Well if that’s not the longest blog post title…
I can’t believe I’m sitting here writing about my experience as a mom for nine whole months. Some days feel like they never end, but overall, cliche as it may sound, the time has flown by. I swear it was just a few days ago when I was watching “Friday Night Lights” re-runs on my computer at 3 a.m. with a newborn who just would.not.go.back.to.sleep; just yesterday morning when I was sharing my favorites in baby gear and apps with you guys and snuggling a sweet six-month-old; just a blink of an eye ago when I saw my baby crawl for the first time.
And now, here we are, nine months into this adventure and I’m telling you about the solid foods my little girl is eating all on her own. Sniffle. (And also the fact that we are SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT, glory glory hallelujah.)
Truthfully, though, it’s been so fun to see Avery grow and develop into the lovely little lady she is today. She’s still spunky and headstrong as ever — in fact, we are starting to enjoy the very early stages of protests and temper tantrums when we take her away from things that are, you know, bad for her and dangerous — but she’s also incredibly sweet, gentle, cuddly and hilarious. The girl knows how to make me laugh like no one else with her funny faces, screeches and giggles. And yes, she still loves pulling giant tufts of hair from our poor cat.
And here is where I give fair warning that this post will now include many-a-detail about baby food, nursing, weaning, etc. So if the thought of that is already putting you to sleep, scroll to the bottom for a yummy (baby but also adult-friendly!) recipe!
One of the most surprisingly rewarding aspects of this whole motherhood business has been transitioning Avery to solid foods. I was fortunate enough to be able to nurse her exclusively until about six months, when we decided to start introducing solids into her diet as well with her first food, avocado. Which she hated (and now loves, by the way). Our pediatrician recommended the baby-led weaning method to us for introducing solids, and I’m so glad she did. It’s been awesome for us and for Avery, too, to let her independent personality thrive through feeding herself.
In case you aren’t familiar with baby-led weaning, the idea basically is to introduce solid foods to your baby in whole, but safe and digestible form. In other words, instead of going straight to spoon-feeding soft, mushy foods and having to introduce more solid, whole foods later, you give your baby slices of soft whole foods like avocado and ripe pear, steamed sweet potato and carrot sticks, etc. right from the start so he/she can learn to feed him or herself. That way, you don’t have to worry about the transition from spoon-feeding to self-feeding. They learn it on their own.
What I also have loved about this method is that I can not only feed Avery a lot of the same foods and meals we eat, thereby saving me a ton of time and Benjamins, but I can also let my food blogger nerdy-ness come out by being creative with what I feed her. These baked chickpea patties with yogurt sauce and sweet potato oven fries are just one example. Some other foods we’ve been feeding her the last few months include:
Omelettes (egg yolks only mixed with breastmilk and sometimes cheese and/or greens)
Polenta sticks with herbs and marinara sauce
Oatmeal fingers (I mash a few tablespoons of old-fashioned oats with an equal amount of breastmilk and sometimes add berries; then, I microwave it in a shallow dish or bowl for 2 minutes and let it cool completely; then, I cut the cooled and hardened oatmeal into “fingers” or pieces)
Sliced avocado, mango, pear, banana, cantaloupe, etc.
Steamed sweet potato, squash, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, etc.
Roasted red and green peppers (skins and seeds removed)
Small sticks of cheese
Toast with mashed avocado or melted cheese on top
Sardines in water
Chicken breast slices
And I’m also nerding out about future plans to make bebe baby pancakes (!), sandwiches, etc.
So far, Avery has eaten just about everything with gusto except for eggs. She hates them and actively pushes them off of her tray, which is kind of hilarious. She took a while to warm up to broccoli and avocado, but now those are among the foods she enjoys, too. And the girl loves sardines — though I don’t feed those to her very often because, HELLO mess and fishy smell for dayz. Oy.
As time has gone on, we’ve introduced some spoon feeding in addition to baby-led weaning so she can practice eating with a spoon — or, at times when it’s more convenient to feed her that way (because letting a baby feed herself is a huge mess, FYI, and not always appropriate/possible in a public setting). But it’s clear that she prefers to feed herself, even if it’s just for fun and practice right now. In a month or so I may begin the switch to feeding her solids before nursing to start the weaning process, but since she ingests so little solid food at this time (much of it gets chewed, but then spit out), most of her nutrition still needs to come from breastmilk.
All of that to say, it’s been such a joy watching Avery enjoy food. Her little legs bounce whenever we put her in her highchair and get her ready to eat, and she smiles at us whenever she takes a bite of her beloved mango or cheese stick. I feel so rewarded, too, when I make something for her like these chickpea patties and she eats them eagerly. The girl loves food like her mom. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, it seems.
I am obviously not at all an expert on baby-led weaning or solid food feeding in general, so I’m not saying this method is the best way to go or that it works for everyone. I just wanted to share my experience so far. That being said, I’m happy to answer any questions you have about it! I’m becoming a big fan, so I’d love to know if there are any other moms out there who have done baby-led weaning successfully for their child.
ALSO, I am not planning to make baby food recipes a regular thing on this blog, so don’t worry about that. I just thought it would be fun to share a peek into what kind of food I’ve been making on the side for the babe.
And now for the recipe! I made these baked chickpea patties with babies in mind, obviously, so there is very little salt content and no egg whites, milk, honey, etc. And yet, they are delicious. And even better with the baked curry sweet potato fries on the side. I don’t give Avery the yogurt sauce yet because she’s not old enough to understand the whole food + dip thing (we have tried, with much disaster), so I reserve that part for the adults at the table. But one thing is for sure — when we sit down to eat this simple, healthy, whole and hearty meal together, everyone is happy (tummies included).
And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to deny the fact that I’ll be writing a ONE YEAR update post in less than three months. Hold me.
- Olive oil
- 1 slice whole wheat bread, toasted
- 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons mashed cooked peas
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 (6 oz) container plain Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small ½-inch wide sticks
- Olive oil and curry powder
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly brush a baking sheet with olive oil.
- In a food processor, pulse toasted wheat bread to a fine crumb. Measure out 2 tablespoons into a small bowl; discard remaining breadcrumbs or save for another use.
- Add ¾ cup chickpeas and green onions to food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add to small bowl with breadcrumbs along with dill weed and lemon juice; stir to combine.
- Add remaining chickpeas, mashed peas, cumin and a pinch of salt and pepper to food processor; process until smooth (add a splash of olive oil if needed to make sure mixture is smooth and not dry). Add to small bowl with chickpea-onion mixture and stir until well combined.
- Form mixture into 12 small patties, each about ½-inch thick. Place on prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush tops of patties with olive oil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, flipping patties halfway through until golden brown and baked through.
- Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, curry powder and red pepper flakes. Serve with patties.
- To make the sweet potato oven fries: Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss sweet potato sticks with a little olive oil and a dash or two of curry powder; spread in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake on a rack in lower third of oven 20 minutes, then transfer sheet to a rack in upper third of oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until fries are baked through and crisp on the outside.
- NOTE: The patties also freeze really well in an airtight container for up to 2 months, so feel free to double or triple the recipe to keep some on hand.
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