What To Feed Your Little Ones, With Menus
As moms, we often discuss what our child eats, and how to get them to eat, but the what tends to be a struggle every day, unless you are feeding packaged food (which was so much easier when I lived in the states and last month when I traveled, but it tends to be expensive when you add up multiple meals a day.)
I also find that when my son doesn't like something I have opened, I have to throw the entire packet (for example, he won't eat anything with tomatoes in it so if the broth even smells like tomato he will spit it out. Unfortunately, Ella's kitchen doesn't have much of a market to advertise "smells like..,"). For a 15 month old, one packet is not sufficient quantity, unless it's a toddler size packet but of course my brat still prefers the 7 and 10 month recipes (and any take out I order for myself). He does prefer packaged food and takeout food to home cooked (much like his mother), but it is easier (and more affordable) to cater to his tastes when his food is freshly made. So, in India, fortunately with help, I find it a little easier to have his meals cooked, though what to cook remains the most irking question of the day.
So below, as promised in my last post on how to feed your little ones, here are some menus by age on what to feed your little ones:
(Don't ask me for recipes as I will send you google links - after the last two microwave fires I set, I do not cook anything that is meant to be edible).
Sample Menus for your babes and tots by age:
Newborn to 4 to 6 months:
Breastmilk or formula only. There's no need to add cereal into a bottle unless you're doctor told you to do so (though they would tell you to feed by spoon and not in a bottle as this is a choking hazard).
Learning to eat - 4 to 7 months:
I thoroughly enjoyed watching my son learn to eat. But keep in mind that this age is to teach your baby how to eat, and more will come out than go in.
Meals are once or twice a day, depending on how much your child likes food (after 6 months, twice a day is more necessary). Quantity can vary from 2 tablespoons upward.
First foods: each food should be introduced for 3 days at a time to ensure that your child does not have any allergies. However, after you know that your child doesn't have an allergy to say, sweet potato, you can then mix than in with a new food (just ensure that you mix in the new food for 2-3 days in a row). If your child does have a reaction it will be easy to find the offending food.
Great foods for this age (all mashed): carrots, sweet potato, avocado, are great starts. You can eventually mix in all fruits and vegetables.
In the next category, are some combinations that were a hit with my son.
Note: At this age, I mixed in oats with breakfast, multigrain with lunch and brown rice with dinner. All cereal was baby food packaged, however, you can always crush your own grain at home if you prefer.
Also, fruits and vegetables can be substituted with what is seasonally available.
It is critically important to introduce new foods at this age and as much as possible when your child is young. Kids are notorious for becoming fussy about new foods when they are marginally older.
Mastery with food - 8 to 12 months
(As I was still nursing, we had an early morning feed, one afternoon feed and a just before bed feed. The schedule is applicable for formula too.)
A sample menu is below, at 8 months, there were 3 meals with a small snack, and food was lumpy, no longer completely mashed.
Some options are:
1. Peach banana oats
2. Apple banana oats
3. Pear papaya oats
4. Custard apple
5. Watermelon banana
6. Plum pear
7. Kiwi apple
8. Prune apple
9. Grape pear
10. Boiled eggs
1. Kiwi Zucchini
2. Sweet potato beet
3. Avocado apple/banana
4. Spinach apple
5. Green beans peas and potato
6. Pumpkin white beans
7. Zucchini potato green beans
8. Baked beet and potato
9. Broccoli cauliflower
10. Cheesy broccoli
11. Pineapple cucumber avocado
12. Spinach beets potato
13. Spinach or peas with cottage cheese
14. Lentils with brown rice
15. Beans with cheese and rice
16. Spinach and cottage cheese lasagna
1. Yoghurt with cherry/mango/pear/blueberry/grape/apple or cucumber
5. Cottage cheese with fruits
6. Baked potato with cheese/ broccoli/ beans
1. Chicken sweet corn/ carrot/ sweet potato
2. Lamb with carrot pumking and brown rice
3. Ragi (wheat porridge)
4. Fish with spinach and potato
5. Lentils carrots celery tofu
6. Chicken potato lentils
7. Couscous chicken stock and grape
8. Cheesy chicken with chives and potato
9. Cream of spinach lentils
10. Mashed beef stew
11. Chicken fenugreek and cheese
Vegetarian options: cottage cheese with spinach/ peas, and lentils with different combinations of vegetables.
Food lover - 12 months and up:
I have stuck to the recipe list above but made the consistencies thicker, switched to real cereal from baby cereal, and adding some healthy cookies, toddler snacks and things that my son enjoys. Including, desserts.
We did add a morning snack (which is primarily fruit salads), and instead he has different kinds of eggs or oatmeal pancakes (with oranges, bananas or as is), for breakfast.
It is actually better to offer these on occasions under your control, than to restrict them completely because restricting it will actually make your child more curious to try these foods and may even cause him or her to hide and eat it later. So offering them under your control and in moderate proportions can help build healthier habits later.
At 12 months, you can also add salt to baby food but in small proportions. It is not really needed, but more for flavor.
Once you feel your child is ready, and the age differs here, you can offer him or her things you are eating to try, and gradually work your way up to table foods.
All photographs in this article are original and contributed by author.