Starting to introduce your babies to solids or more adult food is a daunting task. Will they like it, what if they react to it, what if they don’t like the food? The what if’s are many! And oh , don’t get me started on the wide food options available and not knowing where to start from.
The things I’ve learnt on this weaning journey have amazed me, to say the least. You remember how I complained and blamed myself for my daughter not eating because I didn’t introduce variety to her food when she started solids, and how I was ready to explore with the boys ? Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to say that I have succeeded and I’m still making it! 😎. The plan was to start them on solids at the beginning of June, when they would be five and a half months. I was resuming work the last week of that month and I wanted to be sure they were used to solids before I abandon them in the hands of strangers; a story for another day. I was so excited to take out their bowls, spoons and sippy cups. I even went the extra mile to get them their own trays to serve the food on. Stop rolling your eyes at me! I chose to go the home made food route because: 1. Les Twins and 2. Le cost is moins cheaper and 3. I know what’s going inside their food and little tummies.
I chose to start with fruits and vegetables before introducing cereals, unlike with my daughter. Her first taste of real food was Cerelac, which she didn’t like. She developed a love-hate relationship for it and became a hardcore fan to the point where that’s all she preferred to eat. Now, all she wants is the Rice variant, she calls it the ‘white one.’ The boys had pawpaw first because it is my favorite fruit so they must like it by force! The first day, I mashed it and gave it to them after their mid-afternoon milk. Their reaction to it wasn’t as bad actually. MJ was quicker to open his mouth than PJ. I did this for two or three days and tried banana next, then apple afterwards. I always added a bit of breastmilk so the taste was familiar to them. Apparently, it’s best to introduce new foods in the morning so that in the event that they have an allergic reaction to it, you’ll be able to detect it early because some allergic reactions don’t appear immediately. It is also advisable to try new foods for 3 days at least, to establish the taste and also to ensure they surely do not react. Don’t say I didn’t tell you oh. I did the fruits and carrot for a week and then by week two, they graduated to the mixture of fruits and vegetables. By week three, I was mixing the fruits and vegetables with potato and sweet potato, then we graduated to plantain and squash.
As I was ready to start them on cereals and porridges, with my small experience, I knew of only Tombrown, Koko, and Cerelac. I had no idea that the world of infant cereals and porridges had expanded like that. On the mums group I’m on, I was introduced to many concoctions. Shoutout to Yvette and Sef. You do all 🙌🏽. Please who knew that you can use unsalted butter or coconut oil to cook porridge? Or you can mix fruits and vegetables in porridge? Oh, and did you also know about dates syrup? Please, I know I’m not the only one now, oya, hands up!🙋🏽♀️ I said, when I found out about all these concoctions I could blend and mix, I didn’t spare at all, all in the name of balanced diet for the babies. Protein powder, baobab powder, moringa powder, chia seeds, you name it! What cereals haven’t I bought? I’m so glad I found Mpampa Cereals. I stocked up on her Tigernut powder (it’s too nice), Corn powder, Tom brown and Rice powder. For their Oats, I just dry blended regular oats and made the powder myself. I was recently gifted the Fruggies granola powder by the madam herself. It’s nice papa, the smell and taste are divine. One day, I decided to cook rice in unsalted butter, added carrots and apples and blended together. It came out looking just like the rice powder so I didn’t bother cooking rice for them again! We shall eat rice when I introduce more texture to their food. At this rate, I need convenience and nutrition all in one.
This bit is the most energy-draining activity ever! I need about two days to make their food. I would usually steam the fruits and vegetables the night before to save time. The next day, I cut up the main staples, cook them in coconut oil, add fish powder or shrimp powder, and now I add spring onions. While that is cooking, I steam my fish and chicken with ginger, garlic and spring onions. When everything is cooked, now the real work begins. In the beginning, I would use my small TommeeTippee baby food blender to blend everything. The first day I saw it, I was a tad bit disappointed about the size but it blends really well. This became time-consuming so I resorted to using a potato masher. Finally, I got myself a hand blender. Oh, what a blessing. It reduced my time a ton.
