Buttercup has started nursing TONS more. She was nursing about 5 times a day (sometimes with an extra one thrown in there). Once we started introducing solids she started nursing 8-9 times a day. She never nursed this frequently even as a newborn! Apparently this is a normal phenomenon. I've heard similar reports from other moms introducing solid foods (both by BLS, and with purees). It makes me wonder if maybe breastmilk is needed to help a baby's system digest new foods? Or, maybe because this is such a big step in her development she needs the reassurance of nursing more frequently? No idea. Just speculation.
We've settled into a kind of routine where Buttercup's messiest meal is at dinnertime, right before I toss her in the tub for a scrub down. Very convenient. But, I have noticed my little chipmunk can manage to horde little scraps of food in her mouth for quite some time! I have to be diligent to ensure all food is down the hatch before laying her on her back for her bath.
POOPIES! Who knew inspecting the contents of a diaper could be so intriguing? I have definitely noticed that Buttercup's poops are changing: she is pooping less frequently and the consistency has changed. I notice virtually unchanged bits of food in her diapers (sweet potato chunks, pear skins, even what looked like toast crumbs - how is that even possible?), but overall her poo is thicker, pastier and stickier. Mmmmm! All these changes are perfectly normal and not a sign of constipation. I'm trying to be religious about giving her water with every solid meal, just in case, but I haven't noticed Buttercup straining or acting like her tummy hurts so that is reassuring.
Today marks one whole month since we started baby-led solids, and I continue to learn new things when introducing my baby to new foods. Here are a few:
Buttercup does not like her food cold (ie: fridge temperature). I have to let it get nearer to room temperature otherwise she makes weird faces
Buttercup's food attention span is noticeably longer when others are eating with her. Dinner is her best meal because Hubby and I are both there. Interesting!
I have started keeping a container in the fridge where I store little pieces of baby-sized finger foods during the course of the day. For example, if I'm making myself something that would be appropriate for Buttercup, I'll set a little bit aside for her. Also, if I cut up some food for her meal and she doesn't eat it all I stick the untouched pieces in her container (anything that has gotten baby saliva on it gets discarded because the digestive enzymes in it break down the food and cause bacterial growth). When it's mealtime I just grab her container from the fridge and there are several ready made options in there for her. This is particularly helpful since Buttercup now eats more than one thing at a meal. I do make sure nothing stays in the container for more than a couple of days, and wash the container frequently.
I have more to say, but I'll save it for another day. Until then - Happy Eating!
It's time to ruminate on the things we've learned about baby led solids in the past couple of weeks:
Meal times have proven to be a great opportunity for us to start learning/implementing our baby sign language and table manners. If Buttercup needs help reaching a food or wants more I sign and say "please" before handing it to her. This way she has an association between "please" and getting what she wants. Hubby and I also use "thank you", "more", "all done", "water" and "clean up" at the dinner table. Eventually she can learn her food names, too. She has yet to sign anything back to us (although I am convinced she has signed "all done" to me before...Hubby thinks I'm cracked...), but we are paving the way.
Ever since we began introducing solid foods to Buttercup we noticed that she would drop food from her highchair. After much deliberation and observation we have concluded that she isn't doing it to be purposely annoying. We think that tossing food is Buttercup's only way of discarding food she doesn't want to hold on to any longer. She lacks the motor skills to place items back on the tray in order to pick something else up. Her only option is to drop it. Also, we have noticed that this is one of Buttercup's "all done" cues. When she's lost interest in eating she will start playing with the food instead of eating it (smearing it around her tray and dropping it off the sides). This seems like a good time to mention that I never give her all of her food at once. I usually only give her a couple of slices at a time. If she wants more she will look intently at the remaining food on her plate. If she's all done she will smear her food and throw it around. At some point we will discipline her for this, but we're pretty sure she's not doing it on purpose...yet.
I've seen some discussions on forums about what to do with WIC baby food. We are on WIC and receive about a million (I counted) jars of baby food a month, but we obviously don't want to use them. Well, I found a local women's shelter to donate them to. They were extremely appreciative for the donation and it's great to be able to help other mothers in need. Problem solved!
As your child is growing in self-feeding confidence, you might be tempted to feel more freedom to walk away and let your baby feed himself unsupervised. But, remember to maintain a watchful eye throughout mealtimes. No baby (BLS or puree-fed) should be left on his own while food is within arms-reach, just like you still wouldn't leave your baby alone in the bathtub.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program of "Lessons Learned with Buttercup":
We always offer Buttercup more than one food per meal now. There are several things we've learned about this:
It definitely works better to give her only a few things at a time, starting with savory and ending with sweet. For example, if I give Buttercup a banana first then she has no interest in the yummy vegetables on her tray. Limiting the number of different items on her tray keeps her a tad more focused on the task at hand (and mouth).
We've noticed Buttercup is definitely now able to self-regulate how much food she has in her mouth at any one time. When she was six months old, she'd get too much in her mouth and then have to spit some out. In her seventh month she's learned not to put more food in her mouth if she has a full mouth already. Also, if she does get a huge gob of food in her mouth she is able to chew and chew and chew and work it down without incident. We no longer get slightly nervous when we see her "bite off more than she can chew." We just laugh and point. So, remember when your little one is going to town on a huge piece of food not to intervene - he'll figure it out on his own!
Occasionally, Buttercup will get a piece of something hard stuck in her mouth (like a tiny angular piece of apple) and she will protest until she either gets it down herself or we help her. We notice she does the same thing for peels.
Strikes: the second-most frustrating things for mothers (next to sleep issues). They leave you feeling so helpless and bewildered. I mean, what do you do when your child just won't eat? There are three kinds of strikes related to the introduction of solid foods that I want to talk about.
Nursing strikes: Nursing strikes often happen before the introduction of solid food. While they are perplexing to say the least, they become even more confusing when you throw solids into the mix. You think, "Am I giving too many solids? Do I cut back on solids to make her want to nurse more? Do I give her more solids to make sure she doesn't starve to death?" Buttercup went through one of these phases two weeks ago. Fortunately for us, we have an extensive network of "been-there-done-that" moms we can use as a resource. Between asking around and reading every forum in the universe I came to this conclusion: you should not offer extra solids. This could lead to premature weaning, and I am definitely not okay with Buttercup weaning before one year. What we did do was to identify which nursing sessions were the least successful for us, then tweak our solid meals accordingly. For example, Buttercup suddenly refused to nurse before her morning nap, so I stopped offering her morning breakfast cereal. After a few days she started nursing again. Ultimately, I think we'll never know why babies go on nursing strikes, but with perseverance they usually come around within a few days.
