesn’t miss out on the benefits of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. Oh, and add a prenatal vitamin just to cover all the bases.

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