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Eat Well, Spend Less: What Goes on this Real Food Baby’s High Chair Tray?

first foods for the real food baby

You know that meme about how parents’ treatment of pacifiers changes as they have more kids, from sterilizing the thing every time it touches anything but baby lips to grabbing it from under a church pew and poking it back into baby’s mouth?

That’s totally me, minus the pacifier.

With my first child, I read every book there was about breastfeeding, baby development, and feeding that baby. I knew at each month if he was ahead or behind the milestones and what foods he should or shouldn’t be eating. It was from one of these books that I was inspired to make homemade yogurt for the first time, and now I’m practically famous for pushing it on everyone who will listen. Winking smile

I wrote down everything he ate practically to the teaspoon, and if I could find the right box to unpack, I know I still have that notebook.

First food? Rice cereal.

Second? Peaches, made into baby food in August (when they’re in season in Michigan) by the dutiful mother whose baby was only four months. Baby food was supposed to have a freezer life of about two months, so it had to be served right away when he was six months!

first foods for the real food baby

I was such a rule follower that I remember just about hyperventilating when I realized that I had allowed my 8-or-9-month-old to sip from my straw at a restaurant, and good Heavens! There was lemon squeezed into the water! Babies are NOT supposed to have citrus until a year!

Now Jonathan has already had homemade guacamole between six and seven months, complete with the lime juice. I hope he survives.

Changes from One Child to the Next

first foods for the real food baby

I hope you know by now that I just make things up as I go along a lot nowadays.

I’m really stumbling through starting solids with Jonathan, reading a bit here and there but certainly not following “the books” like I used to, for lots of reasons. The poor child has no notebook of first foods (nor a baby book or calendar to record his life’s milestones…but he’s a star here at KS!). I think he’ll probably be scarred as an adult, and his future wife might hate me if she doesn’t get to read about his culinary delights from age six months to one year like Paul’s wife will.

Paul and Leah both began life with rice cereal, and I made baby food “cubes” for both by pureeing fruits and vegetables and freezing them in ice cube trays. I’m guessing Leah had a lot fewer simply because I was busier with parenting two kids.

I made quite a few “super baby porridges” for Paul, from the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. They’re made of whole grains and legumes in a 2:1 ratio, ground in the blender and cooked with milk or water. It’s a decent book, but that was a lot of unsoaked grain going on for a little gut. I realized when I got more into cooking with dry beans that because I was grinding the legumes dry, I didn’t even rinse them! Gah!

I made “baby pancakes” with the boxed cereal and even a sample can of formula that I figured I should use up since it was there. (My hair stands on end as I type that.) He did stay free from sugary treats for his first year and got indoctrinated into plain, unsweetened yogurt starting at about 9 months, homemade, with whole milk. Some of the produce I used was organic, but much of it was not, and the meat, milk and eggs in our house were all conventionally grown.

He ate dozens of boxes of “Os” as snacks, which obviously have some sugar in them, so he wasn’t completely sugar-free for the first 12 months. I didn’t even think like that, just that these were whole grain, low sugar, and much better and cheaper than the Gerber “puffs” that others were using for on-the-go snacks.

I was proud of my healthy boy, eating lots of whole grains, varied vegetables including green things, and all that yogurt. I can picture the nasty-looking mixture of a cube of pureed chicken, one of sweet potato, and one of spinach. He’d lap it right up, and I was so impressed!

By the time Leah came along and was ready for food, I was just starting to read Nourishing Traditions, so she had far, far less boxed cereal (maybe only 2-3 boxes total? I think I remember throwing some partial boxes away once she was too old anyway…) and tried things like egg yolk much earlier than Paul (she hated it hard-boiled, for the record). Her cubes were made in the same way but heated in a toaster oven or over the stove rather than in a microwave, and she was exposed to far less plastic than her older brother.

She, too, was raised on plain yogurt, and we were starting raw milk and getting better eggs by the time she was about 9 months old, and grassfed meat began at least partially around her first birthday. She didn’t get candy until 18 months at Halloween, but that was all downhill from there.

RELATED: Do you have to love cooking to eat real food?

Who Holds the Spoon?

first foods for the real food baby

I don’t really love the “weaning” part of the phrase, because even though, yes, any food other than breastmilk begins the weaning process, feeding solids is much less about stopping breastfeeding than the name would imply. Let’s call it “baby led feeding” or perhaps “Mommy doesn’t have to work so hard.”

The idea is that babies should learn to feed themselves from an early age, and if that means delaying food longer than six months, it’s okay. They should be ready to eat even chunks of soft foods and start scraping at them on the tray with their developing pincer grasp. The whole food experience is “baby-led” not parent driven.

John loves to hold his own spoon.

first foods for the real food baby

With my spoon-fed babies, I remember countless choruses of “Open wide! Ahhhhhh….” and swooping spoons with airplane noises and trying to get the child to finish X amount of food. I scraped a lot of chins and reheated dozens of baby food “ice cubes” for my tots. And the high chair tray was still a mess more often than not.

This time around, I’m perfectly happy for John to start food slowly, to eat one meal a day for quite some time, and to pick at our table food rather than need his own few hours of preparation each week. Have you seen how many things I make homemade already? I spend plenty of time in the kitchen without making extra baby food, too.

When I want to make sure he at least tastes the food and doesn’t solely play with it, I’ve just put a bit on my own fingertip. The feel of my finger is very familiar, and I still can sometimes let him be “in charge” as he’ll grab my hand and “feed himself” with my finger as the spoon. I’m careful to respect that if he turns his head or makes a negative noise, I stop trying to put something into his mouth.

I’m hoping that this more relaxed attitude will result in a healthy eater who understands when he is hungry and full and enjoys a variety of foods and spices.

The One Goal I Set For Feeding My Baby

Before John was born, many people asked me questions about feeding babies but with the history I just detailed for you, I really didn’t know what I was going to do myself.

