FAQ



FAQ about Baby Feeding


I wanted to share some questions I have received from readers, and my answers on how I handled it with Pablo. Hope this can be helpful. Feel free to email me or leave a comment here if you have other questions!



MEALS / MEAN PLANS


Q: Is there a typical French breakfast? What do you eat in the morning to make it from 7 until noon or so without a snack? 

A: French kids we know do eat breakfast around 7am and then hang snack-free in school until about noon (from age 3 on). At a younger age as well. One important thing is to allow enough time for a good breakfast. It's not always easy to compromise between sleep and breakfast though, I know... But if you can allow a good 30 min for breakfast, all the better. There are variations, but most French families (us included) do cereal, a hot drink (milk or chocolate milk), and some toast or bread. I also give Pablo fruit (usually berries), as well as plain Greek yogurt (with a sprinkle of sugar and a sprinkle of wheat germs) high in protein. And a bit of orange juice (the only juice of the day). So that's a pretty hearty breakfast that does make him last til lunch...


Q: When did you start introducing breakfast items and what did Pablo's first breakfast "meals" look like?

A: I started Pablo on the organic oat flour for babies, around the same time I started the veggies, so around 5 months.
Around 6 months, I started offering a bit of fruit puree (he didn’t have a lot though). I think around 8-9 months, I started introducing yogurt in general, and Greek yogurt in the morning to give him extra protein, with a sprinkle of sugar and a sprinkle of wheat germ (I have found it amazingly difficult to find full fat organic Greek Yogurt. I found one that was 2% that we used, Wallaby brand. And just recently, have found Strauss Dairy organic full fat Greek which is amazing). Shortly after, I started him on berries or kiwi, cut up small as finger foods (though blueberry skins were an issue at one point, but he was spitting them out, so we were OK.)  Around that 8-9 mo, I found it useful to have a finger food to offer at every meal so as to let Pablo self-feed partially and be involved. So the fruit worked nicely for breakfast.

I must have added a tiny bit of fresh OJ around 12-13 months, and switched to regular oatmeal or other oat based organic cereal or ancient grain cereal that he could easily chew, for variety (I found a sort of cheerio looking cereal that’s organic and 100% oat, low in sugar, which Pablo likes a lot, including a chocolate version that doesn't have any more sugar). And last, around 14 months, I started giving him a little bit of cereal or whole grain bread toast with butter if he wanted. (To this day, the bread comes last, I first serve the fruit, yogurt and cereal)

I must admit, French tend to be creatures of habit when it comes to breakfast, contrary to other meals, we tend to have the exact same thing every day... and traditionally, breakfast is on the sweet end, rarely includes eggs etc like here, perhaps only once in a while on the weekend. One of those cultural things... But if you enjoy them, after 12 months, eggs could replace the Greek yogurt once in a while for protein. 



Q: What did your daily food plan look like when Pablo was 8 months old?

A: My feeding schedule around 8 mo would look more like:
Breakfast: Milk, oat cereal, some fruit (compote at first, then first berries)
Lunch: Protein + veggie puree (after 8 mo, cheese and some fruit yogurt for dessert)
Goûter : fruit compote
Dinner: Veggies only (after 8 mo, cheese and/or plain yogurt for dessert, veggie + protein around 9 mo)

Note also that around 8 months, as baby is working on the pincer grasp, I started to introduce finger foods as a first course, mostly in the form of veggies that can be easily gummed down (peas, pieces of squash, carrots, hearts of palm, etc.)

For more details, check out my 8-12 months section of Feeding Baby.

Q: How did you start to wean off moving into food? Do you still feed Pablo BM or formula? When do you do it? I read that at 6 months you started to introduce protein. 

A: I started with 1 veggie a day at lunch around 4 ½ months (Around the same time, I introduced infant oatmeal at breakfast).  Around 5 1/2 months, I started doing the fruit compote at snack time (4pm ish). Then around 6 months, I started protein+veggie purees at lunch, and shortly after maybe around 7 months, I started doing the veggie for dinner. Around 8 months, I added yogurt and cheese to lunch and dinner. Around 9 months, I did protein+veggie at dinner also. So his schedule started to be outlined this way with lunch, snack and dinner at the times they are at now, pretty much (12/1230p – 4/430p – 7pmish) 

Also, check out the 4-6 months and 6-8 months sections.