Food strikes: In all my talking to other moms about introducing solid foods (purees or BLS), it seems like just about every baby goes through a phase about a month after successfully starting solids where they just don't want anything but their milk. For us it happened exactly at 7 months. After packing away the meals, Buttercup suddenly started only eating a bite or two before playing with the food. Prior to age one babies aren't depending on solids for nutrition anyway. So, just relax, follow baby's cues and keep making healthy food available without pressure to eat it.
Specific food item strikes: Apparently, it's really common for babies to suddenly start rejecting some foods that they previously liked. Who will ever know what's going on in those little noggins? Don't despair, though. Just because your little one turns up his nose at carrots (or in our case avocado) one day doesn't mean that he'll never eat them again. Offer the rejected food periodically and don't force the issue. By letting your baby maintain control over what goes in his mouth you are making him more likely to enjoy different foods, even ones he's previously rejected.
Throwing food from the high chair is a common parental complaint. It is something all babies do, it's just that baby-led solids babies start a little earlier. Here are some things we have done to cut down on the delightful dropsy game:
Only offer a little bit of food at a time. We usually offer a small heap at the beginning of the meal, then only offer one or two things at a time after that's gone.
Watch for "done" cues. Some of Buttercup's are: peering over the side of the high chair, spitting food out of her mouth, banging her hands on the tray, squishing handfuls of food, and picking up food and dropping it overboard. Watch your baby's cues in the same way you do when you're breastfeeding.
Don't leave your baby in the highchair too long. I heard one mom on a parenting forum complaining that her baby threw a lot of food on the floor. It turns out she was leaving her baby in the highchair for over an hour! Babies have tiny little attention spans. Buttercup's meals usually last 15 minutes at this stage. Either she's going to eat in 15 minutes or she's not. Leaving her there longer is only going to make her bored.
Use sign language so that your baby can "tell" you when she's finished eating. It was a proud day when Buttercup signed "all done" two weeks ago. My little genius! So, it's been a few weeks since starting solid foods. I think it's time to take a moment and reflect on all we've learned so far about baby led solids. Cue the music!
It's been awhile since I posted a "Lessons Learned." I continue to learn new things about the baby-led solids method while introducing our baby to solid foods:
Of all the objections I've heard to baby-led solids this one is the most ridiculous: "if you don't feed your baby with a spoon he/she won't ever learn how to eat with utensils." I'm not making this up! I've actually heard this on several occasions and from multiple sources. I fail to see any kind of logic with this argument. First of all, do these people seriously think that their sixteen year olds are going to still be picking up little cut up carrots and apples with their fingers? Kids learn by observation. I guarantee you that your baby is watching the big people at the table use forks and spoons, and cataloging that information away. They will learn how to use utensils. In the meantime, if it is something you want to work on with your baby try offering pre-loaded spoons of food. I'm quite happy for Buttercup to keep using her fingers. It's easier for everyone involved. I'm also not in any rush for my little baby to grow up.
Drumroll please...Buttercup has teeth! She waited until 10 months to sprout her first two little teeth, but she's got them. Now, maybe some of you other parents out there are a bit quicker on the uptake than I am. I didn't make the connection that spicy food would hurt little raw gums. I have since learned my lesson (thanks to a little incident involving fajitas and a screaming Buttercup).
I've found that a good way to refresh Buttercup's interest in her meal is to rake all of the food on her tray into a little pile. For some reason it seems easier for her to see and pick up food if it's all in one place, rather than scattered around her tray. This trick seems to work especially well for foods like rice, quinoa, corn, or other smallish foods.
Despite evidence to the contrary, many people object to baby led solids because they think it carries with it an elevated risk of choking. But, a baby who is controlling what goes into his mouth is actually less likely to choke than a spoon fed baby, who may suck food to the back of his throat before he is properly able to deal with it.
Just out of curiosity (and to spark conversation), what has your experience with baby led solids been like? Experts currently advise parents to expect at least one choking episode in the course of their child's infancy, regardless of the feeding method used. Have you had any scary mealtimes?
Just by way of review:
Quinoa: one of the most nutritious foods your baby can eat...and not available in jarred baby food! Quinoa is a complete protein and rich in essential nutrients. It's also highly tasty! I recently gave some quinoa to Buttercup to sample with her dinner. She ate it in the same manner in which she would eat rice or cous cous. So, not really anything new to report. But, seriously, buy some quinoa for your family. You'll thank me.
Quinoa: one of the most nutritious foods your baby can eat...and not available in jarred baby food! Quinoa is a complete protein and rich in essential nutrients. It's also highly tasty! I recently gave some quinoa to Buttercup to sample with her dinner. She ate it in the same manner in which she would eat rice or cous cous. So, not really anything new to report. But, seriously, buy some quinoa for your family. You'll thank me.
Another new food Buttercup sampled during Christmas was dried fruit. Snack time rolled around and we were still at Grandma's house, so Buttercup couldn't have her customary afternoon kefir/fruit smoothie. I foraged around and found some dried apricots and craisins that I thought she might like. I quartered the dried apricots to make them more manageable for her, then I put the apricots and craisins in a cup and gave them to her. Of course Buttercup immediately dumped them onto the floor, since she doesn't really understand the concept of eating out of a cup yet. I was happy to let her eat them off the floor, though.
I want to point out that babies on the move (both baby led solids-fed and puree-fed babies) tend to choke more frequently. That is because they find things on the floor while they're playing. A baby who is in a highchair is concentrating more on what's in her mouth than a baby crawling around on the floor. So, if you're going to give your baby food while she sits on the floor - like we did on Christmas - keep a good eye on her.
I found dried apricots and craisins to be good alternatives to raisins, which Buttercup eats somewhat regularly. For more information on how we introduced raisins, check here and here. Also, get the Oceanspray dried fruit, because the Sunsweet ones have high fructose corn syrup. I know. I couldn't believe it either.
PROS: nutritious and high calorie, no preparation, portable
CONS: be careful if you are offering them to your baby while on the go
The Christmas season afforded Buttercup the opportunity to try several new foods that she doesn't usually have at home. One of these was grapes. Now, I know grapes are not particularly special or Christmassy, but I just never buy them. I don't like them that much and they always seem to rot in my fridge; therefore, Buttercup had never had grapes. Her Christmas dinner was at Grandma's house, and consisted of turkey meatballs and grapes. I washed the grapes then cut them in half to prevent choking. Round, hard foods are the most hazardous to little babies (think: cherry tomatoes, grapes, nuts, hot dogs, etc), since they can slip right down the windpipe. If you cut these foods in half (except nuts, because they're just too darn hard) you lower the risk of choking for your little one.
