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About a month ago, my then-ten-month-old son decided he was done with purees and traditional baby foods. DONE. REFUSED. Quit cold turkey. One day it was all-natural banana-orange-pineapple from a jar for breakfast, and the next his mouth was sealed against the stuff like it had been welded shut.
“Maybe he’s not hungry for breakfast,” I naively thought, stowing the untouched food in the fridge. A few very whiney hours later, we tried again at lunch. Broccoli-apple maybe? His jaw was clenched tighter than ever. I tossed a handful of cereal puffs onto his tray (which he picked up and devoured), and went to look at the contents of our fridge. We’d tried some baby-led weaning methods off and on over the past months, but ThriverBabe hadn’t been terribly interested in them. He spent more time smashing food between his fingers and dropping off the edge of his high chair than even attempting to get any into his mouth.
“Maybe he just wants something he can chew,” I thought, grabbing some turkey deli meat and cheese from the fridge drawer. He’d gotten his eighth tooth (I KNOW) just a few weeks before. I rolled up the deli meat and offered it to him, and sure enough, my kid ripped into it with his teeth—bite after bite, until he’d eaten the whole slice of turkey. The cheese went next. Then I quickly chopped and steamed some carrot sticks, and those went down, too.
And just like that, it appeared we had moved on to a new stage of eating. I tried some purees again that night at dinner and again the next morning to see if he’d just been looking for some variety, but there was no convincing him to give it another go. We’ve been solidly into solids (ha) since then.
So what do you do when your ten-to-eleven-month-old baby refuses to eat purees? What do you feed them instead? And what do you do with all the extra baby food you now have? Here’s what has worked for us!
ThriverBabe loves oatmeal and loves it now thicker and chunkier than the baby stuff. I grind my own oats, so texture is easier to control. But I don’t just serve him oatmeal… I mix some fruit/veg puree in with it for flavor and a little sweetness! Flavor, extra nutrition, and he’s none the wiser. We’ve used regular old fashioned oats and steel cut oats before (grinding them in our food processor) and had success either way. Another great mix-in: pumpkin! Look for canned pumpkin without other ingredients (this brand is my fave, and I can get it year-round at Sprouts), and add a little cinnamon. Smells just like pumpkin pie. Mmmm.
ThriverBabe is happy to eat plain, full-fat Greek yogurt (here’s my favorite brand because it’s the creamiest), but I also—you guessed it!—add baby food purees to flavor, sweeten, and add more nutrients. It has to be at least 2/3 yogurt to 1/3 puree, I’ve found, or else he won’t eat it. If your kid needs things a little sweeter, try adding a tiny bit of maple syrup. Don’t give honey—not even a small taste—to babies under age one!
Our boy loooooves scrambled eggs with cheese and a little bit of medium salsa mixed in. To be honest, I often make this for myself and just add an extra egg to the pan for him. He’s learning to eat what we eat! (Note: no history of egg allergies in our family, so we were comfortable introducing whole eggs to him. Check with your doctor!)
I wouldn’t serve him fruit alone for breakfast, but I’ve added chopped strawberries or blackberries to his cereal and yogurt before, and he’s enjoyed it. You may want to avoid strawberries before age 1 if your family has a history of allergies. You can try other fruits, too, like banana, blueberries, chopped/pealed stone fruit or apples, mango, or melon.
Lunch is the meal I’m finding it most difficult to master as it’s my least favorite meal of the day and I tend to run low on creativity because of that. However, I find that my son is usually willing to eat at least half of a piece of lunch meat as part of his lunch, so I keep my fridge stocked with nitrate-free turkey slices.
Ditto with cheese. He’ll often eat half a slice of cheese. We dig mild or medium cheddar over here. If he’s had yogurt for breakfast, we usually skip the cheese so as not to overdo it with the dairy, but that’s my choice, not his.
Kiddo sometimes eats the three above together as a little sandwich, but sometimes he likes it all deconstructed. (He sometimes eats bites of my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too. No peanut allergies anywhere in our family, but proceed with caution if you decide to try this at home!)
Sometimes you gotta crunch and make a mess, you know?