RECIPES

Q: Where do you get your ideas for main courses? You mentioned some of your mom's recipes - are these "in your head" or do you rely on any cookbooks for inspiration? If so, which ones? Do you have any other tips for fitting in cooking to a busy week?

A: A combination of sources: food blogs (check out my blog roll, lots of wonderful sources of recipes), some cook books I have (mostly French, some in English), some recipes I improvise, and just dishes we've made for a long time. I try to share a lot of recipes from French cookbooks on the blog to make them more accessible, and I will make a better effort of putting the prep and cook times in the recipes. But I think the most helpful thing I started doing, was having a weekly meal plan. It remains flexible, and we go off it sometimes as we need to, but it takes away the stress of "what are we eating tonight?", you can shop ahead of time and know you're eating a good variety of things. I would definitely give that a try, even for maybe one or two nights a week at first, and see how it works for you. Another thing I would recommend is CSA deliveries and/or farmer's markets, buying local (organic if possible) produce and coming up with recipes based on what you find, is a good way to eat fresh and seasonal... I post our menus every week, so you may want to browse through the menus for some ideas as well... You will see that most meals may sound "fancy" but are actually pretty easy, maybe 20-25 mn prep at the most. 



Q: How do you make your fruit compotes?


A:  Yes, it really is as simple as steaming or boiling and pureeing, mix and match different fruits, you can do it from fresh or frozen. In winter, you can mix frozen berries with fresh apple or pear. A few readers have asked me to post a recipe, so I will do that very soon.




FOODS/MILK


Q:  In regards to cheese: do you give your son the unprocessed kind of cheese? Or what age should you introduce a baby/toddler that kind of cheese? 

A:  I do sometimes give raw milk cheeses, as well as fresh and aged cheeses, it's a mix of raw milk and pasteurized cheeses, I just try to pick flavorful cheeses, and avoid bland stuff like string mozzarella. Pablo really likes goat and sheep's milk cheeses, which also happen to be easier to digest for some babies who have a hard time digesting cow milk. As far as age, obviously check with your pediatrician, as raw cheese and milk are highly debated and it's worth a little research. I personally chose to start Pablo on all cheeses, raw and otherwise, around 8 mo, one kind at a time for a few days like any other new food, to make sure he digested it OK. I do see great benefits to raw dairy and we consume raw milk as well. When I post our weekly menus (almost every week), I list what cheeses we're rotating that week if you want to have some ideas, and you can look back from 13 months. 

Q: How does milk play into your feeding schedule?

A: Every kid is different and you should definitely check with your pediatrician, depending on your child's age. That being said, here's what I know. Most children in France over 2 1/2 to 3 years old, only drink one bottle or cup (about 8 oz) of milk, in the morning, but they do eat extensive amount of dairy (cheese at lunch and dinner, yogurt once or twice a day) the rest of the day. They actually give some equivalencies, i.e. a yogurt or 1 to 1.5 oz of cheese equals about 5 oz of milk. From 12 mo on, my pediatrician told me to give Pablo a max of 16-18 oz a day (not to exceed 20) in 2 or 3 feedings (for a child who's not that fond of milk, that quantity can be achieved with yogurt, cheese or other dairy, with equivalency above). After 12 months, if they drink more than 16/18 oz of milk, they may eat less at mealtimes and get less of the nutrients they need from real food. At 18 months, I gave Pablo 3 bottles a day, 8 oz in the morning (I'll give him some before breakfast, and the rest after, so he still has an appetite for breakfast), 4 oz after lunch before his afternoon nap, and 4 oz at night. At 23 months, we're transitioning to 2 bottles a day (early morning, and evening). I have to say Pablo is VERY attached to his milk, still, not so much out of hunger, but it's very comforting for him. When he asks/signs for it before it's time, I do tell him gently he'll have it a bit later. I wasn't able to continue nursing past 12 months, but I know it is usually recommended, if you do, to nurse at set times and no longer on demand past 12 months, for those same reasons, it would amount to snacking and would affect their nutrition. For us, milk has definitely been a balancing act as far as the timing with the meals. (Sometimes, it seems he wants his milk right before dinner for example, and it doesn't keep him from eating the rest of his food.) I definitely have to pull the reins and give him milk at set times and quantities, otherwise Pablo would drink a lot more milk, and eat less at mealtimes. 

Q: How did you balance the introduction of solids with the milk bottles?

