It sounds kind of weird and I did get a lot of where-on-earth-did-you-get-that-combination look from several people when I first served it but those were actually the first solid foods that Mia tried and loved!
For someone who doesn’t have a good kitchen background and whose only related skill is eating, it never occurred to me that I’d cook Mia’s meals.
But I did! Funny how motherhood could change people. LOL. And this was after I found some amazing websites that made cooking for baby, FUN and EASY!
In my pursuit to avoid over spending on ready-to-eat baby food, which are often in small amounts and do not make baby full, I have discovered so many food combinations that are not only nutritious but also unexpectedly yummy!
If you are planning to start your baby on solid foods, I hope this post reaches you.
This is also in response to a very good friend of mine who asked for the recipes that I cooked for Mia during her first 2 years in life. I was meaning to send her a lot (especially the ones that Mia really liked and ate with gusto!) but my completely disorganized bookmarks made it difficult for me to find those gems again.
So now that I had a bit of time collecting our favs, I am sharing to you how these home cooked baby meals worked for us and how it has eventually helped Mia transition to family meals.
HOW WE STARTED
We started solids when she was 6 months old. A bit late you might say as some start it at 4 months. But I’m a bit on the conservative side and I followed the AAP‘s recommendation of making breast milk the sole nutritional source during the first 6 months.
So while we were waiting, we bought a booster seat (one of our best purchases by the way – far better than high chairs in my opinion), and started researching on how to do the cooking, storing, freezing, and thawing.
This is the site that has been very helpful to us: Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food
It has everything you need to make things work! If you hover over all tabs and categories, which I’m encouraging you to do, you’ll see it has a wide selection of topics that would erase all your apprehensions of finding the time to cook for your little diner.
Nothing beats the peace of mind that you’ll have when you know that your kid is healthy and is getting the nutrients she needs even on days that you’re not at home.
Here’s an example chart from Momtastic.
We started with 1 meal a day and then 2. I got questioning looks while doing this too. Everybody seemed to think that it immediately has to be breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Like any starter, I preferred to do things gradually. We moved to 3 meals a day when Mia gained more appetite and got used to sitting on her booster chair as part of her daily routine. 🙂
BABY FOOD RECIPES
Their tongues are like clean slates. That’s the very first thing I learned and I’m so glad babies don’t have specific preferences yet.
It took a while for Mia, for example, to like meat. I remember telling her, “We’ll give you beans if you eat your chicken first” (baliktad) or “We’ll give you 3 more peas if you eat your beef.” All because she developed a preference for veggies first. She would gladly snack on steamed broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower and you’d be surprised on how she’d happily pop the florets in her mouth. Unsalted, not even buttered, just steamed. I couldn’t even eat it like that!
We introduced a fruit or vegetable every 4 days (enough time to spot any allergic reactions – diarrhea, rash, vomiting) before we introduced another one. We kept on doing that until we could already mix and match the ones that Mia had no allergic reaction to.
And this was when the fun began!
Here are the creative combinations from Momtastic that we loved.
I swear I had so much fun.haha I was really excited every time we tried a new combo!
Don’t worry much about the turkey or the acorn or the pumpkin, we skipped those.
You are free to choose the recipes with easy to find ingredients.
We also made our own grain cereals using ground rice (brown, red, or white). We just cooked it in water and added breast milk or formula for a familiar taste. See how easy it is here.
To illustrate why it is wise to follow this guide, we tried Wheat Cereal when she was 6 months old and 3 days later, she had rashes on her face (butlig butlig). When we tried it again after 2 months, she didn’t have any reactions anymore.
Malunggay – Tried this on her 7th month and again, 3 days later, butlig. After several weeks, we gave it another shot and any malunggay dish was okay from then on.
Citrus fruits/juices (oranges, pomelo, lemon) – In our experience, too much of these can cause a red painful rash on the genitals. So remember to moderate and give only a few pieces or sips.