Buttercup liked the grapes. I may have to break down and start buying grapes. Maybe I will freeze half of them and use them in smoothies so they don't rot.
PROS: easy fruit
CONS: I don't usually buy them...?
My preference is to always give my baby fresh produce that is in season. This gets trickier in the winter, and I definitely utilize frozen produce. I do love the month of December for the citrus, specifically clementines. Clementines are the ideal citrus fruit, in my opinion: they're easy to peel, have no seeds, are sweet, and a perfect bitable size. What's not to love?
I offered a few segments to Buttercup after her lunch one day. I wasn't sure if she'd like them. Though she'd had little samples of orange in the past, usually as part of a cooked recipe, this was the first time she's really consumed a significant amount of it. She loved it. She used her new teeth to bite the segment in half.
Buttercup liked the clementine so much that I kept giving it to her. I thought it was great that she was getting so much vitamin C. She even ate a whole clementine in one sitting a few times. Bad. Idea. I totally forgot about the whole citrus-makes-pee-acidic thing. Buttercup got a really bad diaper rash from the amount of citrus she was eating. Bad Mommy! We have learned the errors of our ways, and are now trying to find a good balance.
PROS: high in vitamin C
CONS: high in acid (diaper rashes!)
Teeth are definitely not required equipment when introducing your baby to "real" solid foods, but apparently they are somewhat helpful. Buttercup had no problems for the first 5 months she was eating solids with gumming her food into a pulp and swallowing it. I was amazed at the things she was able to eat, actually! But, having two brand spankin' new teeth has made it possible for her to take proper bites out of food. Although her foods are the same I'm finding that her technique has changed slightly.
The other day I was eating crackers with egg salad while Buttercup ate her lunch of tofu and avocado. I gave her a cracker to see how she'd like it. And...she liked it! I rarely have crackers in the house, since most of them are so salty, processed, refined and trans-fatty, but these happened to be somewhat "healthy" crackers, so I didn't mind sharing them with Buttercup. She didn't mind either. I got a kick out of hearing her little teeth snap the tip of the cracker off. Oh, the things that amuse mothers!
I can definitely see the appeal of crackers as an away-from-home food. They are very portable and easily placate small children. I want to be careful not to rely too heavily on them, since there are lots of other foods that pack a higher nutrition punch.
PROS: very portable
CONS: watch out for non-nutritious filler foods
I can never decide what my favorite thing about baby-led solids is. Some days it's the simplicity of it - how I never have to buy or make purees and spend time spooning food into my baby's mouth. Sometimes it's the fact that my little baby eats things like curry, fish, or gjetost. And, sometimes it's the fact that my baby's diet mainly consists of fresh, healthy foods and she loves it!
Whilst making myself a sandwich one day I threw a couple of my spinach leaves Buttercup's way. I didn't really expect her to do much more than play with them. But, being the omnivore she is, she ate them. Seriously, this kid will eat anything. This has its downfalls, especially when she's playing on a not-freshly-vacuumed floor or outside, for example. One of Buttercup's favorite non-foods is paper. She loves tearing apart and chewing on paper. While I don't endorse paper as a good food for babies (and feverishly try to prevent Buttercup from eating it), I guess all of her practice at eating books paved the way for her to successfully enjoy spinach leaves. HA HA!
Buttercup has had cooked spinach mixed into dishes before (and blended into her smoothies), but this was the first time she ate raw spinach. She tore the little leaves apart and ate them much in the same way she eats every little piece of paper she can get her hands on. I was curious how she would deal with the spines, but she ended up tearing the leaves off the spines, and left the spines alone. I was also interested to see if Buttercup would gag on little bits of leaf getting hung up in her throat. While she did cough a few times, she didn't have any problems with it. However, I wouldn't recommend this to babies just starting down the baby-led solids path. Also, I suggest buying organic spinach, as spinach is one of the "dirty dozen."
PROS: great nutritious superfood, no prep
CONS: not for the BLS newbie
***UPDATE: The evening I posted this we gave Buttercup raw spinach leaves again. She coughed a lot more than she did the first time. So, I guess I'm saying "be careful."***
Because Mommy and Daddy generally have more free time on Saturday mornings it provides great occasions for Buttercup to try breakfast foods that actually require preparation. We've recently been making quite the tradition of the family Saturday morning breakfasts, in fact. I'm so glad Buttercup is able to join us in these meals, since they just don't make scrambled eggs, pancakes, brown cheese, or french toast in pureed baby food versions.
This particular morning we made french toast, which was my favorite Saturday treat as a girl. It actually makes a great breakfast food for baby if you leave off the sugary syrup and other toppings. Because of the egg and milk, french toast is high in protein. Depending on what kind of bread you use it could become even healthier. I like flax seed breads, myself. Yummy! I cut a slice of french toast into one-inch squares for Buttercup and gave them to her when they were slightly cooled. She ate about half of the slice.
Because I consider french toast to be a special treat I always forget how easy it actually is to make. There's really no reason to limit Buttercup's french toast eating to Saturday mornings. This would make a good lunch option, too, especially when my pantry is starting to look like Mother Hubbard's.
PROS: easy, high in protein
CONS: not as easy as a pile of fruit or dry cereal
We continued with our curry theme and introduced Buttercup to the wonderful world of "jungle mixed vegetables curry" from our local thai restaurant. It is my favorite and I order it every time (after all, why try something else when you already know what the best thing on the menu is?). Check out the menu description:
Jungle Mixed Vegetables slightly spicy a vegetarian delight, snow peas, bell peppers, cashew, tomatoes, bamboo shoots, baby corn, cucumber, mushroom and tofu or chicken, cooked in cream, coconut milk and house spices
I ordered it with the tofu, and while I obviously didn't give Buttercup any of the cashews (hello, choking hazard), I did give her everything else. It was Buttercup's first experience eating baby corns and bamboo shoots, and she adored the baby corns. I always thought baby corns were just a fun-looking filler, but it turns out they are actually quite good for you. They are a good source of folate, vitamin B and fiber, and are also rich in several other nutrients such as potassium, vitamin B6, riboflavin, vitamin C. Plus, there is something about a baby eating baby corns that is extremely cute. Try it - you'll agree.
