As a bit of a foodie/health-nut, I was both nervous and excited to introduce our baby to solid food. To calm my nerves, I requested a review copy of The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers so that I would feel more prepared. I received the book via Blogging for Books for free in exchange for my opinion. Below, I share my thoughts on the book and also our experiences with food so far.
About the Book
I was just expecting the book to cover solid food, so when I received the book I was pleasantly surprised to see that it also gives in-depth guidance for breast milk and formula starting at birth. Reading the book’s newborn section only made me wish I’d had it sooner – figuring out how much to feed our baby was really stressful for us and not nearly as intuitive as we expected it to be. At less than a month old, our baby was not gaining enough weight… Then by two-months old we had a problem with reflux that our pediatrician told us was likely due to over-feeding! The book has nice simple charts by age of how much and how often is appropriate for feedings that might have helped to keep us on track.
The book is divided into chapters by age group – 5 periods from newborn to the early toddler years. Each chapter contains nutritional guidelines for its stage as well as common concerns in an FAQ-style format. I really liked that there were also a good amount of charts and tables to help me digest the information. I dog-eared the pages for some of the charts that I regularly reference – how much formula/breast-milk to feed in a day by month of age, which age grains/nuts/seeds/tofu/beans/etc can be introduced, and how long various types of purees can be refrigerated or frozen for.
I also liked that each chapter ends with a few recipes. The recipe selection is not comprehensive by any means, but gives great ideas for age-appropriate recipes and preparation techniques. I’ve already made 2 huge batches of the prune puree recipe. It’s a favorite in our house and helps baby’s tummy handle foods that otherwise gave her discomfort (bananas, apples) and we use it as a mixer to get her to eat some foods she did not like (oatmeal).
I felt that the book’s advice was both useful and practical, for example, that Store-Brand formulas are fine to use – they meet the same FDA and AAP guidelines as the more expensive brands (p.22). Also, that it is NOT necessary to sterilize bottles after every use (though they should be sterilized per the manufacturer’s instructions prior to use) (p. 33).
It also covered topics I didn’t know that I needed to know… like considerations for high-nitrate foods (p. 73), which led us to wait a few extra weeks before introducing vegetables grown in soil like root vegetables & greens.
As a vegetarian blog, I should mention that this book does include meat, dairy, and egg information and recipe…and also that it does include several vegetarian recipes including one with tofu!. The book takes the stance that vegetarian diets can be a healthy option for young children but for vegan children does “highly advise” reviewing your child’s diet with a pediatrician and a registered dietitian to ensure the child is getting the right nutrients. I found the book’s advice to be relevant for vegan & vegetarian children too, but as stated above, for a vegan diet the book alone would not be sufficient.
Overall, I would recommend this book to new parents like me. While it’s not the only resource I use, it’s one that I regularly consult. It’s given me ideas of topics to ask my pediatrician more about, and is a book that I’ve been regularly consulting over the past several months.
Our Real-Life experiences
I certainly can’t say I’m a pro at feeding our baby. There were countless times I made her gag with a puree that needed to be thinned out more, and one time she threw up because I let her eat too many carrots in one sitting. But overall, we’re feeling pretty comfortable with foods now (we even bravely gave her a taste of Peanut Butter the other day…mixed into some pear oatmeal) and she’s tried a good variety of foods and combinations.
We started her early on food, giving her small amounts of puree at 1 “meal” per day when she was 4 months old. We waited until almost 6 months to increase to 2 “meals” per day, and are planning to go up to 3 “meals per day” at 7 months.
I make a lot of my own purees, but do use some store-bought ones too. For store-bought purees, I read the labels really closely to find ones with the ingredients I cook with at home, like this one that is just Butternut Squash, Water, and Cinnamon.
For homemade purees, I’m now confident enough that I can “cook” without a recipe – it’s basically just cooking a fruit or veggie till tender, then pureeing it with a good amount of liquid. For pureeing, I’ve learned to either use my Vitamix or to let my food processor run for a REALLY LONG TIME. If a puree isn’t silky smooth, she gags on the texture. We freeze the purees in covered ice cube trays and then I thaw a few cubes in the fridge the night before I plan to use them. I generally make single ingredient purees that I will stir together in different combinations when I thaw them, still introducing one new ingredient every few days. Some of our favorite combos so far are:
- sweet potato + mango + a sprinkle of powdered ginger
- blueberries with cinnamon + mango + oatmeal/milk
- strawberry + apple + rice cereal/milk (like a strawberry milkshake!)
- sweet corn + rice cereal/milk (corn puddin’)
Some of our must-haves for feeding so far are:
- Covered Ice Cube Trays, though I haven’t found a set I *love* yet.
- Painters Tape & Sharpie Markers for labeling all of our frozen goodies.
- Small Glass Jars – we save & reuse jars whenever we empty a “good” sized one from another grocery product…like thai red curry paste!
- These Mesh Feeder Bags come in super handy when I don’t have time to puree, or just for a fun change.
- We use these IKEA smock bibs – we rinse & hang dry after each use, then wash them every few days.
- And we use the Graco Blossom high chair and would recommend it.
We’re really enjoying this phase and having fun introducing her to new flavors. It’s hard to believe finger foods are just around the corner now!
I’d love to hear from you!
What are your favorite items, foods, or tips for feeding babies?
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review and some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links, however all opinions are my own.