A: Before 12 months, food is only to familiarize baby to solids (taste, texture, spoon, finger eating etc), while milk is the primary source of nutrition until 12 months. This helps deal with quantities of food to give, basically whatever baby wants is fine. (I started with a couple of spoons, up to about 1 oz portion at 6 months, and 2 oz around 8 months.) I kept the milk and the solid introduction sort of parallel.  I tried not to give milk within an hour of the solid meal when it could be worked out that way. His milk feeding schedule shifted quite a bit with naps, etc, and I tried to follow a cue-based schedule, meaning I didn’t set a fixed schedule, and I didn't go completely all over the place either, I structured a flexible schedule around Pablo’s cues and naps. Quantities of milk vary a lot among babies, so definitely check with your pediatrician on that... I did milk on demand until about 4 months, then it worked itself out to 4 milk feedings a day by about 5 months. Between 12-22 months, Pablo drank 16 oz of milk (whole raw milk is my preference) a day, split in 3 feedings (morning, before afternoon nap, before dinner 8 + 4 + 4 oz). I had to do some trial and error on the timing of the milk so as not to spoil his appetite. Giving him the milk in 4 oz increments helped. My pediatrician said 16 oz was the recommended quantity between 12 and 24 mo, anything above that affects the eating of solid foods (which they need nutritionally at that point, milk is no longer enough), and anything below that might affect calcium intakes, though cheese, yogurt and any dairy product count toward that number, so if a child isn’t crazy about milk, you can easily compensate with those. 
At about 22-23 months, Pablo is transitioning to 2 bottles a day (early morning & evening, between 12-16 oz total), and his food intake has increased as a result.


Q: When you first began giving him purees to sample, what was your method for feeding him? did you feed him 1oz or a taste of a puree at meal time along side a bottle/breast milk? Did you gradually increase the serving size between 4 and 6 months or stay with 1oz tastes?

A: Basically the way I did it, was to start introducing 1 vegetable at lunch time, for us around 12/12:30pm. At first I made 1 oz batches, and he ate only a couple of spoons. I really followed his lead and cues, and he slowly increased his intake.  I believe he started taking 2 oz around 6-7 months. After I had gotten him started with a few vegetables, I started to introduce 1 fruit at snack time, around 4:30pm, same thing, a couple of spoons at first, following his cues. Basically slowly establishing the feeding schedule we have now and will have for the years to come, breakfast, lunch, snack at 430p, dinner, with no snacking at all in-between meals. I added the dinner meal around 7-8 months, with vegetables only at first, then added protein to lunch, then added protein to dinner (around 9 months). Since the milk is the primary source of nutrition until 12 months, the point of feeding them solids from 4-5 mo to 12mo is not for nutrition, but to introduce them to flavors, textures, eating with a spoon, etc. If you look at it this way, you can really relax about quantities and follow the baby's cues. I kept the milk schedule as it was regardless of the "meals". It varied quite a bit along with the naps from 4 months to 12 months, but I would try as much as possible to give him the milk at least 1 hr before or after the feeding.

Q: What order that you tried the first purées?

A: I started with green beans, and did leeks/potato shortly thereafter, as well as zucchini/potato, winter squash, and peas (though peas were the only one I gave him store-bought, because I was never able to make a smooth enough pea puree from frozen peas, the skins of the peas would somehow always remain, perhaps my processor wasn't powerful enough...). You can also do lettuce (butter, watercress, endive, etc.) with potato, a good one for the very beginning.

+ See the 4-6 months section.

Q:  I noticed in your recipe list a custard. When does the FSP [French association of pediatricians] suggest introduction of eggs and is it different if there is an egg allergy in the family?

A: The FSP recommends half a yolk at 7-8 months, a full yolk between 9-12 mo, and a whole egg after 12months (That is pretty much what I’ve followed myself, though I read that it was OK to introduce a whole egg from about 10 months in a cake, or a cooked preparation with other ingredients.)

They say very little about egg allergies, mostly about peanut or milk allergies with family history, and generally recommend, depending on gravity of allergy family history, to wait until after 12 months, and to introduce very gradually and in very small quantities, with pediatrician’s guidance.

Q: What do you do for liquids? Does Pablo drink water?