I think Buttercup particularly enjoyed the variety this meal afforded her, which is exactly why I like it. Well, sorry to cut this short, but I've gotta go and place an order for lunch now...
PROS: nutritious veggies
Buttercup has had curry before, but it was milder. This time we gave her a medium tikka masala. It wasn't too hot, but it did have some kick to it. She didn't seem to mind the spice, and enjoyed the meal. My recipe contains chicken, onion, potatoes, peas and tomatoes.
Unfortunately, I have discovered that spicy foods do not do well in mouths that have teeth cutting through the gums. I learned this the hard way one evening with fajitas (which Buttercup usually loves). She screamed with every bite until I finally realized what was going on and replaced the cayenne pepper-laden food with banana, but I digress.
I gave Buttercup a mound of the curry mixture over a little pile of brown rice and topped it with some homemade yogurt to cool it down a bit. Buttercup picked through each piece, but ate everything she was offered including the rice and yogurt, which she usually ignores. All in all, I was pretty proud of my little girl for embracing this meal. I didn't learn to appreciate curry until I was in my 20's, but at the tender age of 11 months Buttercup is loving international flavors!
PROS: develops the palate
CONS: stains skin (and bibs, and bathtub, and my khakis)
I've said it before, but baby cereal really should not be a baby's first food. In fact, I don't think baby cereal should play any role in an infant's diet. It's full of empty non-nutritious calories, develops a taste for refined starches, increases the possibility of diabetes, causes constipation, and tastes disgusting. Not convinced? Check out this article in USA Today vilifying baby cereal. Also, see the BLS FAQ's for more information on baby cereal.
So, what kind of cereal does one feed their baby-led solids baby? How about oatmeal? Oatmeal is a whole grain, easy to digest, and high in protein, vitamins and minerals, and fiber. I have been hesitant to give Buttercup much "solid" breakfast because I am usually pretty engorged in the morning and want her to nurse really well. But, recently I decided to try oatmeal.
A great way to serve oatmeal to your self-feeding baby is to cook it with less water than usual, then allow it to cool. It is then thick enough that you can roll it into baby fist-sized balls (good for pre-pincer grasp babies) or break it into little chunks.
The first time we tried this, Buttercup ate a good amount of oatmeal. The second time I gave it to her I made the mistake of also giving her blueberries, which are her favorite. The oatmeal was shunned. I don't think oatmeal will ever replace Buttercup's love affair with multi-grain Cheerios, but it is a great healthy morning option.
PROS: surprisingly not messy, nutritious
I have a wonderful friend who gives her kids smoothies to sneak extra fruits and veggies into their diets.
It's really a brilliant idea, and one I tucked away for future use. Well, the future is now. I made myself a
strawberry, banana, OJ and homemade yogurt smoothie the other day to use up a browning banana. I poured some into Buttercup's shot glass to see what she'd do with it. Well, she drank it, of course! In fact, she wouldn't even let go of the cup.
This was the first time Buttercup has ever liked yogurt. I'd like to ascribe that to my awesome yogurt-making ability, but I just don't know. By the way, making yogurt is a great way to use up the 52,000 gallons of milk WIC gives you a month, and it's super easy to do. Here is a link to a some good instructions: Modern Alternative Mama Blog.
Since Buttercup has decided to officially drop her 4:00 nurse, I've been giving her an afternoon smoothie instead. I throw in a banana, half an avocado (makes it creamy), a handful of spinach leaves, some frozen fruit (great way to use up those sour strawberries), some OJ and some homemade kefir or yogurt. She will drink 1.5 to 2 ounces.
PROS: great way to get extra nutrients in your baby
CONS: parental vigilance required if giving baby a smoothie in a cup
I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of making fruits and vegetables the basis of your baby's diet while introducing solid foods. I read so many things online about people who are doing baby-led solids with their babies, but regularly give them junk food. I think this entirely misses the point of BLS, and I would actually recommend those people give their babies purees. Say what you will about Gerber, but at least that they don't make pureed french fries and pizza! I mean, "special treat" foods are fine on occasion (like pancakes), but try to stick with healthy fruits and veggies for the most part.
Because of my commitment to giving Buttercup healthy fruits and veggies I am extremely thankful for frozen foods. There are only so many apples a girl can eat in a week, so I am happy to buy frozen fruits that are not currently in season (though I'm happier when they are in season). Buttercup enjoyed strawberry during the summer so I recently let her have a thawed frozen strawberry. It was cut into quarters for easier handling. She made her "sour face" and spat out the same piece about a million times (I counted). She kept picking it back up and putting it back in her mouth, so I thought it couldn't be that bad. Then, I tried a piece. oooooeeeeee was that sucker sour!
I've gotta hand it to Buttercup for her persistence. That particular batch of frozen strawberries was not fit for consumption without the aid of much sugar (which I did not give to Buttercup). I guess we'll go back to apples and pears for the time being - good thing citrus season is coming up!
PROS: frozen fruit is always in season
CONS: potential for extremely sour fruit
Buttercup's favorite thing about baby-led solids is getting to eat Mommy and Daddy's favorite foods. She has been initiated into the wonderful world of Gjetost cheese. Gjetost cheese (called "brown cheese" by Norwegians) is a special treat in our family. We eat it on Christmas morning with homemade cardamom buns. In a word, it is amazing. It's made from caramelized goat's milk and is really rich, creamy, sweet with a bit of sharpness. I picked some up recently to celebrate Hubby's new job, and we engaged in some brown cheese family joy on Saturday morning.
I handed Buttercup little pieces of it off my plate since we were all sitting on the couch together. My faithful readers will remember that Buttercup has had some weird reactions to cow's cheese (see here and here for details). I'm happy to report that goat cheese was quite kind to her little system, which is a good thing because she looooooooved it.
PROS: a yummy treat
I'm fully aware that this post isn't exactly breaking news. But, it was the first time Buttercup actually seemed to enjoy a raw tomato, so I thought it was worth mentioning. You'll have to forgive me if you think I'm being repetitive.
She's had tomato on other occasions, and likes it much better cooked. Raw tomatoes usually inspire Buttercup's "sour" face, which is pretty amusing for her parents. This particular evening, however, Hubby and I were eating salads with dinner so I gave some grape tomatoes to Buttercup just for kicks. I cut them in half first, since hard round foods still pose a choking hazard for babies, regardless of their eating skill.
