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i have been getting a lot of questions lately on instagram regarding miss elinor's diet.  i have found myself responding here and there to such sweet mamas...and then i thought "maybe you should take a few moments and put all these thoughts and responses down into a {somewhat} coherent post about elinor's eats".  so, that's what's happening here.  i wanted to share a bit about elinor's short history with solids and our guiding philosophy on food.  much like our own life, we don't have a solid label on our approach.  we just educated ourselves and went with what works.  bottom line: don't fret about food.  enjoy it!  be balanced.  have fun.  do your healthiest.  and make decisions based on how your body and family respond.

* please note that i am not registered in anything nor am i an expert.  i am just a food nerd who likes to learn and try new things.  i pray about it as i go and then i do my best to do things with gusto.  plus, i am a mama.  i follow my gut.  a good gut is a thing of beauty.

...

elinor's first food was avocado.  we started with little, hand-fed bites then we placed the foods in front of her so that she could play.  we liked the idea of "baby led weaning" because it allows baby to learn about food and hunger/satiation cues.  BUUUT, we also temper that with everyday life. for example: we don't let elinor "play" with food when we are out at dinner or with other people.  she can eat what we eat but i will give it to her with my fingers or on a utensil.

we were very relaxed with meals at first, just letting her explore.  we focused on foods that would deliver the most calories, available nutrients, and fats: organic avocado, cultured pasture butter, organic bananas, pastured egg yolks, organic hormone free unsweetened full fat kefir.  we wanted to make sure that for the first few months, we were laying a solid foundation with foods that would promote healthy gut flora, would be easily digestible, and would give her some good nutrition.  fats and probiotics were (and are) key.

after she grew accustomed to the idea of food, we started playing with texture, taste, temperature.  i would take some avocado, for example, and cut it into big chunks and fork-feed.  Then, I would take little chunks and let her pick at them and attempt to feed herself.  finally, i would mash up some avocado and add some oil and spices to it and spoon-feed.  for the first month of eating, i stuck to a more familiar menu but would mix up the preparations and begin to combine ingredients to make mini-meals.

at around 8 months, i started adding more veggies and fruits to the repertoire.  again, playing with textures and temperatures.  we would explore foods at lunch and then she would eat modified versions of our dinner.  at 9 months, we started adding in more flavor and introducing more beans, seeds, and some grains.  quinoa is a favorite.

at this point, most food is fair game  (we do stay away from peanut butter and honey, for now).  we make small adjustments in texture so that elinor can eat but mostly, she eats what we eat.  we let her try it all and learn about textures and flavors.  she really likes strong flavors.  the other day, i tried to give her some leftover quinoa at dinner and she was very upset that she didn't seem to be partaking in mama and papa's meal.  once i gave her what we were eating (a spicy and garlicky dish) she was happy.  our goal now that she has a solid foundation is to expand her palate.  make her try everything and have an appreciation for everything.  she is already starting to develop preferences but we want to keep introducing new things, giving her an encouraging mmmmm along the way.  i know she may not love everything but she can try everything.  and if she has a negative response, we keep at it.  experts have said that it can take 10 tries to get used to something.  and so, we keep at it.

 

a few notes:

  • our diet is primarily plant-based so she doesn't get a lot of heavy meats.  but she has eaten some chicken and turkey and she loves salmon.  i am not opposed to it as long as it is grass-fed, pastured, etc.  but our goal is nutrient-density not just volume.
  • we never started her on rice cereal and she doesn't eat a lot of gluten grains.  babies' digestive systems really aren't equipped with enzymes necessary to break down these grains until much later (12-24 months) so we try to stick to mostly GF grains but will will add in some spouted oats or ancient fermented grains as they are easier to digest.  that being said...we have let her try some super tasty, freshly baked bread dipped in olive oil.  sourdough, especially, has fermentation that makes it easier to digest.  and what is life without the occasional loaf of crusty bread?  balance, right?
  • we don't give her premade baby food or snacks.  i've found that it is easier (and cheaper) to grab a banana and finger-feed it to her, if necessary.  there are a lot of good options out there but for me, i would rather have her eat the food in its most close-to-nature state.  that is also a part of the learning process...i want her to know that carrots come from the ground not from a jar.

 

here is a sample day in the life:

8:30am - wake up and breastfeed, then playtime

9:30am/10:00am - breakfast (half banana + splash of kefir + maca powder + cinnamon + hemp seeds)*

10:00am/10:30am - playtime

10:30am/11:00am - morning nap

12:30pm - wake up and breastfeed, then playtime

1:30pm - lunch (egg yolk with coconut oil or butter and some sweet potato/beans/quinoa and chia seeds)*

2:00pm - playtime

2:30pm/3:00pm - afternoon nap

4:30pm - wake up and breastfeed, then playtime while dinner is prepared

5:30pm - family dinner (a mini version of whatever we are eating)*

6:00pm - playtime

7:00/7:30pm - breastfeed and then down for the night

*after her solids, I sometimes give her a 1-3oz sippy cup of coconut milk and coconut water

 

here is our go-to ingredient list for elinor:

egg yolk*

butter*

ghee

kefir & yogurt*

bananas

avocado

softened veggies

fruits

salmon

beans/lentils

seeds and proteins: chia, hemp, flax, maca, sesame

beverages:  coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk, hemp milk

grains: quinoa, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, kamut, millet, oats, spelt, farro (sprouted or fermented when possible)

oils: fermented cod liver oil, krill oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil

*choose organic (non rBST-treated cows), cultured, and pasture-raised

 

here are the important vitamin/minerals/nutrients that we try to focus on for her health:

zinc

vitamins A, B complex, C,D, E, K

omegas 3 & 6

folate

calcium

magnesium

potassium

selenium

phosphorus

iron

niacin

probiotics (kefir is great for this plus it is lactose-free so it is easier on the tummy)

*i have tried to maintain my healthy gut flora and optimal vitamin/mineral levels so my BF can do a lot of the work and we don't have to supplement her.  but we do have a good fish oil on hand to give to her every so often.

 

extra resources, books & articles