Did you know you can serve babies (6+ months) whole, cooked broccoli? We teach this method, Baby-led Weaning, in a flexible way in our online Infant Course if you need help!)
Broccoli forms a natural handle that small hands can easily hold and offers texture that feels good on teething gums. Many babies love broccoli, but some need to be exposed to it multiple times to learn to like it!
Many people assume that we have to serve babies plain, steamed veggies…but babies can eat foods cooked the way the family eats it as long as it’s cooked through and soft for those strong back gums to chew on - no teeth necessary!
Oils and spices are actually beneficial for baby, and they help them learn to enjoy broccoli (and other veggies) with a variety of flavors. Plus, using cooking oils, herbs and other cooking methods make foods taste better and more appealing to new eaters.
What about salt? We recommend going easy on salt on baby’s food, as their recommended intake is pretty low - 400 mg. However, it’s likely unnecessary to stress about sodium if you’re offering baby lots of unsalted foods alongside foods that inherently have salt. We don’t have science to prove that a little more sodium is necessarily harmful in healthy infants. If you like your food salted, add it after cooking or pull aside baby’s portion before salting it if possible. More on this in our post about babies and salt.
Frozen broccoli works too! Below are instructions for fresh broccoli.
Let’s talk about if babies and kids can eat “too much fruit.”
Recently in our Clients Only Facebook group, a mama asked if she should cut off her kiddo when he eats too much fruit. In general, we recommend the model “You provide, child decides.” This mean that you offer the food of your choosing and they decide how much of it to eat. Yes, that means they may eat much more than a child’s size serving of fruit. Is this OK?
Well, let’s look at the big picture. Fruit is full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients (plant nutrients that have disease-preventive effects). It is hydrating and tasty. Many kids are interested in a meal because they see their favorite “familiar” food - fruit! It gets them eating other foods.
Yes, fruit contains inherent fruit sugar, but for many kids it’s their main source of key nutrients. We know that as a culture we have been taught that “all sugar is bad,” but even if we followed that line of thinking - we don’t - do we really think that fruit is the problem?
So, are there times when we would limit how much fruit we offer our kids?
How do you deal with a kid who only wants fruit?
Let’s talk tips for serving the same meal to everyone in your family when possible...and why it's sometimes not possible.
Before we start, did you grab our free Family Meal Toolkits for Dinner and Breakfast yet? (That’s where these meals came from!) Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter where great resources like these come out first.
Why do we want to eat the same meal as a family when possible? It’s easier, cheaper, and helps your kid learn to eat a greater variety of food in the long run.
The problem? Kids don’t always want to eat what we serve. It can take 20-30 exposures for a child to want to eat a new food.
So how do we serve what we’re eating to our kids and make it a success for everyone?
What we want you to notice on these plates:
“Do we all have to eat the same foods at a meal?” It’s not always possible!
We talked about the benefits of serving one meal to everyone above. However, we can’t always eat the same things for a variety of reasons:
We know its ideal to eat the same meals and serve our kids a variety of foods - even if they might not eat them right away. So, how can we make meals and snacks successful when we have to eat different foods?
Judy here! I’m an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy. It seems like there are so many ideas on the internet for how to keep toddlers and kids occupied while we shelter in place. But…how do you play with a baby?
Guess what? As an OT I work with play in each of my sessions! How does this relate to feeding? Well, infant development and play skills are essential in setting the foundation for gross and fine motor development. They also develop vision and cognitive skills. Eventually all of these things piece together to promote successful feeding! (And learning!)
In short, play helps promote feeding. It's all connected.
We've created a free printable for you to reference if you're in need of some ideas that I recommend to my private practice clients. You might be doing a lot of these things already, but we just wanted to offer some inspiration for easy ways to play with your baby that can help promote development, bonding and fun for both of you.
Let’s talk how to serve avocado to babies in a ways that they can feed themselves!