One of the things I loved about purees was the variety and availability of vegetable blends. If my baby refuses to eat purees, I wondered, how would he get the same nutritional benefits? It turns out this wasn’t something I really needed to worry too much about. My son now enjoys all of the following: STEAMED VEGGIES: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, asparagus, sugar snap peas. FRESH VEGGIES (which I hold the whole time for him and let him chew as a safety precaution): cucumber sticks, celery, tomato wedges. SAUTEED VEGGIES: mushrooms, onions, bell peppers.
I never know how to categorize avocado. Is it a fruit? A vegetable? A fat? Anyway, it’s usually its own course during the lunch hour in our house, served last because the boy-o gets a little overly-enthused about it and will neglect other important nutritional categories in favor of it. Sometimes I give him slices to pick up and eat, sometimes I scoop bits out of the peel with a spoon and feed it to him. It took him a couple of months to warm up to avocado, but as a Californian, I knew he was bound to fall in love eventually. <3
Kiddo likes something a little crunchy after his afternoon nap and before dinner, so I usually give him a teething cracker or some whole wheat gold fish crackers to munch on. He also gets a small handful of cereal puffs anytime I’m prepping food in the kitchen and he’s in his high chair. He loves these more savory kale and spinach ones best.
Fruit and Vegetable Melts
Kids love these, but there are good and bad versions of these out there. Look for varieties that contain few non-fruit/veggie/yogurt ingredients and no added sugar. We’ve been buying these guys and these guys recently.
These are my secret weapon when we need a snack on the go! Fast food places like McDonald’s and Wendy’s offer these as kids meal sides, but you can also order them separately, which is what I do.
Special Treat: Arrow Root Cookies
I grabbed these from the grocery store on a whim because I was looking for more texture and taste variety (read: didn’t want to buy another puffed snack). These cookies have one gram of sugar per serving, which seemed pretty good for a cookie to me! Our little guy always wants to eat what we’re eating, and when that happens to be, I don’t know, a brownie mom grabbed at Starbucks, I’m not into letting him just have his way. One of these cookies is a good distraction. (Side note: I just looked it up, and a Starbucks double chocolate brownie contains 30 grams of sugar blehhhhhh I need to make better choicessss.)
Chicken, Beef, Pork, or Salmon
Get some good protein in there! ThriverBabe adores chicken, but he’s also cool with carnitas, pieces of steak he can tear apart with his teeth, and flakes of salmon.
Can be a finger food if sticky enough, otherwise great with sauce/seasoning and spoon fed. You can even mix a savory baby food puree with rice and serve it that way.
I like rotini or fusilli right now, shape-wise, but farfalle and penne could probably work, too. I haven’t tried pasta stars yet, but I know some folks who swear by it. You can serve this with a sauce or puree or not. Some people like to mash an avocado with it, but that just gets too slippery for my son. He’s happy to eat his pasta with a little sauce or tossed with butter or olive oil.
See lunch ideas above, but add in cooked sweet potato, potatoes, and squash.
We’ve done chowders and chili, and he’s taken to both. Served with a piece of baguette that he can gnaw on.
Whatever We’re Eating
Really, we’ve been able to feed our son most anything we are eating for dinner. He likes being at the table with us, and he’s most interested in whatever is on our plates, forks, and spoons. We just find a way to break the meal down into appropriate pieces for him, and he’s usually a happy camper. We haven’t had to cut back on flavor, spices, or complexity of cuisine at all so far. Here’s hoping it sticks!
Back to Purees
I still buy/make purees and use them as flavoring agents and ways for my son to get more varied fruits and veggies in his diet. He’s actually started eating purees from pouches again just this last week, now that he’s learned to suck through a straw (he’s terribly proud of himself). So hold on to those extra jars and pouches, even if your baby refuses to eat purees anymore! They’re wonderfully convenient, and with a little creativity, you don’t need to throw in the towel just yet.
For more solid food ideas, I recommend checking out this list of 50 foods to feed a baby who doesn’t have teeth yet. If you’re unsure about what’s okay to feed your baby, please check with your doctor!
What foods does your baby love? Do you have any awesome lunch ideas to recommend? Let me know in the comments! And if you found this helpful, please pin the pinnable image below!
Hardcore Regretting That Starbucks Brownie,
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