Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Introducing Baby Foods

It's been fascinating to compare Henry and Tate's developmental trajectories. Henry was four months -old when we took a trip to New Mexico and Colorado. Matt and I distinctly remember eating at a restaurant when Henry started reaching for our water glasses. He wanted to bring everything to his mouth. 

Tate has entered that same phase (exact same behavior with water glasses!), which is why we want to get him started on solid food. The Montessori approach to food introduction actually begins even earlier, but I'm too nervous to start any earlier than four months. 

I think we'll start with rice cereal, sweet potato, banana, avocado, and apple. We never waited several days between foods with Henry, so I don't think we'll do it with Tate either. We will also introduce a small water glass from the very beginning. It worked so well with Henry. He's only broken glasses or dishes a handful of times in the past three years, and I think he has learned to be more careful because of it. He never throws things off the table, etc.

So far, Henry is a fantastic eater. We never have to worry about whether he's eating enough, and he has a varied palate. He eats edamame, sushi, Thai food, broccoli, quinoa, roasted vegetables, chickpeas, etc. Here are the things we implemented with him that we will likely replicate with Tate:
  • Introduce foods as soon as he shows an interest of bringing things to his mouth (~4 months)
  • Introduce a variety of foods quickly--all sorts of fruits and vegetables
  • Make interesting foods as soon as possible, such as green beans with mint
  • Make baby food from scratch because it tends to be chunkier and better preparation for eating
  • Avoid relying on convenience baby foods, like pouches
  • Accelerate to foods with more texture earlier than the average American book recommends
  • Graduate to real foods as quickly as possible
  • Never make a separate "kids meal" 
  • Share our food at restaurants rather than ordering off the kids' menu
  • Never force him to eat anything and be okay if he chooses not to eat (and don't offer him something else beyond what's on the table)
  • Introduce sugary food around the year mark but use it to teach moderation
  • Serve his food on ceramic plates with real forks and spoons from the very beginning
  • Limit snacks to mid-morning and mid-afternoon--try to avoid snacks while driving, walking in the stroller, etc.
  • Push the high-chair right up to the table during family meals
  • Serve snacks at a child-sized weaning table
I'm not expecting Tate to be the same phenomenal eater that Henry is, but we'll see how these strategies go! 

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Jessica said...

Do you use kid sized metal forks or spoons, or just standard size? Just curious for the future! I love these ideas!

katharina said...

How do you go about teaching the boys to feed themselves with a spoon? We started giving my daughter food at six months and because she couldn't sit herself at that time and I had concerns for her back if I woul sit her up, we fed her for about a month before she was allowed to try herself. By that time however the spoon had become a toy for her and the food an interesting texture to explore (both didn't end up in her mouth). We give her her own spoon now and feed her with another but I wonder if you have any ideas how we can make up for our mistake of not letting her try more in the beginning? She's doing well with the glass, which we've always let her use... ( she just likes to play around with it when she's done drinking)

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Jessica! Yes, I use kids-sized but real utensils. I purchased them from For the first spoon, I use an espresso spoon since it's so tiny.

Hi, Katharina! We do exactly what you're describing: we let him hold a spoon while we feed him with another spoon. I remember thinking Henry was never going to learn how to use a spoon but he did. It will all work out!

jduda said...

So this is a bit unrelated to your post, but I need to ask you.. My first son was born April 2011 and I was inspired by your implementation of Montessori at home. We got rid of his crib and used a floor bed starting around 4 months or so. I'm due January 3rd with my second, another little boy, and my mom is giving me the hardest time about using a floor bed with this baby! She said that having a toddler in the house is a safety issue for the new baby and puts the baby at risk for suffocation if the toddler were to get into the nursery when I wasn't paying attention. So, on that note..are you doing a floor bed with Tate? How are you managing your toddler and the baby in regards to safety? Is this something I need to be concerned about? Thanks!

mamaschlick said...

What is the rationale behind not letting him eat a snack while pushing the stroller? It's my gut to do that but would love to hear the logic behind it and...if you think it had a big effect? Thanks!

katharina said...

Thank you, Sara!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, mamaschlick! If it's legitimately snack time and we happen to be using the stroller, then we let him eat. However, we try not to use it as a distraction. Same thing in the car. There was a period where it was very difficult for Henry to ride in the car without whining or crying. It would have been very easy to placate him by giving him food as a distraction, but we tried not to and instead tried to sing with him and try to get him notice things out the window. Now he can spend long periods of time watching the world go by in the car. I hope I'm explaining it well! We just want him to learn how to be patient and live in the moment without needing a distraction or some kind of entertainment.

Janie said...

Have you ever heard of baby-led weaning? It seems like given your more flavourful, adult-food-and-tableware, no-forcing approach, it might interest you. We have found it to be fabulous for teaching motor control, table manners, and a healthy relationship with food! And much less work than pureeing...

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Janie! We did a mix of both with Henry and plan to do the same with Tate. We love giving Tate whole foods to suck on and hold, but we also want him to ingest food (rice cereal for the added iron and pureed fruits and vegetables to begin learning how to swallow things other than liquid, to get more calories, and to work his way up to processing more textures). Thanks! said...

It should come as no surprise that homemade baby food is more nutritious than pre-packaged, processed baby food. Home-cooked fruits and vegetables are also associated with decreased incidence of food allergy in infants.
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