As the twins recently turned six months, we have jumped headfirst into the world of food that doesn’t come from a boob. (Although most of their food does still come from a boob…moving on!) Initially, I planned on following the tenets laid out in baby-led weaning: namely, wait until baby is at least six months old, can sit unassisted, and can feed herself long skinny sticks of cut-up, softish food. However, Sophie started showing interest in my food right around five months, and began grabbing food off my plate and out of my mouth not long afterward. I didn’t see how I could keep her away from food for a whole ‘nother month. And neither of the twins can sit unassisted yet. They can sit in a high chair just fine, though. I decided, what the heck, and at five and a half months started out by giving the girls long, skinny pear slices and long skinny apple slices… and that was pretty much all I could think of that they could grab and handle without mushing up in the process. Also, this style of feeding leads to a lot of food getting smushed into tiny pieces and dropped where the dog can snap it up, and I am just too much of a penny-pincher to see all that perfectly good organic fruit get wasted. Our adventures in baby-led weaning lasted about a week.
Next, I started giving the babies spoonfuls of plain, whole-milk yogurt. Sometimes I mixed in a little flaxseed meal or mashed banana. They LOVED it! I’d read in Super Baby Food that introducing babies to the tangy-tartness of yogurt is great, because then later on they’ll be more likely to eat other tangy foods, like kimchi. (I have not even tried kimchi, so that’s in the future for all of us, I guess.) However, at our doctor visit the other day I got chewed out for introducing dairy too early — oops. Also, the doctor said I need to start feeding them rice cereal, because it is fortified with iron and zinc, which breastfed babies tend to be deficient in. Let me just say right now that I’m not at all against vitamins, but I’m pretty sure babies have survived for thousands of years without eating super-processed fortified cereals. This set me on a quest for a food-based source of iron and zinc that I could give the babes instead. Generally it is my belief that if you need a vitamin, the first place to go looking for it is in whole foods!
That leads me to my newest venture into baby-food making: baby green smoothies! Blending the greens into a smoothie slices through the cell wall and makes all the nutrients ultra-available even to immature little baby guts. For the past couple of days, I’ve been blending together raw frozen spinach (iron), an apple with the peel intact (vitamin C for iron absorption), a tiny squeeze of lemon (more vitamin C and to keep the apples fresh) and sesame seeds (zinc) with just a tiny bit of water and feeding this to the girls throughout the day. They love it, and I’m happy to be giving them something a little more nutritious than rice cereal. (And just plain more exciting, am I right?)
Also, an interesting side note: in my research on how to maximize zinc absorption from foods, I discovered that actually whole grains inhibit zinc absorption in the body because of the phytates they contain. So fortifying rice cereal with zinc isn’t really all that efficient anyway.
What have been your favorite foods to give your babies?