Primal Tot’s First Foods – Part 1

TO FEED NUTRIENT DENSE OR NOT

When we found out we were pregnant, one of the first (and only) things we researched was the introduction of first foods. We decided very early on that we wanted to raise our child on a Paleo diet. We had seen such improvement in our own health and didn’t want our son to experience some of the health struggles we had to endure.

It can be overwhelming to determine which first foods to introduce, especially when you are going against societal norm. Most books and websites recommended first foods of rice cereal, oatmeal, and teething biscuits. That would mean I was feeding my son the very foods that made me sick. I wanted to start him out on nutritious foods that were appropriate for his age. Why couldn’t a 6 month old eat real food? Why was it necessary to send them down a path of processed junk from the beginning? What’s wrong with creating a new path; one filled with essential vitamins and nutrients so supplements weren’t necessary? After much thought and contemplation, that’s exactly what we did.

Once we made up our mind, the next step was learning more about what my son’s stomach could handle. Through speaking with his pediatrician and much research, we understood that through the first year, and then some, their digestive system is still developing. Because of this, their body cannot process certain foods. If you are interested in this path, I encourage you to speak with your pediatrician to learn more about what real foods to introduce and when. Having our pediatrician on board made all the difference. Not only did he help us determine what to feed, he also encouraged us along the way. Through regular check ups, we were able to ensure that our child was thriving with our feeding method and developing at a normal rate.

INTRODUCING FIRST FOODS

Up until 4 months of age, my son was solely fed breast milk, but wasn’t ‘breast fed’ after the first few days of his life. Due to feeding complications, we switched to pumping only and he was fed from a bottle. This worked for our family because he wasn’t reliant on me to feed him and my husband was able to be more involved at meal times. It also allowed us to be more mobile (as weird as that sounds). At his 4 month check up, we started discussing food introductions with our pediatrician. We noticed that he had increased his eating and was still hungry a lot of the time after finishing his bottle. The determined that his body could handle an introduction of some solid foods. He suggested that we wait to introduce any protein based foods but we were free to start on most fruits and vegetables. When we got this news, it felt like Christmas morning. I literally think we stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up supplies. Our first food introductions included sweet potatoes, avocado, and banana.

FOOD PREP-A-GANZA

Am I the only one who has a panic attack when walking into BuyBuyBaby? It’s overwhelming how many different food prep gadgets and mechanisms are out there, among other baby supplies. Each promises to keep all the nutrients locked in while making the perfect texture for little mouths. We looked at all the different products but determined that a stovetop pan and our standard Cuisinart food processor would work just fine. We did purchase a few silicone cube trays to freeze the food once it was prepped.

I planned on adding our son’s food prep to our weekly cook ups but in the end, we only did so a handful of times. It is amazing how much baby food one sweet potato will make. Depending on the food we were preparing, we would steam it first and then purée it (most vegetables) and freeze in silicone cube trays, or just purée it and freeze in silicone cube trays (most fruit). Once the cubes were frozen, we placed the them in large labeled freezer bags so we knew what we were feeding.  

WHAT WE INTRODUCED AND HOW

During his daytime feedings, we began offering defrosted fruit/vegetable cubes as a supplement to his breast milk. At school, we dropped off three individual frozen cubes for them to defrost and feed him. We also added a few cubes of food to our dinner routine. Dinner is where we experimented with new foods. We didn’t want to risk him rejecting food at school so we only sent things we knew he liked. Some of the early favorites included sweet potatoes mixed with strawberries, banana and blueberries, and strawberries mixed with banana, among other varieties. On the weekends, when we were out running errands or out to dinner, we kept avocados, bananas, and some pre-mashed sweet potatoes. Those were the three foods that were easiest to pack and feed on the go.

We kept it very simple in the beginning and we stayed on real foods. He didn’t like everything that was introduced and we had some epic fails. In the end, we found what worked and stayed with those foods. Below is a list of the first foods we introduced:

WINS

  • Banana (great thickening agent and base)
  • Sweet potato (great thickening agent and base)
  • Strawberries (blended with a thicker substance like sweet potato and banana)
  • Blueberries (blended with a thicker substance like sweet potato and banana)
  • Avocado (fresh)

FAILS

  • Butternut squash – great fresh, liquid mess when frozen and defrosted
  • Avocado (frozen) – it turned brown and tasted like mineral
  • Pumpkin – it wasn’t thick enough. Would be okay if mixed with sweet potato or banana
  • Zucchini – even fresh, it was a liquid mess
  • Yellow squash – same as zucchini

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

Throughout the remainder of our son’s first year, we got more adventurous. Around 9 months of age, we stopped using the frozen cubes. They weren’t satiating him enough anymore and he was getting bored of the same foods every day. We started adding in steamed and seasoned chopped veggies, fresh fruit, and some protein while still supplementing with breast milk.
After he turned one, we had more freedom to choose what he ate and he began eating smaller, more chopped up versions of what we had on our plates. For school, we packed similar things and started getting more creative with what he was served. It was around this time that I started feeling the urge to prepare food in bulk in order to make lunch prep easier. Like everything in life, this process has evolved over time.

Next week I will go into more detail about how our little guy eats today as well as time saving tips to keep things interesting but minimize time in the kitchen.