The “ROOT TRIO” Veggie Puree’ – Baby’s First Tastes

This may sound cliche, but I find great joy in making fresh, organic, homemade baby food for my babies! It is SUCH A SMALL AMOUNT OF TIME that they actually eat baby food. They can’t eat solids until 6 months, and they are often ready to move on by 8 months. And yet, during this small timeframe SO MANY GOOD EATING HABITS ARE ESTABLISHED. They learn to “chew” and swallow properly which also assists in their muscles that aid in speech. It’s hard to believe it’s really only two months we need to provide our children with such important “firsts” but it truly makes a difference down the road. Especially when introducing as many new flavors and textures as possible. I don’t like the flavor of baby food you can purchase on the shelf in the store – the preservatives make it storable for up to two years. And it DOES NOT TASTE LIKE BABY FOOD (in my opinion). The preservatives often make everything taste sweeter than normal and create a false expectation that all foods are sweet and they don’t learn an early appreciation for savory flavors which make up the majority of what we eat as adults. Baby food should taste just like what we eat but with less spice, perhaps. Our main objective when training our babies to eat is to eventually get them eating what we eat. If their first foods don’t taste like our food, and if they don’t get introduced to new flavors early on, they won’t be apt to trying different flavors and textures when they are toddlers. Which makes for picky eaters.

My 7 month old twins LOVE this “root trio” veggie puree so I wanted to be sure to pass it along. My daughter loved this too. It’s so important at this stage in their weaning to solid foods to introduce AS MANY new flavors and textures as possible! The more they try at this age, the more open to new flavors they will be when they’re toddlers. Plus, the more likely they will be to establish good eating habits early on. (If you are interested in reading more about stage one weaning and why I believe so much in this, check out my post on my first go around making my daughter’s organic homemade baby food – I read SO MUCH the first time around and I learned a ton that I try to pass along to you, “Homemade Organic Baby Food – My Journey,” and “Part Two: My Journey Making Homemade Organic Baby Food.”)The root trio veggie puree’ is simply carrots, sweet potato and parsnips steamed and then pureed in a blender with the water used while steaming. Root veggies are naturally sweet and puree easily to a smooth consistency. Add a little of baby’s regular milk to make it the consistency they like. Introducing your baby to a new flavor like parsnips or rutabaga might not appear to be your first choice but doing this early on really does open doors to what they will try later on in the toddler years. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C and beta-carotene and are richer in nutrients than regular potatoes. One more to note – organic carrots, rutabaga and parsnips are best to use for baby (and yourself) as they are more susceptible to absorbing chemicals in soil than other vegetables. And, the darker the organic carrot, the more mature and more full of flavor and vitamin A and beta-carotene. Parsnips are a root veggie that is a relative of the carrot family. They are often sweeter when cooked than the carrot and make it a perfect pairing for the sweet potato and carrot and a delicious first food puree for baby.

I would love to hear about the best first foods you chose for your babies! As always, I would love it if you followed me here! I live to share new learnings and pass along anything I have found to be helpful to other new parents.

Enjoy your Monday! It’s a new week full of firsts!

XO ~ Stephanie

Organic Teething Biscuits (My Own Combination of Recipes!)


I needed some type of cookie or biscuit that doesn’t turn into GLUE when Mattelyn begins gnawing on it. The need for babies to use those tiny new front teeth and the desire to put everything in a their mouths is inevitable! I searched for good organic teething biscuits at the grocery store and we even bought some. They were full of preservatives (I know, I always complain about this) but it’s true! And once she began chewing on a biscuit, it turned so gooey and sticky that it became like glue. Her hair was sticking up like Cameron Diaz’s in the movie “There’s Something About Mary.” The end result was the teething biscuit half eaten and on the floor (now our fur baby’s snack), a completely new outfit and a bath. Anyone with a baby knows all of the above happens enough every day without adding another reason to do it all! Not to mention, one box of 6 was $6.

I discovered I could make her teething biscuits (and why not!) They would be as fresh and organic as they could be and all I had to do was experiment with a few recipes and come up with something I liked.

WOW – was I in for a messy experiment! First, there are hundreds of recipes out there and the more I came across, the more I desired to make my own. I wanted to include certain ingredients I had read about (organic wheat germ, wheat flour, organic rolled oats, bananas, her oatmeal baby cereal for the iron, 100% organic maple syrup…) and I didn’t want to use sugar or brown sugar (I know maple syrup is sugar, but 100% natural organic maple syrup is essentially all natural sugar because it is the boiled down sap from the maple tree. Choosing a natural sugar is just better for your baby’s health than choosing a highly refined sugar, in my opinion. That said, it is still sugar and if you don’t want to use it, omit it and they will be biscuits that aren’t as sweet. The banana will still provide slight sweetness and the cinnamon plenty of flavor. I was off to Whole Foods to gather my ingredients and to my kitchen to test combinations out between naps and before she wakes in the morning. Here’s the recipe I ended up liking the most!


