Have I mentioned lately that having a baby can be overwhelming? Because it can. Even for those of us, like me, on round 3 of baby-raising. Every baby is different, recommendations are always being updated, and babies cause memory loss (right?) so even baby number 3 can feel like a whole new world. My latest challenge is feeding Max solid foods. Once we decided to take the plunge and start solids I knew I wanted to make my own baby food again as I had with my first two kids and that’s where my knowledge stopped. I swear, I forgot EVERYTHING about feeding solids and admit the process has felt a little overwhelming.
Thankfully, the very sweet and busy mompreneur Liza Huber is here to offer some guidance (and reassurance) to me and the rest of us feeding a baby solids. Liza is the mom behind Sage Spoonfuls, a great line of products for making, storing and bringing baby food on the go. She has three children (Royce 5, Brendan 3, and Hayden 10 months) and is pregnant with number 4!
The Shopping Mama: What motivated you to start making your child’s food, and then to create the Sage Spoonfuls system?
Liza Huber: My mom made all of our baby food when we were babies and I knew it was something I wanted to do for my own children. I started making homemade baby food after my first child, Royce, was born and I couldn’t find products on the market that made it easy. I had to completely improvise and just pieced a system together. I knew there had to be a better way. Providing your baby with homemade baby food is such a basic neccessity that I wanted to find a way to make it an easy task. That was when the light bulb went off in my head and the idea for Sage Spoonfuls was born.
The decision to pursue developing my idea for Sage Spoonfuls came after my second child, Brendan, was born 2 months premature and spent 6 weeks in the NICU. It was a rough road and I knew that he was going to need a very special level of care. Needless to say, I wanted to be the one taking care of him. It was at that moment, I knew I would not go back to work in the traditional sense for at least 2 years and I decided to begin developing my idea for Sage Spoonfuls, because I could work from home. When I became pregnant with our third baby, our daughter Hayden, I went on bed rest at 23 weeks. That was when I finished my book and pulled everything together in preparation for the big launch. Royce was the initial inspiration for Sage Spoonfuls, Brendan was the decision to pursue it and Hayden was the catalyst to get it all pulled together.
TSM: Your experience feeding was, like many of us, different with each child. How did you decide when to start solids? Do you have any advice for moms trying to determine if their child is ready for food?
Liza: My feeding experience was different with each child even though I introduced each of them to solids at the same age, 5 months. Royce took over a week to get used to the idea of swallowing food from a spoon. In fact I took 2 days off in between before giving it another go. Brendan, my preemie, suprised me by eating an entire mashed banana mixed with breast milk as his first meal. I thought I would have the hardest time with him, but he took to swallowing food on the first bite and never looked back. Hayden took about 5 days to master the art of swallowing food. It was very cute, she looked at me and I could see the lightbulb go off in her head as if to say, “I got it Mom! I know what I’m supposed to do!”
As far as when to start your baby on solids, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends beginning between 4-6 months. In addition to the advice of your pediatrician, signs to look for indicating your baby might be ready for solids include:
- She can sit up with support
- He can hold his head up and has control of his neck
- She shows interest in and possibly reaches for the food you are eating
- He has doubled his birth weight
- She is still hungry after a bottle feed
TSM: Do you have a favorite “first food” for babies? Any position on the whole veggie vs fruit as first food debate?
Liza: The best first foods for your baby are either single grain baby cereals like baby brown rice or easy to digest, non-allergenic fruits and vegetables like banana, peas, apple, zucchini, pears, butternut squash, avocado, carrot and sweet potato. Royce’s first food was pureed carrots, Brendan’s was a mashed banana and Hayden’s was applesauce.
I feel the belief that “feeding your baby fruits first will make her not like vegetables” pertains more to store bought baby food, because commercially prepared baby food veggies are rarely as enticing as the real thing. Homemade baby food is far more appealing in taste, color, texture and aroma, than store bought. When you feed your baby homemade baby food, it has been my experience that it really doesn’t matter if you introduce a fruit first or a vegetable first. Babies will eat what tastes good to them. Royce had carrots first and Brendan had a banana first. They both like fruits and vegetables equally. I recommend alternating between fruits and vegetables. For example, if you gave your baby peas as his first food, try apples next. Or if his first taste was banana, try offering zucchini next.
TSM: When you start solids, how often do you recommend feeding baby? For example, Max has been having solids for a couple of weeks but I still only offer solids once a day.
Liza: At the beginning stage, there is no need to worry about how much solid food your baby is eating. Right now, the idea is to get him used to swallowing food from a spoon and excited about mealtime by feeding him a variety of yummy purees.
Offer a solid meal once a day for about 2-4 weeks, then, if your baby is ready, you can bump it to 2 solid meals per day. The rest of your baby’s feedings will remain the same, either breast milk or formula. The size of the solid meal will depend on your baby. He may only take a few bites or he may devour the whole thing and want more.
TSM: What role should grains like baby oatmeal or cereal play in baby’s diet? Are those important to include and how do you recommend adding them to the diet?
Liza: Whole grain baby cereals like baby brown rice and baby oatmeal are packed with nutrients as well as complex carbohydrates for energy. They don’t need to be included in every meal, but are nice to incorporate into your baby’s overall diet. Baby cereals are a great way to thicken a puree. They also lend a nice flavor and texture variation when mixed with other foods.
TSM: And for the age old question, do you have any healthy eating tips for toddlers or favorite finger foods?
Liza: One of my favorite benefits of feeding your baby homemade baby food, is that it really helps prevent your child from growing into a picky eater as a toddler. My 2 favorite healthy eating tips for toddlers are:
1. Get them involved in the food preperation process. Whether it’s taking them to the grocery strore and having them help you pick out fresh produce or having them toss chopped veggies into a salad once you’re home, allowing your child to be invloved in the process will make them feel much more invested and interested in the meal.
2. I also like to tell my kids how what they’re eating affects their bodies, like “Did you guys know that carrots are great for your eyesight and will help devleop your night vision like Superman?” It works for unhealthy foods as well. If they keep begging for something I know is a really bad choice, I tell them why I don’t want to give it to them, “That food is not only made from poor quality ingredients, but it’s highly processed and full of sugar. It will take away your energy and make your body feel bad.”
As for favorite finger foods, I absolutely love giving my kids bite sized pieces of roasted veggies like butternut squash, parsnip, cauliflower and sweet potato. They love it too!
Thanks to Liza for taking the time to answer our questions. Stay tuned for more information about Sage Spoonfuls, including a chance to win your own Sage Spoonfuls On The Go Package.