She ate them! No faces!
PROS: high in vitamin C
CONS: an acquired taste for some
Variety is the spice of life, or so they say. I like to try different foods with Buttercup, and I like trying old foods new ways. She's had bell peppers before, but this time she had them roasted. I'd made roasted red pepper and potato soup (with kale), so I drained the liquids and gave Buttercup the chunks from the soup. Of all of the foods on her tray she went for the red peppers the most. I don't know if it was because she thought they were the tastiest, or if it was because they were most brightly colored. I have noticed she tends to gravitate towards brightly colored foods. I'm sure there's some natural instinctual lesson to be learned here...not sure what it is, though...I do know that brightly colored foods make for brightly colored diapers!
PROS: high in vitamin C
It's important when introducing solid food to your baby that you are making sure to offer her foods that represent a well-balanced diet. I'll admit: sometimes I forget about protein. I am better with Buttercup than I am with myself. I'll find myself going a few days without making a conscience effort to eat protein of some sort. The solution usually ends up being tuna. Firstly, tuna has those super Omega-3s. Secondly, I get it free from WIC (a government nutritional supplementation program for women, infants and children). Thirdly, it's easy - no cooking required!
One day I was making myself some tuna salad for a sandwich and thought I'd give some to Buttercup to try. I left the pickle relish out, since it's mostly salt. So, hers just had tuna and some mayo (I use the olive oil variety). I plopped about a quarter cup onto her tray and she happily shoveled it into her mouth. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner, but we'll definitely be keeping this as a protein emergency staple.
PROS: easy protein option
CONS: gives baby fishy breath
I'm sure other babies would love hamburgers, but I don't eat red meat which means that Buttercup doesn't get hamburgers. I do love a good veggie burger, though. Morningstar veggie burgers are my current favorites. They're great because you can stick them in your toaster and they're done super quick! And, check out these ingredients: mushrooms, water chestnuts, onion, carrots, green and red bell peppers, black olives, brown rice, and rolled oats. I cut a patty into squares for Buttercup and gave them to her for lunch.
For some reason, she tossed it overboard first, the little stinker. After she realized it was actually her lunch she ate it like it was going out of style. In fact, she can eat a whole patty! She loves her veggie burgers just like Mommy and will even beg for more if she runs out.
PROS: great, easy, source of protein and veggies!
CONS: a bit high in sodium
I always tell people that if they're going to do baby-led solids then they need to offer their babies nutritious, healthy foods. I'm shocked to hear stories of people who claim to be doing baby-led solids regularly giving their babies junk food. I am passionate about Buttercup loving healthy food. That is why I almost always give her fruits and veggies, and portions from our own healthily prepared meals. Sometimes, though, there is no food in the house. And for those times I am thankful for peanut butter toast. This isn't a regular food of Buttercup's, but I do bust it out when I haven't got much to offer her in the protein department. I use Smucker's natural PB, because it only has one ingredient (peanuts, duh), and I put it on whatever whole wheat toast I happen to have on hand.
I mention in my previous post on spreads that the American Academy of Pediatrics has lifted their allergy "ban" on peanut butter for babies. If you have a family history then be more cautious than I am. I do make sure that I don't spread the peanut butter too thick, as that could gunk up the windpipe.
When Buttercup was 6ish months, I would give her long strips of toast (look how teensy she was!) to make it easier for her to handle. But, now I cut one-inch squares for her. It is easier for her to eat, and less messy since she isn't squishing peanut butter in her fists.
Buttercup does love her peanut butter and will eat 3/4 of a slice of peanut butter toast, all the while making smacking noises with her lips. Very funny. And, in case you're wondering if toast is too hard for babies without teeth? The answer is "no." Babies have so much drool in their mouths that toast instantaneously turns to mush.
PROS: good source of protein and easy to prepare
CONS: messy hands
Sometimes babies are just confusing. Buttercup loves eating green things. She'll always pick out the peas and green beans first in "mixed veggies." I thought she'd like a green fruit, especially since Hubby loved kiwi as a very young child. Of course, he also liked pickled herring, so maybe he's not the best plumb line. Anyway, I offered some kiwi to Buttercup and she wouldn't even touch it. It was the weirdest thing. Maybe she was in a weird mood, but she literally refused to even look at it. I tried slicing it with the peel on. I tried dicing it. Finally I relented and gave her some roasted pumpkin, which she ate very nicely. When the pumpkin was gone, she picked up a slice of kiwi, kung fu-gripped it in half and sucked on the peel.
The second time we tried kiwi I gave Buttercup peeled cubes of it. She scarfed half of the fruit in a matter of seconds. Even after I gave her a wider variety of food to pick from she kept going back for more kiwi. I would love to know what goes on in that little mind, but I'm glad she warmed up to the green fruit in the end.
PROS: more vitamin C than oranges
CONS: might not be such a crowd-pleaser?
Parsnips are my favorite thing about British cuisine. Ok, well, maybe chocolate is. But still, the first time I had a parsnip I felt like I was eating manna from heaven. Buttercup recently tried this wonderful root vegetable as a component in a "vegetable cobbler" that included pumpkin. The parsnips were cut in one inch chunks and roasted with some other veggies before being topped with gravy and a savory crumble topping.
Buttercup ate the parsnip, but was much more interested in the pumpkin she was offered. I think it may have been a bit hard/chewy for her. So, maybe she will enjoy them more when she's got some teeth. Or, maybe she just really likes pumpkin?
Did you know that parsnips are a great source of vitamin C and folate, which help keep those winter colds at bay, and it's also full of fiber. Did I mention they are darn tasty?
PROS: taste great, nutritious, non-staining
CONS: a bit chewy
It literally causes me pain to see rotting jack-o-lanterns on the curb. I cannot handle it. Call me thrifty, call me cheap, but do not call me wasteful. Last year, Hubby and I rescued 16 abandoned pumpkins. And we ate them. All of them. Pumpkins are such a gigantic, yummy, nutritious food that it's a shame to throw away them away just because you've carved a face on them. Because of our fanatical pumpkin beliefs I have accumulated quite the collection of pumpkin recipes. So, the day after Halloween our beloved Jeffrey the Jack-o-lantern was unceremoniously hacked to 1-inch pieces and frozen to await his rebirth as our future meals. One of those meals is our family favorite, the "Vegetable Cobbler."
Basically, it's a bunch of roasted veggies with some gravy and a crumbly topping. So, Buttercup had her first taste of pumpkin. She's always been a big fan of squash in general, and pumpkin proved no exception. She gobbled it up, begged for more, and ate that, too.
