Feeding Baby: Are Finger Foods Healthier Than Purees?

It’s no secret that I love to puree. It’s my favorite step in the whole baby food-making process. So I was surprised to discover that a new British study found that my baby may have been privy to  extra health benefits if I had skipped the purees and moved straight from bottle to finger foods. According to the British Medical Journal, researchers examined the eating habits of 155 British children and learned that self-fed babies eat better, preferring carbohydrates such as pasta, breads, and rice, versus their puree-fed counterparts who favor sweets. They also determined that self-feeding may help ward off obesity since babies can stop eating when they’re full; spoon-fed babies may get an extra spoonful or two than they really need or want. Of the babies studied, 93.5 percent never had a choking incident.

Granted, my puree-fed child (that’s him, covered in pureed avocado when he was six-months-old) is going through a applesauce-raisin-and-graham-cracker-only phase this week, so it’s hard for me to say whether he truly prefers grains to cookies, and I have to work to make him gain weight, but maybe I would notice some divine difference in his eating habits if I had resisted the allure of my blender. At least I can take comfort in knowing that both puree-fed and self-fed babies studied exhibited the same degree of pickiness (see Bug’s menu of choice above…sigh).

Overall, I think this study does raise some compelling points about self-feeding. It could be healthier for your child, and it’s certainly less time-consuming for you. A friend of a friend’s baby transitioned from breastfeeding to whole fruits and veggies beautifully, and my friend talked about following in her footsteps. As a first-time mom, I didn’t have the guts to pitch Mason’s carrot puree and hand him a carrot instead–but I admired what I considered to be brave and maybe equal parts daring and crazy. (Mason once choked on pureed chicken and I was so traumatized I double-pureed all of his meats from then on!) Now that I’m braver and more experienced at feeding babies, I see the wisdom in giving them whole foods first to see how they respond instead of automatically starting with purees. At the very least, it’s one less transition for them to make. Would you have felt comfortable giving your five-month-old finger foods the first time you introduced her to solids?

Did Your Pregnancy Cravings Influence Your Child's Eating Habits?

UPDATE 1/18/12: A friend sent me this photo last night, taken five days before Mason was born. We were mini golfing and, in the middle of the game, I just had to have a giant rice krispie treat–one of my pregnancy cravings–from a nearby coffee shop.

Last night a very pregnant Jessica Simpson told Extra correspondent Mario Lopez that she was craving “the stuff she ate as a kid,” including mac ‘n’ cheese from a box, pop tarts, and Cap’n Crunch cereal. Ugh, how can she eat that junk? I thought. Then I flashed back to my pregnancy and remembered that while I ate very healthfully most of the time, I enjoyed my share of indulgences, too. Hold that judgement, sister.  There was the mid-morning dish of ice cream every day at work for the last four weeks of my pregnancy, not to mention giant rice krispie treats, globs of cream cheese on gluten-free pretzels, and spoonfuls of peanut butter directly from the jar. Mason’s had the good stuff I ate, including lots of fresh veggies, fruits, chicken, and salmon, as well as the cream cheese and the peanut butter, and he’s a fan of it all. While he’s gotten picky about when he will and will not eat specific foods, and his preferences seem to change by the minute, we’ve been blessed with a child who will eat a range of different foods and spices.

But did my morning strawberry-banana smoothies translate to Mason’s love of these fruits? After all, they’re both pretty popular. Is he destined to have an ice cream addiction because I did? I guess we’ll have to see (my 16-month-old rarely eats ice cream). Will he eat spoonfuls of peanut butter directly from the jar, too? Probably, but don’t lots of people? Does he like roast chicken, lobster, and grilled salmon because I did? It’s hard to say….

