Meal planning can seem overwhelming for most, but spending a few hours 1 day a week can save you a lot of time crunching stress, or even help when something throws your routine off and you need to improvise. Not to mention, the health benefits will add up!
We have put together a lot of great details for you to prepare baby and toddler meals easily, with incredible ingredients. We also threw in some recipes for baby, toddler, and the family. With all of these, you can customize them to have something different for several meals. Get creative!
Let’s start with first getting baby acquainted with different foods.
How do you know baby is ready to eat solids? Personally, I did not start my baby on puréed foods until he was 8 months. Some water at 7 months. I think 6 months is too early for the digestive system, and as long as baby is getting enough nutrients through nursing or formula, hold off a tad longer. Also, skip the rice cereal. It’s a filler with very little nutrients, if any.
Signs baby is ready to start puréed foods:
- Able to sit up without support.
- Shows interest in food. Babies grab and want everything you have. Interest in food is different than interest in what you have. Watch your baby and learn the difference. Try presenting when you are not eating yourself so you can pay attention to the cues baby will know what to do with the food. Once interested, eat with baby so they can learn by watching as well.
- Leans in for food.
- Exhibits diminished tongue-thrust reflex. This enables a baby to actually swallow food, rather than push it out with the tongue.
If you’re not seeing these signs yet, don’t sweat it; baby will let you know when it’s time.
Also, the key to introducing food, and to find food sensitivities is to eat the same thing for 3 days before giving another option. This is important for thinks like avocados, eggs, or coconut or nut butters where there might be a food allergy.
Foods to avoid in the first year:
- Cows milk (I’d push this to 2 years. This includes yogurt.)
- Fish high in mercury (tuna, king mackerel, swordfish, and shark)
- Choking hazards (grapes, blueberries, frozen fruit, tough meats, bones (in fish and poultry), hot dogs, tough skins (like potato and eggplant skins), popcorn, small seeds, hard nuts, raisins, and lettuce/kale)
Refined sugars “sugar” in the ingredients – always check
Textures and portions throughout the stages
Stage 1: 7-8 months
Texture: smooth, watery, and thin.
Portion size: 1 teaspoon up to about 2 tablespoons
Stage 2: 8 to 9 months
Texture: still primarily smooth as new flavors are combined; offer thicker purées by month 9
Portion size: ¼ cup to ½ cup per feeding, with 2-3 feedings per day
Stage 3: 10-12 month
Texture: chunky purées, whether blended or mashed with a fork, as well as finely chopped foods.
Portion size: ¼ cup to ½ cup per feeding, with 3 feedings a day, plus a snack (such as banana slices, black beans, or avocado bites)
Ages 1-2 is just as important to monitor what your child eats and moderate the food groups to keep a well balanced diet, high in good fats and proteins. Good fats aid in brain development, but also help with absorption of key vitamins. Good fats like olive oil, coconut butter or oil, avocado and its oil. Again, no sugar, other than from fruit. One tip to limit sugar: DO NOT BRING IT INTO YOUR HOME! Problem solved before it starts. READ THE INGREDIENT LABELS! Cane sugar is okay, coconut sugar is better, sugar from fruit content is best. Just ‘sugar’, no.