The only thing I felt certain of was that I wanted him to have no grains until at least a year, and no gluten for some time after that. I hadn’t a clue how to go about that, but because of a clear gluten sensitivity in my husband and the fact that humans don’t really produce the enzyme needed to digest grains until a year and not in full capacity until the 24-month molars come in, I was determined like a mama bear to try.

This meant I was NOT starting with rice cereal; therefore I was taking quite a departure from the other children.

Here’s what John has been eating so far:

Real Foods for Baby’s First Foods

first foods for the real food baby

Why These Real Foods?

The first stipulation for all foods for baby is the one Leah likes to talk about all the time: mushy foods. It really does have to be soft enough for baby to enjoy gumming it, although not necessarily as liquidy as commercial baby food.


High in healthy monounsaturated fat, mushy, and easy to serve, avocados have been a huge hit with John. I always knew they were a good first food, but if they weren’t in a season where they’re on sale for a buck or less often, I don’t know if I’d stock them too regularly. $1.99 each is a bit steep, or at least it feels that way to old frugal me.

Sometimes I make the whole thing into guacamole before I remember to pull some out for the baby, so yes, he has had it fully seasoned and with lime juice. We need to start training his tastebuds early to like the spicy food we like! Winking smile

Chicken stock

Rich in nutrients beyond belief, chicken stock from well-raised animals is an excellent first food. It’s easy to eat for baby and should be part of everyone’s daily or weekly eating regimen. Sadly, we haven’t had as much stock around lately in my meal planning, for whatever reason. (I’m still poking along on paper, but every time I can’t find my recipe at 4:30 or whatever, I think, “You fool, if you would just get going on Plan to Eat, you would have collected your recipes when you planned this meal!”)

He does make a funny face with the chicken stock, but he’ll accept a few more bites. 

We allow our kids to play with toys in the high chair as soon as they can sit in it. This allows them to be included in family table time and get used to sitting during a meal.


Banana is such an easy fruit to serve, and it’s high in amylase, an enzyme key to digestion. It should help the baby digest itself so seems to be a better choice than apples or pears or whatnot. I’ve read since we started that uncooked fruits (and maybe fruits in general?) are not even recommended this early, but because of the amylase, I’m not going to stress out too much.

Egg yolk

first foods for the real food baby

Egg yolks have a nutritional profile that could be a cousin to breastmilk, including high cholesterol and healthy brain fats. They’re recommended by the Weston A. Price Foundation as the very first food for infants, as early as 4 months. A caveat is that I would only use pastured eggs for this purpose, especially since they’re only lightly cooked, ideally – also it seems silly to serve a tiny baby hormones and antibiotics from conventional eggs. Here’s how to choose the healthiest eggs for your family.

The WAPF suggests a soft-boiled egg to retain enzymes in the yolk. That’s right – not exactly raw eggs, but not fully cooked yolks to be sure.

To serve egg yolk to a baby, we’ve tried a couple options:

  • Separate the yolk from the white and scramble it lightly, just enough to be warm but not totally solidly cooked. I will do it this way at times when we’re eating eggs anyway as a family, because the pan is already dirty.
  • Cook a soft fried egg and feed the baby with a spoon from the very center. An adult can eat the rest along with at least one other egg with the yolk.
  • Soft boil the eggs. When I’m hard boiling eggs for the week to have egg salad on hand for lunches, I bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat. After 3 minutes, I pull out one egg and immediately run it under cold water. I use a butter knife to chop off the top and scoop out the yolk with a demitasse spoon and add a bit of Real Salt for minerals. I will keep leftovers in the fridge for just a day or two.

And what a mess it makes! John loved getting the whole bowl to himself (with constant supervision). He’s saying, “I think I can fit this whole thing in my mouth!”

Sweet potato

I’m a big fan of vegetables, and sweet potato is a nice, easy, soft one that’s also got plenty of vitamins. Serve with real butter for proper absorption of those fat soluble vitamins.

I have since read (in a book that’s now off the market) that the starches in sweet potatoes are difficult for baby to digest and create a good environment for bad bacteria, but that squash would be a better substitute. I made some grain-free Paleo pancakes this morning with squash that I froze in the fall, so John can have some proper vegetable later today! heather also says that veggies should be cooked very well, preferably in broth to break down the hard-to-digest parts and increase nutrient density. That would bring me back to making baby food cubes instead of letting John eat what the family is eating, which doesn’t quite appeal to me as much. I’ll have to ponder it…but at least I can plan to make chicken rice soup soon and feed him the carrots from it…


My pediatrician concurs that until at least 8-10 months, the eating experience is really just that: focused on experiencing food and textures, and not really for nourishment. Baby still gets everything he needs from mother’s breast milk, with one exception. Iron stores are pretty depleted by six months, which is one reason rice cereal, fortified with iron, is recommended as a first food.

Since we’re not going there, ever, our doctor highly recommended that I incorporate red meat as early as I could for the iron. I pulled some slow-cooked roast out before I used it in beef stroganoff for the family and have been mashing it with my fingernail with a bit of water…but he struggles with the texture nonetheless. I might try making some food cubes, pureeing it well with some broth, instead.

There is also some iron in egg yolks, and legumes are a source as well, but beans should probably wait until about 9-10 months at least. I need to look into the research on legumes and digestibility a little more before we offer them to John – they make such great finger foods once the pincer grasp develops that I hate to lose them.

Kate Tietje’s new Breast to Bib discusses the grains/legumes issue, sharing that the enzyme needed to digest this entire food group properly is not in full production until between 24-30 months (when the two-year molars come in). I’m bummed, because frozen peas were one of my fallback high chair tray foods for both my other kids…

The Weston A. Price Foundation also recommends servings of liver for the very young infant, grating it raw over the egg yolk (only if it’s pastured and grassfed, and only once frozen 14 days minimum to kill bacteria). I bought some, and it’s waiting for me to just do it… Liver is high in iron and also B vitamins and good fats. I also have some desiccated liver powder (use the coupon KS10 for 10% off!), and I’m wondering whether that would go down easier mixed into the egg yolk or even orange mushy vegetable.

