I can not believe Otis is already 9 months!! Over the past few months, we have been experimenting with all different ways of feeding Otis. It’s a question I get often and I am excited to be sharing what we did and what we are currently doing with Otis. Keep in mind, what works for him might not work for other babies but happy to share our experience with you all. We tried a combination if a few different methods and techniques and I think it’s help to make him the happy and adventurous eater he is.
WHEN TO START SOLIDS
At our 4 month pediatrician appointment, our doctor suggested we could start introducing baby cereal or baby oatmeal. Otis head and neck strength were strong so it was a great time to introduce his first non-milk foods. Our pediatrician gave us a sample of this oatmeal single grain cereal. Each babies timeline can be different for starting solids. Ask your pediatrician what they think and always trust your mama gut.
STEP 1: BABY CEREAL
We started Otis on his first cereal at 4.5 months. We really didn’t know what to expect but we were excited to try something new with him. We first got all our supplies together for feeding.
–Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat: This seat is EPIC. We used this so much when Otis was first starting to sit up. We used it to feed him as well as a hang out chair. What I love is that it folds up flat so it’s both easy to store and to pack up in the car to bring with us anywhere.
–beaba spoon: These spoons are made of a super soft silicone so they are very gentle on Otis’ gums. We loved using these.
–copper pearl bibs: By far my favorite fabric bibs. We typically use these for drool but when Otis was eating cereal we used these. They also have the best patterns and prints.
Since I had pumped breast milk in my freezer, we used that as the liquid to mix in with the cereal. At first, we only mixed a little bit in so that the consistency was still pretty liquidy to get him acquainted with a little bit of texture in the milk. Otis was pretty into oatmeal from the start which was very exciting. Total foodie right here!! Of course a lot of it comes out of their mouth, and its messy but it’s a great way to experience these first textures. Our pediatrician recommended we try this later in the day as the drive to eat is higher so we started 1x a day in the early evening, and eventually 2x a day. We weren’t super strict with the schedule of it as some days he would be more interested than others. Each few days we would add a little bit more cereal to the mix to increase the texture. I don’t have any exact measurements as we just eyeballed it. We just continued to follow Otis’ lead as he was able to tolerate the added texture. When we felt confident in his ability to eat more textured cereal, we decided it was time to start the real fun; purees.
STEP 2: PUREE FOODS (HOME MADE, POUCHES, FOOD DELIVERY AND MORE)
We started puree foods at 5 months. After successful eating cereal for a few weeks, we decided he was ready to move on to pureed food. The supplies we used are below:
–stokke tripp trapp high chair: While this high chair is VERY pricey, I can not say enough good things about it. It very securely fit Otis from an early age. I have loved the padded insert and the adjustable foot rest is great. The whole chair is highly adjustable and I can easily take the tray off to clean it in the sink. I also love that it fits in with our home decor. That is always a huge bonus when it comes to baby gear!
–bumkins bibs: These are by far my favorite bibs. They are easy to wipe down and rinse off in the sink and you can throw them in the washing machine. With messy foods, it’s essential to have a great bib so the food is on the bib… and not the baby.
–beaba babycook baby food maker: We LOVE this kitchen tool. If you have the counter space, I highly suggest getting the dual capacity one here. If you plan on making your own baby food, I have loved using this.
–beaba silicone food cup tray: We use this silicone tray to freeze the food we make for Otis.
–beaba food storage container: We use these containers to store baby food we make for Otis but could also use it to store and tote snacks in the diaper bag.
–beaba babycook book: This book came in handy making purees for Otis. It also gave us ideas when we wanted to mix ingredients and make sure we were using the right proportions.
–instant pot: We use the instant pot all the time for our adult dinners but to make bigger batches of baby food this has been an amazing tool! Especially since it can steam and cook everything very quickly. This is great because its a tool we already had in our kitchen and are able to use it to make Otis’ foods.
–kitchenaid pro line series blender: When we use the instant pot to make Otis’ food, we use this blender to puree everything. It’s very powerful and we are able to get the texture we want very easily. It also allows us to puree warm foods that have just been cooked. This is great because its a tool we already had in our kitchen.
We decided to make our own puree since we love to cook and it was not a very difficult process at first when they aren’t eating very much to begin with. Our strategy was to try 1 food for a few days to make sure he didn’t have an allergic/adverse reaction to it and then move onto a new food. This was all info given to us from our pediatrician. We decided to start with a sweet food so our first food was sweet potato. We used the Beaba babycook which has been a great tool for purees. What makes it great is you can both steam and puree the food in one machine so it just makes your life easier. This was perfect for doing all our single food purees. We also used this book to help with our proportions and also later on when mixing different ingredients for purees. We made sure to keep the puree nice and smooth for his first experience. We started new foods at night when he would be the most hungry and tried to be consistent about doing foods 2x-3x a day. We tried a food for 1-3 days and then would move onto the next food. When making new foods, we always made sure to make extra to keep some in the fridge and to freeze some. This way, we could continue to add new foods, and keep rotating in foods he had already eaten.