A: I only give Pablo water, I don’t do juice at all, with the exception of a little bit of OJ with breakfast, and I started that around 10-12 months. (I did do a little bit of diluted prune juice the couple of times he was constipated around 5-6 mo). He didn’t drink much water at first, but I kept offering. And he increased his intake on his own.

Q: Do you give him any additional cereals (than at breakfast)?

A: I don't give any additional cereals except breakfast, not counting of course rice, quinoa, sometimes millet or barley, as a side dish or included in a recipe.

Q: Do you give Pablo much fruit purees (in those first months 6-1y)?

I usually do for afternoon snack, still to this day (23 mo). So around 4:30/5 pm, I give him all kinds of fruit purees, either homemade (steam, puree, freeze) or this is the only thing I buy in jars occasionally for
convenience, the organic fruit purees, as long as it's only one or two fruit and nothing else strange is mixed in there (no broccoli blueberry apple for us!)
When he was 6-9 mo, I offered a bit of fruit puree in the morning at breakfast as well, then just switched to fresh fruit when he was able to chew it and digest it.

Q: What is your opinion on giving of fresh fruit juices throughout the day?

If you're in a place where there are lots of delicious fresh exotic fruit juices, it is definitely a better choice than the processed juices we have here. But I would still be careful, because fruit juices are high in sugar with no fiber to compensate, and I would consume them in moderation, at certain set times (it is a snack of sorts), not on demand throughout the day so as not to spoil the appetite for the meals, and I would generally favor eating the fresh fruit over just the juice. Children get "addicted" to sugar so easily, and then it's hard to go back. Also, I put the emphasis on drinking water with the meals so as not to create the habit of having nothing but sweet drinks. In France, juices are served as a special treat for children. I think the best way to quench thirst should remain water (perhaps this way you appreciate the fresh juices all the more when you have them?)

For younger babies (6-12 mo), I did find that a bit of prune juice (diluted in water, about 1 oz total), helped with constipation. But so did mango or prune purees/compotes.


LOGISTICS/COOKING/GETTING ORGANIZED

Q: How do I feasibly start menu planning lunches?


A: Lunches I often do easy things like a salad with mixed raw or precooked cold veggies as above, and then sardines, or smoked salmon, or tofu (which I simply warm up a bit), or leftover cold chicken. Or pan-fried things, like pan-fried ground beef patty, or an egg.  

Q: How do you balance preparing the foods and providing variety? Any practical advice on how to get organized for meals?

A: Meal planning. Make a weekly meal plan, paying attention to having lots of different colors vegetables.  Plan on dedicating maybe 1 hour to 90 minutes a couple of times a week to make stuff ahead. Examples: Make a big batch of vegetable soup that you can have for a couple of dinners (or freeze for later), make a big batch of a vegetable jardinière. And steam or boil green beans, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli.  Meanwhile, make batches of purees for your younger one and freeze them so all you have to do is pull it out and reheat for his/her lunch or dinner. Have tomato, cucumber, hearts of palm on hand to mix and match with just a drizzle of olive oil and lemon or vinegar. Also, every few days, I make enough quinoa, rice or vegetable pasta to have leftover, so I can add it in easily cold for lunches.

Q: You never seem to to eat leftovers (occasionally I see you list them, but not very frequently)...do you always just make the exact amount for the meal, or do you ever freeze things? 

A: We do have some, but not a ton. Because of our meal plan, I try to make just enough for a meal, unless I planned otherwise. Leftover chicken will be eaten for lunch the next day, often we have leftover soup or grated carrots (a couple of servings), that sort of thing, we'll just have it for the next lunch. We do freeze some things, like chicken basquaise, or purees. Comes in handy for those improvised nights.


Q: How much do you spend on food each week?

A: It varies from week to week, but I guess we're somewhere around 200-300 a week for a family of 4. CSA delivery is great. 

Q: How do you manage to cook for every meal, do you get burned out?

A: I do have my mom helping me, which is priceless. But cooking has become quite therapeutic for me, and the meals are some of our favorite moments of the day. So that makes the logistics around the meals easier to handle. You'll notice that our lunches are usually not that involved, just a salad and something cooked very quickly, there's rarely more than 15 mn prep for lunch (unless I do something a bit more involved to post on the blog). That being said, leftovers for lunch are a great time saving option for sure. I hope that answers your questions... Cooking for every meal can be a tall order, so you have to find a balance that works for your family and keeps you happy. 


