Introducing Solid Food to My Baby

The recommended age to feed a baby solids is between 4-6 months. When Amira was 4 months old, she was still exclusively breastfed and didn’t eat any solids. Whenever people asked me if she did, I wondered if I was being too safe by waiting until she turned 6 months. I had tried bringing food close to her mouth and she just looked at me with confusion. She didn't seem excited, didn't open her mouth, and didn't give me any cues to let me know she wanted to eat solids. I was so eager for her to start enjoying food, but I knew I had to be patient.

Solid Food Baby Led Weaning

Finally, when she was 6 months old, I tried to feed her purees. She didn't enjoy them, but gave them a try. She was more interested than she was when she was 4 months old, which was progress. But she sometimes pushed out the food and looked at me with this adorable face that said: "Hey mom, this isn't breastmilk. Stop feeding me this weird orange vegetable!" I tried carrots, avocado, and other vegetables as her first few foods. I started getting a little worried that Amira was falling behind. She should have been eating solids happily as a 6 month old, but she was barely opening her mouth and didn’t seem to enjoy it at all. What was I doing wrong?

I researched a bit and came across the practice of baby-led weaning. Baby-led weaning is the process of giving the baby solid finger foods to feed herself instead of feeding her purees with a spoon. Until this point, I had tried feeding Amira with a spoon. One day, I decided to mash up some blueberries in between my fingers and feed them to her. She first made a face and then opened her mouth for more. I was beyond excited to see her asking for more. She devoured the blueberries and the next day, I sat her in the high chair and handed her a banana. I peeled it in such a way that allowed her to have a good grip on it so she could hold it easily while she ate it. She mashed it up, made a mess, and some of it eventually ended up in her mouth. I could tell she loved it. I let out a sigh of relief and suddenly felt so much better, knowing that Amira was finally enjoying solid food.

Solid Food Baby Led Weaning

Tip:

Cut fruits and veggies with the peel, so your baby can use it to grip the pieces. make sure the peel is not soft enough to be bitten, as it can be a choking hazard.

I noticed that Amira preferred fruits as a first food than vegetables. Many sources say vegetables should be fed first, so the baby doesn't prefer sweets over vegetables. My doctor said either option is perfectly fine for a first food. After she enjoyed blueberries and bananas, I decided to hand her an avocado. She absolutely loved the flavor and enjoyed the texture as well. I then moved on to trying a variety of vegetables from squash to sweet potato, regular potato, peas, carrots, and more. I let her feed herself and eventually tried feeding her with a spoon and she ate happily.

Had I not tried baby-led weaning, I would have continued stressing out about getting her to eat solids. She now enjoys a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, lentils, and meat. There are days when she prefers holding the food herself and "feeding" herself (which basically means mashing it up and licking her hands sometimes, but hey, it gets in there!) and there are days when she's completely satisfied with being spoon-fed. Sometimes, you just have to try a variety of methods to see which one works for your little one.

Whenever your baby refuses something, try a different approach. I expected myself to puree all her food, freeze them into ice cube trays, and then move onto to thicker textures later on, but Amira had something else in mind. Babies have their own preferences, so follow their cue and go with the flow! I thought I’d share my experience, because I first came across baby-led weaning on other blogs and it was helpful to read about other moms’ experiences as I was going through a similar situation.

Please note: I am not a doctor. If you feel your baby is having issues while eating solids, consult his/her pediatrician for guidance. The information I share is based on my own experiences and may not be the way to go for your baby, as every baby is unique.


How to Make Instant Pot Mixed Daal (Lentils)

I'm not a phenomenal cook. I honestly never really cooked much until I got married. I would bake cupcakes, cookies, pumpkin bread, and a variety of other desserts, but rarely tried cooking anything other than pastas and small appetizers. Even once we were married, I was in school or at work most of the time, so I would just throw something simple together and we'd be fine. Now that I have more time at home, I've been trying my hand at new recipes and just generally getting comfortable with experimenting in the kitchen. While doing so, I started using tools that allow me to cook more efficiently.

 Mixed daal with basmati rice

Instant Pots are the new craze these days. I never understood the hype until my sister gifted me one and it made cooking so much easier. My sister started cooking Pakistani food in her Instant Pot, so I decided to give it a try. The result was amazing! I can be pretty impatient when cooking, so when the daal (lentils) and nihari were done in less than half the time it takes in a regular pot, I was sold. The Instant Pot is so easy to use and it's a pressure cooker, slow cooker, and rice cooker all in one. It saves time and also space. As someone who lives in a small apartment, I enjoy owning the least amount of pots and pans possible.

