May 10, 2013

Feeding Lola

I've had a few people ask for food ideas for their babies lately. And lord knows I'm always looking for ideas (so please share!). So, I thought I'd share where we're at and what's working for us.

I'll preface this all by saying, this is what we've been doing since 9 months. Until that point, solids were a major struggle. Lola was picking at purees but was very inconsistent and generally eating very little of them. After her 9 month appointment, when we were given the almost all-clear (still no shellfish, nuts, honey) on table foods and we started giving her more "real people food," life changed around here big time. Guess she just wasn't into baby food. She now happily eats what we eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (most of the time).

This is what's working:

Meal planning: I spend Friday nights mapping out each meal for the next week. It gets written down and put on the fridge. This way, I know Lola is getting a balanced diet (as are Zach and I!), we have what we need in the house to make the stuff, and I don't get woken up on my days to sleep in by someone asking me, "What's Lola eating for breakfast??"

Making things ahead of time: I know this won't be popular with everyone, but once in a while, I'll spend a night after dinner making foods for lunches or breakfasts because we get sick of quesadillas, grilled cheese, and pancakes. If I'm going to carve out time to make something during the evening for a breakfast or lunch, I make sure it's gonna last for multiple meals.

Adding, adding, adding: I'm always adding as much nutritious stuff as I can into things. It's surprisingly easy, and it's a good way to use up leftovers. I throw in handfuls of oats and lots of diced fruit into pancakes, swap in whole wheat flour for half of the flour in recipes, add shredded veggies and cheese to scrambled eggs, tuck bell peppers into quesadillas, add tablespoons of wheat germ to spinach ricotta bites, and smear smashed fruit onto pancakes and waffles.

Arsenals of frozen fruits and veggies: I have never been huge on frozen produce--until now. Now I keep a ton of it on hand. It doesn't go bad quickly, and I can keep a good variety of stuff around for Lola that might not be in season otherwise. It's an easy go-to when I realize I forgot to make a side with dinner or if I'm trying to get an extra serving of fruits and veggies into her at lunch.

Waste no more: I try not to throw anything away anymore and save it for us to eat later instead. I used to be the person that would make batter for pancakes, make what we ate for breakfast, and toss the rest of the batter. But now, I make all of the pancakes, and freeze what we don't eat. Saves time and $. I always save what we don't eat for dinner, even the last few veggies because they end up coming in handy for lunch the next day.

Division of responsibility: I've had multiple people steer me towards Ellyn Satter's books when I've had feeding questions. Her approach is that the parent is responsible for establishing mealtime and the foods that are offered. The baby is responsible for what gets eaten and how much gets eaten. Now, this all sounds great when your kid eats well. It gets a little scary for me when Lola goes through a few days when all she eats is protein (the kid LOVES any kind of protein). But for the most part, I try to adhere to this, and she seems to generally eat a well-balanced diet. We started getting into a bad habit of me scurrying around offering up all sorts of things at breakfast and lunch until Lola would eat something, but I have stopped doing that. Now, I offer a few things to her (that I'm also eating). I try to make sure there is at least something she likes in the mix. If she eats, great. If she doesn't, I try not to stress (and hope that she'll eat more at the next meal).

Breakfast foods that Lola likes: scrambled eggs with herbs or shredded veggies and cheese, sausage and veggie egg bake with sweet potato crust, baked oatmeal with bananas and blueberries, frozen whole grain waffles smeared with smashed fruit, whole wheat pancakes with diced fruit, Parsnip Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling (Weelicious), yogurt, ricotta with pureed fruit on top, frozen wild blueberries, frozen cherries, banana spears.

Lunch foods that Lola likes: Brown Rice and Veggie Casserole (Weelicious), open-faced quesadillas on whole wheat tortillas, smashed down grilled cheese sandwiches on whole wheat bread, Spinach Ricotta Bites (Weelicious), Clancey's shaved roast turkey, avocado spears, orange slices, watermelon, diced cheese, shredded cheese, black beans, diced tofu, whatever we had for dinner the night before.

Dinner foods that Lola likes: Chicken Tikka Masala (Bon Appetit), Ina Garten's Weeknight Bolognese, quiche, peas, green beans, sweet potatoes mashed with coconut milk and cinnamon, brown rice with shredded cheese mixed in to help it stick together, cheesy mini meatloaves, homemade mac and cheese, homemade fish sticks (suprisingly quick to make), carnitas, taco meat with pintos mixed in, pizza, hummus and ground lamb with naan.

Books: When I'm stuck, I page through Weelicious. I feel like the recipes are dumbed down a bit to "kid food" but when I get low on ideas, I look through there. There have been some winners and her stuff tends to be nutritious. Her stuff usually needs additional seasoning and substitutes for icky stuff like garlic powder and onion powder. Tyler Florence's Fresh Start is better and feels more like food that the whole family will really like; it's not so kid food-ish. Pioneer Woman's stuff is generally pretty family-friendly if you watch the spice level. I liked the Williams-Sonoma baby cookbooks when Lola was just starting out on solids. Ellyn Satter is a good resource for feeding issues and approaches. She had a lot of great tips in her book that I think are not necessarily obvious (i.e. not praising baby / tot for eating b/c they may keep eating just to get a reaction...things like that).

That's what works for us. This is what's a struggle:

Fruit: I have a hard time getting Lola to eat fruit in diced or spear form despite offering it to her with almost every meal and trying every single fruit I can get my hands on. There have been some exceptions (like the frozen blueberries, frozen cherries, bananas, watermelon, pears), but she's not consistent about those either. And even though she LOVES yogurt, she won't eat smoothies! So, for now, I buy all sorts of applesauce (the good stuff with no added sugar)...peach applesauce, apricot applesauce, strawberry applesauce, and also have been resorting to giving her a couple pouches of fruit a week. And I dice it up and put it in everything I can think of. I still offer fruit in regular form because I don't want the dear girl to be eating fruit pouches when she's going off to college, but for now, these sneakier approaches allow me to sleep at night.

The mess: I struggle with this. Lola is a great self-feeder. But man, when she self-feeds yogurt and applesauce, it makes a flipping mess. I hate cleaning out bib pockets (gross). I find myself stifling sighs when she drops stuff on the floor that I just mopped. And she is constantly testing us by throwing her food. But I keep telling myself these are good problems to have. My girl is eating.

So, there it is. Nothing earth-shattering. But, hopefully an idea or two for my mama friends.


  1. Great post. We're feeding Esther a lot of the same things Lola is eating. My big concern has also been whether Esther is ingesting enough food because so much of it ends up on the floor! I loved this post and love your baby meal updates on twitter. Great inspiration.

  2. She's a doll! I struggle with the mess of eating too! Oh and I have a boy and for some reason I think it's in their DNA to be SUPER messy. ALL THE TIME!!! We never leave a meal without food in our hair and all over our body. I thought it would get better with age and it has to a certain extent but he's two! Come on son get it together! Ha! My son goes through stages where he'll refuse certain foods then suddenly like them again. I try to vary his food quite a bit so he doesn't get tired of it. I sneak veggies in where I can as they are one of his least favorite foods. I've also started putting hummus, Parmesan cheese, goat cheese and sometimes a healthy ranch dressing on his vegetables and this seems to do the trick :-) Love your blog!

  3. That picture is adorable!! She looks so happy and content :) I agree with you; I've never been big on frozen produce until I had Hailey. It's great to have frozen, organic fruits and veggies always at the ready. Thanks for linking up!