Don’t forget that we have a complete online resource for you that will help you let your baby learn to self-feed with confidence! We teach Baby-led Weaning from a practical, evidence-based perspective utilizing our combined expertise as feeding and nutrition professionals. Join the thousands of families worldwide who have taken our Infant Course. It doesn’t expire and can be watched at your convenience!
What’s the deal with avocado? Why do parents choose it for babies?
,Why do we suggest serving it like this? We recommend starting with strips of food that baby (6+ months) can pick up, put in their mouth at the back gums, learn to chew and swallow. No, it’s not a choking hazard to serve whole foods at this age - their gag reflex will take over if they don’t chew the food well enough! If you’re uncomfortable with whole foods, you can always start with smashed avocado.
Even though many babies can figure out chewing and swallowing avocado, holding it is another story. That’s why the whole top row offers ways to make avocado less slippery.
Of course, we don't want baby eating the skin, but that's usually the part stuck in their tight grasp as they're eating the avocado piece poking out of the top of their fist.
You can also use avocado to add texture to something that's difficult to pick up or something dry, like salmon or quinoa. Simply load it on a NumNum GOOtensil and hand it to baby for them to put in their own mouth.
If you do avocado toast, make sure the bread doesn't have any large seeds or honey baked into it.
One important note: make sure the avocado is soft so that baby can chew it with their gums (it should be fork tender). If you need to ripen your avocado more quickly, place it in a paper bag with another piece of fruit like an apple to speed up the ripening process (apples release lots of ethylene gas that expedite ripening). Make sure to fold the top to trap the ethylene gas, and in a day or two your avocado will be perfectly ripe!
Let’s talk low-cost protein options!
Many plant-based protein sources, especially dried beans and lentils, are nutrient-packed options that can help lower your grocery bill. In our online Toddler Course, we recommend some protein with each meal for blood sugar regulation, growth, satiety and building muscle.
However, kids’ protein needs aren’t crazy high, and when we’re on a budget there are some super inexpensive ways to meet those needs!
Of course, meat, poultry and fresh fish are great sources of protein, but sometimes they can be more pricey. Make sure to shop sales and freeze in bulk to get better deals on those foods!
Note: the images listed aren’t of portion sizes - just the food itself! Even though we have portion sizes listed for reference to protein values, your kiddo may eat much more or much less.
Prices via Walmart in Arizona.
How much protein is enough?
Do I need to count protein? No, not unless your child has a specific medical issue or is severely limited in their diet.
What do these numbers mean? Your child is very likely eating enough protein!
What if my child eats more than this? Very excessive protein intake can tax the kidneys, but as long as your child’s diet is balanced with other foods and they drink lots of water, we don’t worry if they eat more than the RDA.
Other nut butters and seed butters also contain protein - peanut butter may just be the most cost effective.
Lentil or chickpea pasta are great sources of protein; they’re just less accessible and more pricey (about $0.26 per 1/4 cup serving, providing 5 grams of protein). We showed whole wheat as a reminder that whole grains contain protein too.
Who loves pancakes?! This banana egg pancake recipe is a staple in our house that works well for eaters of all ages (babies included)!
We love this basic banana pancake recipe and hope your whole family will, too. My kids get really excited on pancake day!
You may see this recipe on the internet as just banana and egg, but we like adding rolled oats (or coconut flour) so it’s thicker and doesn’t fall apart as easily when cooked.
The recipe is super versatile and makes about 8 small pancakes, enough to feed 1-2 adults and 2 kids depending on how much you eat.
We love to double or triple the recipe, make a big batch, and keep the leftovers in the fridge (up to 3 days) for awesome fast breakfasts or snacks. They also freeze well! Just thaw and reheat in the toaster oven on convection or in the microwave before serving.
We added real maple syrup to the pumpkin variation because pumpkin can be a little bitter - you can omit it if you’d like!
What do you top these with?
Baby at home? Cut into slices they can easily pick up! Practice serving them cut into small pieces, strips, wedges or whole with toddlers and kids to practice different fine motor skills.
Egg allergy? We haven’t made these with an egg replacer, but Cookie and Kate and The Worktop have some great eggless pancake recipes if you do a quick search!