Curious, I Goggled the topic. There were lots of old wives tales, of course, but then I stumbled across a news report on a related study, which was published by NPR last August: “Research shows that what a woman eats during pregnancy not only nourishes her baby in the womb, but may shape food preferences later in life.” While the study’s results were not definitive, a connection between a mother-to-be’s eating habits and her baby’s preferences does make sense. After all, fetuses drink amniotic fluid, which is flavored by the foods and beverages their mother consumes. Julie Mennella, who studies taste in infants at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, adds that there isn’t a single flavor they have found that doesn’t show up in utero, according to the report. Makes sense to me–I’ll buy the theory that what I ate during my pregnancy did shape Mason’s eating habits, at least somewhat. What do you think? Does your baby or toddler enjoy the foods you craved most during your pregnancy?

Homemade Baby Food: How to Make 13 Fruit Purees

It’s so easy and economical to make your own baby food, and fruit purees are particularly fun to fix because babies usually love them. I adored whipping up fruit purees for Mason. I’d spend hours preparing the fruit after he went to bed–the washing, chopping, cooking, and pureeing was my way of de-stressing and showing my baby love. It made me feel good to know exactly what he was eating, and wonderful memories are associated with many of those purees. Organic avocado puree was Mason’s first introduction to solids. A swirl of pear puree magically turned green beans into a veggie he loved to eat. The best: strawberry puree sweetened Mason’s oatmeal the morning he said “mama,” his first word, for the first time.  I could go on and on. Now that my boy is 16-months-old, I don’t get to puree fruit very often, and I miss it.

If you haven’t made your own homemade fruit puree yet, try it out. We’ve taken the guesswork out of preparing 13 of the most popular fruit purees by creating step-by-step guides with photos and mix-in suggestions (links below). Best of luck, and be sure to let us know how it goes! (NOTE: We are working on guides to making vegetable purees for baby. Stay tuned!)

How to Make:

Baby Applesauce
Best for babies 4+ months

Banana Puree
Best for babies 4+ months

Peach Puree
Best for babies 4+ months

Avocado Puree
Best for babies 4+ months

Plum Puree
Best for babies 6+ months

Apricot Puree
Best for babies 6+ months

Blueberry Puree
Best for babies 6+ months

Cherry Puree
Best for babies 8+ months

Strawberry Puree
Best for babies 8+ months

Mango Puree
Best for babies 10+ months

Papaya Puree
Best for babies 10+ months

Breastfeeding Flash Mobs & Nurse-Ins: Do They Do Any Good?

I absolutely support breastfeeding–after all, I breastfed my own son–and I think moms should have the right to feed their children wherever they see fit. But I question whether the nurse-in that took place at 250 Target stores throughout the country yesterday, or the thwarted breastfeeding flash mob at a Michigan mall earlier this month, are a productive way to bolster public support for breastfeeding. I think they’re an excellent way for breastfeeding moms to support each other, but I suspect that these types of gatherings won’t really influence anyone who is against breastfeeding, or breastfeeding in public, to change their opinion.

Am I mistaken? Perhaps. I pondered the issue while we were making the five-hour drive from Bluefield, West Virginia, to Washington, DC, last night, with a feverish baby in tow, and I decided to ask the Facebook fans of High Chair Times what they thought. It was close to 10 p.m. when I posted this question — Are nurse-ins, like the one that just happened at Target, a productive way to bolster support of public breastfeeding?— but I got a few responses and here they are, in the order they were posted. I think all four women made excellent points:

“No, not because I’m against breastfeeding [but] because I think making all this noise adds fuel to an unnecessary fire,” Nesie said.

“I breastfeed and I don’t think they do any good,” Jessica said. “Personally I will feed my son in public if I want to, I’ve only had one person object, I told her it was my right to feed my child how I choose and she just left without another word. I just think that things like this make it easy for someone against public breastfeeding to have something to fight against.”

“No,” Kerry said. “It just makes the anti breast feeders think we are crazy. It’s one thing to feed your own child where you need to when you need to, but to stage a nurse-in doesn’t help. ”

“I haven’t read up on the one in Target, but I’m itching to participate in something like that,” Kate said. “I hear of too many moms who are afraid to breastfeed in public that I’m happy to make a stink out of it if it will convince at least one mom to say to herself, ‘Well, at least I’m not behaving like THOSE people, I guess I’ll give it a try.'”