SELF-FEEDING, DEALING WITH ISSUES


Q: What are your methods with feeding babies food when they are old enough to want to feed themselves.  Do you just serve one course of finger foods and then serve the rest with eating utensils?  At what age do you start letting your baby feed himself?

A: Pablo was obviously fed by us at first, when we started solid foods around 5 months.

Around 8 months, when they start to work on pincer grasp and fine motor skills, is when I started giving him a “first course/finger food” so he could practice. At first, I did put it directly on his high chair tray. (I introduced a plate I believe around 12-13 months. Because it was a novelty, at first he kept turning it over with all its content – yikes. That lasted a few weeks, we kept telling him that wasn’t OK, the plate was made to stay on the tray and eat out of, and after the novelty passed, he stopped doing it.)

He did have a testing phase around 13-15 months of dropping food on the floor to see our reaction, same thing, we made sure to calmly but firmly say that wasn’t OK ("I can't let you throw food on the floor"), and the phase passed. I think what helped also is how good a time he was having at the table, interacting with us, enjoying his food etc.

So from 8-10 months, even though I gave him a spoon he could chew on, I was still feeding him the real soft stuff, puree, yogurt etc. Because he could touch, grab, feel the finger foods, he didn’t mind being fed the rest. Also the cheese, which I serve after the main course, made a good finger food. From around 11 months, I would also have him practice spooning soft food (with help) if he showed interest.  

On his own, he started to get really interested in using fork and spoon around 14-15 months, and from 20 months, he's been getting fairly proficient at it (he can eat soup with a spoon himself, though a fair bit of soup gets on the bib). That’s the other thing, in order to leave him some freedom without having to change him 4 times a day, I got those long sleeves plastic bibs with a pouch for him, so he can get a bit messy. That being said, he never did put lots of food in his hair etc.  

Q: How do the French handle self-feeding of babies/toddlers?

I am a bit more lenient that most French on this issue, most French feed the kids until quite late, and don’t let them “play” with their food or eat with fingers. I personally thought it was important to establish, around 8 months, a sensory connection to food, give the baby a chance to experience it with his senses. I encourage smelling the food and comment on how it looks and tastes (and even sounds of things cooking and such), so touching it too makes sense. Of course, that would not be OK at 3, but I think kids have less interest in playing with food at 3, if they could do it at 8 months...
I also didn’t want to bring power struggles to the table, especially with using utensils. So I let him come to them naturally, and he did, wanting to do like us.

The other positive thing about them feeding themselves, is babies know when they’re full, and they know how to listen to their body, and I wanted to encourage and nurture that as much as possible. But doing partial spoon feeding, as well as self-feeding with fingers or utensils, worked for us, and he was still able to know when he was full. Probably also because the 4 course format makes us eat slower and gives us more of a chance to know when we are full. I learned from my son on that one, as I have a tendency to eat way too fast, and had to be careful not to feed him too fast. I think they naturally like to chew for a long time when they’re babies, so I tried to let him take his time and not rush him.  

He doesn’t eat spotlessly, but it’s not a disaster either. I had to find my own limit at how much messiness I could handle and go from there, while keeping my expectations of my son realistic and age appropriate, developmentally speaking.

I guess it’s always a fine balance each family has to find between what works for baby and meets his needs, and what works for us as parents. Juggling about having realistic expectations of what our children can do, and at the same time being aware of what we can and cannot deal with (I wouldn’t be too happy about yogurt hair, for example ;-))


Q: How often do you have to reintroduce foods to your child? Example: I intro celery root puree to my clan(15 month old & 6 year old twin boys) this past week with mixed reactions...when does a veggie like that make a reappearance into their meal?

A: Fairly often. If Pablo seems to reject a food, I usually keep a little to get him to taste it again the next day or soon after, because a lot of the time, it's not so much that he doesn't like the taste, but that he's not in the mood, or not that hungry at that moment. Otherwise, I try reintroducing the food maybe the following week in a different setting. Celery root can be awesome in soups to try. I recently did a celery root, apple, sunchokes soup, or celery root/fennel/apple, or maybe just celery root, Yukon potato and apple (or pear would be worth a try). I can provide simple recipes if you'd like. With your older boys, might be fun to include them in a search for a cool recipe with celery root (or other new food) + i think celery roots look kind of cool, all gnarly, this might spark their interest as well in the preparing process


Q: What do you do if at any point he just refused to TRY certain foods? 