After I am done, I now start to make the various concoctions, pack them in bowls, label and freeze. I always have extra fruits and vegetables and also dates syrup from Nutrisafoods for their breakfast and dinner. I would usually freeze the fruits and vegetables in bowls or use ice cube trays. I do same for their yogurt as well. When I am done, I feel like virtue has left me. My whole kitchen looks a hot mess. Please, I need a 6-burner gas cooker. Sponsor where art thou? This lasts me about two to three weeks. And this is just prepping for lunch, breakfast and dinner are mostly cereals and yogurt blends with fruits and vegetables. Their favorite is avocado, banana and Zeno’s plain unsweetened yogurt.
- Fruits : Apple, pear, avocado (Dr. Google said it’s a single seeded berry), pawpaw, banana, mango
- Vegetables : Carrot, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, kontonmire, beetroot
- Staples : Potato, sweet potato, butternut squash (called pumpkin in the market and the market women will argue with you if you try to correct them) and plantain.
- Cereals : Tigernut, Rice, Corn, Tombrown, Oats, Gerber Multigrain and Cerelac.
- Drinks : Water is life.
Initially, because I was still on maternity leave when they started the solids, I was feeding them myself at the same time. Also, I wanted to see how they both reacted to each food and how much each ate. I would strap them both in their seats with one bowl and feed them one after the other. Whoever slacked and didn’t open their mouth well, didn’t get to eat as much. Survival of the fittest. MJ the unstoppable was always in a comfortable lead. Sooner than later, I realized that my feeding strategy wasn’t working. They got more active, impatient and one was always cheating the other so I had to recruit my nanny and husband to join in the feeding. Let us all suffer together. Feeding them has to be quick, the spoon must not last more than 3 seconds out of their mouth or else they’ll start insulting you and if they gyiga, they won’t eat. What breaks my heart is when I’m putting the spoon in their mouths and they swiftly, mistakenly or consciously hit it with their hand, spilling it everywhere. And oh, when they start to blow bubbles with food in their mouth. Somebody hold me! I feel like crying at that point! Seeing all my hard work being wasted frustrates me but I keep calm and feed on. It can get messy! In fact, not can, it DOES get messy. After every feeding session, I need a washcloth and a few paper towels to clean up. Their hair, nose, cheeks, clothes, chair, table, feet and the floor will all eat some of the food. Sharing is caring.
I got inspired by my mums group to try the boys on beetroot. Here I was feeling confident that they’ll like it. After all, the color gives good vibes. I steamed and blended it, added apple and served them with it. After two spoons, dudes just spat everything out. I was so heartbroken. However, I realized my mistake quickly. The portion of beetroot was too much so the next time around, I reduced it to about a spoonful and added it to their rice porridge. They ate it fine. I said saaaa, that week, I mixed beetroot with everything they ate! Next time!
Menu for the day
- Wake up breakfast: Formula. The breasts have been retired. They fought a good fight, run the race and kept the faith. Over to you Joe Lartey.
- Breakfast: Cereal or porridge cooked in unsalted butter with fruits, vegetables and formula
- Lunch: One of the many lunch concoctions
- Dinner: Cereal, porridge or yogurt and fruit blends
- Before bed: Formula
- Snacks: we are still exploring but for now it’s usually formula, Heinz biscuits, Mamia rice cakes and Gerber yogurt melts and stars. They’re not big fans though.
- Hand blender or baby food blender. Babybliss has been advising us to stop using the ones we use for pepper and tomatoes.
- Separate saucepans
- Steamer or if you like, colander on top of saucepan and covered . You can’t come and kill yourself with cost because of babies.
- Food storage bowls (BPA free; whatever that means) it’s not by force to buy baby bowls, Melcom and the market have plenty small bowls you can use
- Ice cube trays to store yogurt, puréed fruits and vegetables
- Sippy cups for water
- High chair or one that can be attached to your dining hall chair : trust me this makes feeding a lot easier. Our mothers must have struggled when feeding us in their arms. I tried a few times and it was a hot mess.
Another thing about solids.. get ready for constipation. Yup! One of the most painful things to watch a baby go through. There are days when I’ve literally squeezed poop out of their butts. TMI. Buy a Bentua (Enema bulb syringe). It has been saving lives since creation. The culprit here is a lack of plenty water and a good mixture of fruits and vegetables in their food. Don’t say I didn’t warn you oh… a word to the wise…
On to the next chapter of more texture and less puréed foods. I’ve already made their okro stew but some people, for security reasons names have been withheld, said it is too early to give them Banku, meanwhile too…