Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baby Finger Food with Chef Maki

I am getting close to being at the baby-ready-to-eat-on-his-own stage of life again. So, I thought a little refresher for myself would be in order. I did a little looking around on line and didn't find too much new info, so I guess just sticking to what I have always done is a good plan. :)

When starting baby out on finger food, I like to keep things quite simple and as healthy as possible. They'll get introduced to junk food soon enough, unfortunately.

Some of my rules I have set for myself, or rather for my babies, are these{in random order}...

1. No meat until after 1 year

2. No honey until after 1 year

3. Absolutely no refined/processed/sugary/artificial foods until after 1 year (not that I want them to have these things after they have hit the year mark, but if you want to make me mama bear mad, just feed my baby junk food)

4. Introduce one item at a time when starting them off

5. Don't worry too much about when they begin eating solids. As long as they are growing and happy and healthy, it doesn't matter. They don't have to start eating rice cereal at 4 months old. It is okay if they have a rather unvaried diet at 7 months (the current age of my youngest)

6. Start finger foods when you feel like it. Baby should be able to easily pick up small objects, mastered being spoon fed, and seem to be able to mash their food around in their mouth that you have spoon fed them. Also, they probably should be ready to graduate from eating solid foods just once a day.

7. Start off feeding the baby very runny foods, not too thick.

8. Use a little mini food processor or blender to easily puree cooked carrots, apples, pears, etc for homemade first foods.

9. Mix homemade pureed foods with brown rice cereal and rice milk (check ingredients on label if you buy this)

10. Start with just one meal a day.

11. Mash things like banana, sweet potato, etc. with a fork and add a little water if necessary to make it thinner. No need to cook the banana.

Here is how I like to make finger foods. First, I start with a raw fruit or vegetable like celery. (There are tons of choices available, obviously)

I wash them and cut them into very small pieces. Then I put them in a small pot to boil, like these carrots.

When the fruit or veggie is nice and soft tender, I remove it from the pot and put it in a sealable container and put it in the fridge so that it is ready when baby is. Those are apples in the picture below. To keep things simple, I cooked these items one right after the other. When I was done I had several small meals ready for my little person to eat without a lot of trouble for me to fix when he is ready to eat.

Cooked fruits & veggies are a great starter finger food--healthy, easy to fix and easy for baby to grab.

There are some things that make a decent finger food that do not need to be cooked. Some of these can be used for starter foods, others save for when they are a little older and have the hang of it and can tolerate more than one ingredient at a time. For instance...

  • banana
  • avocado (I haven't tried this yet. This is one of the few ideas I found online!)
  • very ripe peach
  • very ripe pear
  • very ripe cantaloupe
  • watermelon (no seeds)
  • whole grain breads cut in small squares (Make sure the bread has no nuts or kernels or honey. )
  • finely cut cooked pasta. rice pasta, wheat pasta, etc.
  • cereal (Check ingredient labels! You can get cereal from a health food store or farmers market that often has much better ingredients than grocery store brands. The fewer ingredients the better. Toasted oat type cereals are good since they don't have much sweetener and are easily dissolved.)
  • Homemade waffles & pancakes made with whole grains
As baby gets older, more variety can be added. Here are a few ideas for even older babies/toddlers.
  • chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • kidney, pinto, navy and other beans
  • bits of cheese
  • cooked oats
  • cooked rice globs
  • scrambled eggs
  • hard boiled eggs cut up
  • grated fruit or vegetables
Planning ahead is a key ingredient for healthy baby food. I don't usually use much ready made things for babies. But I do keep a few things on hand just in case my planning ahead has glitches!

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