Grass Fed Liver Chunks

Sharing with mom

I’m freaking out a little less with this baby about writing everything down and waiting three days or more between whiffs of a new food. If Jonathan wants to suck on my apple, I’ve let him, watching carefully that he doesn’t get a huge chunk. I’ll hand him a carrot stick to gnaw on when he’s in the Ergo and I’m cutting veggies for dinner, and he thought the cantaloupe I let him lick was the cat’s meow.

Here’s more helpful ideas from my friend Emily McClements:

After my son, Brenden, was born, we were happily nursing right along and I actually dreaded the day that he would start solids. I wanted to hold it off as long as possible. I didn’t want to resort to conventional baby food, but I really didn’t know when I was going to find the time to batch prepare homemade baby food for him, like I had with my daughter. I was already trying to cook more from scratch then I ever had before, and spending more than my share of time in the kitchen. I also didn’t want to give up the freedom of eating my meals with my family by having to sit and spoon feed him at every meal.

baby eating first foodsBrenden’s 6 month birthday was fast approaching and we knew that he was ready to start trying to eat, because he would let us know at every meal that he wanted some of what we were having.

I had read a little bit online about an approach called Baby Led Weaning, or Baby Led Solids, but didn’t know enough about it to really feel comfortable with feeding him in that way.

So, we bought a box of rice cereal (which I would no longer recommend now knowing what I know) and started giving him mashed bananas, avocado, or rice cereal at our meals with us.

Real Baby Food

I did buy a few mesh feeders and started giving Brenden real baby food. He had different fruits, bananas, apples, pears, in them for him to feed and explore himself. He LOVED it. He couldn’t get enough. He would eat what was in the feeder and want more.

He loved being in control of what he was eating, and I loved that I didn’t have to sit and feed him, that I could either sit him in his high chair while doing other work in the kitchen and he was happily engaged in eating, or I could sit at the dinner table with my family and eat while he fed himself with the feeder. I decided I really needed to look more into this different method of feeding real baby foods that are solids foods that I had read about.

I bought the books Baby Led Weaning and Real Food for Mother and Baby, and before I was even half way through either of them, we started feeding Brenden this way.

We would simply give him pieces of whatever we were eating that he could have – veggies, meat, fruit, cheese. Again, he LOVED it, and he became the happiest, most content little eater I have ever seen with real baby food. He loved to sit in his high chair and eat. He loved to explore the foods, tasting and feeling them, testing them out. He tried every different type of food that we gave him, and rarely, if ever, rejected eating first food, baby eating corn My hubby was definitely wary at first because he is very afraid of babies and children choking. He was pretty resistant because he thought that Brenden would choke. What we learned though, is that babies have a very good, innate, gag reflex that pushes food from the back of their mouth to the front so they can continue to chew and eat it until they are ready to swallow. The gagging noise sounds like they are choking, but if you watch their mouths, the food is actually not very far back on their tongues, the younger the baby the farther forward in their mouth the gag reflex is triggered.

Feeding Real Baby Food

After they gag they just keep on eating happily, without any signs of distress, almost as if it never happened. Slowly, as my hubby saw the advantages to feeding our son this way, and that he really would be okay and not choke, he got on board with the idea and we have been feeding our son, who is now14 months old, in this way exclusively (in addition to nursing) since he was about 8 month old.

When Does Baby Start Eating Real Food?

Wait until baby is ready

When can babies eat real food? You are their parent and you know best, but don’t try to force a baby to eat just because they are a certain age. They should be able to sit up well on their own. They may have some teeth, or none at all. When we started this method of feeding, Brenden only had 2 teeth on the bottom, and he now only has 6, 4 on the top and 2 on the bottom, and no molars, but he chews and eats pretty much any food just like he has a mouth full of teeth.

Give baby some pieces of real food, and let them go at it

They can explore, touch, play with, and maybe even eat some of the food. A good bib is definitely necessary, or eating without a shirt is a great option too. It can definitely be messy, but you know, I found spoon feeding baby food to be pretty messy sometimes too, so I’m not sure it’s any worse.

Offer lots of different types of food

And let baby decide what he likes and wants to eat. We were surprised that our son loved meat, and would sometimes eat that exclusively at a meal. Also offer foods with different spices and flavors, no need to serve bland baby food, babies want their food to taste good too!

The emphasis remains on breastfeeding

Continue to nursing your baby often when you are beginning to feed them solid foods. While baby is exploring food and learning to feed themselves, you can relax in knowing that they are still getting all of the nutrition they need through breast milk. I still nurse my 14 month old son a few times per day because the benefits of breastfeeding are just that important to me.

Advantages of Feeding Baby Real Food

Baby eats what you’re eating

No spending extra time preparing special baby foods and meals for baby. This is probably my favorite part about it, I did have to spend any extra time in the kitchen making and preparing batches of baby food for my son.

Baby is in control of what they are eating

While it is obviously always important to stay with your baby while they are eating and never leave them unattended, the method of feeding allows baby to feed themselves, so you are free to eat your own meal with them, or even do some kitchen prep while they are happily entertained with their food in their high chair.

Less Waste

When you feed baby what you are eating, you don’t need to have jars or containers of baby food that have to be thrown away or recycled later.

You can feed baby a variety of foods

There are no hard and fast rules about when you should feed baby certain fruits and vegetables, but some foods like cow’s milk, honey, nuts and others, should be held off until baby is over a year old. This is great in the summer time when fresh and local food is abundant. You can introduce your baby to all of the yummy foods available at your farmer’s market and then can learn to enjoy and appreciate all different kinds of foods from a young age.