As far as larger portions, when we wanted to make huge batches we used our instant pot to steam veggies and then our kitchenaid blender to puree it. If you have the time it can be a fun process to make your own foods but it takes time and work and we don’t always have that luxury. So we started to test out different premade options to see what Otis liked and to make things easier when we were out of the house or traveling for the weekend. I have to be honest that Otis has not been very picky and has eaten almost everything we have fed him. We can see things he really LOVES opposed to things he is more lukewarm about but one thing is clear: Otis LOVES to eat. Below are some brands I have loved and tried below:
–Plum Organics: Great option for on the go since it’s not-refrigerated and easy to stow in the diaper bag. I can also easily pick it up at the grocery story or at target.
–Happy Baby Organics: Great option for on the go since it’s not-refrigerated and easy to stow in the diaper bag. I can also easily pick it up at the grocery story or at target.
–Once Upon a Farm: This is a cold pressed pouch so it does have to be refrigerated but what is great is it can stay out of the fridge for up to 4 hours and you can re-refrigerate once opens for 72 hours. This was great because Otis doesn’t always finish a pouch if he is not very hungry so was nice to not waste anything.
–Tiny Human Food: This was a great option when we were starting solids. These packages are easy to use with a spoon and small portions.
–Yumi: This was one of my favorite delivers to test out more exotic flavors. Since I have alot of food allergies there are alot of things that I don’t cook and enjoy myself. So this delivery service was great to get Otis testing out more exotic fruits, grains and other items. This was also the most textured of all the premade foods we tried.
STEP 3: BABY LED WEANING
We started doing Baby Led Weaning with Otis at about 6 months. I had never heard about this method of feeding so this was new territory for all of us. Baby Led Weaning, or BLW, is a baby self feeding technique that allows babies to discover and experience food themselves. After reading about it and talking to some mom friends, I knew I would love to try a combo of doing purees and Baby Led Weaning for Otis. Otis was starting to get VERY interested in the things we were eating at the dinner table. Eyeing us down and wanting to join in on the action. Since this was a pretty foreign and scary idea for us to start, I found an amazing resource online called, Feeding Littles. It’s an online course that I bought that teaches you how to tackle BLW through a video course. This course was so amazing!! I think I watched all the videos in one day because I wanted to jump in as soon as possible. We also used this book that helped us with more visuals and ideas for foods to try based on Otis’ age etc. The course gave us the confidence to get started.
To give you an overview, you serve baby soft foods about the size and width of your pinky and allow them to pick it up and put it in their mouth. You make sure that it’s soft enough to squish with your fingers this way when they gum at the food, they are able to chew it and swallow easily while they are learning the textural differences. They have a less precise grasp on food this young so the larger strips of food make it easier for them to self feed themselves.
The scary thing about BLW is that since baby is learning, there is going to be gagging involved and there is always a risk for choking. But what is really cool is that babies have a gag reflex that is more forward in their mouth. This means when they stick that long piece of avocado in their mouth, and if they break off a pieces that too big, the gag reflex will be initiated and they will then salivate and spit the large piece back out.
The first food we introduced Otis to was avocado. I WAS SCARED SHITLESS giving him those first pieces of food. The anxiety was high but it’s truly amazing how quickly they learn. The gagging stopped relatively quickly for Otis once he got a hang of it. We did our best to make sure to be very positive, smiling and encouraging so that the food experiences were happy. We did a lot of positive encouragement and told Otis to chew as we demonstrated for him also. Never underestimate the power of a positive demeanor and attitude as it rubs off on the little ones and can affect their experience.
I will say BLW is VERY messy. You go through alot more food than they are actually eating since they are playing and experimenting with it. Alot ends up smashed in their hands, on they tray, and on the floor. But that is ok! It’s about creating a positive experience with food, and allowing them to explore it on their own terms. With a little guidance from us of course. Blake and I took a CPR course where we reviewed choking protocols as well which I hope to never have to use any of the things I learned there.
Otis has shown such interest in food and the BLW has been such a positive experience for us. We also used a fruit feeder to let him experiment with fruit when we just started BLW. It’s also around this time we introduced puff snacks and yogurt melts to Otis (linked his favorites below in the snack section). Since his grasp was getting better by the day, we introduced these melting snacks as something to give him while we prepped his food. If you try them yourself, you can see how quickly they dissolve in your mouth so these are a fun thing to try out. I keep them in our diaper bag so we always have snacks with us for our little food monster. While BLW can seem super intimidating, I am SO happy that we tried this out early as well. I really think it has alot to do with how great an eater he is now and it’s made traveling great now that he basically eats whatever we eat.
