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Baby girl eating solid foods.

A Mother's Advice: Switching to Solid Foods

Feeding my daughter for the first year was fairly simple. Breastmilk did most of the heavy lifting. Now that she is no longer an infant, she’s officially a real food eater. No more baby food, purees, breastmilk, or formulas – she is having three meals and two snacks a day (the American Academy of Pediatrics provides a helpful suggested menu), which means it feels like I am constantly thinking about food. Menu planning, cooking, packaging, freezing … and repeat.

During my pregnancy, I experienced some mental health challenges around food and eating that were completely new to me. Thankfully, they have resolved, but I still have some lingering anxieties when it comes to feeding my baby. She, on the other hand, has no food issues and a super big appetite. As in most things, I have realized I need to let go of the worries and just do the best I can to give her a variety of healthy food options. But if we have a few days where we fall short and eat a lot of Cheerios – that’s OK.

Here are some things that have helped me in our evolving food journey:

Don’t give up after the first try: Just because your baby doesn’t immediately like something, it doesn’t mean she never will. After giving her avocado several times just to have it flung on the floor, now she can hardly contain her excitement when she sees me slicing one.

Spices are OK, try to avoid salt and sugar: I was initially hesitant, assuming that strong tastes might put her off, But, to my surprise, she seems to prefer meals that aren’t bland. I do avoid foods with added sugar and am mindful of limiting salt, but as she grows, I am introducing more and more spices and flavors and she is loving it.

Find recipes that incorporate veggies: Steamed broccoli isn’t a big hit (surprise), but egg muffins with broccoli and cheese disappear in seconds. I add shredded carrots to her mini meatloaf, steamed cauliflower to a bowl of applesauce, and sneak some spinach into a sauce. There are tons of recipes all over the internet that utilize this trick, and even though I encourage her to eat veggies on their own – which she does sometimes – having other delivery methods means I don’t feel panicked when the greens hit the floor.

Cook and freeze meals: I used to laugh at the idea of cooking all of my baby’s food. No way was that possible. And I still don’t cook everything she eats, but I did finally realize the power of cooking and freezing in batches. So many moms before me explained this process and I just didn’t understand it. Now I do. I can spend a few hours cooking several of our go-to meals and then I don’t have to stress about meal planning for at least a week. There are so many cool baby food products to help, too. I especially love using the baby food freezing tray to create and save individual servings of pesto or Bolognese sauce.

Find meals the entire family can enjoy: This seems super obvious, but it took me a minute to let go of the baby mentality and admit she is big enough to eat a lot of what the rest of the family eats. As long as the food is cut appropriately for her, we can all dig into spaghetti and meatballs or some chicken and rice. To be honest, I have started using some of her “baby” recipes on the rest of the family because everyone can use a few more hidden veggies on their plates.

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About Danielle Vigueria

About Danielle  Vigueria Danielle Vigueria is a new mom, step-mom, wife, and freelance writer. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Virginia and a Master of Professional Studies in publishing from George Washington University. She recently traded her beach life in coastal Virginia for the mountains of Idaho. When she isn’t writing, Danielle relaxes by hanging out with her family, reading lots of YA fiction, and watching the deer wander in her backyard.