Foodie Baby: Babies & Big Kids!

This post is sponsored by SpoonfulOne.

Good morning, friends!  Now that I’m starting to feel a bit better, I’m ready to think (and talk) a bit more about food again.  Food has not been my friend these last few months, but I’m happy that is slowly starting to change.  My kids have been happy to reap the benefits of my lack of appetite – many bagel breakfasts and pancake dinners.  But I like to think that on a typical day, we are lucky that they are pretty diverse and healthy eaters.

I thought it would be fun to talk a bit about what they are eating (and not eating!) these days now that they are older.  What use to be days filled with plenty of time to plan, think, and prepare for every little snack, smoothie, or meal is now a rush of breakfast on the table by 6:30am, packed lunches for school, and dinner squeezed between activities, work schedules, and early bedtime.  I’m sure so many of you can relate!

Now that we are expecting, it’s also time for me to start thinking about feeding a baby again.  I remember so SO little about the baby stuff, and I definitely don’t remember all the specifics regarding first introductions to solid food.  I know some people can’t wait, but we weren’t in a rush to start solids for either of our boys.  I never got caught up in all the labeled “feeding strategies” and things that people are into these days.  We just did a mix of soft foods, purees, and yes – canned baby food, as we introduced things bit by bit and figured it out ourselves as new parents.

OMG CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW CUTE BABY CULLEN WAS?  The bigger my boys get the more their baby pictures just kill me.  Sigh.

I remember being more freaked out than I thought I would be by introducing solids.  The gagging and choking scared me, and I worried about potential allergens or intolerances, and how to identify if there was a reaction.  Thankfully we dealt with very little of that, but the worry was always there!

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It turned out that Cullen has a random allergy to bell peppers, which we identified after a series of reactions (lots of hives and welts all over the face and mouth when exposed).  While we still avoid peppers in his food, it’s not a big deal since it’s not a super common food that we have to be really careful and diligent about.

Now that I’m thinking about feeding another baby, it’s time (well not time just yet, but soon enough) to need to brush up on all that has changed since we did this last.  Just as there are all new brands of car seats and strollers and swaddles and everything else now, in the four years since we have done the baby thing, there are also lots of new recommendations on things like when do introduce certain foods – specifically, allergens!

It is crazy how food allergies have exploded in recent years.  We have a number of friends who deal with potentially life-threatening allergies in their kids, and I’m always over the top cautious whenever I prepare food for their kiddos.  We pack all allergy-friendly lunches for the kids’ schools now, as it is something that has to be taken very seriously in the classroom too!

There is some really interesting research being done that indicates that in order to decrease the likelihood of common allergens like peanuts, parents are now being advised to introduce all these foods earlier rather than later (as previously suggested).  Although while I say “new” research because it is different from what was recommended a few years ago, I believe earlier introduction was the norm back when my mom was feeding babies!  But when I was introducing solids to my boys several years ago, the recommendation then was to wait until 9 months for eggs, after one years for nuts, etc.  But all of that is changing!

SpoonfulOne is a new product aimed at gently introducing babies’ immune systems to potentially allergenic foods and reduces food allergy risk. It was invented by a pediatrician, allergist and mother of five. SpoonfulOne is a daily food mix-in that includes very small portions of all common allergenic foods (peanut, egg, milk, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, soy, wheat, sesame), including vitamin D for immune balance. Since 77% of people with a food allergy are allergic to something other than peanut, it’s important to include diverse foods early and regularly. SpoonfulOne is made of real food – no preservatives, artificial sweeteners, flavors, or dyes. The approach is that these allergens are introduced early and often, which the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends at 4-6 months, when your baby is ready for solids – in order to consistently train their systems with the foods responsible for most food allergies.

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It’s so interesting to think about using something like this for baby #3!  Since I found introducing potential allergens to be particularly overwhelming, I imagine that using a product that combines them all very gently could ease a lot of the anxieties I felt as we sloooooowly introduced them one by one, which was the old way of thinking.  It’s such a small amount, and yet it’s an easy and convenient way to include all common allergenic foods into your everyday feeding routine.  SpoonfulOne comes in pre-portioned daily serving packets that you sprinkle and mix into your regular baby food.

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It also comes with this adorable wooden bowl and spoon set – how cute is that?  Fingers crossed that we can continue to avoid the major allergens with this new baby, but just to be on the safe side, SpoonfulOne is definitely something we will consider using when it comes time to introduce solid foods.