Instant Pot Mixed Daal Recipe
Instant Pot Mixed Daal Recipe

Most of my recipes for Pakistani food come from my mom. I thought I’d start sharing some of my favorite quick recipes here on the blog to help any other busy moms make delicious Pakistani food in a short amount of time. Please note that I’m not a pro at cooking at all and there are many ways to make the food I'll be sharing. I usually opt for the simpler and quicker methods, so if you like adding more ingredients, feel free to change it up. I’m still learning and have my mom on FaceTime when I cook sometimes (God bless her for being so patient with me), but I hope this helps you get started with cooking delicious food with an Instant Pot if you're a beginner like me!

Scroll down for the mixed daal recipe.

Instant Pot Mixed Daal Recipe
 

Instant Pot Mixed Daal (Lentils) Recipe


Ingredients
1 cup mixed daal
¼ onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (whole)
½ teaspoon haldi (turmeric powder)
1 teaspoon laal mirch (cayenne powder)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 tomato (chopped)
1 green chili (chopped)

For the Bagaar (Tempering):
⅓ cup oil
¼ small onion cut in slices
¼ teaspoon zeera (cumin)

Directions
Rinse 1 cup of mixed daal. Let it soak in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Put the daal, onion, garlic, haldi (turmeric powder), laal mirch (cayenne powder), salt, tomato, and green chili in the Instant Pot along with 3 cups of water. Cover the Instant Pot. Press the Pressure Cook setting and set it to 6 minutes. Make sure to set the vent to the sealed position. Once the daal is done cooking, let it sit to naturally release the pressure or turn the vent to the release position to release the pressure immediately. Stir the daal. If you like your daal to be more soupy and softer, add a bit more water and cook for 3 more minutes. If you are fine with the texture, let the daal sit as is.

For the bagaar (tempering), heat up a small fry pan on the stove. Add ⅓ cup oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion slices, zeera (cumin), and kari patha. Once the onions have a golden color, pour the bagaar in the daal. Cover and let sit for 3 minutes.

Stir and serve with basmati rice.

 

Best Teething Toys for Infants

Like most new moms, I checked the clock 24/7 to make sure Amira was fed at the right time. The moment I saw her put her hand in her mouth, I dropped everything, grabbed my Boppy and nursed her immediately.

Eventually, that routine changed. Amira started putting her hand in mouth and didn't want to nurse. "Wow, is it time already?" I thought. "Yup! She's started the process of teething. She's going to try to put everything in her mouth," my pediatrician surprised me as I wondered how quickly time was flying. "Teething? But she's only 4 months old!" After doing some research and talking to my experienced mom friends and sister, I realized she was definitely teething. She keeps putting her hands in her mouth, along with all of her rattles and toys. She's constantly drooling, tugging at her ear, and has a few moments of fussing for no other reason than teething.

I started to search for teething toys that would help soothe Amira's aching gums. Some were better than others, so I thought I'd share my favorites here on the blog. Hopefully, any moms with teething babies will find this post to be helpful. And remember, every baby is different so test out a few and see what your little one prefers.

Best+Teethers+for+Infants.jpeg

Safety 1st Ellie Elephant Teether by Mombella

This is on the top of the list, because Amira absolutely loves it! I can tell that it really soothes her gums and my favorite part of this teether is that the whole thing is ok for her to nibble on. Some teethers have harder handles and just the top part is soft, but your little one can put any part of this silicone teether in her mouth and it'll do the job. Amira sometimes has the handle in her mouth and sometimes has the textured tip that sticks out from the top. It's adorable seeing her bite on it in all directions with drool everywhere. The handles are also very easy to hold, which was a huge plus since some of the teethers I found were difficult to hold onto.

Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush and Teether

One of my dear friends gifted this to Amira and I know it's a popular training toothbrush and teether used by many moms. Amira had a difficult time holding this one early on, but she has a good grasp now. The soft silicone bristles help soothe her gums and the peeling handles are the perfect size for her little fingers to hold. I like that this teether can eventually be used as a training toothbrush when her teeth actually come out. I've put this teether in the freezer as well and Amira seemed to really enjoy the cool sensation when she bit down on it.

MAM Mini Cooler Teether with Clip

I love that this teether comes with a clip. When a teether covered with spit falls on the carpet, you have to rinse or wipe it. The clip keeps you from worrying about the teether falling, which I love! The MAM Teether has water inside of it, which is perfect for putting in the refrigerator to help soothe your little one's gums. I like the shape of this teether, because Amira is able to reach her gums all the way in the back. The ring is the perfect size for her to hold onto and it's lightweight, so it rarely falls.

Chicco Fruity Tooty Teether

This was one of the first teethers I bought and to be honest, I didn't like it at first. Amira had a hard time holding onto it and getting it into her mouth in the beginning. Now that she's 6 months old, she has a better grip, so she's able to hold onto it for a longer period of time as she bites down it. The material is a little harder than the other teethers, but Amira seems to enjoy it. Every baby is different, so your little one might enjoy it sooner than Amira did!

I hope this list helps any of you moms out there looking for suitable teethers for your baby. If you already have teething toys, which ones does your little one enjoy? Let me know in the comments!