Babies are more likely to be better eaters as toddlers

And young children because they have been exposed to such variety of taste and texture, and been in control of their eating, from such a young age.

I would definitely recommend anyone that has a young baby to try this relaxed and enjoyable, for both baby and parents, way of feeding baby. It has been such a great thing to watch our son eat and enjoy food on his own, our friends and family are often amazed at how well he eats for his age. We will see how he is when he reaches the typical picky eater age, but so far he has shown that he loves to eat, will happily eat all different kinds of foods, and often eats better than his older sister!

There is so much more information about feeding baby real foods that I wish I could share with you here, but this is just our family’s story and what has worked for us. For more information about this method of feeding baby, please read and research for yourself before beginning to feed your baby. I highly recommend the two books I mentioned earlier, Baby Led Weaning and Real Food for Mother and Baby.

Bon Appetit, Real Food Baby!


Emily McClements is passionate about caring for God’s creation while saving money at the same time. She is a blessed wife and mama to two young children, and blogs about her family’s journey toward natural and simple living at

Note from Katie:

Now that I’ve done some more professional training through the SOS Approach to Feeding, I’ve learned that between 4-7 months, babies really do need the spoon feeding so that they’re interacting with the adult and eating purees, an important step in feeding development. 

Soooo…you can use some of the philosophy of Baby Led Weaning, but I do recommend that you do some gentle spoon feeding early on with purees so baby can learn those skills. 

Avoiding commercial baby food is great, but beware of moving to chunky food too soon. 

How Important is Organic Baby Food?

I’d like to say that everything that has passed John’s lips has been organic, but that’s just not the case. I’m going to try for organic, but sometimes it’s just not practical: my sweet potatoes were purchased in the fall, conventionally, and avocados are on the clean 15, so it’s really not as important to get them organic. It’s also hard to find organic avocados, and they don’t go on sale.

I AM making it a top priority to keep the animal products John receives organic. Mental note: I need to get a better butter! Our milk, meat and eggs are all as well-sourced as I can manage, and I do think that’s key for such a young, fragile system.

When we get more into fruits and veggies, I will use the dirty dozen to guide my purchasing. I’m willing to spend a bit more on John even when I might compromise for the rest of the family, as I did with the other two, because their bodies are so tiny and the impact of pesticides and other junk will be greater. They also don’t eat very much, so paying double doesn’t hurt the budget too badly.

I even have a bag in the freezer of organic blueberries that we picked in August marked “Save for John.” He’s going to love them!

Eat well, spend less

Here is where the Eat Well, Spend Less series comes into play – avoiding buying baby food and delaying solids while relying on the (free) breastmilk both help families “spend less” on feeding baby, and doing our best to avoid grains and find nutrient-dense, easily digestible foods to introduce baby to the culinary world definitely helps the little ones to “eat well.”

What Next?

Inspired by Kate’s Breast to Bib book, I hope to start supplementing with Green Pasture fermented cod liver oil – I’ve been petrified of the stinky mess feeding a baby FCLO could create (not to mention the possibility of making John scared of anything I feed him from a spoon), but Kate says I can put an 1/8 teaspoon on his bottom and let it absorb through the skin. I think I could plan that for before a bath by a few hours, and perhaps just use a disposable during that time, because seriously, I don’t know if I want to be asking on Twitter and Facebook, “How do I get cod liver oil smell out of my cloth diapers???” (FCLO is no longer irrefutably trustworthy, so do your research!)

I need to get much more broth going – I do have some frozen as ice cubes that will be easy to thaw in the fridge if I could just plan ahead the day before. I haven’t committed to feeding this boy seriously much more than making sure I washed up some bibs, but that will have to come!

I also want to get another stainless steel sippy cup and see if I think I can wash up the one we have with a straw so John can learn about the fine art of drinking. I have a stainless steel tumbler from Life Without Plastic, but that will have to wait a few months before I’m willing to put up with the dumping-out mess.

About Breast to Bib by Kate Tietje of modern alternative mama

From breastfeeding to toddlers, in Breast to Bib Kate covers the gamut of feeding babies with research and recipes. 

Kate says so many good things about:

  • grains, digestive enzymes, and phytic acid
  • healthy fats
  • fibrous vegetables being difficult to digest
  • sea salt and trace minerals

My two favorite quotes:

Yes, babies allowed to feed themselves make quite a mess. But that’s
to be expected from new eaters, no matter what! Relax and enjoy.
Your baby’s at a new stage!

Babies’ needs begin to change in the second half of the first
year. They require additional iron and magnesium, which they won’t
get from breastmilk. Traditionally, babies would begin crawling around
6 months and would be playing outside in the dirt – which they would
lick off their fingers. Soil is usually rich in these very nutrients.
Many parents today are afraid to let their children play in the dirt, much
less eat it. Dirt is beneficial for a number of reasons, including that it is
full of microbes, which provides an immune challenge for them. Don’t
be afraid to let your kids play in the dirt!

I have to be honest that I didn’t love all of the recipes Kate shares; some feel too simplistic and some use ingredients like raw egg whites that I felt a little uncomfortable with for toddlers. Perhaps it would be a good book for a more rookie cook?

Finger Foods For A Real Food Baby?

The biggest question I have left to explore is what to use in church, for example, about 10 months, when we’re not having Cheerio’s or crackers? I’m thinking I might start freeze-dried fruits, even strawberries, at that age. My pediatrician says the “don’t feed until age one!” rules on allergenic foods are a bit relaxed now, especially if there’s no family history of allergies.

RELATED: Restricted Diets & Breastfeeding a Baby with Food Allergies

I’m also hoping to find some good almond flour or coconut flour cracker recipes that I can make small. Blueberries will be too messy…  Winking smile

I’ve had this bookmarked forever and will definitely try it sometime soon and report back: grain-free baby teething biscuits from Sheila. They’re made with potato starch, so they wouldn’t be super nourishing, but at this point, I just want something munchy and not dangerous, you know? I could try with arrowroot starch or tapioca starch, which may or may not be better for you…

A Note About Feeding Newborns

Newborn Baby

For so many reasons, both nutritionally, spiritually, developmentally, and for me, even sanity-wise, I think breast is best.


