Today’s guest post is from Kelly Alberts, who blogs over HERE!
Spices in BLW
The other day I heard of a friend who had been making purees for her baby and was wearing herself out with all the prep work. She said she was hesitant to try baby led weaning because she uses a lot of garlic in cooking and didn’t want to just share her dinner with baby.
I did my best not to respond with sarcasm, but it was kind of a struggle.
I couldn’t understand where she got the idea that she shouldn’t feed her baby real food simply because it contained garlic… Maybe pediatricians are pushing bland, mushy, texture-less, flavor-less foods because of all the allergies they see. Or maybe people just genuinely believe that babies LIKE bland, texture-less foods. Or, I don’t know what. It’s bizarre to me.
Garlic doesn’t hurt babies. There’s nothing unhealthy about garlic. In fact, garlic has all sorts of immunity boosting properties! My baby loves things flavored with garlic, and I really don’t think she’s all that unique or even a super-human eater (okay, I kind of do think that…).
According to the baby led weaning cookbook, as soon as babies are ready to start solids (any time after six months of age, for healthy babies who were born full-term!), they are ready to have spices included in their food. We have followed that guidance ever since we started BLW with Charlotte.
Here are some things I use:
1. Cumin and chili powder: I include both of these delicious spices when I make tortilla soup. Charlotte LOVES tortilla soup, which we give her without the broth so she can pick up all the pieces. (P.S. Try this recipe! It is my favorite soup of all time!)
2. Curry powder: the BLW cookbook has a wonderful recipe for butternut squash soup and it includes about a teaspoon of curry powder. The curry brings out a delicious taste in the squash and Charlotte will devour this soup like her like depends on it.
3. Garlic powder, paprika, and ground pepper: yesterday I baked a whole chicken in the crock pot and seasoned it with ground pepper, garlic, paprika and a tiny bit of salt*. The chicken was moist and delicious. After I sliced the chicken and gave Charlotte a couple of pieces on her tray, I put a tiny bit more salt on my own chicken. She didn’t miss the salt in her serving, though; she ate the entire portion and made noises requesting more. 😉 I’m giving credit to the garlic, paprika, and pepper.
4. Cinnamon: I love sprinkling cinnamon on roasted sweet potatoes. This is actually one of the side dishes I cook most frequently and Charlotte is a big fan. Cinnamon brings out the flavor of sweet potatoes really well!
*As I mentioned previously, salt isn’t good for young babies (because their bodies can’t process it the way adults’ bodies can). I very rarely add salt to my cooking and I have started to avoid foods that already have salt added.
However, babies don’t necessarily want bland foods any more than adults do. Spices add great flavor to foods! They make the eating experience much more enjoyable and help babies to grow accustomed to trying new things, textures, and flavors. Don’t be afraid to try BLW and please please please don’t be afraid of using a little bit of spice!
This post is for the moms who have an older baby or toddler (18-36 months) who used to eat any and everything and have just stopped doing that. It’s accepted that babies who are weaned the baby led way tend to be less picky later in life. The biggest reason for that is that when you start with purées, your baby gets used to soft mushy foods and may not be interested in table foods because of texture. Another reason is that when you do BLW, you introduce a lot of foods and flavors and spices and textures. With TW (traditional weaning) you tend to stick to plain fruits and vegetables and meats. Less flavor, fewer spices.
Again those are just “typical”. There are always exceptions, of course.
Maybe you did BLW from day 1 and your baby tried all sorts of things for a long time. But now he doesn’t eat anything new and just likes the same 3-4 foods.
Or maybe you did TW from day 1 and introduced table foods much later, and your baby would try a variety of foods.
It doesn’t matter much how you got to this point. Your baby is a little older now and doesn’t try new foods. She only likes blueberries and pasta and cheese and Goldfish crackers.
I’ve been running this page and social media accounts for over 1.5 years now. In that time, I have received hundreds, maybe thousands, of comments, concerns, and questions regarding a picky eater. And almost all of the time, the child is between 18 and 36 months. Before 18 months, it’s typically a short phase that lasts a week. But somewhere between 18-24 months, kiddos find out that they have a voice and an opinion. Vocabulary starts to increase tremendously, and most little ones learn they can say NO! They can specifically ask for a food they want.
