Please note: I am not an expert and I have not had special training regarding this. “It’s just something I do’, however this is purely a record of how we have dealt with it because I like to write that down for myself and share our experience. Each baby is unique and develops at its own pace. Stella loved food from the beginning, liked every flavor and she eats everything. This is certainly not the case with all babies. Most babies need to get used to solid foods, the taste or the texture. And some babies just only want to eat purees. Just make sure you don’t force her to eat. Your baby will show you whether she’s ready or not.
– Click here for this blog post in Dutch -> Baby finger foods 6+ maanden –
Let me start with helping a common misconception out of the way: a baby doesn’t need teeth to eat finger foods. In fact, my baby eats everything without teeth! Haha, her first tooth just broke through, and she’s already been eating finger foods for months now. Babies chew with their gums, because remember they only get molars around their second birthday.
I knew that Stella was ready to eat more solid food when she didn’t choke on chunky purees anymore, and really did chew her food. When she was 6 months old I started to offer breadsticks and bread crusts, to see how she would deal with it. Well, she knew what to do! We also got some Puffs and Yums from a friend and they also helped us really well with chewing and the pincer grasp.
So it was time to store the immersion blender and to read about so-called “finger foods” for babies. And when Stella was 9 months old we were already at the point that she would eat what we were eating, the so-called ‘table foods’. Very easy!
At this age, you don’t need to watch out for salt anymore. And I don’t need to tell you that sugars and other processed products are not such a good idea anyway? But basically your baby can eat everything except honey! Absolutely no honey, not even used to bake bread or cookies. Honey can contain a bacterium that can be very harmful to babies under 1 year. Read more on this website: Infant botulism honey
Where to start?
I bet your freezer is filled with homemade purees. Or am I the only one who had that? 😉 This was my way to transform the purees to finger foods:
The fruit purees can be mixed with plain whole milk yogurt (whole milk yogurt is more nutritious for babies than non-fat yogurt) or you can make a smoothie with it, which you then offer a straw cup.
With pureed vegetables and meats I made little frittatas. I thawed the purees and mixed them with some eggs and grated cheese and scooped the mixture into a greased muffin tin. I baked them in the oven until the frittatas were cooked. You can keep them in the fridge for a few days but they are also good to freeze. Think combinations like spinach/broccoli/salmon or other fish, or tomato/ground beef or, beets/quinoa/soft goat cheese. Always easy to have on hand, and they can be eaten for lunch or dinner.
With some purees you can make a soup, think about sweet peas, zucchini, parsnips or sweet potato.
With a batch of butternut squash puree I made American pancakes, just by stirring it in the pancake batter.
Because really, it’s a waste to throw it all away.
I give Stella basically everything that we eat, but because we eat at other times (Stella at 6pm, we eat after 7.30pm) it’s not always easy. Also she doesn’t have much interest in eating with a spoon, so I offer everything to her in the form of finger foods. When we first started, I offered everything in larger pieces, sweet potato into wedges for example, or a slice of bread cut in half. But after a while she began to throw everything on the floor and she ate very little. Now I offer everything into bite-sized pieces and that works well for her. I made a handy list and I hope to inspire you with it:
– Whole wheat bread with Dutch apple butter, cream cheese, paté (no more than twice a week), hummus, peanut butter or almond butter
– Scrambled eggs with a side of sliced avocado (cover the avocado in ground flaxseed for better grip)
– Pumpkin pancake made with whole wheat flour
– Cracker with cream cheese
– Rye bread with apple butter
– Green smoothie (frozen mango, banana, coconut water or almond milk, spinach and avocado)
She often nibbles some of my overnight oats with banana, I fill up the spoon and offer it to her and she feeds herself. I also give her a side of seasonal fruits to nibble on. Currently: cherries, blueberries and peaches for example.
– Whole wheat waffle
– Whole wheat sugar-free banana muffin
– Banana pancake (1 ripe banana mash and mix with 2 beaten eggs and a pinch of cinnamon, shape as small pancakes)
– Poffertjes (Dutch tiny pancakes made with buckwheat flour)
– Flaxseed cookies
– Whole grain bread (see Breakfast)
– Pita bread with hummus
– Cheese cubes
– Slices of turkey breast
– Cucumber and pickles
– Cooked carrots or green beans
– Raw tomatoes and bell pepper
Stella’s dinner always consists for the most part (50%) of vegetables, also always some “protein” consisting of meat, fish, eggs or tofu and sometimes grains of pasta, noodles or sometimes quinoa that’s part of a frittata. I always put some fruit on her plate, she chooses whether she will save it as ‘dessert’ or be the first to eat.