I’m very realistic about the fact that, no matter how hard they try, no matter how much help they seek, some moms just can’t breastfeed. Some have to go back to work and their supply can’t keep up. Some get terrible advice or judgment from lactation counselors, family, or others. Adopted children need nourishing options, too.

When breastmilk isn’t possible, is formula the only choice out there?

Formula relies pretty heavily on soy, which I haven’t yet written much about but stay away from myself when practical for two reasons:

  1. phyto-estrogens are thought to interfere with hormones
  2. high in omega 6 fats

Beyond the soy issue, there are often powdered foods in formula, and even though I’m not fully convinced powdered milk forms oxidized cholesterol, I don’t know that I’d be willing to use my newborn as a guinea pig.

The only other option I’ve ever heard of is one that would totally knock my socks off as a new mom: the homemade formulas in Nourishing Traditions. I do love the idea of (a) having control over ingredients, (b) the traditional foods included, and (c) avoiding the many question marks with processed formula…but…have you read those recipes? They’re full of tough-to-find ingredients like goat’s milk, pastured liver, and a bunch of things I’ve never purchased and wouldn’t know where to find.image

If I was a recently postpartum mom trying to figure it out, I bet I’d throw my hands up in despair. It would seem way too daunting.

I was pretty excited to see that Radiant Life actually offers a kit to help you make the homemade formulas from NT. The kit contains all the weird unique ingredients you’d need to nourish your baby the homemade way, so you don’t have to run all over creation seeking out and pricing a million items.

You can check out the kit’s contents HERE. If you have anyone in your life who might be interested in making their own formula, or if you might ever need the info, bookmark this post. It will be worth it!

What challenges or joys have you encountered in feeding a real food baby?

Here are some more topics you might be interested in:

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

54 thoughts on “Eat Well, Spend Less: What Goes on this Real Food Baby’s High Chair Tray?”

  1. I’m wondering about the dessicated beef liver? We aren’t liver eaters so I’m weirded out about giving it to our 7 mo old but I have heard all the health benefits so I was looking at the dessicated beef liver to add to his vegetables. What was your experience with it? When I asked our pediatrician, she’d never heard of it which isn’t exactly surprising.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I think that’s a great easy button! You could add some to smoothies too. 🙂 Katie

  2. Errin Volitis

    Love this post!! Thank you, we are following Weston Price for our food introduction with our almost 8 month old and still breastfeeding. I have a quick question about teething biscuits and I’m sorry I didn’t read through in great detail all of the comments to see if it’s already been asked but I’d love to make a grain free teething biscuit but haven’t come across any recipes. I tried making one on my own with sweet potatoes and banana but it was a fail. Anyone have any recommendations? His teeth are coming in like rapid fire right now. 3 in the last week and 3 more showing whites.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hey Errin,
      This is the one I had bookmarked for baby no. 3 and never ended up making: You could also use a carrot in one of those mesh teether/eating thingys… 🙂 Katie

  3. Pingback: How I discovered and embraced Baby-Led Weaning/Feeding (BLW) | Simple Bites

  4. Kelli via Facebook

    So, I am a little more curious about this because my youngest has a sensitive gut flora from a stomach virus. I did find this quote but I’m not sure of the source “Dental, gum and mouth problems – one is likely to have similar bacteria in the mouth as the gut. If you have a clean tongue and no dental plaque then you are likely to have good gut flora.” I know that gut flora is initially established from mom so your own gut health. So, we must know our own health before making these decisions!!!

  5. Amanda via Facebook

    That’s all very interesting. I’ll be honest I am very new to this real food way of life, so i’m still learning. My munchkin’s doctor just told us that about the cavities at his last appointment and I had never heard it before. I’m totally fine with other people feeding the baby however they want, I just personally can’t get over the ick factor. I love baby kisses and all that but couldn’t chew something and give it to them. Just a personal preference. Thanks for the info!

  6. via Facebook

    Sarah Lenard Lancaster – thank you! I hope Rebecca MacLary, Amanda Carroll and Linda Becker Madura catch your comment and mine above…

  7. via Facebook

    Rebecca MacLary – Yes, I was well aware of that – our dentist told us specifically to choose the parent with better teeth and share a spoon on purpose. That oral bacteria IS going to come from somewhere/someone; better to be in control of who! Besides, my baby’s fingers find their way into my mouth on a daily basis whether I like it or not. John is at the point where he’s eating one or two bites of meat, max. I am not washing a special tool for that!

  8. I could have totally written this post! Right down to the rice cereal and “ice cube” food! Although I did baby-led weaning with my second, I didn’t start anything WAPF, until my third and waiting until after 12 months with grains. Its the best way to feed babies! 🙂

  9. Sarah via Facebook

    1) Why do we assume that mom is spreading bad bacteria? Baby already has ALL our bacteria simply from living in close quarters, hugging, kissing, holding, touching hands and faces, and breastfeeding. Most bacteria are either helpful (probiotics) or neutral. Mothers with healthy intestinal flora are vital to passing along beneficial bacteria to baby. Without those probiotics, baby’s gut can colonized by harmful bacteria that overrun the good ones. Probiotics are necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

    2) In prechewed food, mother’s saliva starts the breakdown process, making more nutrients available for baby to absorb once the food hit’s baby’s gut.

    3) Prechewing allows foods to be served in a less-cooked state. Purees often have to be cooked excessively, so they are soft. Longer cook times and higher temperatures destroy nutrients, making food less beneficial for baby.