1/2 C formula or breast milk

1 beaten egg yolk

1 small ripe banana

4 T 100% organic maple syrup

2 T Vegetable Oil

*Mix the above wet ingredients together until smooth

3 T baby oatmeal cereal (I used banana flavored)

A couple dashes of cinnamon

1 C organic wheat flour

1/2 C organic wheat germ

1/2 C organic rolled oats (oatmeal)

Mix the dry ingredients with the wet. If the dough is sticky, like a stickier cookie dough, add more flour and more wheat germ until it is stiff and rollable. Roll the dough pretty thin and cookie cut them into the shapes you want.


Bake 350 degrees for 20 or more minutes on parchment paper. The cookies should be harder than a regular cookie and shouldn’t be soft in the middle.

Homemade.Teething.Biscuits (1)

Homemade.Teething.Biscuits (3)

She LOVED these biscuits or cookies. Because she is so young, I always sit with her while she eats her finger foods. Babies starting out and learning to eat are so cute and they are SO unpredictable! Like all new mamas out there, I worry all the time about her choking. They put way too large and way too many pieces in their mouths at one time and always the minute you look away. They also are learning how to use their tongues and swallowing is new for them. These cookies will break and they will crumble. They will eventually get very soft and they can break off in large pieces. Just stand by while they are enjoying their newest favorite snack and use your best judgement! I think you will enjoy knowing that it is a completely organic, healthy snack for your little one. I sure love knowing her little tummy is being nourished by something I made for her and didn’t take out of a box.

I would love to hear about your recipe! What your baby loves or doesn’t love. I hope you take a moment to subscribe to my blog! There are more posts to come soon as I am shooting for three posts a week now!

XO ~ Stephanie

Simple Perfect Morning Cereal For Baby

Mattelyn enjoying her Perfect Organic Oatmeal Cereal - 9 months

Mattelyn enjoying her Perfect Organic Oatmeal Cereal – 9 months

I have posted pretty elaborate posts about what I try to feed Mattelyn and why. I know being so thoroughly detailed about my wishes to feed her “appropriately” (in my humble opinion) appears overwhelming at times but honestly, it is how I strive to provide for her on a daily basis so it is just a part of my job. And I always take my job seriously, with gusto, with deafening thoroughness and no matter what, giving 110% effort. Since this is by far the most important job I have ever, EVER had, one would expect none-the-less!

That said, I wanted to pass on this simple, warm cereal I make for Mattelyn every morning. And a lot of times, minus the banana, before bed, too. Although I am always researching and experimenting with different options for her meals, I also look to establish “go to meals” that make daily life a bit easier. There are certain things I can count on – and a staple like this cereal that she loves is one of them. This also makes it part of our routine – I know what to shop for at the store every week and no matter how busy I get that morning, because I have made this many times for her, I can do it one-handed, on the phone, letting the dog out, making her bottle, holding her while she is crying…

Plain oatmeal cereal for infants is a wonderful base because it is bland, easy to digest and full of iron – which is severely important for infants age 6-12 months (and really until 2 years of age). Iron is a nutrient that babies need for brain development, (among other important development), and the majority of the time, babies that are tested for iron are deficient or have iron-deficient anemia. This is a scary thought when it aids in BRAIN development. I only had to read that ONE TIME to recognize that she needed iron-rich breast milk, formula and baby cereal – and I had the power to give that to her every day throughout the day. This has become a personal quest of mine now – to feed her meals that are full of iron. This is an excerpt from the Baby Center Website that explains babies that are “at risk:”

Breastfed babies who receive no iron-fortified foods after 4 months of age. The iron in breast milk is absorbed three times better than the iron in formula, but around the time a baby starts eating solids, he needs additional iron in the form of fortified cereals and other iron-rich foods.

I am also very aware of GMOs (if you have read my other posts) when it comes to feeding Mattelyn. She was strictly breastfed for her first 6 months and when we introduced solid foods, I wanted to try my hardest to protect her from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically modified ingredients (GMIs). I am also a huge proponent of no preservatives – if I can make it myself, I control everything including the flavor of the food. Not to mention she will have a lifetime of eating preservatives and GMOs. GMOs and GMIs are not included on food labels. The only way you  be positive you are buying food that has no GMOs or GMIs is by purchasing organic that specifically says that on the label. This is something that I want to do for her and feel strongly about. I understand at this point in her life, I can safeguard her in this way. You can read more about GMOs and GMIs in my other posts or Google it – it is a hot topic when it comes to baby formula. I use Earth’s Best for her formula and oatmeal cereal. You can also go to the Non GMO Project Website to read a lot more about the topic and for a list of baby food and baby formula that are non GMO (not to mention plenty of other products, foods, brands and retailers).