Instead of purees my freezer is now full of cooked/grilled vegetables, cooked meat and tofu etc. Always handy to be able to act fast and thaw something!
– Frittata made in a muffin tin
– Oven roasted sweet potatoes
– Canned beans or chickpeas, corn, peas etc.
– Boiled or roasted vegetables
– Pieces of avocado rolled in ground flaxseed for better grip.
– Fish, eg breaded in coconut flakes or whole wheat flour with herbs
– Baked tofu (marinated in Asian oil and soy sauce etc and then bake in the oven)
– Polenta pieces
– Sausage or meatballs
– Noodles or pasta
– Zucchini fritters
– Bean Burger Patties
– Ready cooked beets (store bought)
How do you actually fit this into your own mealplan?
Simply, by creating a ‘deconstructed bowl’ of the food you’re having 😉
We eat a lot of ‘world’ foods, so curries, fried rice, taco’s etc., and this is how I do it: The adults have fish tacos for dinner, and Stella gets all the components on her plate: pieces of cooked fish, beans, corn, tomatoes, chunks of avocado (instead of guacamole), pieces of tortilla.
Or I make a pan of chicken madras curry and then try to feed Stella with a spoon. Well, she doesn’t want it. So it always end up placing the vegetables (peas, green beans, cauliflower) and the meat in front of her on the table so she can eat it herself.
Once or twice a week I’m making something that we can all eat like beans patties, falafel, zucchini fritters, meatballs in tomato sauce with slices of polenta, fish etc. I often cook a little extra so I can freeze a few servings for later use. Also handy when you go out for dinner (which we do at least once a week).
You wonder when I have time to cook?
I always prepare something in the afternoon when she sleeps. It took a while before I got used to that. The times I realized at 5.30pm that it was almost dinnertime for her and no way I would have any vegetables ready in time, can no longer be counted on one hand. But nowadays, I’m quite used to the routine of preparing the food and some cooking. And I have always something available in the freezer.
Good preparation is already half the job. I never thought I would ever do this: but I now make a weekly schedule and do a week’s worth of groceries on Monday. Also I say long live the slow cooker! 😉 If you want, you can always prepare food. I often cook double batches and if I really need to, I will prep things the night before.
Does my baby do anything else than eat?
I asked myself that for a long time! Milk feeding, pureed fruit, milk feeding, pureed veggies, milk feeding… Is there still time left to do something else?! But do not worry, soon enough you combine those eating moments because your baby can do a longer time without food and does not always need a feeding after waking up or before going to bed. Always follow the pediatrician’s instructions.
For a while now we are following this schedule:
12pm lunch + bottle (I recently switched the order to make sure you would eat a full lunch)
7.30pm bottle before bed
And to look at my own situation, my baby will ‘tell’ us when the schedule needs changes. Example: for two weeks she would only take 1-2 floz of her 6 oz bottle, while previously she’d always empty it. This was a sign that she didn’t need it anymore because her sleep schedule remained the same. The next step was to take that bottle off the schedule. And she’s still doing fine, sleeping until 6.30am / 7am without being hungry up. Nice!
You will eventually work towards a schedule in which the milk feeds will be replaced with cow’s milk, from 12 months. At that time, milk is no longer meal, but it is part of a meal. So for us, in a month when she turns 1, we will combine her 7.30 am bottle with breakfast, and the rest of the schedule remains the same.
Just make sure you don’t give any bottles more after their first birthday, only (sippy/straw) cups.
And finally, I know all the fun will be over in a year when Stella will start to refuse food. That’s what I’m aware of. So for now I’m just enjoying it immensely when she devours her food, and I’m never forcing her to eat anything. My rule is ‘I decide what’s on her plate, she decides how much she will eat’. So far I’m doing a good job if I may so myself 😉
Do you have questions about baby food? Ask them!