    4) When you vilify something, you have to consider the alternative. “Whirl the food in a blender and feed to the baby with a spoon. What is so difficult about that?” Well, that depends on your situation. Blending up food means all the parts of your blender to wash. It typically makes more food than baby can eat, so the extra has to be stored. Now mom is pulling out measuring cups, spooning portions into ice cube trays or bags, and washing all that stuff up. Again, freezing food destroys some nutrients, so it’s less valuable to baby when it’s thawed out. When mom thaws out a portion, some of it invariably gets wasted. The “simple” solution often adds up to a lot more work, and for some moms that means using jarred baby food instead of preparing their own fresh(er) purees. There are better and worse brands, of course, but I think few people will argue that freshly prepared quality foods are more tasty and nutritious than anything from a jar.

  10. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog and information on this topic! I have a 7.5 month old little girl. She has been breast fed from day one but is starting to become very interested in solids. We are doing baby-led weaning for the most part. We eat a LOT of beans in our family (I am always very diligent to soak them properly, etc) and I almost always have homemade hummus in the fridge. Is it okay for her to eat hummus (and the tahini that’s in it) ? Thank so much!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      People say different things about beans – some say they are in the same boat as grains, too hard to digest until 1-2 years. I haven’t decided if John is getting them or not, but we eat a lot as well! Tahini is sesame…any allergies to nuts in the family? You’d maybe want to introduce garbanzo beans first, then the tahini with it in case of a reaction. 🙂 Katie

      1. Thanks so much, Katie! No nut allergies and really no allergies at all, except my own to gluten (we are definitely not doing grains for a LONG time!) A few days ago she really wanted a taste of my hummus so I gave her a bit on my fingertip and it didn’t seem to bother her, although it was just a little bit . I just keep hearing/reading conflicting info on the topic and I’m not quite sure what to do.

      2. Julie@teachinggoodeaters

        I’ve always given my little ones beans (black beans, hummus, white northern beans…) and have never had issues (that I was aware of!)… I’ll have to look into this more before I start feeding #4.

  11. Kelli via Facebook

    I think we can all admit to sharing utensils, however, this doesn’t mean we should purposely be spreading BAD bacteria. It would be interesting to see what Dr. Campbell-McBride would add.

  12. Carrie via Facebook

    Oh please you mean to tell me you have never shared a drink with ur kids?? Or never shared some of ur food with them or give then kisses???? Give me a break! I made all my kids baby food. Pretty much started with the same foods that u did besides. I do grains at around a year & make my own cereal from oatmeal, than add whatever fruit they like 🙂

  13. Faith via Facebook

    Nothing wrong with it, Katie! You keep on keeping on with that real food baby 🙂

  14. Rebecca via Facebook

    I spoon fed my first daughter pushing solids way before she was ready because she was gaining weight and drinking way to much formula (we had latch issues) This kid we are doing baby led weaning and hopefully breastfeeding now that there is more support and help available. No reason to sit there with a blender and everyone tells you to avoid allergy foods like eggs, milk and nuts but they never think about soy and gluten that are hard to digest for anyone. Just read Real Food for Mother and Baby and loved it.

  15. Linda via Facebook

    Whirl the food in a blender and feed to the baby with a spoon. What is so difficult about that?

  16. Wow! I so appreciate this. We’re starting solids with my 7 mo. old, and, as child #3 she is getting quite a different approach than my other two. First, because breastfeeding is just so much more convenient than actually having to make baby food. Second, because our philosophy has changed and, like you, rice cereal is off the menu!

    I was concerned because she just hasn’t been in to food that much – she’ll munch avocado, taste banana, and likes egg yolk ok (she’ll take 4 bites, and on the fifth start blowing raspberries), but she’s overall ambivalent about the whole solids thing. Such a change from my son, who would have gladly eaten a whole banana at 5 mo.! So I really appreciate the statement that up until 8 mo or so, food is more just for exploring anyways. I was a little worried…

    Just goes to show, you can trust an unsullied palate:)

    btw – I was wondering about rubbing on the cod liver oil. Does that work for all ages? We can’t take FCLO orally, but applying topically would be an option. And if so, what scent would you recommend? And btw again – I’ve been rubbing GP’s Beauty Balm on my daughter’s feet. It absorbs after about 5 min – no mess after that! So maybe all your son needs is a little diaper-free tummy time after having the FCLO applied to his tuchus:)

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! As far as scent…maybe just the unflavored stuff? Great idea about diaper-free time; will be even easier as the weather gets warmer. I could go outside on a blanket for some Vitamin D with his Vitamin D! 😉 Katie

  17. Amanda via Facebook

    I love so much of the info you share but I do have to agree with the woman above, gross. You can give your baby cavities by sharing food or letting them drink after you.

  18. Rebecca via Facebook

    What? You realize dental caries are caused by a bacteria that passes from parent to child, right? And…gross.

  19. I like to eat chicken liver and it is also a traditional baby food in my country because it’s so full of iron. But I don’t think it’s that ok to give it to a baby because the liver contains all the toxins that passed through that animal… do you think you could trust organic liver on that??

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Excellent point – I would only serve organ meats from a farmer I really trusted. Probably organic would be okay, but I don’t know….

  20. It is so cool that you had John about a month or so before I had my DS. You keep writing about your experiences just as I am coming to the same stage. I actually just started BLW (yes silly name I agree haha) about 3 days ago 🙂 And I feel pretty lost since I didn’t do that with my first. I am trying to stear away from grains as much as possible too for the first year. I might invest in coconut flour to make crackers though. I found out just yesterday that the nursery workers at church tried to give my LO Cheerios AH!!! I did not freak out, just told them he wasn’t eating anything yet. I am a bit lax on that with my older toddler and he does have Cheerios in nursery/sunday school sometimes but I try to pack him his own snacks. I am trying still to find a balance and not go crazy about all the enzymes and digestive stuff. We eat lots of yogurt so I’m just hoping that counteracts anything imperfect about the rest of our diet 🙂 Anyway. It is just nice to read what you are experiencing. Thanks.