When that happened here, I can’t tell you how happy I was. Alexander was finally able to tell me what he wanted! It made snack time easier. If he didn’t like what I had made (which wasn’t every day), I could ask what he wanted instead. After a few weeks, I started realizing that what he wanted was almost always the same thing: applesauce. Sometimes it was blueberries, sometimes a glass of milk or water. But I’d say 90% of the time, he wanted applesauce.
Is applesauce a bad thing? Well, no. It’s just apples that have been steamed/boiled/cooked in some way, then mashed or puréed. But it can’t be the only food that someone eats!
Here are a few other things that Alexander eats consistently (at 32 months…. 2 years, 8 months):
bread or toast
cereal and milk
blueberries or blackberries or strawberries
pancakes and muffins
juice (though he hardly ever gets it; I’m not sure why he asks for it!)
mashed sweet potatoes
fried potatoes (skillet hash browns, sort of)
This is the same child that used to eat eggs any style, any meat, nearly any vegetable, nearly any fruit, and pretty much every thing I made. He might not eat it all, but he would certainly try it.
Now it’s like pulling teeth to get him to try anything. Yesterday, he pretty much ate bread and fruit all day. He also had one bite of avocado and a few bites of baked sweet potato. But it was a banana, applesauce, blueberries, oatmeal, cereal, and a little milk.
[I was pregnant and tired, so I let him have what he wanted. We were at the hospital having a baby, so I told the babysitters (a friend and then my mother) to let him have whatever he wanted. Then he was having a tough time transitioning to a new baby, so I let him have applesauce until he was blue in the face. We are working on undoing those new obsessions.]
I’m NOT an expert, and we are not out of the woods yet. But I want to share a few ideas that have worked, things that you can try too. [If your child has never been picky and still lots to eat all sorts of vegetables, count yourself lucky! From my experience, it’s more likely than not that a toddler, somewhere between 18 and 36 months, will be picky for a while.]
The obvious solution is to just say NO. Don’t offer the fruits and breads and treats (whatever that looks like in your house). Offer only meats and vegetables and a little fresh fruit. And if he doesn’t eat, SO BE IT. Be firm. He won’t starve himself forever. You can force your little one to go cold turkey. That isn’t MY style, though.
A somewhat obvious solution: Offer a few good foods and don’t put out the treat (from now on, I’ll just say “treat” when I really mean whatever your kiddo is obsessed with… for me, that’s applesauce!) until at least 10 minutes into the meal. Your child is more likely to eat good stuff if she’s hungry and that’s the only option.
Hide good foods. In my case, Alexander likes a few things that I can easily sneak veggies into: meatballs, pancakes, smoothies. I can easily add some spinach or broccoli to all 3 of them. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know that the veggie is in there, so he isn’t developing a taste for it. And he can’t drink green smoothies as his sole source of vegetables forever. In a pinch, when you’re worried about calories and nutrients, those are fine substitutes for pure, prepared vegetables.
Offer the good stuff in a new ways. If that means letting him listen to music and walk around while he eats, try it. If that means eating off your plate for a week or two, try it. If it means eating outside, or in a different room, or whatever, try it.
Be enthusiastic. Be a good example of what good eating looks like. If you’re drinking a soda and eating fries for lunch, you can’t expect your kiddo to eat a baked sweet potato. Get active. If you and your toddler are running around, jumping, tickling, playing, you’ll wear him out! And as we all know, worn out = hungry and thirsty. After a workout, you feel like you could eat a horse. Get active with your child then offer up a hearty omelet or loaded baked potato. He’ll be more likely to dig in after a good “workout”.
Next to last note: Create a log of what your toddler is eating on a WEEKLY basis and not by-meal or by-day. You may be surprised that it’s pretty varied.
Finally, try not to lose your cool. Try not to get frustrated. You did nothing wrong! Your child isn’t being difficult. It’s a very common stage! And it will pass, like any other stage. It may take a while, but it will pass.
Do you have any tips for feeding a picky toddler?
[DISCLAIMER: I do not agree with making a separate meal for a picky child. I think you can offer what you are having plus one additional thing that doesn’t require cooking or planning, like blueberries. If you want your child to eat a sweet potato for lunch, I suggest making two of them so you can eat one as well. Two meals is extra work and will only perpetuate the pickiness!]
Today’s guest post is from Rachel Redmon (hermoon.herstars on Instagram) who has a sweet 10-month-old little girl.
