Your baby has finally reached the age when solid food can be incorporated in to his diet! This is an exciting time as a parent. Watching your baby enjoy food and love meal times can be a really fun milestone. Of course though, excitement doesn’t stop our worried mind
I felt relieved when my babies started on solid foods because I wasn’t the only source of nourishment for them. As a person who loves charts and numbers, solid food was easier because I knew they were getting enough food. So many sleepless nights were spent worrying about milk supply and quality of breastmilk. I even thought about switching to formula because I wanted to know exactly how much my babies were getting. Babies are amazing little creatures though and are almost always getting enough if they’re gaining weight and are content. Health Canada recommends starting solids at six months of age and until then all they need for nutrition is breastmilk or formula. Once baby has started moving towards the later stages of his first year, it is important to provide more nutrients for their growing body.
Between 6 and 12 months is when babies need to transition from the breast/formula to a solid food diet with the nutrients from milk sources as secondary nutrition. Your baby has about 6-8 months of iron stored from the placenta after birth, so after this time it is important that he receives solid food that contains iron. I became the queen of sneaky food sources for my kids when they were babies (I still try to add these to their meals!). Knowing they are getting a balanced diet and loving food was important to me, so I learned how to hide healthy foods in my kid’s favorite meals so that they were getting the most balanced diet possible.
Nutritional yeast is an up and coming super food that is often used in vegan cooking. It is an inactive version of yeast, so it won’t foam or bubble when you add it to food and it won’t make you baking rise. Nutritional yeast is very high in Vitamin B12, a nutrient that of often difficult to find in most adult diets as well as a child’s diet. The flavor is nutty and mixes well with most savory dishes. Add it to cheese sauce and dip soft veggies or bread in it for a baby-led weaning option. Mix it in meat purees or blended pasta purees for the hidden effect. This also goes nicely in soups that the entire family can eat.
Edamame beans are immature soy bean pods that can be bought frozen at the grocery store. Some places sell them as unshelled frozen beans that are easy to steam and add as a side dish to meals. These delicious little beans are high in protein, fiber, and vitamin C and are very easily mixed as a puree with your baby’s favorite fruit. Mix with peaches or apple sauce and it is a great blend for a quick snack for baby. Edamame beans are also great for fine motor skills when your baby is old enough to feed himself. Remember though, until the age of 3 it is always best practice to cut up circular food in to halves or quarters to prevent choking.
Adding ground flax seeds to purees is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to give your babies a nutritional boost. I suggest grinding them in a food processor until well blended so that baby doesn’t have a hard time digesting them. Flax seeds are high in omega oils, iron, magnesium and calcium. I love to add this to meatballs and pasta sauces for my family. Powdered flax have very little flavor so they can be hidden in similar textured foods. For babies, these can be added to yogurt in the morning with fruit or you can also purchase flax oil in the refrigerator section of the natural food aisle for cooking. While inexpensive and easy to use, flax can go rancid quickly and is best stored in the fridge—especially once ground.
These are my favorite food for babies, kids and husbands. I think I would start my own lentil-based business if I didn’t already have the best job in the world (shout out to The Mama Coach!). These are fantastic purees because they can be hidden in virtually anything. If your baby loves applesauce, mix in some lentils. If your munchkin loves chicken puree, add in some lentils. Even if you blend your own meal that you’re eating, you can likely add in lentils because they have no taste and they don’t change the texture of the puree. These little pearls of gold are packed with protein, iron, fiber, and super filling calories. I often cook a large batch and have it blended in my fridge so I can add it to whatever we are cooking.
Feeding your baby can be intimidating and transitioning from formula or breastfeeding is a huge milestone for both you and baby. Remember that babies don’t come with a manual and we are all doing the best we can do with what we are given. If baby is thriving, you’re doing a great job and the fun has just begun!