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  22. I was laughing reading your intro because I was so precious with my first (son) also. I wrote down every bite he took! Waited 3 days…didn’t start him until 6 months, no grains… but I did cubes and spoon fed way too long! He is a picky 4.5 year old today. Now my daughter, who turns 9 months old this week is a different story! Since my milk didn’t keep up after 6 months, I switched to formula. (I tried the WAP recipe, but it was too rich for her) so she is on goat’s milk formula, I add CLO directly to her bottle. She takes it no problem. You could add it to her pureed or fork mashed food. I would think that would be preferred over your son’s bum smelling like fish!

    Have you read about the dangers of added iron to fortified cereals? Low IQ, immune problems, etc..good thing you aren’t doing grains. 🙂 I just gave my baby cooked liver last night for the first time: pureed and added to a pureed lentil,vegetable stew. She ate it no problem. I froze the rest to add to meals every couple of days. I’ll alternate with egg yolk.

    I’ve been doing butternut squash instead of sweet potato. She loves it. And I use the chicken bone broth to dilute veggies or blend for stews for her.

    Once a week I buy a whole chicken to roast. I am now soaking the livers in milk, then sautéing in salt free guernsey organic butter and herbs, pureeing to make pate for her then family eats chicken and veggies and the carcass makes broth/soup.

    i’m trying more baby led weaning this time too. A mix, really. She likes to take the spoon from me and feed herself and I help her along a bit.

    My baby has eaten more variety at this age than my son:
    avocados, bananas, peaches, apples, pears, mango (great mashed into yogurt), blueberries, butternut squash, sweet potato, chicken, chicken livers, egg yolk, lentils, white fish, salmon, carrots, peas, spinach (with mango for iron absorption) tomatoes, onions, red pepper, and other herbs in the stews I’ve made or bought organic baby food for the occasional busy times. She has a much broader palate than my son 🙂

  23. I did baby-led weaning with my little one. We started out slow, but he has enjoyed feeding himself from the get go. My one “cheat” is that I did cut some of his food into bite-sized pieces, because he clearly enjoyed the taste and texture of food, but he would gag all the time. I’m so happy with how BLW turned out, I’ll be doing it again with my next child.

  24. -Fish Oil is really hard to get out of fabric, so diapers too. Could you use a medicine syringe and squirt in the side of his cheek?
    -Sippy cups. I love the Frogo handled sippy cup. Kleen Kanteen is also doing a new sippy spout. Life Factory also makes glass sippys.

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  27. we wait until our babies are a year to feed food – i like to exclusively breast feed until then because of lots of family food sensitivities. after that, i love avacado and fresh fruits as first foods. because i wait so long, it is easy to transition them to table food and not have to do the baby food making thing. looking forward to feeding this next little one our backyard eggs when he is old enough to eat!

    my recent post: peace. be still.

  28. I’ve been able to raise my one child like a laterborn in many ways–I guess it’s because I did so much observing of parents from a very early age that I became laid-back about a lot of things. With food, I happen to have a friend whose son is 2 months older than mine and became horribly constipated on rice cereal, so I asked my mom, who said, “Oh, don’t bother with that stuff–start with mushy fruits and vegetables.”

    For the most part, we just fed the baby what we were eating. If it wasn’t soft enough, we added extra sauce and put it through a hand-powered grinder and set it in front of him with a baby spoon in it. Sometimes he preferred to dip his hands and lick them, but he did start using the spoon right away, imitating us, and was quite good at it by 1 year! The only times I spoon-fed him were when I was sharing something I was eating.

    We only worried about allergies with the foods to which family members are allergic: dairy, tomatoes, and watermelon. The babysitter forgot about watermelon, though, and gave him some at 8 months, and he was fine. At about the same time he snatched a tomato slice from my plate and chowed down before I could stop him, and that was fine too. We did minimize wheat because of something I’d read, but we didn’t ban it entirely, and he certainly had a lot of rice (mixed with whatever we were eating with it) and well-cooked oatmeal.

    He never seemed to have any trouble digesting beans if we ground them. (When he ate whole beans, he did not digest the skins, I think because he wasn’t able to chew them.) He LOVED them mixed with spaghetti sauce. He and I both were anemic, so I began making my sauce with a lot of finely minced kale and seaweed to increase iron and reheating it in a cast-iron skillet.

    I have never let him have any snacks in church except breastmilk or (in hot weather) a sippy cup of water. Some of our services are over 2 hours, but he’s always survived! He did nurse quite a bit during church, even when he was 2 and normally nursing only at bedtime and first thing in the morning. Once he weaned, I started teaching him that we don’t eat in church because we’re saving our appetites for Communion.

  29. via Facebook

    Greta Friend and Erin Krizo – I just updated the post with this recipe: which I’ll try sometime soon! Once the baby is one, the world opens up a bit. I would try beans (with supervision for dropping them) and peas, definitely freeze-dried fruits, maybe almond flour crackers and such…if you’re doing gluten, my homemade wheat thins, cut into tiny O sized squares, work great too. 🙂 Katie

  30. Oooo, I was just wondering what to do for church snacks! Our service is about an hour and a half and we have no nursery. It’s so hard to keep them quiet that long! With Jonathan I just put cheerios along the pew (on a blanket) and he would walk along, snacking quietly (and happily!). Now that we’re not buying cheerios anymore I have no idea what to do for church. Everything is too messy! I’ve been bringing a bottle of raw milk, but that only lasts a short time. I feel like I saw a recipe for arrowroot flour teeth biscuits but I can’t remember where.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Here’s one I had bookmarked and just updated the post to include:

      I’ll make it soon for the big kids maybe! 😉 Katie

  31. I used baby led weaning on my 3rd baby, too. So much easier and more pleasant for baby and mom. Love it!

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  34. Julie@teachinggoodeaters

    My daughter (my first child) refused to be fed (she’s still quite the independent type!!)— after trying to “feed” her for two months, I gave up and went to all finger foods and as soon as she could, she ate what we were eating (at 9 months my husband fed her fish tomatoes and kalamata olives from his dinner…) My daughter ended up being such a good eater that I decided to make my other kids self feeders at a young age too. I avoided wheat, dairy and eggs during the first year (for allergy reasons) which forced me to be creative… one of my favorite easy finger foods was black beans- all of my kids will still eat plain black beans with pleasure! I would also make vegetable and bean and chicken soup and then strain out all of the liquid and serve the veggies, chicken and beans on their tray. (Black beans were the only ones they would eat “plain.” The others needed the flavor that they got from the soup.) Once they could use a spoon, lentil soup was a favorite easy baby meal. I also LOVED avocado as a baby food. If they ate nothing but avocado that day, I knew that they were getting most of what they needed.