Sidenote: do not give your infant pumpkin seeds. They require much chewing with molars. I thought that seemed obvious, but I was actually asked on a forum a few weeks ago if it was a good snack for babies. Uh, no.
PROS: great texture and nutrition
CONS: labor-intensive, especially if you buy big pumpkins
Persistence and imagination are the keys of successfully feeding babies. If you think your baby "doesn't like" a food, just keep trying to give it to her in new ways.
I've noticed that Buttercup has lost interest in lots of foods that are presented in the classic BLS "french fry" shape. This means she is suddenly blasˇ about former food favorites. She'll put the whole thing in her mouth then spit it out after a few minutes. Buttercup is still eating little pieces of food with much vim and vigor, so I decided to mix things up a bit. I've been giving her previously rejected foods with a fresh presentation. For example, I tore some broccoli florets into smaller chunks suitable for picking up with thumb and forefinger. It meant a bit more work for me than how I used to give her broccoli, but it was worth it because Buttercup ate tons more of it than she has in quite awhile. Here I thought she didn't like broccoli anymore, but it turns out she just didn't like the method in which I was serving it. I should have known better! Iron-packed food in fun bite-sized pieces!
PROS: easier for older baby to eat
CONS: a bit more prep work involved
Baby-led solids is so much fun. Really! I love that my baby eats the same things I eat. I love that she gets so excited to feed herself. I love that she is learning different foods, flavors, and textures. I love sitting down for meals as a family. No pursed lips to my incoming spoon. Just. Eating.
Buttercup recently tried chili for the first time. My chili is heavy on the beans and veggies, mild-medium on the spice level, and vegetarian (we use Morning Star crumbles in place of ground beef). Buttercup has also eaten grandma's chili, which is more meaty (ground turkey) and less veggie-y.
Unlike her technique with shepherds pie, Buttercup picked through the chili piece by piece looking for specific food elements. She was really quite scientific with it, especially honing in on the beans. But, she enjoyed the entire meal and ate quite a bit.
I have noticed Buttercup has starting to consume more at each "solids" meal. This has coincided with her dropping one nursing sessions a day. She is now down to nursing 4-5 times a day. I've also noticed she is suddenly drinking more water after meals (nearly an ounce, twice a day). I still think most of a baby's liquids and nutrition should come from breastmilk at 9 months. But, hey, I'm no doctor.
PROS: lots of nutrition and variety
Mango is one of those foods I've heard a lot of buzz about in the baby-led solids internet circles. While it does seem like it would be an ideal early food, I just never got around to purchasing one. I rectified this laxity and finally brought home a mango for Buttercup to try.
On the first attempt I cut it in slices and gave it to her with her lunch. At first she didn't seem too interested, and kept going after her tofu instead. Eventually she warmed up to the new orange squishy objects on her tray. She even busted out her 'excited face' and begged for more when the first slices were all gone. I gave her one piece at a time to prevent her playing with it.
I did try giving Buttercup diced mango, too, which seemed to work well for her. Also, mango does get slippery when it warms up, and I would imagine the cheerio dust trick (that I used for avocados) would help littler babies hold on to it better.
PROS: yummy, nutritious, easy texture for babies
The great thing about not using commercially made baby food is that each change in season brings new fresh foods for your baby to try. Colder weather brings with it winter squash. There's not really much difference between summer squash and winter squash, except the hardness of the skin and seeds. Buttercup has always been a lover of squash, and I figured winter squash would prove no exception. I was right - she loves it.
This particular meal consisted of roasted chicken, roasted butternut squash and roasted tomatoes. Roasting is my new favorite cooking technique. It's so easy to just throw everything in the oven with a bit of olive oil and spices then walk away! The squash was roasted in long strips with the skins still on. When we gave one to Buttercup she put it in her mouth then promptly spat it out. While the roasting produced a peel was soft enough for the tooth-endowed adults, Buttercup liked hers much better with the peels removed. She ate gobs of it after we peeled some for her.
PROS: yummy, nutritious seasonal veggie
CONS: peeling is a necessity
Thinking outside the box is great, when I remember to do it. I don't know why I didn't think of serving refried beans to Buttercup when she was 6-7 months old, as I have discovered it to be a great early baby food.
I gave her the vegetarian version, which is low in fat (and does not contain lard, unlike the regular version). I've never really understood the name "refried" beans, since this mexican staple hasn't been fried once, let alone twice - they're just mashed pinto beans. Tis a mystery, but I digress.
Buttercup enjoyed this food, though it could partly be because she enjoyed the process of eating them: she scooped up fistfuls and then sucked it off her hand, the dirty little piglet!
I will keep this in mind as a quick and easy lunch option, since these beans are a good source of protein, manganese, magnesium and fiber. Lots of great bone and muscle-building nutrients! I'll keep a wet washcloth handy, though, as this was messier than our usual BLS fare. Even after a thorough hand-washing, I found it impossible to entirely remove the beany smell from between Buttercup's fingers.
PROS: good nutrition, easy to eat, easy to prepare
One of the things I've enjoyed most about using the baby-led solids method to introduce solids to my baby is having laid back family meals together. That doesn't mean that Buttercup always eats everything that Hubby and I eat, but for the most part I prepare one meal and everyone eats it.
One recent Saturday morning Hubby and I were in the mood for pancakes, and that is one mood that should be indulged occasionally! Buttercup had already had her breakfast of raisins (and mom milk, of course). Since we were already strapping Buttercup in her highchair to eat with us, we thought she might as well enjoy a Saturday morning treat, too.
I make my pancakes from scratch; a habit I began while living in a country without pancake mix. It's a lot more economical, and you can tailor it to any dietary needs your family might have (substituting different flours, dairy, sugars etc). I might also add that making pancakes from scratch is so quick and easy I don't know why I would ever buy the boxed mix!
I'm sure it goes without saying that Buttercup loved her pancakes. I didn't give her much - maybe half a small pancake torn into smaller pieces, sans butter or syrup. While my standard practice is to give my baby healthy foods that will make her brain grow big and strong, I think it's important to have a healthy relationship with 'naughty' foods, as well. Besides, everyone deserves a treat now and again, especially when you're as sweet as Buttercup!