A: Food refusal. First, you may want to check out this post I wrote a while ago with some of my strategies. 
Otherwise, basically, my MO is 1/ to stay cool and nonchalant about it, not make too big a deal, not stress out and avoid power struggles around food 2/ keep trying, keep offering, being creative with the way I offer it. You could get a kid to taste a soup by dipping a piece of bread in it, or for younger ones, by being playful and silly with it, or by making a dish that’s fun to eat, or presenting the food in a different way (for that vegetable custards, soups and gratins are great, they make vegetable taste great), also for older kids, involving them in the cooking, maybe researching recipes together, going to the market, growing some herbs, stuff where they can participate and be engaged is always helpful, 3/ keep gently coaxing the child to try, as one of Karen Le Billon's great rules, you don’t have to like it, but you have to try it...

Q: Did Pablo ever go through a phase where he didn't like certain textures, only wanted one type of thing, would only eat a few bites of something you made and then beg to get down from the table?

Check out this post with 7 strategies which could be helpful.  My first instinct response would be: keep cool and stay the course. Don’t stress out too much if you can, remember that infants do not starve themselves, this is just a phase. I would continue offering what we eat, stick to the 4 meals and no more, and just try to be as nonchalant about it as possible (I know, it’s hard!), don’t jump to conclusions that she’s picky or doesn’t like something...  Don’t let it ruin your meals, you continue enjoying your meals as a model..

Also, I know that around 12 months, their nutritional needs shift quite a bit, growth is getting slower in the 2nd year, so it might have something to do with that too, baby may not need the same quantities or the same foods. Also,  milk have anything to do with it. I had to adjust the quantity of milk Pablo was drinking around the 12 mo mark (my pediatrician gave me the 16 oz guideline), which took some trial and error and adjustments with quantity and timing of milk bottles, as Pablo does love his milk. But it definitely affects appetite...




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29 comments:

  1. You nursed until Pablo was 12 months old, isn't that unheard of in French culture? I think it's great, but was wondering if you met any resistance from your French friends?

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    1. Hi Kelly, apologies for the late response to your question. I think the French are also very divided on this issue, although perhaps it is more accepted than it is in the US to stop nursing after 3 months (when going back to work usually) or not to nurse at all. I really didn't encounter any resistance... perhaps some "admiration" (for lack of a better word) at my commitment... I wouldn't say it's "unheard of" there. But I'm not sure what reactions I would have encountered if I lived in France though... Thanks for your question :-)

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  2. Hi there! I'm a new mom with a 6 month old son and just discovered your blog. I am finding it comforting and inspiring during this time of my life as I realize from all the comments how connected we all are as mothers. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences with us!
    Question: I've read that it's dangerous to introduce fish before 12 months. I'm curious if the French view this the same way. I'm assuming shellfish is the worry not white fish. What are your thoughts on this? Jade

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    1. Hi Jade, thank you so much for the kind words, and welcome! I avoided shellfish before 12 months for sure, but regular fish (sole, cod, salmon...) is fine, I started that in purees with vegetables around the 6 months mark for my son (although it all depends at what age you start introducing solids of course).

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    2. Here in Belgium, it is encouraged to offer fish the same moment they can have meat. Once or twice, alternating fat fish (like salmon and mackerel) and others (like cod, if I'm not mistaken). The only thing they recommend to avoid is the combination of non-fat fish with nitrate-rich vegs like spinach, fennel, beetroot, a lot of leafy greens. Good combinations are carrots, broccolis, leek (the whites at first), tomatoes, celeriac,... It always surprises me how food recommendations differ from country to country and it encouraged me to just follow my guts. When he was allowed to have meat (six months here, as he started rather early with solids, not even 4 months), I tried to vary as much as I could: four times meat (chicken, beef, pork, turkey, lamb, duck,...) one or two times fish, and one or two times half an egg, or cheese.

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  3. Hi, I've been lurking around your blog these last few weeks, thank you for the wealth of information. I was wondering about the timing of meals with a 6 month old baby. I have only been able to introduce breakfast and lunch so far. Due to her sleep pattern, she is usually asleep for the night sometime between 5.45-6 pm, and will wake around 7 the next morning. We eat dinner as a family with our 4-year-old at 7. What time would you normally do dinner with a young baby? And if baby Pablo was eating his dinners with you at that age, does that mean he was getting more daytime sleep so was able to stay up later? Thanks for taking out the time to reply.

