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Baby-Led Weaning

Baby-Led Weaning

BABY-LED WEANING RECAP | THEO

Baby-led weaning: pasta with tomato sauceTheo is 10 months old now so he’s eating pretty much anything and everything we eat (with a few exceptions). But I often get questions about baby-led weaning so I thought I’d talk a bit about our experience with kid number two.

It’s true, you’re much more relaxed as a parent with your second child, and this also applies to BLW. At least for us. Isla’s initial egg allergy had me on edge about what we were giving her until she finally passed the allergy test. As a result, she won’t go anywhere near eggs no matter how hard we try and she can be extremely particular about what she’s eating and whether each food group is touching. It’s super fun. Though, let me say, she is, overall, a decent eater … when she wants to be.

From the start, Theo was not as gung-ho about food as Isla was. He puts everything he can get his hands on into his mouth, but wasn’t keen on food at first. We just kept trying once or twice a day with the BLW starter foods (which you can read about here) until he got the hang of it. We began when he was six months old and by seven months he was up to two full meals a day and would’ve eaten more had we offered. Now, at 10 months, he eats three solid meals each day with occasional snacks in between and still nurses five to six times. He’s a hungry guy.

I don’t know if we were just hyper sensitive with Isla because it was our first time, but it seemed like Theo did far less gagging from the start. (Read about the BLW gagging here. It’s normal, but can certainly be scary.) He also chews his food a little more than she did (she swallowed her pasta whole!) so that could explain it a little. He also got his teeth earlier than she did. I’m sure these are all factors, in addition to the fact that every kid truly is different!

Let’s talk foods.

There’s nothing we won’t offer him, except foods than contain honey, sweets or really hard foods like uncooked carrots. He eats seafood (including grilled octopus, yum!), every kind of meat, veggies sautéed in olive oil (even spinach and red peppers!), cheese, sandwiches, eggs, any and all fruit, Cheerios and we just started offering him smoothies. Here’s a list of some of our favorite foods for each meal and how we prepare them:

BREAKFAST:
Theo starts nearly every day with a one-egg cheese omelet with a side of fruit and a handful or two of Cheerios if he’s still hungry. I’ve tried spoon-feeding him yogurt or oatmeal but that guy wants no part of it. He does not want help with his food. Until he can spoon-feed himself we’ll be sticking to finger foods. He also enjoys pancakes when we go out for brunch!

LUNCH (note: he gets a side of fruit and/or veggies with every meal):
grilled cheese
peanut butter sandwich (he’s ‘eh’ on this; loves PB, but not always on bread)
pasta (any way you can imagine)
avocado toast (he’s not loving this lately, but we keep trying; this was Isla’s favorite)
hummus sandwich
chicken/pork/beef (cut into small pieces)
egg salad with avocado instead of mayo, either on toast or in a pile as a finger food
the previous dinner’s leftovers

FRUITS/VEGGIES
tangerines
apples (cut into small pieces)
strawberries
peas (in butter with pepper)
green beans (sautéed, cut in pieces)
spinach (sautéed in garlic and olive oil, cut in pieces)
peaches (cut into small pieces)
oranges
carrots (small pieces sautéed in olive oil
frozen corn/corn on the cob (sometimes he eats it off the cob, other times I cut it off)
grapes (cut in fours to avoid choking)
zucchini (sautéed in olive oil)
baked sweet potato fries
potatoes (baked, mashed, pan-friend; fries, home fries, any which way!)
tomatoes (cut into small pieces)
(he will not touch bananas or broccoli with a 10-foot pole)

SNACKS
chunks of cheese
Cheerios
puffs
fruit
veggies
hard-boiled egg
raisins
chickpeas (out of the can, rinsed and peeled)
olives (sliced)
rice cakes

DINNER
Whatever we’re having. Here are few favorites:
pasta (any way you can imagine)
quesadillas
chicken/pork/steak (cut into small pieces; grilled, baked, pulled, any which way!)
grilled salmon
any kind of rice, but especially Thai pineapple-fried rice because yum!
cheeseburger (cut into chunks without bread)
homemade baked chicken nuggets

This is just a sample, but the moral of the story here is that Theo eats what we eat. It’s been two-and-a-half years since we started adding tiny humans to our family and we’ve never once spent a penny on baby food. While I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with purees, whether store-bought or homemade, we’ve loved baby-led weaning. As a stay-at-home mom I have the time to sit around and watch my children play with their food and then clean it up after they’ve chucked it all over the kitchen. Whether or not I have the patience is still up for debate and depends entirely on the day. I’d like to think introducing them to real, whole, textured foods from the very beginning will make them less picky later, though Isla is currently taking that theory, rolling it up like a spit ball and shooting it in my hair.

Time will tell. (To read read about complete BLW journey with Isla, plus recipes and more from her first year, which is way more detailed because first kid, click here and scroll down until you find something useful.)

Now we just have to teach them to like sushi and our work here will be done.