Organic Gala Apples from Trader Joe's

Organic Gala Apples from Trader Joe’s

Organic Apples, Banana, Organic Earth's Best Oatmeal Cereal, Breast Milk or Formula

Organic Apples, Banana, Organic Earth’s Best Oatmeal Cereal, Breast Milk or Formula

Organic Apples, Banana Cereal (5)

Peeled organic apples steaming on stove for 7 minutes. Then using a handheld Immersion Blender, create a puree.

Organic Apples, Banana Cereal (6)

Organic Apple Puree – freeze the ice cube tray and once they are frozen, pop out and place in Ziploc bags for daily use. Each cube is 3/4 – 1oz in size.

To make this cereal, I use:

  • an ounce of fresh (or frozen fresh) apple puree,
  • 1 tablespoon of Earth’s Best Organic Oatmeal Cereal,
  • a quarter of a banana, cut into small pieces and mashed,
  • 3-4 tablespoons of breast milk or baby’s daily formula.


I make a 2 oz. bottle in the bottle warmer (2 oz of purified water plus one level, unpacked scoop of baby formula, shake, warm for 2 minutes and shake again) and I defrost one of the frozen apple puree “ice cubes” (melt in microwave for 15 seconds). Then, I mash 1/4 of a banana with a fork. Mix one tablespoon of the cereal with 3-4 tablespoons of breast milk or formula. Add the apple puree and add additional milk to make it the consistency your baby prefers. Then, add in the mashed banana.

This is wonderful, warm and it is filling for baby’s tummy. You can also change up the base fruit with pears or some other fruit puree. I also use prune puree if she is a bit constipated. She really likes apple and prune puree. Either way, this provides baby with two servings of fruit, whole grains and a lot of iron (in both the cereal and formula). It is an excellent way to boost their little metabolisms first thing every morning. And as an evening snack, it helps keep baby’s tummy full for the night. I leave out the banana because I feel she reacts to the natural sugar in the banana and gets an extra boost of energy right when I want her to settle down for story time!

You can also print this and keep it handy for grandparents or your baby’s care provider. These directions are easy to follow and anyone can do it.

I would love to hear how your little one enjoys this and hear different morning dishes you routinely make! I would also just like to hear from YOU! Follow me here, on Twitter, Instagram – I will follow you back. I am new to this and looking to share information and IDEAS.

Happy New Year! 2014 is going to be a fabulous year – I just know it! Full of so many changes within Mattelyn which in turn will be new experiences for me. Can’t wait!

XO – Stephanie

Part Two: My Journey Making Organic Baby Food – “Moving on!”

Broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, avocados, bananas, pears, zucchini, apples, parsnip, rutabaga, leek, potatoes, pomegranate, mango

Broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, avocados, bananas, pears, zucchini, apples, parsnip, rutabaga, leek, potatoes, pomegranate, mango

What an adventure this has been trying to figure out the whole weaning process! For all of you that have gone through it, you know what I mean and for those of you who haven’t yet, it is quite the process and your little one is the one and only that can let you know that he or she is ready to move on. And boy do they have interesting ways of doing that!

Just as I began feeling comfortable with making my “root vegetable” purees, simple apple and pear purees for her morning baby oatmeal, prune and dried fruit purees for her occasional constipation, my weekly trips to Whole Foods for organic vegetables and fruits had to be shaken up a bit!

Around 8 months, she let me know she was ready for something new as she quit eating her purees! I read that refusing foods she would typically eat, could mean any number of things: teething, a cold coming on, a new found independence and a desire to not sit in her high chair because she is so mobile now, or her way of letting me know she was ready to move on to solid foods – like finger foods. So I tried it – and sure enough, she was ready for something DIFFERENT.

And I tried just about everything – I pretty much racked my brain and let her try just about anything – minus the salt and sugar. (It’s a personal decision – I won’t let her have any cake, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, icing – basically, no sugar anything! She has her whole life to add those to her diet as she wants but for now, I would prefer to keep her palate free of the sweet which is a preferred flavor overall others).

