When zoom goes the airplane results in less of a smooth landing down the runway of your baby's tongue, and more of an emergency landing on the barren wasteland of her highchair tray, it might be time to try a different strategy. Mealtimes are tricky things, but with a little practice and a few hacks, you’ll make it to the next level in no time.
If your baby is taking the pureed baby food route, you might have found by now that making your own is both cheaper and a good way to know, personally, the balance of her nutrition. Making your own can be time-consuming, though, so the clear answer is a lot like what the answer was to cooking for yourself the first time. No, not lots of takeout and visiting your parents’ place to raid the fridge, but making big batches when you do have time, then freezing most of them for later.
There are lots of containers you can buy for baby food in different portion-sizes that would do the job, but one of the easiest ways to store baby food is in ice-cube trays. Once you have the food portioned out in the trays, you can seal them into a freezer-safe ziplock to ward off freezer burn. And when you thaw them out, you can thaw as many as it takes to make up your baby’s prefered portion size at any point in her career of eating solid, or semi-solid, food. If you want even more control over portion sizes, you can use only a certain amount of each cube-space, so you’ve got smaller increments to work with.
If your baby has already fallen into the pattern of only wanting to eat sweet things, like fruits, and not more bitter or savory things, like her vegetables, fruit-based baby-smoothies are a pretty good way to smuggle her greens in, and also to expose her to those flavors subtly. The more often your baby is exposed to a specific flavor, even blended in to something else, the more familiar she becomes with it, and the more likely she is to enjoy it later. As your baby gets older, if you want to keep being sneaky about how many members of the vegetable kingdom are sneaking their way into her smoothies, it can be a good idea to start thinking strategically in terms of color. Try adding neutral-colored vegetables, or those that blend well with fruits. You can also use really overpoweringly colored fruits, like blueberries, to better mask the veggies.
Toast is a really great vehicle for any kind of paste a reluctant new eater needs to be exposed to, from mashed vegetables to hummus to greek yogurt. It’s soft enough to be easily gummed, especially if it’s not toasted for too long, and it’s an even healthier option if you start off by introducing your baby to whole wheat bread. However, it’s not always a dynamic, exciting-looking meal option. You know what always does look dynamic and exciting, though? Gingerbread men and women. They don’t need to stay stuck in the holidays, and they’re not shapes that need to be saved for cookie dough. Other cookie cutters work just as well, and give your baby the chance to wish on a star as she’s munching on one, or to have a whole barn full of toast animals to devour. If you’ve got softer, plastic, kid-friendly cookie cutters, your baby can even try her hand at cutting out shapes herself.
Some of the fruits that brand-new finger-feeders love best tend to be slippery enough to actually be a little difficult for them to grip, like kiwis, slices of strawberry, or quartered grapes. Luckily, the answer to the problem lies with another new-finger-food staple: the dust that accumulates at the bottom of a cheerios bag is the perfect substance for rolling slippery fruit-bits in until they’re coated, making them much more grippable!