A Day in the Life: Baby-Led Weaning with a 10-11 Month Old
Hey y’all – I’m Rachel and I’ll be your guest poster today! Big thanks to Bethany for having me here while she snuggles her sweet newborn. I honestly can’t remember when I first heard about BLW; I do know that it very quickly became the right fit for our family. Healthy eating habits and trusting Rosalyn’s own preferences & instincts are really important to me so BLW made perfect sense for us. It’s been so much fun the past several months watching her explore tastes and textures. It’s also served as a great reminder to clean up our own food choices to provide a good example for her. In general, she’s a good eater with a few under-the-weather/teething/not-super-interested weeks thrown in. Here’s a typical Saturday in our house!
Breakfast is our favorite meal and also the easiest to prepare (coincidence?). This morning we had fried eggs, cinnamon raisin toast with almond butter, and freeze dried strawberries. Eggs are usually a hit, but she definitely prefers fried over scrambled. Over medium gives a creamy yolk that’s still easily grabbed by small hands. This girl would eat toast all day if we let her, so I try and add a little something-something with the raisin & almond butter combo. She’s recently begun tossing anything that is deemed too large, so we’ve moved on from the finger-sized portions to small squares. The freeze dried strawberries were a first and became an instant favorite; they’re like baby candy!
Notes: Eggs, almond butter, and strawberries are all potential allergens. So I wouldn’t serve all three together until you know your little one doesn’t have a reaction with any of them.
Lunch was leftovers with Buffalo Wing Chili (see recipe below). Yes, babies can eat spicy food! Follow your gut and don’t serve anything you’re not sure about; generally, we let Rosalyn try mildly spicy things that we eat and she’s liked them all so far! This recipe actually ends up being more tangy than spicy with the heavy cream involved, but there is a little bit of heat that she doesn’t mind at all. The real concern with this dish is the sodium. It’s definitely saltier than most things we offer so we just take care to keep her other meals and snacks low sodium. Avocado would’ve been a great “cool down” side to offer. We didn’t have any at the time so I went with a few crackers and some broccoli that had been made for dinner. She doesn’t self-feed with spoons yet so with chilis we drain a bit of the liquid and let her grab the chunky stuff with her hands – its messy and she loves it.
Notes: There’s dairy in the chili, but that’s the only thing to watch out for here. When it comes to spicy, I wouldn’t go serving up ghost peppers any time soon but don’t be afraid of a little heat! When eating spicy things, we are careful to watch her hands as she rubs her eyes when frustrated or tired.
Buffalo Wing Chili
1 lb. chicken, cooked and shredded
½ red onion, diced
½ bottle buffalo sauce of choice (more or less, depending on preferences)
2 packets dry Ranch seasoning
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups salsa
1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups heavy cream
Sauté onion in butter. Add shredded chicken, ranch seasoning, and buffalo sauce. Add beans and salsa, simmer on low. Stir in heavy cream before serving.
Dinner was a simple plate with some tried-and-true favorites: stir-fry veggies and beans. When serving stir-fry, we’ll either give her a little sauce or none at all. Because of the sodium in the chili earlier, we stuck with naked veggies sautéed in butter. Don’t tell anyone – the biscuits we had were pre-made because nobody’s perfect, and they were delicious haha. We had broccoli and mini sweet peppers this time, but usually include some zucchini, yellow squash, or mushrooms as well. Sautéed zucchini and squash were some of her first foods and stir-fry is still one of her favorite things to eat. Black beans are on the smaller side and we’re still learning how to grasp them; red kidney beans would be easier for hands working on pincer grasp!
Notes: Even when keeping low-sodium,real, whole butter is a great fat for babies!
Rosalyn probably had about ½ to ¾ of each plate served. The amount she eats widely varies depending on how she’s feeling, what we’re eating, and if there are any hungry dogs milling about. Sometimes she’ll just play the whole meal and others we end up giving her bits off our plates because she’s so hungry. It’s all up to her.
I hope y’all enjoyed the small peek into our world. It’s not always so nicely plated and photo-worthy. We just do the best with what we have at the time and try to have fun along the way. You guys can find me at www.hermoon-herstars.com and @hermoon.herstars on Instagram – stop by and say hey!