I knew I needed to get a new routine and I had to think about this – so I began with the main focus it all – What was I trying to accomplish with her weaning process? I want to get her 1. to eat what we eat, 2. To broaden her palate, 3. To increase her food repertoire and 4. To give her the most healthy start to life possible. (Isn’t that what we as parents all want?)

The first new foods that seemed like no-brainers were eggs and cheese, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, mangoes, organic Greek yogurt, silken tofu and pastas. I knew it was important that she begin getting protein at least three times a day, whole wheat grains at least three times a day, veggies four times a day and fruit a couple times a day. And she really needs iron right now – they are born with an iron store from mommy that lasts until 6 months of age. Then, babies tested are always lacking in iron which is essential to brain development until the age of two. Until the age of two, our babies are growing and developing at an amazing rate and all of their cognitive development is occurring – we are feeding their brains – LITERALLY. Between what they eat and their sleep, (plus a lot of loves, hugs and kisses), there isn’t anything better we can be doing for them at that moment. Fueling their little bodies with the proper, home made, balanced meals means they are receiving the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy development minus the harmful GMOs and GMIs and preservatives.

I noticed she was eating and seeming to REALLY enjoy the organic baby food pouches I buy for her on occasions for when we are going to be out at restaurants or traveling. These purees are full of preservatives and everyone of them taste the same and all of them are SWEET. And the store bought food pouches that contain meat, do NOT taste like meat! I actually tried to eat a full serving and my tongue felt weird – like it had fur on it half way through. When I tasted it, I was reminded of the way my dog’s food smells – no kidding. She did not like them at all and I could see why.

She is at the point that she still wants purees – just more sophisticated purees. She was basically bored with my simple peas and carrots, butternut squash and pears, apples and sweet potatoes, pumpkin and parsnips. She wanted more flavor and something different with minimal textures. And it is so important to introduce baby to new textures all the time so they get used to it. Otherwise, they learn that everything should be smooth. And that will be another food obstacle when you’re ready for them to begin eating what you eat at the table with family and friends.

The introduction of very soft foods was wonderful and eye opening. She was still moving slowly and would occasionally gag because she only has four teeth and was pretty much gumming everything. So I was learning as I was going what to give her. She loves cheese – specifically Munster and cheddar cheeses. She would gobble up scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, organic Greek yogurt with organic mixed frozen berries, cottage cheese. This made our weekly Saturday morning breakfast out at our favorite diner with daddy a whole new, awesome experience. I could order scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, whole wheat toast, oatmeal, avocado and cottage cheese and she would happily sit tasting everything at 8-9 months old while patrons close-by would look on admiring our “adventurous, little eater” and commenting that they couldn’t believe how well-behaved she is.

After a couple of weeks fretting over what to do and getting overwhelmed searching for the right foods, I realized that I needed to create well-balanced meals that I could puree or leave very soft with tiny chunks and would taste really good so that it was appetizing. I was also focused on broadening her horizons while encouraging her to not be a picky eater. I wanted to make a few recipes in the beginning so that I could get used to making them and it wouldn’t be a time consuming, full gourmet meal each time I needed to prepare her food.

I found a few recipes in the book I mentioned in my part one of this post, “Top 100 Baby Purees,” by Annabel Karmel. Another one I created and another one I found online.

I was fascinated with the idea I could make her her first Spaghetti Bolognese. This particular recipe I made is from this book and I put my own spin on it. I also added my comments as to why I used particular ingredients.

Ingredients for the Baby's First Spaghetti - I used whole wheat orzo instead of spaghetti noodles

Ingredients for the Baby’s First Spaghetti – I used whole wheat orzo instead of spaghetti noodles.

The ingredients are as follows and makes 3 LARGE portions (I doubled the recipe the second time I made it because it freezes well and let’s face it, if you’re going to make the mess – might as well make it worth the effort!) It made 6 – 4oz portions and she usually eats less than that because it has meat and pasta so it’s heartier than her usual vegetable portions.

1 1/2 T vegetable oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 C chopped onion

1 medium carrot peeled and grated

1/4 C wiped and sliced button mushrooms

5 oz organic, *grass-fed, lean ground beef

1/2 C organic canned crushed tomatoes

1 C organic chicken stock

a few drops of worcestershire sauce

Pinch of brown sugar

1 bay leaf

2 oz orzo

Heat 1T of veg oil in a saucepan and sauté the garlic and onion for 2 minutes. Add the grated carrot and sauté for 2 minutes longer. Pour in the remaining oil and sauté the mushrooms for about 3 minutes.


Sautee the onion and garlic until tender or opaque in color then add carrots and sautee until tender.


Using organic mushrooms automatically introduces baby to another new food that is good for them! Remember to WIPE them off, do not rinse. Mushrooms are spongy and will retain the water.