What do you think? Are nurse-ins and breastfeeding flash mobs a good way to bolster public support of breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding Flash Mob at the Mall: Would You Participate?

Mary Napoli, of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, organized what was supposed to be a peaceful breastfeeding flash mob at a local mall yesterday–only to have security shut down the event before it began. Napoli, one of 11 women who came to the event, had just sat down to begin breastfeeding her son when a security officer told her to stop, according to the Troy edition of Patch.com.

According to the report, Napoli asserted that the mall manager was objecting to breastfeeding out in the open, not just the flash mob. When she questioned the mall manager whether he allowed nursing in the mall, he replied:  “Not in public, we don’t.”

Edward Nakfoor, spokesperson for the Somerset Collection mall, said in a statement issued Sunday evening that the mall does allow breastfeeding, though it does not allow “demonstrating or protesting of any kind, as we are private property.”

(If the name Mary Napoli sounds familiar to you it’s because her controversial You Tube video went viral last month. Napoil claims her sons covered her living room in flour when she took a “five-minute bathroom break,” but some people insist the video is a hoax.)

In my opinion, women should be allowed to breastfeed wherever they see fit–but organizing a flash mob to make that point is misguided. Instead, just live your life and nurse your child when he’s hungry (if you’re nursing).  What do you think? Do you side with the moms who planned to participate, or the management who wouldn’t allow the “mob” to take place?

Did You Like Your Breastfeeding Bust?

Entertainment Tonight correspondent Samantha Harris recently told PEOPLE that she’s “happy her breastfeeding bust is gone”:

“There are a lot of women in Hollywood who are known for their bodies because of their cleavage — that’s something that I usually lack, and I’m okay with that,” the 37-year-old host told PEOPLE. “Except when I was pregnant and breastfeeding, there was an abundance.”

“I’ve decided that cleavage is for the men, but in practicality, if you asked most women out there, dealing with a large bosom is difficult to do going through life,” she says. “I don’t like the fashion choices I had to make when I was larger there … and exercise was no fun because you had to do double [the] sports bra and you feel constricted.”

Harris has two daughters: Josselyn Sydney, 4, and Hillary Madison, 10 months,

I didn’t breastfeed Mason for long but, looking back, I’ll admit that I enjoyed having a  chest that  that was literally twice its normal size. Unfortunately I was so worried about what my breasts weren’t doing (producing enough milk) that I didn’t spend enough time appreciating what they were doing, nor did I take a minute to actually enjoy my new body. What about you? Did you (or do you) like your breastfeeding bust? Take our poll now!


What if Men Could Breastfeed Too?

breastfeedingI was cruising around on Mommyish this morning and found a link to a Slate article published earlier this summer about a man who was determined to breastfeed. I was immediately fascinated by the idea. Breastmilk (or colostrum) was Mason’s first food and I took breastfeeding very seriously — so seriously that I drove myself and everyone around me nuts about it. I tried and tried to nurse but after a month or so (and lots of tears) we switched to formula. If Chris would have been able to take over nursing duties then our experience with breastfeeding could have been completely different.

Note: My husband is reading this post and cringing. When he heard me share that I was having production problems with another breastfeeding mom on the street, he was horrified. “What the hell, Heather? Why would you share something like that with a stranger? And with her husband standing there! A guy wouldn’t walk up to another guy on the street and say ‘I’m having erection problems right now’.”  True, but I’ve found a tremendous amount of support from other moms on a variety of issues and this issue was no exception. And, for the record, Claire was in my Friday morning mommy group:)

What do you think: Breastmilk is an important first food — but would you want your hubby to be able to share nursing responsibilities, or do all of the nursing himself? Is the idea ludicrous? Offensive?

Photo source: Parents.com