Monday, September 4, 2017

Baby's First Food

During my baby girl’s first few months, a comment my family would always tell me is, “Ang takaw ng anak mo!” (Your baby eats so much!) I spent a lot of time in my fairy godmothers’ house and they pointed out that, even at three to four months, she still seemed to be feeding from me every little less than two hours.

So by the time we took her to the pedia for her fourth month well visit, I was excited at the prospect of starting her on solids. Her doctor said that we could already start, or we could wait til she was six months as some mothers opted. We were given instructions on how to begin introducing her to solids. My husband felt that four months was a little too young to start so we compromised and started at five months.

As instructed, we started with the Happy Baby Organic Brown Rice* cereal from Healthy Options which we would mix with breast milk. I thought it still looked like milk, only thicker, and not quite “solids”. But our baby girl’s first spoon of this cereal was, for her, epic. The look on her face (which luckily we caught on video) spelled, “Wow! There is more to life than just breast milk.” She seemed to like it so much that she found the spoon too slow and wanted to be fed continuously.

But what started her loving her relationship with food was her introduction to fruits and vegetables at six months. We followed the advice of her doctor to pick one vegetable or fruit and feed her that for three days to be able to determine any allergies, if any.

Trying out a fruit popsicle
We were worried at first because when we first gave her squash (mixed with breast milk as instructed by her pedia), her face turned from happy excited to “what the heck is this?” She didn’t seem to like it at all. So we decided to give it to her the next day, without the breast milk, and she seemed to like it. We continued on with potatoes, sayote, and camote, then moved on to bananas, mangoes, apples, and pears. We also fed her some broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini. I was really thrilled with her response to all these foods. Each new dish was like a burst of something new and wonderful for her, especially the fruits.

Loving her zucchini soup
I’ve heard of a lot of moms talk about what good eaters their babies were but became picky when they hit their toddler years, like my own nieces and nephews. I wanted my baby girl to continue with her love for food. So when it came to preparing her food I wanted her to enjoy what she ate. As she tried more and more, we started combining different fruits and vegetables to see what worked. We went from pureed foods, to mashed, to just chopped, until we started giving them to her in small chunks for her to chew.

Our food bible, which we even occasionally used for ourselves because of the creative and healthy recipes, was “Whole + Natural: Baby Food”** by Namee J. Sunico and Melanie P. Jimenez. If Namee’s little girl is any indication of what a good eater with a very expansive palate is, then I want my little girl to develop that palate too. This book encourages moms and yayas to make flavorful dishes by using spices like rosemary, thyme, etc. No salt and sugar.

What also helped us was the Baby-led Weaning technique which we started at eight months. The idea is to give her the same food that we eat, allow her to explore the food with her hands and encourage her to feed herself (even if got really messy), which was very liberating for her. This technique encouraged her to explore the textures and temperature of food and taught her to be independent in her eating. This was the end of pureed and mashed food for her which made her really happy.
Feeding herself

To date, my little girl loves to eat. I am very glad that she prefers to eat fruits and vegetables over any meat. She enjoys the occasional pasta and ramen, and we discovered recently that she likes chicken rice. Feeding her when we are out and when we travel is not a problem, in fact, sometimes, getting her to stop is the challenge.

*Happy Baby Organic Brown Rice Rice cereal can be purchased at Healthy Options.

**You may order a copy of this book through nameesunico@gmail.com. For more information and inspiration, please visit her blog at http://tableforthreeplease.com.

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