Meanwhile, saute the ground beef in a separate pan. Once browned, add to the vegetables together with the tomatoes, stock worcestershire sauce, sugar and bay leaf. Cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes; remove bay leaf. Cook orzo according to package about 7 minutes – minus the salt

Cook the meat in a separate pan and then combine with the garlic, onion, carrots and mushrooms.

Cook the meat in a separate pan and then combine with the garlic, onion, carrots and mushrooms.

Cook Orzo without using salt about 7 minutes.

Cook Orzo without using salt about 7 minutes.

Puree the cooked meat and vegetable mixture using a handheld electric blender for a smoother texture for baby – at 9 months this is still what I prefer to her when meat is concerned. Otherwise, she moves the small pieces of meat around in her mouth with her tongue (it’s difficult for them to move small pieces to the back of their throats with their tongues) and they actually gag her. I have gone back to her 5 minutes after eating and she will STILL have chicken or ground beef in her mouth – not what you want to see! Add a small tablespoon or less of orzo to a serving of the mixture and bon appetite!

Use a handheld electric blender to mix to desired consistency.

Use a handheld electric blender to mix to desired consistency.

Ready to eat.

Ready to eat.

Mattelyn at 9 months tasting the new spaghetti for the first time.

Mattelyn at 9 months tasting the new spaghetti for the first time.

*I use grass-fed organic ground beef when preparing food for her. There are several reasons and if you buy in bulk (3lbs or more) the butcher usually gives you a great discount and it makes it worth the purchase. The meat is higher in iron because the cow only grazed on grass – this makes it better for baby AND for mommy that is breast feeding or is pregnant because we all lack iron as well. The meat is more tender and the animals aren’t fed oats or soybeans that have growth hormones in them. This has been something I have tried to safeguard her against from the beginning. If possible, I am trying to limit her exposure to GMOs or GMIs. This is just a personal preference and I want to let you know why I decided to purchase this type of meat.

I will post more recipes as I have time – I must run because daddy is running out of things while he watches her. I am trying to get a lot better about posting – shooting for once a day – but we will see! I must do shorter posts and then I will be more successful!

XO ~ Stephanie

Homemade Organic Baby Food – My Journey – from the Starting Point to the Final Stages of Weaning

Baby food pouches

Baby food pouches full of homemade, 100% organic baby food made with love and care!

The Starting Point

When I decided to make Mattelyn’s baby food, it was a no-brainer – but it was also like staring at a blank page – I had no idea where to begin. There are tons books and countless Websites and millions of blogs like mine and then there’s all of your friend’s & family’s advice. All of the information is overwhelming and let’s face it – there isn’t a good STARTING POINT. That’s what I was missing – the launching pad if you will. That’s my hope for this post for you.

Each book I found and read was either a cookbook or a “when to begin” – but I was having a difficult time with WHERE to begin, with WHAT equipment and HOW? There are a couple of books that I think were really great and I think you should take a look at any of them. Specifically, the first book, Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel, I would read all the way through – there are great pockets of information throughout the book and it is written based on the phases of weaning complete with recipes. I say read through once because your mind will pick up and remember certain pieces of information that you will find helpful AT THAT MOMENT OF TIME. Every baby progresses at their own rate and you can continue to go back to the book as she reaches a new milestone. It’s an easy quick read. That’s what I do! The other two books are, Great Expectations: Best Foods for your Baby & Toddler by Jeannette Bessinger and Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron.

This is a personal journey… and I want to share mine with her (AND with you).

Butternut squash is a perfect first food.

Butternut squash is a perfect first food.

Parsnips add a wonderful flavor to other root vegetable purees.

Parsnips add a wonderful flavor to other root vegetable purees.

I want eating to be fun and interesting for Mattelyn. Her relationship with food is an everlasting one that should be healthy from day one. I want her to have an appreciation for the nourishment we put into our bodies and an understanding of where it comes from – not just from a shelf in a jar at the grocery store. Food is a necessary part of our life and a healthy relationship (hopefully!) we will have forever. I want her diet and tastebuds to be given an ample head start and now is the time. I was afforded that luxury as a child because my mom was a licensed home child care provider and she was required by law to serve healthy, well-balanced meals. My mom also grew up on a farm and is an amazing cook. Our childhood was influenced heavily by food and because of this early relationship with food, I have a genuine love of it – cooking it, tasting new foods, preparing dishes from different cultures, gardening to grow my own veggies, photographing food, serving food to friends and family – my love for food goes deep. It ends up the center of almost every activity we do in life. It is certainly the center of celebrations and holidays. I was given the gift of experiencing food and good home cooking from a very young age. My first memories include those of my grandpa’s chicken farm with his 1,000’s of chickens and tons of eggs, his wild strawberries, his personal garden of potatoes, the vast fields of corn and acres of beans, cows and his grape vineyard in the back yard.