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    1. Hi there, I am so glad you have found the blog useful! We only started the family meal with Pablo around 11-12 months, because of this very issue of sleep. Between 6 and 12 months, we would basically have breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack with Pablo, dinner we would feed him and eat ourselves once he was in bed. Another reason was logistics, since he had his own meals that I made and didn't completely eat everything we ate (that was a gradual process). I did introduce dinner last, first it was breakfast, then afternoon snack, then lunch, then dinner. 6p to 7a, that's a pretty awesome stretch of sleep, you don't want to disturb that!!! :-) Pablo did have dinner a little bit later around 6-630 and sleep around 730 til about 630-7, and did nap significantly during the day.
      What was helpful in the long run for us was to establish mealtimes where I wanted them to end up being. When I introduced snack, I did it around 4p-ish, then lunch around 12p-ish, and it kind of stayed there ever since (with some flexibility because of naps of course). I hope this is helpful, let me know how it goes!

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    2. This was my question too, thanks for your detailed response. French food culture absolutely fascinates me, and I love learning from your blog, I feel like I am getting it first hand :)

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  5. Thought I commented but now I can't see my comment so wanted to try again. Love your blog, am totally inspired by your ideas! Can you tell me how you do purees? I read in "French Kids Eat Everything" that many French start purees in a bottle. Is this what you did with veggie and eventually meat purees, or via spoon? thanks!

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    1. Hi Michelle, thank you so much for the kind words, so glad you're finding the blog helpful. (BTW, Your comment did go through, it was posted on the Who am I page :-)) I know some French moms start with the broth in baby bottles, mixed in with milk, vegetable and bone broth as well, but I didn't go that route personally. At about 4 1/2 months, Pablo was interested in food, and I went straight to spoon with vegetable purees. Why not though? I will have to go through some French baby feeding books I have to see what they say about it. I'll let you know if I find something interesting!

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  6. It's interesting to see how you follow french culture versus some other families! Why is it that some of the french will have a yogurt OR cheese with fruit for dessert? Does it depend of the part of France that they come from?

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    1. Hi there, I don't think that's specific to particular regions, just family specificity, I think. Every family has their own version. Some say it-s either cheese or dessert, some will have cheese first and yogurt as dessert. Or cheese and fruit as dessert. Or cheese and yogurt with fruit in it as dessert. Whatever works for your family and appetite! We don't have a hard set rule on this, just depends on the day and our appetite.

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  7. How does Pablo stave off until dinner after eating a fruit?? Also, is it by choice that you eat an earlier dinner since isn't it commonly around 8 PM in France?

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    1. Hi there, he really doesn't have any issues. Sometimes he foregoes the gouter alltogether. Or he might have just milk (for about a year now, he's had about 5 oz milk in the morning, and 5 oz after nap around 4). I see him balance out his appetite from meal to meal. Everz once in a great while, if he skipped snack, he'll get hungry around 630, and if he does I offer something light like a few grapes, a few cherry tomatoes, or a bit of apple so as not to cut his appetite. Also, a lot of French families eat around 7 or 730, and especially children (I know some French families who do not always eat with their children, and would feed them around 7p, and then eat later around 8p, especially for something like a dinner party) I indeed used to eat later in my younger days, but this time works best for our family in terms of bedtime routine, and everyone-s appetite, since we do eat together as a family every night.

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    2. Oh that's interesting! Personally, I still enjoy my l'appertif (for I am too old for Le goûter!) which is usually bread, jam, and butter with a small glass of milk or sometimes a yogurt with fruit and granola or a combination of the two!

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  8. Hello,
    I just stumbled across this site while researching for an upcoming move to Provence. I'm a Canadian mom to 3 year old and 5 month old boys and I'm trying to research and explore aspects and routines of the culture before we move (like phasing out snacking before we move! who knew? and it's so hard!) to hopefully reduce culture shock. I'm very glad you've created this blog and will be poring over the whole thing as I get time. The little one is starting to show interest in food, so I need to get my act together and figure out where to start.
    Thank you!