  35. Perfect timing! I have a little girl who’s almost 7 months now (born August 29th) and all this stuff has been on my mind recently, especially since we’ve been getting more and more into traditional foods recently. My oldest just turned 2 and definitely want to be a LOT more careful this time around (had no idea what traditional food were then), but considering that WE haven’t even had liver yet makes me a little intimidated to serve that to my baby, raw nonetheless! Speaking of liver, where do you find grass fed beef liver? One of our “health food” stores has a sale on grass fed ground beef about once a month but I haven’t seen any liver other than conventional. Or bones, for that matter. Do have to get these things straight from the farmer?

    1. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I’m sure it varies from town to town, but you can try Farmer’s Markets, straight from the farm, or maybe a small butcher shop if they answer the questions right (sharing the phone number of the farmer supplier for you to chat with would be even better). You could always ask at the health food store, too – depending on how close THEY are to the actual producer, they might be able to get the liver for you. Soup bones would probably be the same story. Purchasing an 1/8 or 1/4 of a cow is always a great deal, and sometimes farmers will throw in extra livers from folks who don’t want them, the tongue (makes good fajitas!), and the suet to render for tallow. …Um, you mentioned you were new at this. I should probably stop overwhelming you! 😉 Katie

  36. Great post!

    I feel so sick when I think of the way I fed my first. He got rice cereal, lots of puffs, each veggie and fruit in it’s separate jars, and we he got older lots of those Gerber microwave meals. ugh

    I found WAPF right after my now 19 month was born. Her first food was egg yolk. Our to go food of choice was an avocado and a banana. She never had any jarred food. I have pics of her at around 8 months gnawing on a chicken leg bone. LOL The only thing I ever spoon fed her was some yoghurt mixed with chicken broth. Other than that it was BLW all the way. She’s a great eater.

    I’m due with another in Sept. and am much more confident in how I’m doing things.

    I was a little nervous about the whole raw egg white thing, too. But for my DD’s first birthday I made Ann Marie’s GAPS white bean cake and GAPS icing (mostly whipped egg whites) for her little cake. She loved it and ate ate so much and was fine. I was so glad I fed her something much better than the regular cakes.

  37. Katie- my pediatrician recommended meatballs for our kids so we started at 8 months with both as a good source of iron. We would make a bunch and freeze them. Both kids did great with them broken up and loved them 🙂

    1. My daughter, now 23, loved meatballs, at 8 months old! They were easy to feed to her, too. She had a fair amount of teeth by that point, as well.

  38. LOL! That is awesome! I am doing the same thing (minus eggs and casein) with my second child – a son almost one year old now. I was so careful with my firstborn and I followed *all* the “rules.” This time around I just let my baby boy eat off my plate – avocados, bananas, rice, barley, lentils – and skipped the baby food. I ended up making baby “ravioli” out of rice paper with the jars I had stocked up on. He *loves* feeding himself! He has 8 teeth now (10 mos) and I really want him to transition off the breast and to whole foods full time (except for nighttime, though, of course – so sweet!) but he isn’t having any of that. Mommy first, lentils and rice second! Would love to learn more about the “weaning” part… like, how to get him to. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      LOL – totally can’t help you with the weaning part. I always said “when the child can ask for milk, he’s too old,” and then was the mom with the boy screaming “MILKKKKKKKKK!!” My kids nursed until over two. 🙂 Katie

  39. Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple

    I avoided all grains with my son (now 20 months) until about 10 months — then we only started with quinoa b/c it is high in iron. He didn’t like the texture much and would only eat it mixed with applesauce. At his one-year check up his iron was low…so I tried to get him to eat more quinoa and meat — which he hated the texture of! Blackstrap molasses mixed in with his homemade yogurt was the solution for us! Yep, there is sugar in there but it is a natural sugar and I was willing to do it because of the high iron content and the fact that the only other sugar he got was from fruit.

  40. Thank you for this post! I think our babies must be close in age. We just started introducing foods to our 6 month old (born on Sept. 11). We did baby-led weaning with our first child and loved it. However, she didn’t care to really try foods until 11 months old, so I was caught off guard when our second (current baby) started loudly insisting on getting food at the dinner table–then he devoured it! I’ve been careful to nurse him before any solids, but so far he loves everything we’ve offered him and eats a surprising amount of it. I’m feeling a bit lost about what to do with a toothless, eager food-trier. 🙂 This post was very helpful.

  41. Greta via Facebook

    I have a question about snack type foods for my newly 1 year old (you also alluded to this at the end of the article). I am running out of ideas on what to give her for a snack during those times when I need something convenient (in the car, at the park, at the store, etc). Anyone have any ideas? Something non-messy(ish) but able to be eaten by a 1 year old with just a few teeth?

  42. Meghan @ Whole Natural Life

    Loved your pictures. 🙂 I hope to do baby-led weaning with my own future babies. I have to spoon-fed the baby I babysit now and I HATE it. Sometimes it’s fine but other times there’s a lot of screaming and throwing things. I’m so glad there are other options out there.

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