*Please note: This post is meant to provide useful tips about baby-led weaning. This is our family’s personal journey and is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. I am NOT a doctor. I am a stay-at-home mom with a background in public relations so taking medical advice from me would be straight up crazy. Seriously. We’re exploring baby-led weaning in consultation with our pediatrician … every step of the way. You should do the same. Baby-led weaning: scrambled eggs Baby-led weaning: hummus and carrots Baby-led weaning:hardboiled eggs Baby-led weaning: hummus and broccoli Baby-led weaning: strawberries and omelets

Baby-Led Weaning

BABY-LED WEANING | THEO, PART I

Baby-led weaningWe started baby-led weaning with Theo a couple of weeks ago when he turned six months and it’s far less stressful the second time around. In case you don’t remember, didn’t care then or are new to my blog, Isla was a baby-led weaning champ when we did it with her, and Chris and I were a nervous wreck the entire time. The fear or choking is still there a little bit, but I feel more seasoned and a little more prepared for what’s to come. But that’s not to say the experience is the same. In fact, Theo is not the eater his sister was.

This time we made sure to introduce one new food every three days, instead of every day, to rule out allergies. Again, if you recall, we discovered Isla was allergic to egg after I gave her a meatball with egg in it at eight months and she broke out in hives. A subsequent allergy test confirmed the allergy and a follow-up test after she turned one found it had gone away already, which was a huge relief. The fear stayed with me though and I’m not taking any chances with Theo.

We started him off with avocado (sliced length-wise; thick enough to grab), just like we did with Isla. The first day wasn’t very successful. He got the food to his mouth, smiled a few times and then sobbed uncontrollably. I made sure he had recently nursed so I don’t think he was hungry, I just think he was tired and frustrated that he couldn’t easily grasp the big chunk. After a very long nap the following day I nursed him and then offered the avocado again and he ate about two-thirds of it! He loved it and sat in the high chair for an hour playing, eating and laughing.

After avocado we tried banana (broken in half), then broccoli (steamed and served in large trees). Theo had zero interest in these. He ate a little bit of the banana, but for the most part just scolded me until I gave him more avocado. The broccoli was easy for him to hold and he gnawed on the trunks a little bit because I’m sure it felt good on his gums, but he wanted no part of the tree.

At the recommendation of our pediatrician we decided not wait on peanut butter (we introduced it to Isla at eight months). I put a tiny little bit on a spoon and let Theo feed it to himself, which he did with ease and a whole lot of excitement. In fact, he sobbed every time I took the spoon to reload it because he wanted more! We gave it to him for three days straight and watched him like a hawk, but no allergy. Yay!

Then onto strawberries (cut in half or given whole), another possible allergen, and just like that he found his favorite food. He stared at it and pushed it around his tray for about 30 minutes with very little interest, but when he finally got that first taste it was all over. Theo and strawberries. Separated at birth.

And finally, peaches (peeled and cut it in half or quarters), another favorite. He loves to suck the juice, just like Isla did.

All in all, I’d say it’s going well. I was a little surprised at how long it took Theo to get started each day, especially since he puts everything he finds into his mouth, but I’m thrilled he’s enjoying feeding himself and finding foods he likes. Isla devoured absolutely every single food we introduced to her so I was sort of expecting the same experience with Theo, but this just proves once again that no two kids are the same and that’s okay!

Next up: Sweet potatoes, steamed carrots, hummus and other seasonal fruits and veggies.

Now for the feedback. Are you doing / have you done baby-led weaning? Do you have questions or ideas? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!

For a look back at Isla’s baby-led weaning journey:
BLW week one | BLW part two | BLW part three | BLW part four | BLW part five | BLW part six | BLW: An overview | Final thoughts on BLW

Follow me on Instagram for more baby-led weaning updates.

[DISCLAIMER: This post is meant to provide useful tips about baby-led weaning. This is our family’s personal journey and is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. I am NOT a doctor. I am a stay-at-home mom with a background in public relations so taking medical advice from me would be straight up crazy. Seriously. We’re exploring baby-led weaning in consultation with our pediatrician … every step of the way. You should do the same.]

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Baby-Led Weaning, Recipes

pancakes from scratch (with flax egg)

pancakes from scratch with flax egg
Remember those mediocre egg-free blueberry-banana yogurt pancakes I made for Isla a few months ago? Well, I can do you one better. Since flax egg is my new favorite magic egg replacer (after my successful flax egg zucchini bread), I decided to give pancakes another go on Valentine’s Day. For Isla I added blueberries (her current obsession), cut them into heart shapes and sprinkled a little powdered sugar on top. My husband, however, wanted none of that so he got circles, chocolate chips and a lot of maple syrup (he’s too manly for hearts and healthy breakfasts, I guess). I used this really simple pancake recipe by Martha Stewart and used one flax egg in lieu of an egg. Apparently flaxseeds add a bit of a nutty flavor to dishes but I really haven’t noticed that. They were a tiny bit thicker/heavier than regular pancakes but they were a crowd-pleaser nonetheless. Isla really just wanted the blueberries and couldn’t have cared less about the heart shapes, but I’m ruling this one a success. Flax egg saves the day again!