When Bethany and I “met” over email and talked about a guest post, she said she wanted to hear more about the virgin gut. It’s something that she tells folks to research when they ask whether or not it’s okay to start solids early.
“Early,” according to the World Health Organization, can mean before 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding.
Breast Milk – And Only Breast Milk – Protects Early Gut Health
Honestly, I had never heard the term “virgin gut” so I looked it up: A virgin gut is one that has only been exposed to breast milk.
This is something that made sense to me. Just last year, researchers at the University of North Carolina [ link: http://college.unc.edu/2015/02/05/breastfeeding/ ] found that formula – even when given alongside breast milk – is enough to forever change your baby’s gut. And the microbes that live there. As it turns out, exclusive breastfeeding prepares your baby’s gut for the introduction of solids. And when you add formula to your baby’s diet? Well, there’s a greater chance of stomachaches and colic.
Like formula, offering your baby any kind of food will change your baby’s gut. Offer solids too early, and you run the risk of interfering with the development of you baby’s immune system.
The main reason is this: Your baby’s microbes “educate” the newborn immune system. And sort of like how you can’t learn to read without first learning your alphabet – the first education of your baby’s immune system relies on specific microbes to help seal the gut and create a strong gut barrier. And these specific microbes thrive on the sugars found in breast milk.
When microbes living in your baby’s gut fall out of balance, this is called dysbiosis. Early dysbiosis is linked to immune disorders later in life. Specifically:
Atopic dermatitis, or eczema
In reality, it’s not just formula or early solids that are linked to baby dysbiosis. Anything that disrupts the balance of microbes within the first few months can cause some trouble. According to Maria Dominguez-Bello at the New York University School of Medicine, this means:
Formula, or “artificial lactation”
The early introduction of solids
If You Follow Baby-Led Weaning, You Don’t Need To Worry
One question I get a lot is this: Do I need to start at exactly 6 months? You see, the World Health Organization recommends beginning solids after 6 months (or 180 days) of exclusive breastfeeding. But it wasn’t always this way. Before 2002, the recommended age was 4 months.
At 4 months, purees and baby cereals are age-appropriate if your baby cannot feed himself. But with the new recommendation, some researchers say that pureed food might be just as outdated as the recommendation to begin solids at 4 months. Yes, baby-led weaning is catching on with medical professionals too!
The bottom line is that the recommendation to wait until 6 months is a guideline. At around 6 months, your baby’s gut and immune system will be ready for solids. This happens along with other signs of readiness, which you can gauge by asking yourself:
Is my baby able to sit without help?
Is there an interest in food?
Can my baby grab with his finger and thumb, instead of his whole palm?
If you follow baby-led weaning – your baby will let you know when it’s time to begin solids. If he reaches for food at 5 ½ months, follow his cues and begin to introduce solids (I have an opinion on which solids matter most – namely, foods with iron). Most babies will reach for food between the ages of 4 – 7 months and will get used to feeding themselves at around 8 months. But every baby is different.
To wrap things up:
Anything besides breast milk will impact the microbes living in your baby’s gut + newborn immune system
Both formula and early introduction of solids can lead to baby dysbiosis
Lifelong immune disorders like food allergies and eczema are linked to baby dysbiosis
At around 6 months, your baby’s gut and immune system are ready for solids – this is only a guideline! Watch for the baby-led weaning signs of readiness.
If you can, use the principle of the virgin gut and allow your baby’s immune system to fully ripen before changing around the little tribes of microbes that live there. This one step will support your child’s health into adulthood.
I am a first time mom of a stubborn and bright 2 year old son. I have chronicled the struggles of motherhood since my son was only a few weeks old, after finding out he had GERD, colic, and a dairy protein allergy. I started blogging as my release from the every day struggles of life with a new baby, when the 6 hours of screaming a day just got to be too much. Two years later, my blog also includes crafts, product reviews, and all the ins and outs of being a mom from someone who confesses that every day is crazy-beautiful, and I continue to have NO idea what I’m doing on this rollercoaster of mommy hood!
“Yesterday was the first time we’d used the Dinner Winner plate, and it really was a hit! I explained the “directions”, that he couldn’t go on to the next “square” (something he could understand, even though that isn’t entirely accurate ;)) until the square before was eaten or he at least tried one bite. I placed one of his favorite foods, yogurt with fresh blueberries, under the FINISH….”