We are often asked "How do I respond when people constantly comment on my child’s body size in front of them?”
When my youngest was 3 months old (and 99th percentile weight/age and length/age), a woman came up to me at lunch and said, “My dear, what on earth are you feeding that poor child?” As you can imagine, there were so many responses that flooded my head (I really wanted to stand up for parents everywhere), but I responded with confusion as she shuffled away. I don’t know if she had any idea how hurtful her comment could be, especially if directed to a new parent who might be struggling with feeding their baby.
When you have a child that’s smaller or larger than “average,” it’s common for family, friends and strangers to make comments about their size. Many times it’s not said with malintent - it’s simply an observation or is used as small talk. When you don’t see a child for a few months it’s natural to celebrate how much they have grown or how tall they are becoming. It’s also easy to compare when you have children of the same age - their sizes can be dramatically different, and that’s OK! We are all meant to be different sizes.
However, sometimes these comments can strike an emotional chord.
These comments - which are said both with or without judgment - can be hurtful, and sometimes it helps to have quick responses to use.
Try out some of these responses to keep language more neutral about your child's body size.
The last two suggestions are a bit more direct and can be helpful when talking with a family member or someone who is around your child often - they can imply that you’re uncomfortable with them regularly talking about your child’s size and want to focus on something else.
Above all else, we recommend avoiding discussing nutritional or growth challenges in front of your child when possible.
It's natural to respond with, "Well, yeah, he never eats" or "She eats more than my husband does!" Children tend to live up to the labels we place on them, and the amount of food they eat depends on so many factors (many of which are out of your child's control).
If you kiddo always hears that they're "tiny" or "huge," try to remind them that they are just right for their body and that we are all so different. You can show them pictures of different animals and explain that not every creature is the same size. Reassure them that you will help them grow into the body that they are meant to have and that they can always talk to you about their body. Your home is a safe place for that.
In the end, the goal is for us to try to focus less on size and outward appearance and more on inner beauty, personality, values, strengths and what we're contributing to the world. As The Bird's Papaya says, "You are beautiful, and that's the least interesting thing about you!"
“I feel like I always serve the same breakfasts over and over again.” We hear this from clients often - do you relate?
Here are just some of our favorite morning meal foods - you may not have thought to try all of these! When modified, they can be safely served to kids 6+ months (see below).
We want breakfast to contain a little protein and some fat for satiety and blood sugar regulation, plus have at least one fruit or veggie.
All of these can be made dairy-free and nut-free with slight modifications (dairy-free yogurt, nut-free bar, etc).
Looking for more breakfast ideas? Check out our Family Meal Toolkit - Breakfast Edition!
It is normal for babies to eat nothing, a little or a lot at mealtime when they’re feeding themselves.
In our fully online Infant Self-Feeding course, we talk about how to promote successful mealtimes so that babies *eventually* eat all types of safe foods. Some babies figure it out fast, while others need lots of extra exposure to consume one bite of food. If your baby isn’t eating much, make sure to do at least 2-3 meals a day and eat with them! They’ll get there.
A “typical” serving size for a baby is around a tablespoon when self-feeding, but many will consume much less or much more than that. It’s all normal!
Intake of food depends on many factors:
As long as your baby is drinking at least 20-24 oz of breast milk or formula until closer to 12 months, let them eat their fill! Babies don’t know how to overeat beyond their physiologic cues for hunger unless we teach them by force feeding.
Some babies seem to have an insatiable appetite - if this is your baby, make sure they’re drinking plenty of their milk, and serve satisfying food with lots of brain-boosting fat (cook veggies in olive or avocado oil, serve salmon, eggs, nut butters etc). Challenge their palate with flavorful, strong foods like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and spices - they’re more open-minded at this age and are more likely to enjoy it!
Note: we recommend a high iron source with each meal, along with at least one veggie or fruit, as minimums. Normally avocado wouldn’t be the only food offered unless baby is just starting out or that’s the only available safe food for baby.
Need a clear road map, including a shopping list and meal plan? Check out our online course!