I was fully aware of where my food was coming from and how yummy fresh eggs from the chicken and cream from the cow were! I couldn’t wait to go “mushroom hunting” in the fall and to go for walks to pick wild strawberries on his land. So that is where my love of food comes from and I would love to pass it on to Mattelyn. She comes from a long bloodline of good home cooks and gardeners.

When the pediatrician commented at her four month check up that she was teething and would probably cut teeth early (she did – at 5 months old she got both of her bottom front teeth) I got excited about the prospect of making her food. My husband looked incredibly puzzled and said, “You want to MAKE her food??” The best way I could exemplify the reason WHY I wanted to was easy – look at a jar or pouch of store bought baby food and recognize that it has a shelf life of two years – and it’s vegetables and fruit! Even better, make a fresh puree of butternut squash, carrots and apples and taste it. Now, taste a store bought puree of the EXACT same thing. GROSS. The flavor is unmistakable – it’s preservatives. Which she will get plenty of soon enough in her young life. Fresh is GOOD for her, tastes good and encourages non-picky eaters. All of the pre-packaged baby foods taste alike with small variances – and baby will like the store bought faster because they almost all taste “sweet.”

Even before she could eat, I was always showing her different fruits and vegetables.

Early Experiences

Carrots are naturally sweet and a baby's first favorite!

Carrots are naturally sweet and a baby’s first favorite!

We make weekly trips to the organic section of Whole Foods and she watches mommy pick out butternut squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, pears, prunes, bananas, mangoes, avocados, sweet peas and green beans. When I take them home, I pull each one out and let her feel it and she watches me wash them. I want Mattelyn to hold her food even at the young age of 4 and 5 months when it appears they have no idea what is going on. (But so much is going on!) And I am acutely aware that someday it is all just going to “click” for her. I strap her into the Baby Bjorn and she watches as I wash, peel and cube the veggies. She watches  the apples and pears cook on the stove and the veggies steam. She smells the beautiful aroma of the root vegetables steaming together and the whole kitchen suddenly smells like Thanksgiving! She watches as I blend them in the blender and she touches the side of the blender.  She witnesses the straining process. She is literally a part of the whole baby food making experience. She watches as I put it into the ice cube trays and is keenly aware of the freezer as I place her food to freeze.

When it is time for her to eat after her naps, I sign to her the baby sign for “eat” and she gets excited. I pick her up and we get her bib. She sees me getting her food pouch out of the freezer and her little legs go so fast kick, kick, kick! She makes audible sounds of excitement and begins licking her lips at 5 1/2 months old.

There is nothing more satisfying than making your baby’s food and watching them get excited – being a baby, LIFE is their first time for everything! I want her to be afforded every luxury in life I can give her and the gift of not being a picky eater and encouraging the behavior of tasting and trying new healthy flavors at this young age will only further encourage a barrage of healthy decision making. Knowing exactly what you’re putting into your baby’s tiny body is a wonderful fulfilling feeling. Not to mention, listening and watching your infant eat and hearing their bodies get nourished is the best. I can’t describe it well enough, but I can tell you, it will make you feel like a very proud mama! You are also giving them an early advantage to not becoming picky eaters – yes, at this young an age! Plus, before you know it, this stage is over and the whole baby food making is a thing of the past. They aren’t in this stage for long so making the food for a couple of months is TOTALLY WORTH IT.

I decided to go organic or locally grown to be sure the food didn’t contain GMO’s.  Briefly, this is food grown without pesticides  or synthetic fertilizers. Unfortunately, you will read a ton about GMO’s in all baby formulas. That is why we went with Earth’s Best Organic Baby Formula for sensitive tummies. Not to push this idea or to worry you – but so that you are aware – here is a brief excerpt I read on Baby Center that summed it up perfectly for me. There is a truckload of information out there that you can read further about.

Earth's Best Organic Cereal

Earth’s Best Organic Cereal

Earth's Best Organic Formula

Earth’s Best Organic Formula

What does it mean when food has been “genetically modified”?

Genetically modified (GM), or genetically engineered (GE), foods are made from plants that have had traits in their DNA changed. Scientists take genes — the pieces of DNA that differentiate living things — from one plant or animal and insert them into another organism. These plants are also known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The purpose of genetically modifying plants is to make them better in some way. So a corn plant, for example, might have a gene added that makes it more nutritious, more resistant to herbicides, insects, or diseases, or more tolerant of drought or cold.