CLEAN UP TIPS
Feeding a baby is a messy process. Their hands get so dirty and sticky depending on what they are eating and it can be a real pain to get them clean. One trick I have found that gets the job done well is bringing over a little bowl of lukewarm water. I hold the bowl down with one hand (DEATH GRIP HOLD IT DOWN SO BABY DOESN’T SPILL IT) and then with my other hand I take his dirty hand and place in the water bowl and clean it. It’s pretty effective and becomes a fun little routine part of meals. I then dry his hands with a dish towel. I used to use silicone mats and bowls but the reality is that Otis finds a way to pick them up and then throw them on the ground. Hopefully I can use them when he is a little older to make clean up a little easier in the sink. So I usually just use the tray on the high chair. I usually only have to wipe it down but if hes eating something that has the potential to really stain like a red tomato sauce, I will remove the tray and wash it in the sink. My favorite bibs have also been these. They are easy to rinse off in the sink and machine washable. Which comes in handy when things get wild messy around here.
We introduced the allergens early as our pediatrician said the earlier the better. Exposure is key at an early age so we wanted to get the ball rolling on testing out different allergens. My pediatrician said the biggest things to look for were rash, including diaper rash, upset stomach, spitting up etc. We decided to start with eggs. I made an omelet and then cut the egg into strips for him so it would be easy to grab. Eggs were a BIG hit and they are so easy to make quickly in the morning. I wanted to try peanut next. We put a thin layer of peanut butter on a lightly toasted piece of toast and cut it into strips for him to try. Was the sweetest thing watching him both chew the bread and suck the peanut butter off. Otis is lucky to not have any reactions to the allergen foods so we continue to feed them to him. Again have a chat with your pediatrician on the best strategies for your baby.
INTRODUCING WATER CUP/BOTTLE
Our pediatrician recommended introducing some water once Otis started eating solids. No more than 1-2 oz of water a day. It’s mostly just to wash down food and get them acquainted with it. Luckily part of the BLW course we took included a whole section on cup training. They also have this handy blog post here. We started with this adorable mini cup to help Otis learn to take sips. We would basically show him how to do it ourselves. Then we would hold the cup and allow him to pull it towards him and take a sip for 1-2 seconds and remove the cup. We would be holding the cup the whole time. Of course he did spill alot. That was to be expected. Once he got a hang of that, we would let him try to do it himself. It’s truly shocking how quickly babies can learn these new skills.
We then wanted to teach Otis to use a straw. With this cup, we would put the straw in his mouth and gently squeeze the bottle to help show him to suck. In 2 tries he got it! We then transitioned to this straw cup that we still use today. It makes going out to restaurants great since he can get a kids cups of water.
We also recently taught him to use the miracle 360 cup. You can drink from any part of the rim of the cup by pursing your lips and sucking but it’s amazing because it doesn’t spill when dropped. Hence, the miracle.
We always offer water during meals, on a flight, or on super hot days when he might need some more hydration. Below are all the tools we used for this:
Ezpz tiny cup: This cup is great because it’s nice and small and easy for baby to grip and its weighted.
Straw training cup (talktools honey bear drinking cup): It’s a little pricey for something I only used 2x but in my opinion it’s so worth it since it taught Otis how to use a straw so quickly.
Take & Toss Spill-proof Straw Cup: These are super affordable and dishwasher safe
Munchkin Miracle 360 Cup: This cup is epic. Doesn’t spill when tipped over.
A few of Otis’ fav snacks to enjoy at meals or between meals.
–Happy Puffs: These are a staple in our house. I always have more than 1 container as backup. I have also been using this snack container to let Otis serve himself and make him work a little harder.
It might seem daunting to feed a baby while you are out to a restaurant but it’s actually pretty easy. On the go when we first started puree food it was easy to heat the food up and pack it in a little container with us. Once we discovered pouches, we would bring them with a spoon and bib to the restaurant and it was pretty easy to spoon feed him at the table. Otis has always been on the smaller size for height and weight so when first going out to eat, we would bring our own travel highchair. This highchair was great because you can easily attach it to any table top and it straps him in really securely. We even use this one if we go to a friends house and currently have it attached to our kitchen island as another seat for him if we are cooking etc.
Once he started self feeding, he was also bigger and was able to finally sit in a restaurant high chair. Such a game changer to either share our meal or order some food for him. We either feed him from our own meals, order kids meals, or order sides that we know he would like. Since we did the cup training we also order him a cup of water with a straw for the table as well. I make sure to carry wipes with me in the diaper bag so I can easy wipe Otis’ face and hands if he makes a mess.
Hope you guys love this post! If I think of anything else to add I will be sure to update the original post in the future. If you have any additional questions on what we did with Otis, I am happy to share if you leave me a question in the comments below.