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  9. Thank you for your website. Like the other posts have mentioned - it has been really usefully. My question is that my 8 month year old used to be happy sitting in his high chair and eating but recently he gets really annoyed and opens his hands wide and moans. Whilst he does this he also throws the food on the floor. I am not sure how to react to this. How can I stop the food thowing as I'm not sure wehther he does this on purpose or not? Should I ignore the hands opening or is this suggesting that he doesn't want anymore or any as is sometimes the case? Or is it my highchair? Any advice or suggestions would be great. Many thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Nancy, I'm so glad the blog has been useful. A few thoughts on your question: 1/ it feels really age appropriate to me, at 8 months, babies start to have a little more control with their bodies, maybe starting to crawl or getting close, and that could explain the frustration with being confined. I would make sure he has plenty of time in a safe place to move around and experience mobility. 2/ milk is still the primary food until 12 mo. Remembering this might make it easier to be more unruffled and nonchalant if he doesn't want a puree or food you give him in the high chair. You can offer, but if you get a sense he doesn't want it, I would say, let it go, so as not to create any power struggles around eating time. On the milk issue, I had to do a lot of trial and error on the timing of bottles not too close to mealtimes so he's not starving and desperately wanting his bottle at mealtime, and not just full from a recent bottle. That moved around a lot in our schedule around that age. 3/ throwing food, first I'd definitely recommend having protection for your floor, but I remember how the thought of yogurt on my walls gave me palpitations when Pablo was at that phase ;-) Perhaps he's wanting a little more control. Are you feeding him with a spoon or is it finger foods? Have you tried giving him the spoon to manipulate and practice holding and chewing on? This is also the age they practice the pincer grasp, so giving him finger foods he can practice that on (accepting some may end up on the floor) would be my suggestion. 4/ Are you eating with him at the same time? If not, perhaps try that for one of the meals. Enjoy your meal, talk about the food, talk about it when you cook it, if possible, have baby touch the vegetables in the kitchen or in the supermarket, get excited about trying something new, establishing food and mealtime as a time of goodness and connection. This won't make things change overnight (especially when he's going through major developmental steps), but I do think it makes the difference over time. I do hope some of this is helpful... Let me know how it goes! Take good care.

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  10. Hi. Thanks for your wise and useful blog. I have a 12 month old son who is becoming increasingly fussy. He used to eat everything and will still try everything but then often refuses to eat more than a bite or two, both finger food and puree. My question is how many options would you give at one sitting? We keep offering things he refuses over coming weeks but sometimes he refuses to eat 3-4 different things in one meal. He would eat bread every meal but I don't want to give him that just to fill him up and limit the variety. Would you take the approach that if he doesn't want any of the 3-4 things we offer, he's not hungry? How long did you keep up purees before you stopped blending food for Pablo? Thanks. Janelle

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  11. your sharing is very detail. i am in pregnant so i'm very excited and nervous when my kids will be born.

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  12. Hello!

    Just curious what baby oatmeal cereal did you use? Did you make it or buy a certain brand?

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  13. Hi Helene,

    I just found your blog and love it! I have a 10 month old who is currently a great eater. I hope I can continue that by introducing even more foods and trying some of your recipes. My question is around dinnertime. My daughter is currently asleep at 7pm (we usually start bath time around 6:15ish). I love the idea of eating together as a family, but we just cannot make 5pm happen as my husband isn't usually home from work then. How would you suggest handling that? Is that something we can work up to as she gets a little older and stays up later?

    Thank you!

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    1. Hi Alli! I'm glad you're finding the blog useful! I do think sleeping patterns evolve especially between 1 and 2 and you will find a way for family dinner. Perhaps for now you can do it once in a while, on the weekend, or perhaps sit down to eat with her for lunch or breakfast whenever possible. It's the togetherness and connection in the enjoyment of food that really matters, I think. All the best :-)

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  14. Hi Helene
    With the four courses meal for breakfast when Pablo was 6 months old, how much did you give him for cereal, cheese and yogurt? also for lunch please? Your blog has helped me lots :)
    thanks

    please keep writing :0
    Elly

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  15. Hello! We are expecting twins any day now and I plan to teach them to eat the French way (no mc nugget and mac and cheese addicts in my house!). When you introduce the veggie purees every 4 days or so, is it ONE veggie every four days and then when do you start mixing or offering two in one sitting? After a month or 6 weeks they will have not had the original couple of veggies in a long while. Can you explain more of how you transition from a single veg (or fruit) every few days to mixing or offering more than one?

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    ReplyDelete
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