The terms “organic” or “organically grown” indicate that the food has been produced without synthetic pesticides and also without synthetic fertilizers and certain other chemicals that are common in conventional, “industrialized” agriculture. Food labeled “certified organic” has been independently verified to be produced to organic standards. ( Article reviewed by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board).

Beginning Weaning – Phase One – (5 1/2 – 6 months) – Cereal 

Organic cereal, banana, formula

Organic cereal, banana, formula

Formula and bottle warmer

Formula and bottle warmer

(*Also note, upon beginning solid foods, you should still be breast feeding or bottle feeding baby at least 18 ounces a day. So I always breast feed baby first, then give them their solid foods. Especially in the beginning, solid food is a supplement to their daily eating regimen. It’s really interesting because it will change organically or naturally and you and baby will fall into that rhythm as time goes on).

Doctors recommend you begin with cereal – rice cereal is the easiest to digest and is naturally gluten free. They recommend a month (or so) of only rice cereal. When I was told this, immediately! I had so questions! Here’s a little about Cereal:

  • The directions for first time cereal is on the side of all of the cereal boxes. It makes PLENTY.
  • You have to use formula or breast milk to make the cereal – I began using formula (the Organic formula mentioned above) – because Mattelyn was only breastfed and hadn’t had formula yet – I thought this would be a good introduction. Turns out it was a good idea!
  • To make the formula to use with the cereal, you follow the directions for making a two ounce bottle – one level scoop of formula into two ounces of purified water. Shake bottle to mix and place in bottle warmer for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Remove and shake again.
  • To make the cereal you add a tablespoon of the cereal to a bowl and stir in 3 teaspoons (or close to one ounce) of the formula you just made. That’s it!
  • Taste EVERYTHING you are giving baby.  Note that this is their first time trying to eat – tasting new tastes – their tongue has to learn to push things to the back of their mouths. When they are making all of the “yuck” faces each time you introduce something to them, know that these are genuine reactions to everything – new tastes, textures, a new way of eating. Don’t chalk it up to them not liking it! And make sure that your facial expressions are reflective of happy – make yummy noises and don’t say “We agree, it IS yucky,” like my husband did!
  • On a more personal note, the rice cereal for whatever reason gave Mattelyn really bad gas. Her tummy was bloated and she was miserable. The cereal was the only thing that was different and I quickly switched to the Oatmeal cereal made by the same Earth’s Best Company. It actually had a little more flavor and she was fine with it.
  • Give them cereal every day, three times a day for about two weeks to a month or until you feel comfortable adding a vegetable to their diet. Then, replace the cereal at lunch and dinner with 2 ounces of the veggie puree.
  • One more note on the importance of cereal in the beginning – you will hear many people say you can skip cereal all together and never give your baby anything “from the box.” I understood this completely but also decided it was just as important for her to have an introduction to formula. And, both the cereal and the formula are enriched with iron which is super important at 6 months of age.  Babies are born with an iron store that lasts the first 6 months, and a baby’s iron requirements are particularly high between the ages of 6 months and two years.  This is the most critical time for brain growth and a lack of iron in the diet can lead to impaired mental development! (Top 100 Baby Purees, p. 33, by Annabel Karmel.)

Stage Two Weaning or Phase Two – (6 – 7 months) 

Peeled and cubed butternut squash ready for steaming.

Peeled and cubed butternut squash ready for steaming.

