Being a new mom, it’s difficult to know what exactly to feed your baby, after the initial six months (if exclusively breastfeeding) has passed. For example, in the West, they don’t advocate feeding a baby less than six month old any solids, or anything except breast milk. While in other non-Western cultures, it is common to gradually start feeding babies some solid foods after only two months, in order to allow them to develop a taste for the food that they will eventually consume later on.
It is even more difficult to know what to feed the baby as it gets older. You do not want to get stuck in a cycle of feeding it the same food day in, and day out. Also, it can be tricky sometimes to venture out into more diverse flavors. After all, just because your baby is growing does not mean that everything will agree with its still sensitive palate.
New mothers can sometimes be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information
out there (scientific and anecdotal): from their own mothers, mothers-in-law, aunts, friends, acquaintances and even strangers putting in their two cents to pediatricians, blogs, websites, and a whole library of books on child nutrition. However, I found that while all of those can be used as a reference, it is better to go through a process of trial and error and experiment (within reason and with extreme caution) with different foods, once your baby is a bit older. It can even be enjoyable to create different meals for your baby and watch them develop a taste for certain flavors as opposed to others. For example, while experimenting with avocado, I learnt that my daughter doesn’t like it mixed in with her fruit snacks or her savory meals. Sometimes, it can even provide inconspicuous clues about their characters and who they inherited their preferences from. Not to mention, formula milk and certain other baby food can now be scratched off your grocery list as they don’t factor into your budget anymore, or at least not as much as before. Having said that, it is always advisable to check with your baby’s pediatrician to make sure your baby is gaining the right amount of weight for their age based on their diet.
I was initiated into the world of solids when my daughter was around five month old. I started feeding her mostly pureed vegetables as well as breastmilk and formula milk, while closely monitoring her diapers for any sign of indigestion or constipation. As she got older, she started developing a taste for more adult table food, that is food that is less mushy and more of a substantial consistency. In fact, I noticed her turning her nose up at the meals I meticulously prepared for her, and then running to get a bite of whatever I was eating.
Around 10 months, I had introduced her to a wide variety of textures and tastes (by no means, all food), and discovered that perhaps certain foods should be delayed until she’s older. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of reducing the frequency of certain ingredients. For example, after feeding her rice for a week, I noticed that her bowel movements were not as regular as before. The same can be said for pasta. In general, you can’t go wrong with vegetables and fruits. Even then, there are exceptions. Tomatoes and any acidic citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, mangos etc) should not be included. But I manage to make her food as close to ours as possible in terms of taste and texture (without all the spices that usually flavor ours).
Below is a (mostly) eat clean meal plan for a 10 month old baby, with four different options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. You can switch it up every three or four days, so your baby does not get used to one type of food. For more information, I’ve found this website to be very helpful www.wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com
Breakfast (Between 9-11 am)
- Soft-boiled egg mashed with toast (I use a thyme flavored toast to slowly introduce her to certain mild herbs and spices). Boil the egg for exactly 2 minutes. While still runny, mix the yolk and a little bit of the white with pieces of toast.
- Oatmeal with ¼ chopped banana. Mix around five or six tablespoons of ground oatmeal with some hot water until thick. Mash in ¼ chopped banana.
- A piece of toast with La Vache Quiri cheese
- One egg tomato omelet with a slice of toast. Beat egg with a fork, add a dash of milk (I use skimmed milk), add ¼ tomato, chopped. Add a pinch of salt. Cook in a pan, very lightly greased with olive oil. Serve with toast.
Lunch (Between 2-3 pm)
- Steamed vegetables with ½ a chicken breast. Chop two or three carrots, zucchinis and one potato. I make enough for three or four days. Steam for about 20 minutes on a strainer placed over a pot filled with 1 inch or so of filtered water. Cut up chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and place in the water in the pot or in a different pan filled with some filtered water. Once vegetables are soft and chicken is cooked, puree with a hand blender. Serve one portion and store the rest in baby food containers and place in the freezer.
- Steamed vegetables with rice. Follow same instructions as above. Cook ¼ cup of rice. Blend together with steamed vegetables.
- Steamed sweet potatoes with chicken breast. Steam sweet potatoes and ½ chicken breast and blend together.
- Pasta with cheese. Cook ½ cup of elbow macaroni and mix with la vache quiri cheese.
Dinner (Between 7-8pm)
- Cerelac (preferably with fruit or date pieces). Mix around nine heaped tablespoons of cerelac with 2 fl.oz of hot water.
- Mashed potatoes (no seasoning) with some chicken breast slices.
- Lentil soup (no seasoning) with a slice of toast.
- Vegetable soup with toast.
I found soup to be a hearty and warm meal in the winter months.
Snacks (around 5pm)
- Pureed fruits. I steam a few peeled, cored and sliced apples and pears and mash with a fork or blender. I make enough to last a few days.
- A banana. Sometimes whole, sometimes mashed
- Apple compote or applesauce. Core and peel a couple of apples. Cut into chunks and steam for about 15 minutes. When soft, mash with a fork or potato masher. I like it a bit chunkier. If you want a smoother, more pureed consistency, blend with a hand blender.
Of course, I still breastfeed my baby in the morning and in between meals, or to comfort and calm her down. Every mother’s circumstances is different but I made the decision to continue breastfeeding her while gradually weaning her off by introducing soft solids. However, keep in mind, breastmilk, at this stage, is hardly enough to satisfy your baby’s hunger. It’s more of a light snack and sometimes, it’s about comfort more than nutrition.
I also keep my baby hydrated during the day (with filtered water), and I still give her some formula milk, at least once a day, as that is her only source of calcium. For dinner, I tend to give her Cerelac as it is heavy and keeps her full during the night. I am, however, trying to phase it out from her diet by switching up her dinner options now that she is older.
On road trips, I give her store bought baby food. Hero band is a good option as it has no preservatives, artificial flavors or coloring. Whatever you get, make sure you read the packaging label first.
In the end, it’s all a matter of experimenting and trying out different combinations of foods to see what works. But I believe that at close to one year old, babies should have been exposed to as wide a variety of foods and flavors as possible. It will eventually make them less picky eaters down the road, which any mother with toddlers will tell you, is always a win-win.