Do you remember all of that palpable excitement I had when I first introduced puréed food to Micah (Read about it here)? It was one of the things I knew I couldn’t miss being there for as he grew older. It was right up there with seeing his first steps or hearing his first words. Well, introducing table foods should probably be on that list as well because I was equally excited for that!
Micah was about 9-months-old when we introduced table foods for the first time. Some recommend starting around 8-months, using signs such as baby’s ability to mash lumps and more textured purees in their mouth and the development of a pincer grasp (using thumb and index finger to pick up small items) to cue you into his or her readiness to start. Micah, however, took some time to develop his pincer grasp, so I decided to wait a bit. In all honestly, he didn’t become proficient in using it until 11-months, but of course I didn’t think it made sense to wait beyond 9-months because he was already showing so much interest in table food.
Like many parents, I was nervous about Micah’s ability to handle table foods because, of course, I didn’t want him to choke. I even refreshed my memory on pediatric basic life support before beginning 😂. As usual, however, my fears were mostly unwarranted, and he did just fine with the transition. And for any other mamas out there who may be worried about the same thing, the likelihood of something like that happening is extremely low. Provided they’re given softer foods, those gums should be able to mash it just fine (babies don’t use their teeth to process food in their mouths). Additionally, even if there was a small piece of food that found itself in the wrong place, that’s what the coughing reflex is for, and in most cases, it’s enough to help them clear it. So don’t worry too much.
Generally speaking, I stuck to the same nutritional rules I created for myself when making purées. I planned meals so they had a good balance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and proteins. When shopping, I tried to buy organic and/or non-GMO ingredients. I avoided added salt or sugar. And of course, as a vegetarian, I found fun and interesting ways to incorporate proteins.
Here are some of my favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes.
Apple Cinnamon Muffins, Scrambled Tofu, and Blueberries
Here’s a link to the recipe I used for the apple cinnamon muffins. I substituted a ripe banana for sugar, omitted salt, and used coconut milk instead of milk. Additionally, you can substitute butter for vegetable oil.
For the tofu, I simply mashed a block of extra firm tofu, sautéed it in olive oil, added curry powder for color, and garlic powder and onion powder to taste.
Enchiladas, Spanish Rice, and Broccoli
Here’s a link to the enchilada sauce I made. You can use a low sodium broth or just water in place of the vegetable broth. For the enchiladas I simply pureed a can of low sodium black beans (rinsed really well to get off any additional salt), seasoned the puree to taste, and rolled them alongside spinach in whole wheat tortillas. Feel free to add or omit cheese as you please.
For the broccoli, feel free to blanch or steam.
Sweet Potatoes, Mediterranean Chick Pea Patties with Greek Yogurt Sauce, and Broccoli
Here’s a link to the chick pea patties recipe. The only changes I made to this recipe were adding chopped spinach and omitting salt.
For the sweet potatoes, I simply dressed them with cinnamon and olive oil and baked them at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
As for the broccoli, same as above.
After making mistakes along the way, here are some things I learned.
- Incorporating dark leafy greens with table foods is a bit more difficult than it was with purees. These days, I incorporate them my blending them into sauces or adding them to casseroles, patties, enchiladas, etc (places where they’ll be essentially cooked in with everything else).
- If baby doesn’t like a certain food the first time around, keep at it. It can take 10-15 times before baby finally takes to a food.
- When serving food, it’s often helpful to place small amounts of food on the tray in front of baby. Whenever I put a lot of food in front of Micah, he usually ends up throwing it.
- If there’s a food I know Micah doesn’t like, I usually serve that one first, without letting him see the other food available. Then after he’s finished, I serve what I know he likes.
For the mamas out there, what are some of your favorite table food recipes? Any tips for introducing them? I’d love to hear about it!