  • Introducing her to veggies first is KEY because this is when they can learn to be picky – as they tend to want the sweet stuff like fruit over the veggies BEFORE they have a chance to like the flavor of the vegetable. And if they aren’t introduced first to the veggies, they won’t obtain the “taste” for it and you could lose that small window of opportunity to introduce them to really good, healthy foods packed with the vitamins and nutrients their growing bodies so desperately need especially in the beginning.
  • Introduce a veggie every three days after giving her a new veggie three times a day for two to three days along with the morning cereal. It can take that many times for baby to actually “like” the veggie.
  • The best veg to begin with are root vegetables because they are naturally sweet, puree really smooth and are least likely to produce food allergies. Carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, rhutabaga, pumpkin & butternut squash Mattelyn loved. Also pears and apples (full of fiber to assist in the early poops which also change when they begin solids!) Bananas and mangos, papaya and avocado are all natural baby foods because all you have to do is mash and serve. She loves all of the above!
  • Steam all of your vegetables! Steaming preserves all of the fresh taste and vitamins. Vitamins B and C are water soluble and lost during boiling. (60% of nutrients are lost to boiling while only 7% are lost when steaming).
  • I use a blender (simple blender) and a hand held immersion blender by Cuisineart ($29) with the measuring cup that came with it – such an easy way to quickly blend. It leaves the food a tad more lumpy however than the smoothness you will get using a full-size blender. Some people choose to use a food processor or a smaller food processor – which is fine too, it just is more time consuming in my opinion with more parts to clean!
  • Strain your veggies and fruit! Purchase a large strainer – it is going to get used! Not all cookbooks tell you to strain. But if you taste the “strings” in a puree of butternut squash or the way apples and pears puree with “grit,” you will notice this is a must. It will also gag a new eater.
  • After steaming, pureeing and straining, prepare your purees for ice cube trays – yes, they are your best bet for the beginning. (You will start mixing flavors after you have introduced each food – at least three times a day for 3-5 days PER FOOD. They will begin to get bored with the single foods and you will notice on your own when it’s time to begin mixing purees to make them more interesting – it doesn’t take long after introducing them to each veggie.
  • Use cheap ice cube trays and fill with the purees. They are each about ¾ – 1 ounce in size. They will eat about 2 ounces per serving in the beginning (for about the first month) or two of the cubed purees at room temperature. You will notice their desire to eat more as time goes on.
  • Once the trays are frozen, I pop out the purees and place the cubes of puree in Ziploc bags to access easily throughout the day.
  • After the first month of giving them cereal – everyday – 3 times a day – morning, noon and dinner – you can add strained apples or fruit puree to make it more appetizing. I didn’t add any fruit until she had been introduced to her veggies for a few weeks though.
  • I shop on Sunday mornings with her and have Matt watch her for the food prep on Sunday afternoon during Bear’s games. She can participate when you want – but to really get a week’s worth done, it’s great to have a good 2 hours.

    Apples and pears cooking on the stove for 6-7 minutes or until fork tender.

    Apples and pears cooking on the stove for 6-7 minutes or until fork tender.

Stage Three Weaning or Phase Three – (7 – 9 months) 

  • After a couple months  (around month 7.5) or so, you can begin serving Greek yogurt (double protein and half the sugar) mixed with fruit purees. In the beginning they say no dairy but that is cow’s milk which is difficult for them to digest. Yogurt is different and contains protein they need and important digestive enzymes – but most importantly, protein. (*Mattelyn was lactose intolerant for her first 5 months of breast feeding. She outgrew it but I was already in the habit of consuming soy and almond milk myself). So I continue with almond and soy milk when a recipe calls for milk in anything).  Foods like eggs, cheese, yogurt and avocado are IDEAL nutrient-dense foods for the second and third stage of weaning – around age 8-9 months.  Try scrambled eggs with a bit of cheese and cottage cheese. Mattelyn gobbled them up! At that stage they want something more than their purees. And she will let you know she’s ready for a change and wants finger foods.
  • At first, finger foods can be given along with the purees you know she likes.
  • Good finger foods are peeled apples, pears, bananas, seedless grapes, dried fruit – raisins, apricots, steamed or raw veggies – sticks of carrot or cucumber, broccoli florets, cubes of cheese, fingers of toast, mini sandwiches, rice cakes.
  • Everyday, she should now be receiving 2 – 3 servings of starchy foods like potatoes, rice, lentils, quinoa and pasta or bread.
  • Fruits and veggies at least twice a day now – rather than her only foods (like it’s been with the purees).
  • At least one serving of protein every day, including meat – can be eggs which are very easy to prepare if she will eat them.
  • On a personal note, Mattelyn let me know at 8 months that she did’t want to eat her purees anymore and was ready for more! She just quit eating and was fussy and making a “gagging” face each time it was time to eat. There are a couple of things that happen at 8 months – they have become more mobile than ever and have a new found freedom and a high chair becomes annoying because it constrains, they are teething which makes everything miserable and they are ready to move to more interesting food and finger foods end up being the answer. It can be very, VERY frustrating! Just as you got your groove going with making the purees, you have to change EVERYTHING. And now, you are thinking of her daily meals AND your own not to mention dinner with the whole family at night. It is always good for me to remember that the goal is to have her eating what we eat – and she is well on her way!
  • I am noticing at 8 months, her tasting and trying new and different things at such a young age has led to a healthy trying of new things. There’s nothing she won’t try. She is one of the least picky babies so far and I am proud of that because it’s a lot of work. And it starts when they’re young.

My next post will be about the baby food puree storage system we purchased and my opinion about whether to spend the money on it or not!

I hope this was helpful. I also would loved to hear from each of you as you embark on your journey!

XO ~ Stephanie