First of all, I am going to say there is no one, right way to do this introduction to solid foods thing. Many parents go the cereal, purees, chunky solids route. Some parents go to the “baby-led weaning” route. Baby-led weaning is a method of introducing solid foods where you let your child (or children) feed themselves beginning at 6 months and skip the spoon and pureed baby food. We do a combination of the two “methods.” Technically, because we are about 50/50 spoon-fed pureed food and letting them feed themselves, we are not “baby-led weaning.” If it’s black and white, we are definitely in a gray area. I love the concepts behind BLW, but I feel more comfortable knowing how much they are getting each feeding, especially with their weight/slow growth issues, so this works for us. As they get older, and farther up the growth chart, I will increase their solids and decrease purees. Here’s how we started:
I started the twins with store-bought “natural” (I use that term loosely because everything tends to say “natural” on it these days) rice cereal at 4.5 months. I waited until I felt they were ready and interested in eating. After a few attempts, the babies stopped spitting it out each time and enjoyed it. We switched to oatmeal after that first box because I could make it myself. We have used organic rolled oats and the Quaker ones. Thanks to the Ninja blender we got for Christmas, it just takes a couple of seconds to whip up a couple days’ worth! I first mixed breastmilk in their cereal, but now, I use formula and warm purified water. I also sprinkle a little cinnamon in it– they really like it that way! We also did not have high chairs until Christmas (Thanks, Nana and Papa!) so we used the Bumbo seats with the removable trays. Over Christmas break, the babies turned 6 months and we started adding more than cereal to their diet. We started with simple foods like banana, avocado, and sweet potato. I also steamed carrots and broccoli. Meema made them mashed pinto beans (which they loved) and baked apples during our visit at Christmas time. They will eat almost anything. Emry Jane is not a fan of asparagus or broccoli, but Eli will eat both. Eli does not enjoy pears by themselves but will eat them mixed with other pureed fruit.
Foods We Have Tried (In Non-Pureed Form)
Fruits: Avocado, Banana, Baked or Raw Apples, Baked Pears (only one time — no one in our family really likes pears,) Cantaloupe, Strawberries, Blueberries and Grapes (in small pieces)
Vegetables: Roasted or Baked Sweet Potato, Steamed Broccoli, Roasted Asparagus, Steamed Carrots, Mashed Pinto Beans, Cooked Lima Beans, Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans and Black Beans, Steamed Cauliflower
I try to incorporate something they can eat or feed themselves into each of our meals. They are very interested in eating whatever everyone else is eating. What about grains? We have let them have pieces of bread 2-3 when we were eating out at a restaurant, which they LOVED. They must get their love of bread from their mama! I know some parents wait to introduce grains because it is harder to digest, but again, it has worked well for us. They also like avocado spread on toast, especially Emry Jane, and pancakes. I have made them flourless banana pancakes. They had heart-shaped pancakes for Valentine’s Day with the rest of the family and they loved those too!
Our food “schedule:” The babies have oatmeal for breakfast 2-3 days of the week, usually when we get home from taking Noah to school. Sometimes, they have fruit like avocado or banana or fresh berries. Sometimes I offer them a pureed fruit. I tend to cook breakfast more on the weekends. They have both tried eggs a few times but that did NOT go over well (they both vomited within a few hours each time) so we will hold off on eggs for a few months. For lunch, I usually offer them a vegetable they can feed themselves, as well as a pureed fruit and vegetable. They really like pureed sweet peas, squash or green beans the best. They will eat any pureed fruit, though Eli isn’t super fond of the pureed peaches. For dinner, they will finish the purees from lunch (if they did not finish them earlier) and will also have some of whatever vegetable we are eating with dinner.
We use the Beech Nut brand of pureed baby food and we are currently using “Stage 2.” We are just starting the fruit/veg combination purees. Some they like and others they do not. I think Emry Jane could tell when the combination contained asparagus because she did not want to eat that one. Eli did not like the one that had pineapple and pear mixed together. The apple/blueberry mix seems to be their favorite. What about meats? I have not introduced any meat yet. When I do introduce meat, it will probably be using a BLW recipe instead of the store-bought puree but we shall see.
We are just a couple months into this process and we are definitely learning as we go. As a young, new mom, I just went the Gerber baby food route with Noah. I fed him whatever stage fit his age/development and he turned out just fine; however, I enjoy introducing the twins to new foods and textures, instead of following a “stage” They seem to really like it too! Plus, it is EASIER with TWO to be able to give them something off my plate or something they can feed themselves. Hopefully, they will continue to be adventurous eaters.