This is a sponsored post for Heinz Baby Food. But I promise you that every word is the truth about my experience feeding my babies and toddlers. I may have even snuck in a spoonful for myself “one for the baby, one for the mummy…”
Here’s a baby shower game for you. Take the labels off jars of baby food and pass around and see who can guess what’s inside the jar. Let me tell you, I rocked that game at a recent baby shower. Those Heinz baby food jars were a staple in my pantry for all 4 of my children.
Even though it’s been a while, my youngest is now 5, you never forget those smells or tastes.
I was never the total homebody kind of mother that made sure every meal was homemade baby food and that guilt did weigh on my mind. I needed help and I’m telling you Heinz saved me.
Because starting solids for your 6 month old isn’t just about ingredients and flavours, you need to have the consistency right. Baby purée recipes were a little daunting for me. There were periods when I couldn’t find the time or the energy to do batch cooking.
So I found combining Heinz baby food with home cooked meals worked best for my babies as they progressed from simple purées right through to toddler food ideas. I was confident my babies were receiving the right nutrients and enough variety from this combination.
I didn’t have any problems breastfeeding so I didn’t rush starting solids. My babies were sleeping well, feeding well and gaining weight so I waited until they showed interest in solids. This was usually when I noticed them intently watch how a spoon went into my mouth and I could see their little tongue darting in and out of their mouth.
And that’s the trick with babies starting solids; they need to learn to use their tongue to swallow the food; which is why purée baby food is vital. No chunks just yet; first things first. Let’s get the tongue moving in the right way before they learn to use their gums to chomp down on soft chunks of food.
There are all sorts of things to take into consideration not only when a baby starts solids but continuing to expand their food repertoire with different tastes and textures as they progress into toddlerhood.
So while every baby will be different, here’s my strategy.
I would still breastfeed 3-4 times a day but after one of the breastfeeds I would offer a serve puréed baby food and/or rice cereal from the 4+ month range of Heinz baby food. Initially, bub would eat less than a tablespoon but once the baby got used to the sensation of eating food, they not only ate more but I would also increase it to twice a day.
7 – 8 months
Breastfeed 3 – 4 times a day but I would swap the puréed baby food and breastfeed around. And increase it to 3 meals a day.
Now here is where I would ‘value add’ to the meals by adding some pasta to the purée to increase the texture of the meal but could still be easily swallowed without having to chew.
Rissoni or cous cous are good options
And if my babies still seemed hungry I would offer a second jar of food.
Pureed fruit or yoghurt
There are some days where your baby will seem like they can’t get enough food, and other days well they’re just not interested. Don’t panic, babies don’t usually starve themselves.
Also, during these couple of months your baby will most likely have at least two little teeth sprouting from their bottom gum and start to get the hang of chomping down with their gums and their little tongues are working hard. (Did you know that getting your babies tongue moving is not only good for their eating habits, but helps them later on with speech development).
I would make homemade breadsticks with day old bread cut into sticks and brushed with olive oil. Bake until golden brown. Just make sure you don’t leave your baby unsupervised while they’re eating!
I maintained breastfeeding right through to 12 months but I was less strict about how often and how long. My baby always guided me in this regard.
During these two months I would ‘graduate’ to the 8+month range of Heinz baby food and would ‘value add’ around the meal with some finger food. (Mastering the pincer grip is important for babies to develop fine motor skills)
Soft boiled peas, grated cheese or carrots, or bananas cut into small pieces placed in front of them to try and pick up and eat.
Now this is where it really starts to get interesting. This is when your baby, who is about to become a toddler, looks like they’re chewing like champions and are almost able to eat whatever is on your plate (as long as it’s still soft). The Heinz 12+month range of toddler food looks a lot like big people food.
While 6 months ago your baby your baby was getting used to being fed with a spoon, now your toddler wants to try and scoop the food themselves with the spoon.
Yoghurt or thicker fruit purées where the food will ‘stick’ to the spoon.
But it is important to still be mindful of allergies or intolerances. Every time a new food is introduced your baby’s immune system is trying to work out if it’s friend or foe. And the different food with their flavours and textures that your toddler will be introduced to in the next couple of years is just getting started.