PROS: babies love them, literally no mess
CONS: not an 'everyday' food
With as much as Buttercup loves fruits and veggies, I'm always a bit surprised at how much meat she will eat in one sitting. She is a big fan of meatloaf. My meatloaf is made out of ground lean turkey meat, with onions, celery, oatmeal and egg. There is a sauce that I put on top, but I left that off of Buttercup's portion, since it contains honey. I might as well take this opportunity to mention that you should never give your under 1-year-old honey. It can potentially have spores in it that produce neurotoxins in little bodies with immature guts. This makes for very sick babies. Public service announcement over.
So, I sliced the "safe" end off for Buttercup and she ate it. A lot of it. Quite happily.
PROS: good lean protein
CONS: don't give baby the yummy honey/ketchup/mustard sauce
Just because we aren't spoon-feeding our babies doesn't mean we can't still offer them soup, right? Chunky soups make a great meal option for the self-feeding baby. Just leave out the liquid and give them the soft chunks. In this case we had zuppa toscana on the menu (think 'Olive Garden,' but vegetarian-ified). I drained the liquid and dumped some kale, potatoes, and vegetarian "sausage" onto Buttercup's tray.
I knew she wouldn't have a problem with the potatoes and sausage. It was interesting to watch her eat the kale, though. I never noticed before how stringy kale is! I even got some stuck in the not-quite-up/not-quite-down area of my esophagus. For Buttercup there was a lot of this going on: pick up, chew, spit out, repeat. I was amazed at how persistent she was. She just kept trying to eat those darn leaves. Eventually she succeeded; I just didn't think she would be that motivated to eat something that was putting up such a fight. I guess Buttercup's inner dietician was telling her she needed some vitamin A (hello, 354% RDA!).
PROS: power-packed nutrition
CONS: hard to chew and swallow
Lentils are a great solid food for babies! Not only are they easy to eat, but they're chock full of nutrition. Lentils have the most iron of any vegetable, and they are full of other vitamins, minerals and fiber. They're a great substitute for red meat, for those like myself who are withholding red meat from their babes.
I'm sure Buttercup didn't know how good for her these little gems were when she was eating, though it might explain the little 'happy dance' she was doing while eating this meal. I have a recipe for slow cooker lentils that has lots of other veggies and savory goodness. It's one of our family's favorites, and Buttercup concurred.
We noticed a few new developments during this meal. Firstly, Buttercup now only picks up as much in her hand as she can comfortably chew. This means much less spitting food back on the tray. Also, she is getting much better at moving food around with her tongue and chewing it up. She even chews with her mouth closed. Watch out, Miss Manners!
All in all, this will be a great staple to add to Buttercup's diet.
PROS: great nutritional value
Buttercup's global food education continues, this time with french food. On 'le menu du jour': ratatouille. I'd neither eaten nor made ratatouille before, so this was a first for our whole family. Food adventures indeed!
Eggplant was the only ingredient in the dish that was new to Buttercup. It was cut into one-inch squares (with skins on) and cooked down. The consistency of the eggplant was quite nice: a bit meaty, but still easy to squish between a pair of little gums.
It was interesting to see Buttercup maneuver the skins, first using them as handles, then spitting them out when the fruit was gone. Parents may worry about babies choking on skins, but Buttercup never has problems with them - she just spits them out!
Buttercup ate 3 squares of eggplant, along with the other veggies in this meal.
PROS: what's not to like about ratatouille?
You just never know what foods a baby might like unless you try them! For example, Buttercup likes cooked onions.
She has had finely diced onions mixed in with other foods before, but never larger chunks their own. So, as part of our hawaiian chicken meal, I put some onion strings on her tray.
I was surprised at how much Buttercup ate. She seemed to really enjoy them! She ate them in a similar fashion to the steamed green peppers - she kinda flossed them through her mouth. But, she did eat three or four strings.
In the past I've always considered onion a flavorful filler in foods. But, it turns out they are chock full of goodness. Onions contain natural antibacterial properties, they support the immune system, and they're high in vitamins A & C. Slam dunk!
PROS: nutritious and delicious
CONS: a bit stringy
A great thing about using the baby-led solids method is that your baby can take advantage of yummy seasonal produce. The fall-ish weather has inspired me to buy more root vegetables, including one of my favorites from my time living in the United Kingdom: swede (known as rutabaga on this side of the pond). Usually I mash rutabaga/swede and serve it as a side dish, but I made fries out of them one night. I've recently discovered that you can make oven "fries" out of pretty much any root veg - taters, sweet taters, turnips, beets, carrots... These are a healthy alternatives to deep-fried french fries, and are also a great shape for little baby hands! Just make sure you leave off the salt for baby's portion.
Buttercup loved her rutabaga fry and gobbled it all up. Out of curiosity I looked up the nutrition benefits of rutabaga: it is really high in vitamin C and also a handful of minerals. Interestingly enough rutabaga also helps with milk production, so this one is a great option for mommies, too!
PROS: easy shape for BLS
Buttercup is really making her way around the world, food-wise. She's had Mediterranean, Moroccan, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, and now Hawaiian flavors! One of Hubby's favorite dishes is Hawaiian chicken. It contains pineapples (naturally), so Buttercup got to try a new food.
The pineapples were already in chunks, and I just cut them into smaller chunks (maybe 1/2 inch by 1/4 inch?). On a sidenote: Buttercup has been enjoying smaller pieces of food, rather than the classic BLS french fry shape. I wouldn't recommend doing this in the first couple of months of solids, but Buttercup has demonstrated that she's mastered the pincer grasp and is able to move food in her mouth and chew it up really welll, so that's what we generally do now.
So, Buttercup loved the pineapple. I think she ate the equivalent of a third of a "ring" of pineapple during dinner, along with chicken and onions (stay tuned for more info on onions).
PROS: tasty vitamin C food
Buttercup has graduated to straight-up raisins.
When I first started giving raisins to Buttercup, I would soak them for a few minutes to soften them a bit. Maybe I'm an over-imaginative first time mother, but I kept visualizing a hard raisin torpedoing into Buttercup's windpipe.
Anyway, Buttercup now eats the raisins fresh from the box, sometimes with her breakfast cereal. These are proving to be a super easy and portable snack. They are also a good pooping food - a good tip for those of you out there with constipation-prone kiddos. In addition, raisins are high in lots of vitamins and minerals, most notably: potassium, iron, manganese, and copper.
