Saturday, April 23, 2011

Baby Food: Finger Snacks and Chicken

April has had two teeth for a couple months now and has been trying them out on everything: toys, her clothing, our fingers. If it fits in her mouth, she’ll chew it. If it doesn’t fit in her mouth, she’ll lick it. She is a very oral baby. About two weeks ago, I decided it was time to start her on some crunchy foods so she could practice biting off pieces and chewing them.

I caught April trying her teeth on a black crayon.
The first crunchy snack we gave her were Baby Mum Mum rice rusks. I do not buy things like this; they are extremely expensive for what you get and they have added sugar. But someone gave me two boxes so I’m definitely not going to let them go to waste. April loves them! They are great because they are easy for her to hold in her little hands and they just turn to goo in her mouth after a little gumming.

I’ve tried twice now to make homemade rice rusks—both attempts were failures. I’m hoping to develop a good recipe in the next few weeks. If and when I do figure it out, I’ll definitely let you know.

Once April got the hang of the rice rusks, we started giving her Cheerios. Dry cereal is another thing I don’t usually buy, but it is great to help babies learn fine motor skills while practicing eating non-pureed food. Cheerios also have added sugar but have very little compared to most other dry cereals. Because they get soggy and dissolve to mush real easily, babies can eat them before they’ve really figured out chewing.

As a disclaimer, I must mention that babies can choke on Cheerios, just as the can choke on any small piece of food or small object. Please exercise caution when allowing your baby to feed herself any type of food. The holes in Cheerios do make them a safer choice than other shapes of cereal. If one gets lodged in the throat, it is possible for air to flow through the hole.

Since April has pretty much gone through all the basic grains, vegetables, and fruits, I started her on meat this week. Chicken is a great one to start with because it is inexpensive and easy to prepare. I used leg quarters because they were on sale, but any chicken pieces will do. If you use only breasts, you will need to add more cooking juices or water.

Don’t be afraid to feed your baby the same chicken you eat, even if it is seasoned. There is no reason to prepare plain, unseasoned meat specifically for baby as long as the seasonings are not too strong for baby’s pallet.

If your baby does not take to meat at first, try a different texture or wait a couple weeks and try again. You can also mix it into veggies she already likes.

Chicken for Baby
Cooked chicken (baked, boiled, sautéed, roasted, grilled, etc.)
Liquid (cooking juices, broth, stock, water, veggie pot liquor)

For a smoother texture, puree chicken with liquid to desired consistency. For a coarser texture, chop finely across grain with a sharp knife. Add liquid to desired consistency.

At this point, you can mix foods so baby gets a meat, a starch, and a veggie all in one meal. You can either feed them different foods separately, or you can mix chicken, rice, and green beans together to make a “casserole.”

A word of warning: meat will probably change the contents of your baby’s diapers. Don’t be alarmed if you discover her diapers are becoming more pungent.

"I didn't do anything wrong!"

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