Tomatoes – Quite acidic for immature tummies. We had a diaper rash the first time we tried it. Make sure to serve them cooked. 😉
Broccoli – Super food! But it sometimes causes gas. Best to wait until the 8th month.
Grapes – Mia would scream in delight at the sight of these! Don’t forget to cut it into smaller pieces and remove the skin for very young babies (choking hazard).
ICE CUBE TRAY – FREEZER BAG METHOD
I used the blender to make the purees (mashers or food processors are good too), poured them on ice trays to freeze overnight, and transferred the food cubes to labeled freezer bags the following day. These 3 tools were my bestfriends!
And this method saved me time, money, and sanity on what to feed daily. If you have batches of cooked meat (fish, beef, pork, chicken), fruits, and veggies in your freezer, it would just be easy to thaw a few cubes in the refrigerator before you go to bed and they’d be ready for feeding the next day.
Does freezing destroy the nutrients? You probably have that question in mind. Here’s what the experts from Berkeley Wellness had to say:
Frozen fruits, vegetables, meats and fish may or may not taste as good as fresh, but the difference in nutrition is slight—frozen foods will still have plenty of vitamins.
We don’t need to worry then! For the record, we served it fresh most of the time too. But having a stock on the freezer really helped us a lot during busy days. 😉
WHY SPICE IT UP
No to sugar and salt, but yes to spices and herbs!
Early exposure to a variety of flavors and textures can help your child eat anything you serve later on. Not an assurance, but the chances of having a less picky eater is higher. Spices like curry, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, onion, ginger, bell peppers, they’re all good. You can put in some herbs too.
There was a time when Mia would eat bell peppers all the time. I was amazed on how much she liked it. I’m not even a bell pepper eater. See this page for a complete guide: Spice Up Baby’s Food
2 MORE AMAZING SITES
To give you more resources, here are two more of our favorite sites.
(If you have bigger kids, make sure to check out their tabs for other ages. They both have wonderful recipes!)
You’ll be hooked in no time!
HOW IT WORKED FOR US
By the time she was 1 year old, she has already tried almost all kinds of food and we’re more confident in ordering from restaurants without worrying about allergic reactions.
When she turned 2 and had more teeth, we slowly transitioned her to family meals until we didn’t have to cook separately for her anymore.
She now eats almost anything we serve. Well, in small amounts. We still get the play-not-eat struggles every week, fine, everyday, but she happily eats kangkong, pechay, sayote, malunggay, carrots, squash, lettuce, cabbage, and cucumbers! And watching her eat those made the cooking all worth it!
As for fruits, she loves almost all of them. Mangoes, apples, pears, peaches, oranges, grapes, watermelons, pineapples, lansones, rambutan, avocado, and bananas, we just leave it on her plate and it would usually be gone in just a few minutes. 😉
By the way, we also fed her Cerelac and Gerber once in a while. Just so it wouldn’t be something new to her whenever these are the only ones available when we’re out of town. We often buy Cerelac in one serving sachets and Gerber in plastic containers (much lighter to carry along compared to the ones in jars). They are very convenient during trips. Just make sure to buy the ones that you’ve already tried at home. It’s not fun to deal with an allergy or have a sudden trip to the ER when you’re on a vacation.
One last thing, they say it takes a few tries before kids like a new taste. In the same way, they can suddenly dislike a previous favorite or like a previous non-favorite. Crazy. And we totally experienced this.
There was a time when Mia loved to eat bananas and then one day she suddenly didn’t like it anymore. Why? I had no idea. A few months later, she liked it again.
So try not to feel bad when your chosen recipe ends up on the floor. A lot of mine did. And at first, my feelings got hurt.haha But on the 8th, maybe 9th or 10th exposure, she did give it a try. We just have to keep on presenting and serving healthy options.
I hope this post inspired you to try home cooking your baby’s meals! It’s something I would happily do again the next time around. 🙂
Do you cook for your baby too? If you have recipes to share, please do! Leave us a message in the comment box below.
Cheers to healthy babies!