PROS: easy, quick snack with a nutrient-packed punch
CONS: don't go overboard unless you really enjoy changing poopy diapers
A great thing about introducing solid foods to your baby using baby-led solids is that you can develop your baby's flavor palate early. Example: curry! Don't be nervous to give your baby spicy foods. If you regularly eat spicy or strong flavors, then your baby has already tasted them via amniotic fluid and breastmilk. Besides, have you ever thought about what Indian babies eat when they're starting out on solid foods? I'm sure they don't even bat an eye at curry!
Our vegetable curry recipe comprised: tofu, cauliflower, chick peas (very soft), onions and sweet potato. Though I didn't know it at the time, I made the mistake of trying this meal when Buttercup was in a crabby mood. At first she wouldn't even touch the pile of food I gave her. I gave her a slice of banana try and pique her interest in food, and suddenly she was sampling all the food on her tray.
Buttercup ate leftovers for lunch the next day and ate a ton of it. Of course, everyone knows that curry is always better the next day.
PROS: great for building adventurous eaters
CONS: somewhat messy/staining
Now that apples are in season (and on sale!) we have been stocking up on them.
I was never completely satisfied with our previous experiences with apple, as Buttercup would get little tiny bits stuck in her mouth. But, a brainwave came to me one day: steaming the apple slightly!
So, here is the new procedure: I peel an apple (which is a lot easier than trying to wash off the waxy coating they put on them), then rinse and cut into slices or chunks. I steam them for just a minute, until they're semi-transparent. This yields apple chunks with a similar consistency to raw pear, which Buttercup can't get enough of. These squishier apples are also easier for her to hold. BONUS!
By the way, I've also heard that shredding apples (or carrots) is a great option for youngish babies just starting out BLS.
PROS: easier to handle and eat
CONS: requires a bit more prep work
Happy Autumn! I'm very pleased to be making comfy fall-like dinners again. One of my standbys is shepherds pie, in which I use Morning Star Crumbles, mashed potatoes (made with natural yogurt in place of milk) and frozen mixed veggies (green beans, carrots, peas, corn, lima beans). Obviously, there is a lot of room for customization with this meal as you could use any kind of meat or veggies.
I plopped a mound on Buttercup's tray and said/signed "hot" to her. She does really well at waiting for her food to cool down. I used to wait to serve food to her until it had cooled, but that got to be a nuisance. I don't think most babies would purposely hold on to something if it was uncomfortably warm, but maybe Buttercup is just a genius.
Anyway, she loved this meal. I've noticed that Buttercup has no qualms with foods being mixed. She will happily pick through it for specific items, or shove a handful of mixture in her mouth, depending on her mood. She ate this meal hand over fist, using both hands to move food to her mouth really quickly like a little machine. By cleanup time she had eaten roughly half a cup, and there was absolutely no fallout on the floor which made mommy very happy. For the record: Buttercup doesn't usually eat that much food during her solid meals.
PROS: great way to combine yummy foods
Blueberries are not for the immaculately dressed infant!
We never got the chance to introduce Buttercup to fresh blueberries, since they were in season before she was capable of safely handling them. However, now that her pincer grasp skill is firmly developed I got some frozen ones and they have proven to be a huge hit. If you are going to use frozen blueberries for your little one I'd recommend going organic, as frozen blueberries can pack quite the pesticidal punch (even more than your average non-organic produce).
Anyway, because they had been frozen these berries were quite soft when thawed, so they were really easy for Buttercup to chew. In fact, I've never seen her eat anything so fast. She was literally eating them hand over fist. I am thankful that I put two bibs on her, though, because her outfit would have been destroyed by the purple juice.
PROS: high nutritional value (antioxidants!)
CONS: non-organic is high in pesticides, very messy
You'll have to take my word for it, but that really is a chunk of salmon in Buttercup's fist. I broke the fish into quarter-sized pieces. She loves fish, and although she's had it several different times, the only salmon she'd had up to this point was canned salmon and smoked. For this meal, the salmon had been pan-fried in olive oil (with some pepper, garlic and lime juice). She gobbled it all up!
This was a great meal for her because the fish was a nice consistency to hold on to. It was also flaky so she could chew and swallow it easily. I've mentioned it before, but fish is an extremely healthy food for babies (and adults for that matter) because of its high Omega-3 and protein content. Other health benefits of fish, especially salmon, is it has essential vitamins and minerals that promote healthy tissue growth, lowers cholesterol, regulates metabolism and is good for eye, brain and nerve development. Sounds like a super-food if you ask me! IÕm so happy Buttercup has a love for fish!
PROS: Multiple health benefits
CONS: Maybe watch out for bones (depends on the cut and species of fish)
I cannot believe my child likes brussels sprouts. They are one of those foods that kids stereotypically hate! I always knew Buttercup was special, or maybe doing baby-led solids really does make babies more adventurous eaters.
The sprouts were part of a stew that I'd made in the crockpot, so they were "well done." I just read today that cooking sprouts actually increases the absorbable nutrients. Something about fiber, phytonutrients, DNA and cancer protection, but I digress. I cut the sprouts in half for easier handling. Buttercup put the entire half in her mouth, chewed and swallowed, though not without incident: she had some spectacular gags throughout the meal. I think maybe the leaves were getting a little hung up in her throat on their way down. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: remember that gagging is normal and not cause for worry. Gagging prevents food from going down the wrong pipe. It involves the throat, while choking involves the windpipe. And, Buttercup was definitely not put off by her gags. She ate two whole sprouts during the meal.
PROS: nutritious veggie
CONS: a bit gaggerific
Although Buttercup is only 8 months old and still has no teeth, she has already graduated to eating "proper" meals, meaning she pretty much eats the exact same things Hubby and I eat for dinner (see about importance of family meals). The only exception to Buttercup eating what we eat is if there is a milky sauce of some sort (milk can cause all sorts of problems until baby's guts mature near age 1). My next four posts are all from the same dinner. She had:
salmon, pan-fried in olive oil, garlic, black pepper, lime juice
sauteed green beans (from the garden)
sauteed carrot shreds
couscous, with red onions, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, and olive oil
Her first experiment with green bean was not too successful. It was difficult for her to bite the bean apart. Also, it was her third meal, so it's not like she really knew what the heck she was doing yet. I've mentioned green beans in passing since then, but wanted to do an official post on this great veggie.
These green beans were from my garden, but the difference is that they'd been blanched and frozen, whereas the others were picked fresh and steamed. I think that combined with the sauteeing made them more squidgey than other green beans I'd given Buttercup. At any rate, she ate 2 or 3 full beans in addition to her other offerings.
PROS: sauteeing makes for softer beans