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It’s hard to believe we will be dusting off the old high chair again, but also really fun to imagine doing it one last time.  My approach to baby food has always been simple – basic fruits and veggies at the beginning, along with healthy fats like avocado.  I’m planning to put the big brothers on cleanup duty this time around! ;)

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Gaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Is there anything more delicious than baby pictures?  I want to eat him up!  Cannot handle it.

Obviously I did a lot of thinking (and writing!) about what the kids were eating as they evolved from babies, to toddlers, to gigantic big kids.  Here are some of the posts I’ve written as the years have gone by:

Now that the kids are older (currently 4 and 6), obviously feeding them these days is a much different picture!  Gone are the tiny bite size pieces, the purees, and the finger foods.  Now they eat what we eat, and we rarely even pull out the plastic dishes anymore.  I would consider both of them to be very good eaters all things considered.  Of course, I still wish they ate more variety and were a bit more adventurous, but I think for the most part we are lucky that they eat as well as they do.

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Our approach has always been to feed the kids the same things that we eat.  We have always made them mini versions of our meals, sometimes broken out into segmented compartments (since for some reason mixed or touching food is a cardinal sin to two year olds).  But for the most part, the food itself is the same.

One of the big things I’ve been a stickler about from day one is that I won’t make the kids separate meals – not from each other, and not from us.  That doesn’t mean I won’t offer variety and choices sometimes.  But there will be no separate cooking for noodles for one child, and rice for another, and something different for mom or dad.  Who has time for all that cooking and all those dishes!?

My other big rule is that what is served for dinner is what we are eating for dinner.  If you don’t like it, don’t eat it!  It might sound harsh, but I’ve found that kids aren’t going to starve themselves.  I think a lot of parent panic when their kids refuse to eat, and then start offering alternatives to avoid sending kids to bed hungry. While obviously I understand the thought behind that, I really don’t think a truly hungry child will refuse to eat.  I try to always make sure there is at least one thing in the dish that they should enjoy, and then something else that is a tad more adventurous.

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I’m always happy to offer to top something with cheese or salsa to make it more appealing, or to offer ketchup or something else to dip in if that is the problem.  I’m happy to be flexible, but I’m not going to bend and say “okay will you eat if I make you pasta instead?” My kids have absolutely gone to bed without eating dinner before, and all it really meant was that they were ready for a big breakfast the next morning!

Speaking of breakfast, this is actually the meal where I’m happy to offer the most variety.  All the breakfast foods are so quick and easy that I don’t mind making everyone what they prefer.  We almost always have oatmeal ready to go for Cullen, and Graham prefers yogurt and granola.  Both are quick and healthy so I’m happy to have them get their day started with a full belly of food that they enjoy.

We don’t go out to that often these days, but I do think that eating out in restaurants is actually a good way to introduce kids to a variety of foods, as well as good table manners.  Our kids tend to be a lot more adventurous in restaurants than they are at home, where the are expecting the basics.  When we go out for pizza, we all usually share one as a family, so now our kids are used to ordering mushrooms and olives on theirs too.

Dinner is probably where I push the envelope a bit that results in pickiness.  Breakfasts and lunches are really basic – mostly because they are super rushed to all get made and either eaten or packed before 7am!  I’ve written about packing school lunches before, and I continue to try to just pack a variety of favorites along with nutritious stuff that will keep them full and hopefully not bouncing off the walls.

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I’m not super into snacks and try to limit snacking as much as I can, because I think it really takes away from what’s eaten at meals, especially later in the day!  This isn’t as big of an issue anymore now that the kids have school most mornings.  It used to be that no matter where we went for our daily adventure – as soon as we got somewhere all anyone wanted to do was snack!  Eventually I started leaving the snacks behind, and the kids got used to waiting between meals.

These days I generally do one after-school snack, because they are expending so much energy at school that it seems like they really need it.  It’s simple grab and go finger food type stuff, and they usually have a plate to share in the playroom once they are back together for the day.

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So that’s a big of what and how we are feeding the kiddos these days!  And also how we are starting to think about feeding our next foodie baby.  I’m still not sure I believe it!

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What are some of your kids go-to favorites these days?  Any great simple lunchbox ideas?  I’m always happy to hear new suggestions!