How to Make a Flax Egg:
1. 1 egg = 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds + 3 tbsp of water whipped up like you would a real egg
2. place flax egg in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to an hour while you prepare the rest of the recipe
3. when you reach the step in your recipe that calls for your eggs, add the flax egg

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Baby-Led Weaning, Recipes

zucchini bread (with flax egg)

Zucchini bread with flax egg | really risa
Finally! A successful egg replacer for baking! Why didn’t I try this before, you ask? Because I’m a twit. That’s why. While the rest of you were watching the Superbowl, I was baking something edible for the first time in about six months. For those just tuning in, my daughter can’t have eggs (at least for now) and I’ve been striking out in the kitchen when it comes to egg replacers. The cake I baked for her birthday was disgusting, her pancakes were mediocre at best (though she didn’t know any better) and I was resigned to the fact that there’d never be another edible baked good in this house. Until I discovered flax egg. We had some extra zucchini that was on its way out and since Isla won’t eat veggies unless I hide them in her smoothies or smother them in cheesy goodness, I decided it was time to step up my vegan game. And by vegan I mean not really vegan, just no eggs because I am too cheap to go out and buy all the other ingredients you need for a real vegan recipe. And because I like meat. And so does my daughter. And my husband.

I used this recipe for the zucchini bread, only I used 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract instead of the orange peel and used flaxseed instead of eggs. Here’s how I did that last part:

I bought Whole Foods 365 brand organic whole brown flaxseeds. Grinding them was a really bad word. Really, really bad word. It was the worst. If you have a coffee grinder, use that. If you are like me and ask people at the coffee shop to grind your beans, you’re in trouble. In the end I spent about 45 minutes smashing the hell out of these damn seeds using my mortar and pestle. Why didn’t I just buy the ground flaxseeds you ask? Because apparently they spoil very quickly once they’re ground and since these little guys are not exactly cheap I wasn’t taking any chances.

How to Make a Flax Egg:
1. 1 egg = 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds + 3 tbsp of water whipped up like you would a real egg (this zucchini bread recipe called for 2 eggs so I used 2 tbsp of ground flaxseeds and 6 tablespoons of water)
2. place flax egg in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to an hour while you prepare the rest of the recipe
3. when you reach the step in your recipe that calls for your eggs, add the flax egg

It really works! Really! This bread was delicious! Dear vegans: THANK YOU. And now I’m going to go shop for a coffee grinder.

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Baby-Led Weaning, Recipes

isla’s favorite smoothies

favorite toddler smoothiesIsla has a smoothie nearly every day. For breakfast, as a snack or, when she’s teething, all day long. Since she’s been rejecting whole vegetables lately (except for peas), I find smoothies are the best way to sneak them into her diet. My base is almost always whole milk yogurt and I prefer to use whole milk instead of juice if I need more liquid to cut the thickness (though I do occasionally use apple juice, apple cider or OJ). She loves spinach, carrots, pumpkin and avocado, and I add any additional fruits I can get my hands on (we always have bananas in the house and I grab whichever frozen fruits are on sale at the time). I use an immersion blender so they’re quick and easy to make, and they’re great for on-the-go. Plus, they’re filling and packed with all the vitamins and nutrients she needs.

Here are a few of our favorite smoothie combinations. All of these recipes make approximately 16 ounces (Isla drinks five to eight ounces at a time) and the measurements are approximate (I wing it a lot). (Note: frozen fruits add thickness so you’ll usually need a liquid).

Avocado, Berry, Pineapple Smoothie with Honey (pictured above)
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp honey (if baby is under one skip this)
1/2 avocado
6-7 frozen strawberries
6-7 frozen pineapple pieces

Spinach, Apple, Peach Smoothie
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
handful fresh baby spinach
1/2 granny smith apple (peeled)
6-7 frozen peach slices

Banana, Peanut Butter, Berry Smoothie
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 banana
handful of frozen blueberries
6-7 frozen strawberries
(optional: handful of fresh baby spinach or tbsp honey)

Carrot, Apple, Pineapple smoothie
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
1 peeled, shredded carrot
1 banana
6-7 frozen pineapple pieces
1/2 granny smith apple (peeled)

Spinach, Banana, Peach/Mango/PineappleSmoothie
1 cup plain whole yogurt
handful fresh baby spinach
1 frozen banana
6-7 frozen peach, pineapple or mango pieces (or a combo of these)

Kiwi, Strawberry Smoothie
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1/2 cup water
1 banana
1 kiwi (peeled)
6-7 frozen strawberries
(optional: handful blueberries or fresh baby spinach)

Pumpkin, Banana Smoothie (makes 16 oz):
1/2 cup plain, vanilla or banana yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
dash of ginger
1 frozen banana

I’m going to start adding things like zucchini, almond milk and flaxseed, too.

What are your favorite smoothie combos?