People are always really impressed when they find out that I don’t feed Jack baby food from the store. They’re usually a bit incredulous when they say, “You make your own baby food?!?!” Like it’s the height of overachievement in parenting. To be honest, I’m not trying to win any mother of the year awards, I’m just cheap. And all those little jars are expensive! So from the time Jack started solids at six months old I’ve just given him modified versions of the same ‘ol food us full-grown humans eat. His first food was carrots that I mashed with a fork and spoon-fed him, but pretty soon we moved on to allowing him to feed himself. And feed himself he does! It’s amazing to watch a little nine month old shovel food into his mouth. He loves loves loves to eat.
Carrots are still one of my go-to foods for him. They’re only 99 cents a pound! I usually just take 1-2 carrots and quickly wash, peel, and cut into sticks. It takes like a minute. Then I put them in a bowl, cover with water, and microwave them for three minutes. If I need them cool enough to eat right away I just run them under some cold water before dumping them onto his high-chair tray. Easy peasy. These are also great for taking to restaurants in a small tupperware (I got some bpa-free ones for a few bucks at the grocery store).
Bread in all forms is a big hit. He’s eating french toast in this picture, but he also does really well with grilled cheese sandwiches, lightly toasted bread, rolls (at restaurants), and even tortillas.
I’ve doubted the practicality of the white curtains right behind him on more than one occasion, but he loves playing with them and his version of peekaboo is pretty much the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.
Here he is eating some quinoa with chicken and spinach. Quinoa sounds really fancy but it’s basically like rice. I might do a post about cooking with it soon. I shred the chicken up for him since he only has two teeth.
He loves whole wheat rotini pasta with ground beef and tomato sauce. Red beans and rice are a big hit as well. We season everything the same as we normally do, we just try to limit the salt. Nick likes his food extra salty so he just adds more to his dish at the table, but when we’re cooking we mostly use lots of garlic. Jack loves it!
I keep string cheese on hand as an easy, portable, and not-too-messy option for bringing with us to restaurants and play dates. I just pull it apart into stringy pieces and either hand him one piece at a time or put it onto his portable placemat to feed himself. Bananas are another favorite and easy to transport, but they are super messy to eat. I also will often order him some steamed veggies or fresh avocado at restaurants, but that gets pricey. A waitress at a Tex-Mex restaurant suggested giving him a tortilla to gnaw on and he loved it, so when we get home from our trip I’ll be stocking up on some whole wheat tortillas to add to my repertoire of good foods for on-the-go.
We were doing oatmeal for breakfast every day for a while. I just buy the store brand plain rolled oats and microwave it with water. I make it a little thick so he can pick it up in clumps. But I think he’s getting a little tired of oatmeal. I can tell because he looks at it, then looks over at what I’m eating (usually not oatmeal), and then yells and gestures towards my food. So lately I’ve been making him a one-egg omelet and tossing in some frozen spinach. Or I might give him a banana or avocado and some toast. I used to feed him yogurt with a spoon but that’s a lot of work. Once you get accustomed to the luxury of eating your own breakfast in peace while your baby happily feeds himself it seems awfully inconvenient to go back to spoon feeding.
It’s worth mentioning that both bananas and avocados were not instant favorites. He rejected both the first few times, but I kept offering it every few days and now he loves them. I also didn’t follow the recommendation to wait four days between introducing every new food. We don’t have any family history of food allergies so the only foods I was more careful about were the most common allergens (eggs, strawberries, seafood, dairy, etc.). I’m still waiting until his birthday for nuts, honey, and milk (he can have other dairy products since they’re easier to digest, and foods cooked with milk, just not straight milk).
He eats three hearty meals a day and nurses a lot and he’s still on the skinny side! I’m starting to wonder whether he’s got a tapeworm or something, haha. It really is fun to see him enjoying food so much and eating such a wide variety. I know kids are unpredictable and he could decide tomorrow that he only likes teething crackers (essentially glorified cookies), but for now I’m pleased.
I hope that this post has inspired those of you with littles or who may be becoming parents soon to think outside the baby food aisle without slaving over a food processor. It really is so much cheaper and so so easy.
Sorry for the late post today! Jack and I have been traveling and now we’re in Austin with Nick! It’s my first time visiting Austin and I’m pretty excited. Any suggestions for what to see and do with a baby in tow? I’ve heard Zilker park is pretty great.