It was a hilarious time for both mommy and daddy... maybe not so funny for the Muffin Baby. :P For his first venture into the world of "solid" food that is really just all mush, we are at the moment loving two very helpful resources : the book "Good Food For Kids" by Dr. Penny Stanway (author of best-selling "Breast is Best") and the website Wholesome Baby Food.com.
The Muffin Man and I knew from the beginning that we were going to make wholesome homemade baby food for the Muffin Baby, with the exception of organic baby cereals for outings and trips, for easy travel, hehe. Having recently been "converted" to being more conscious about the food we eat -- thanks to Jamie Oliver's controversial documentary "Eat To Save Your Life" -- MM and I try our best to keep our junk food and fast food intake to a minimum, and we want to do the same for MB.
We are blessed that nowadays good baby food resources are just a Google search away. "Good Food For Kids" was incredibly helpful, covering topics like introductory food stages, nutritional information, meal planning and even a chapter on what food to give (or avoid) for common ailments like food sensitivity, eczema, colds, constipation etc. as well as recipes that the whole family can enjoy and how to tailor it for under-ones.
Although we still have a lot to learn on this fun and messy adventure, here are some helpful hints we've picked up so far:
• On appetite and portion size
It's best to remember that your baby's tummy is about the size of his fist (!), so as fun as it is to spoon mush into his mouth and watch his funny expressions, it's advisable to watch closely for his cues when he's telling you he's had enough -- turning away, getting distracted and restless, or spitting food out -- so as not to override his developing ability to self-regulate his feeding. For the first couple of months, his primary nourishment will still be breastmilk/formula, and each baby will have his own unique appetite, so there really is no set-in-stone amount of how much a baby "should" be eating.
• Fat is bad... or is it?
While the common mindset is that fat is bad for everyone, good fats are vital for children under 5, because young children need more fat and fat-soluble nutrients for healthy growth and development. So unless advised by the pedia, best to avoid "low-fat" stuff or skim/half-fat milk and reserve those for your own must-lose-weight diet and let kids enjoy food rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fats, like avocado, fatty fish, vegetable oil, olive oil, butter and whole milk.
• On added sugar and salt
It's so easy to feel sorry for babies thinking that their food is so BLAND, but it's advisable to avoid sugar completely for babies up to 9 months, and salt until after their first year. If babies have too much salt their kidneys, at worst, might not be able to get rid of it and make them sick. For under-ones, avoid salty or sodium-rich food like cured or packaged meats (hotdog, bacon, etc) or ready-made meals. Too much added sugar is also not good for them or their newly-growing teeth. Avoid fruit canned with added sugar, or salted canned vegetables for under-ones. It's best to stick to natural sweetness in fruits or juice, or have them appreciate the natural taste of food, so that they don't learn to crave sweet or salty foods all the time.
• Using herbs and spices
It's actually good to introduce a wide variety of flavor to your babies using natural herbs and spices, because this will let them have a wider range of foods they are likely to find acceptable later on. As they grow older, have baby eat what the whole family is eating (tweaked if necessary) -- I mean, who wants to eat cold mush from a jar while the rest of the family is digging into a steaming casserole or cheesy lasagna dish?!
• A screwed-up face doesn't mean baby doesn't like it
One thing I always remind myself is that now that we're introducing food to MB, he's getting a taste and feel of food for the first time. He's merely getting used to the unfamiliar texture and feel of it in his mouth. We read that only after baby's had a particular food over and over again will you begin to see preferences for certain foods and dislike for others.
Another common "game" adults like to play with babies is teasing them with food they can't eat or drink yet, like maybe fizzy soda, potato chips or candy. Though it's fun to see them wide-eyed and excited trying to make a grab for it, keep in mind that babies will make a grab for anything and put it in their mouths, so you could be teasing him with a spoonful of sawdust and he'll STILL want to eat it. :P This will only annoy him...wouldn't you be? Stick to food he can eat, so he won't get frustrated or fussy.
If you have any more tips or advice for first-time feeding, do leave a comment and let us know!