Clara’s current favorite eats and a toddler food Q&A

In those first early months with a baby, we are all obsessed with what they are eating. Is she (or he) getting enough milk? Is it time for solids? What should (or shouldn’t ) be those early foods?

It took me three tries to find my way, and still, feeding our Clara took time and care to ensure she was getting the best of the best. She is a tall, lean baby, and so of course I always get asked a lot of detailed questions about her diet at her doctor’s visits. What do I tell them?

She eats more than her brothers.

Clara's favorite foods on simplebites.netPhoto by Tim Chin.

Well, at least half the time anyway. At fifteen months old, Clara is a well-rounded, voracious eater. We’ve barreled past the cautious, exploratory stage and have settled into easy: easy to please, at ease to chew and swallow foods, and easy to serve from the dishes on the diner table.

Today I thought I’d share some of her favorite foods and how I prepare them, then we can open up the questions in the comments.

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How I discovered and embraced Baby-Led Weaning/Feeding (BLW)

A few weeks ago I sat at the dinner table and watched Clara furrow her brow as she focused on a centimeter square piece of omelet that was sitting on her dinner tray. She reached a chubby arm and closed her dimpled hand over the egg, raking it closer, before clutching it in her tight grip and transferring it to her mouth. It took some effort, but she succeeded, and thoughtfully chewed and swallowed the omelet before looking around for more. I actually blinked back a few tears in awe and pride.

Clara is not quite six months old and is eating on her own like a little champion. She is slow, messy, and doesn’t actually ingest all that much, but gracious me, she is not picky! In fact, quite the contrary, she wants to eat everything. In solid form, too.

How did we get here? No drippy rice cereal? Brown-colored puree? Well, while I was still pregnant with Clara, my doula tipped me off to a method for introducing solids called Baby-Led Weaning, or as I like to call it, Baby Led FeedingI have no intention of weaning Clara yet, but have been supplementing her diet for a month or so now using BLW.

Baby-led feeding is the common-sense practice of giving your baby soft, palatable whole foods and letting her feed herself her first ‘bites’, while continuing to breastfeed. The theory is that babies will experiment and discover food at their own pace, as well as develop new abilities including chewing and keen hand-eye coordination.

I’ve certainly seen firsthand the benefits of skipping purees and moving straight to solids. Not only is it less work in the kitchen, but Clara is continually astounding us with her early ability to chew and participate around the dinner table. And of course I’m hoping in the long run that she’ll be open to a much wider range of food than my boys were.

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Weekend Links (The Food + Baby Edition)

“Always kiss your children goodnight, even if they’re already asleep.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

beet and raisin salad

5 Simple Ways to Feed Baby While Feeding Yourself

The following is a guest post by Stacie of One Hungry Mama. Welcome, Stacie!

Hi. I’m Stacie and I’m one hungry mama. I’m also a recipe developer and family food writer who comes via years as a child development expert in children’s television and, more recently, an organic baby food entrepreneur.

It’s a long story.

Though I’ll spare you the details, let’s just say that the winding road that led me here was lined with a ton of writing, hands-on parenting and more research than you can imagine. Also, it was traveled with other child development experts, nutritionists, pediatricians and even a nutritional anthropologist.

Though I’m still on the move (and expect more twists and turns), I’ve learned one of the best ways to help your children develop healthy eating habits: Forget dumbed-down “kids” food and share healthy, delicious “grown-up” meals with your children.

It’s that easy. No, wait. It’s not always easy. Far from it. But it is that simple. And important.

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Preserving Autumn: Classic Applesauce Recipe

What is there really to say about applesauce, except that it is essential? It’s one of the first solid foods most ever eat and remains high on the comfort food scale as you grow older. Making applesauce every autumn is obligatory around here and an obvious addition to our Canning 101 series.

Right now families are flocking to the orchards on the weekends for a favorite Québec fall pastime: apple picking. The apples that are gathered can keep for a few weeks or even months if stored properly, but the best way to extend their enjoyment is to preserve the harvest through canned homemade applesauce.

Stirred into yogurt, baked into Apple Pie Oatmeal, or layered between crêpes are just a few of the ways we enjoy our applesauce. Then there’s always straight from the jar, with a spoon, just like when we were teething tots.

Here is a basic step-by-step tutorial on how I make and can my applesauce. It’s straightforward, easy to make in large batches and just delicious! [Read more…]