What Nora Eats:
How to Make Your Own Baby Food

April 11, 2014

As you know, we have had a lot of fun feeding Nora and watching her learn to feed herself. We started out thinking we would try Baby Led Weaning exclusively and after a couple of weeks, decided, after much debate to do a combination of purees and finger foods. It has worked out really well for us and Nora seems to like it too. She is growing like a weed and loves all food and she does a great job of "chewing" and swallowing finger food safely too.

The first food Nora had was banana and it just happened! It wasn't planned at all. Just before she turned six months old, we were having supper and she was watching intently and I turned to Tom and said "should we give her something?!" The banana was sitting right there, so I peeled it and handed a chunk to her, just like that. She sucked on it and gummed it a little and ended up spitting it out and mashing it up and making a mess of it with her hands. After that, each night we gave her a little something- banana, avocado, toast, potato, steamed broccoli, sweet potato, apple, chicken, etc. Whatever we had in the fridge or what we were eating, a little of it went on her tray. She seemed to LOVE eating. We didn't abide by the rule that you have to check babies for allergies by introducing one food at a time. When we read up on this, it wasn't necessary to do unless allergy ran in the family, which it doesn't for us. She was dying to swallow and chew and SHOVE the food down her throat. She gagged several times and I ended up scooping food out of her mouth many times and my heart would skip a beat every time it happened. You can read more about this in this post.

When she eats anything slippery, like avocado or mango, I give it to her with the skin on as then she has something to hold onto. She manages quite easily to scrape the food off with her teeth and leaves the skin behind. 
After a few weeks of this, we decided to try giving her some purees too. We started with applesauce and she DOWNED a whole bowl in 2 seconds flat. After that I knew we had made the right choice to fill her up with some baby food. She was hungry! And she liked eating.

A while before Nora started eating, Mr. Tweedle picked up a book on cooking baby food at the local bookstore. It is called 500 Baby and Toddler Dishes. You can also buy it here. It is a great resource. Not that we couldn't have thought of these things on our own, but having extra ideas always helps. Babies shouldn't have salt or sugar, so feeding her a lot of our food and what we cook was a little more difficult. However, we still feed her finger foods from our plates (veggies, fruit, etc) as well as purees with every meal. I also make all of Nora's food myself, which you may think is a lot of work. It is actually really easy and I think it is fun to think of recipes and combinations of things she might like. She has had baby curry chicken (she loves it!), baby beef stew, baby goulash, tons of different fruits and veggies in different combos, baby pork roast dinner, etc.

At 8 months, a typical day of eating for Nora is as follows:

7:00 Wake and nurse 6-10 mins
8:00 Breakfast - Fruit and baby oatmeal cereal with banana or berries on the side
9-11:00 Nap, wake and nurse 6-10 mins
12-12:30 Lunch - Sweet potato puree and/or pita with hummus, slice of avocado, slice of pear, slice of cheese, etc.
1-2:30/3 Nap, wake and nurse 6-10 mins
5:00 Supper- puree with chicken or beef followed by steamed veggies and fruit to nibble on
6:45 Nurse 20-30 mins before bed at 7:15

I have Baby Mum Mum rice crackers and Cheerios on hand if I need to keep her occupied in the kitchen (she loves them both!) We also have those mesh teething bags which are kind of weird, but they work really well for babies to feed themselves small things like berries or grapes.

Here is the way I make Nora's food:

Usually on a Sunday, I will set aside a couple of hours to prep, puree and freeze Nora's food. I do about 4-6 dishes in one day and this lasts a month. 2 hours once a month isn't much in order for your baby to have homemade and preservative and chemical free food! (A couple of weeks ago when I went to Calgary I bought store bought baby food to take with us, because I thought it would be easier. I tasted it before I gave it to Nora and it tasted so badly like bland paste that I couldn't bear to feed it to her!)

All you need is a few herbs, spices, veggies, fruit and meat of your choice as well as a few casserole dishes with lids. A food processor makes it easier to mix up big batches, but you could use a blender as well.

Into each casserole dish place a mixture of meat, veggies and flavourings that go together, add about an inch of water to keep it all moist, cover and bake for about 25 mins at 375.

This one was Carrot and Chicken dinner: 1 chicken breast, 2 carrots, 1/4 onion, 1 garlic clove and a tbsp of dried parsley. 
Chicken and Turnip Dinner: 1 chicken breast, 2 turnips, 1/4 onion, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 tsp dried thyme. 
Pork, Quinoa and Apple Dinner: 3 small pork chops, trimmed of fat, 1/2 cup dry quinoa, 1 apple, 1/2 onion, 1 garlic clove and 1 tsp dried rosemary and pinch cinnamon. I added about 1-1/1/2 cups of water to this one because of the quinoa absorbing most of it. 
Curry Chicken Dinner (I only did this one on the stove because there was no more room in my oven! It could be done in the oven as well): 1 chicken breast, 1 carrot, 1/2 onion, 1 garlic clove, minced ginger, 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, pinch cinnamon. 

Once they are done baking, you don't have to let them cool at all, just dump the whole thing, liquid and all in the food processor one at a time and blend. Afterwards, I transfer them to ice cube trays and freeze them. When they are frozen, they go into ziploc bags in my kitchen freezer. I have one ziploc for fruits, one for just veggies and one for veg/meat dishes. At mealtime, Nora eats 3 cubes of whatever we decide to give her, pulled right from the freezer and reheated in the microwave.

Each of her meals is completely edible by anyone! They taste really good! 

In order to make her fruits, I either throw raw fruit into the food processor as is, or cook it down for a minute with water before blending. Right now in the freezer I have cubes of pureed raspberry and mango, cooked pears, blueberries and blackberries, cooked apple and cinnamon. 

As well as doing the meat meals I will do a couple of veggies at the same time. The veggies are really easy. For sweet potato and butternut squash, just poke holes all over each one as is and pop it in the oven for 45 mins or so. Let them cool on the counter and when cool, the peels slide off. You don't even have to use a knife! Put each veg in the food processor separately and whiz them up and transfer to ice cube trays. This week I also did roasted root veggies because I wanted to use up a bunch of things from my fridge. I chopped up beets, sweet potato, carrot and turnip and put them on a cookie sheet with a sprinkle of olive oil for about 30 mins. They went into the food processor with a little water when they were done.

Whenever possible we try to feed Nora some of the same food we eat at each meal also. She will eat her puree and then something that we are having. If we can, we cook separate bits for her. Last week Tom made burgers and set aside some of the meat before adding BBQ sauce and spices to make Nora burgers. She ate them up in no time!

A lot of the time, at lunch I just give her finger foods. Because I eat a lot of what she can have for lunch, she enjoys looking at what I have and eating the same things! Here is a typical Nora lunch: Leftover mini burger, pita wedge with homemade hummus (without salt for Nora) a cantaloupe wedge and a slice of tomato. She will eat all of this with about a 1/4 of it ending up on the floor or mushed up into bits.

I hope Nora continues to love healthy and homemade food!


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