Meal Ideas and Recipes For Babies & Toddlers! Free Meal Plan Printable Included.

Each child develops so uniquely and just because they are late at hitting a milestone doesn’t necessarily means it is a cause of alarm. As a new mom I had too many questions related to my son hitting his milestones, but I have realized in this 1 year, that we need to be patient and not stress about it.

img_1106Eating solids for the first time is a huge milestone for every baby. As parents, we love to know that our babies are getting lots of nutrition and calories so they can grow big and healthy. I was nervous about feeding solids in the beginning and was worried whether  my son would eat well, consume enough milk etc. But this was a temporary phase, since I religiously followed a routine of introducing solids daily.  We started first with introducing fruits, veggies and later cereal. Most pediatricians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend introducing solid foods to babies when they are between ages 4 and 6 months. Vir was able to sit up around this age with support, and was showing interest in the foods he saw us eating. I realized it’s probably a good time to venture into feeding him solid food. Since my son was exclusively breast fed for 6 months, we waited until he turned 6 months to start solids.

I tried the Baby Led weaning approach right from the start. Baby Led Weaning is a method of introducing solid foods that leaves it up to your baby to decide what, when and how much to eat.  While not necessarily a “hands off” approach, Baby Led Weaning does advocate allowing your baby to make all food choices for him or herself. You can read more about it here.

What I liked about it that there were no purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher, no baby rice, no weird fruit and veggie combo just eating wholesome food. Note : I followed the Four day rule , to make sure that my son is not allergic to any food items. Read more about it here 

Note Milk is a child’s most important food in the first year of life and is still very important in the next few years. Children under 12 months of age should have breast milk or formula for their main drinks.

I am sharing below with you a list of Food items I introduced to my son.

6-8 months+

  • Baby cereal – Rice cereal, Oatmeal cereal and wheat cereal. Mixed with breast milk or formula . After my son got used to it , I added mashed bananas or stewed apples for flavor
  • Fruits– To avoid choking I gave my son small pieces of banana, steamed apples and pears as finger food. My son hated avocadoes, it is great fruit for weight gain.
  • Veggies: Steamed and boiled sweet potatoes and carrots chunks as finger food.
  • Egg yolk only upto 8 months. I used to scramble it in butter. My son didn’t like the egg yellow boiled.

Note: Meat, chicken can also be given as it is rich in iron. I haven’t yet introduced it as I don’t eat it myself neither grew up eating it. However I am not opposed to my son eating meat. (Leaving that to my husband as he is non vegetarian

8-10 months+

My son didn’t have any teeth until he was 10 months, however the gums were strong enough to mash small pieces of food. I wanted to introduce new textures and real food so I prepared below simple meals for him and also introduced other new foods. All of the food items above are also a part of his diet.

  • Toast with butter/hummus/peanut butter /cheese – Toast is my son’s favorite food. He was sucking small pieces and enjoying the new texture at 8 months and now he chews and eats it.
  • Full fat cheese singles is his favorite snack; I also offer it between toast. I make Paneer (cottage cheese) at home from organic whole milk. I mixed small pieces of paneer with banana or apple to add flavor to it .
  • Multigrain Roti (flatbread) made at home with multigrain flour, some ghee or butter. You can dip it in milk/formula to make the texture softer.
  • Rice with Veggies– Rice mixed with carrots, potatoes and spinach cooked in ghee and butter with no salt and only some turmeric.
  • Fruits– Apart from banana, apples and pears I also I introduced at this time strawberries ,blueberries , mango, peaches and kiwi. You can soften hard fruits by steaming or boiling it. We have stayed away from grapes as they can choke.
  • Yogurt– My son was not a huge fan of yogurt at the beginning, so later I started mixing it up with bananas, strawberries and also added very little sugar to get him used to the texture.

10 -12 months + Food recipes

Apart from all the above food, I also started making healthy meals to get him used to real food and interested in new flavors. I post a lot of videos on my Instagram stories of him enjoying his meal. And lately a lot of moms reached out to me for recipes of the food my son has been eating. Here I sharing  some quick and easy to make recipes.

  • img_8761-1Pancakes – This is by far the simplest and most preferred food. I simply add Half Banana (you can even substitute it with sweet potatoes) , 1 egg, 2 -3 tbsp multigrain flour (you can substitute it with wheat ,or oatmeal cereal or flour) and mix it all together. Spread it on the pan with some butter and it ready in no time. Easy to chew and also makes great ready to go meal.
  • Rice, Lentil and veggie Mush (Khichdi)– Wash and soak the rice and dal in water for half an hour. Drain the water. In a pressure cooker, add the Rice, Dal, Garlic, onions, spinach, carrot and potatoes. Add 3 cups of water. Pressure cook till 3 whistles (one on high and 2 on medium).After the steam is released, add ghee or butter and serve. I give this everyday for dinner as it is an extremely nutritious meal
  • Veggie Paratha or flatbread- For ease and convenience I add mashed and boiled potatoes, spinach and sometimes carrot to the flour directly and add in some water to make it in a dough. Roll it in small and thin circles and heat it on the pan until it is slightly brown and serve it with ghee or butter in small pieces. You can add some salt too.
  • Fruit Bars with oatmeal-1/2 ripe banana, mashed. approx 3 to 4 tbsp rolled oats, 2 tbsp raisns. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F, 180 deg C. Grind the oats in a food processor OR leave them just as they are. The final texture of your fruity bars depends on whether or not you ground the oats – leaving them whole, of course, provides more texture than grinding them. Stir the oats into the mashed banana. The amount of oats you need depends on the size of the banana – you need to achieve a ‘doughy’ texture that you can shape with your hands. Stir in the raisins. Form the mixture into ‘bars’ then place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cook for around 10 to 15 minutes until firm and lightly golden.Cool and serve. Freeze leftover bars for up to one month.
  • img_8623Oatmeal ,banana , Peanut butter muffins – This is another easy and ready to go recipe my son loves. It makes a great snack item too. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside. Place 1 cup oats in a medium bowl and add 1 cup milk. Allow the oats to soak while you prepare the rest of the muffins. In a separate large bowl, mix together the 1 cup flour,1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt and cinnamon. Some applesauce,1 tbsp peanut butter, 2 egg and 1 tbsp vanilla to the bowl with the soaked oats and stir to combine. Add and combine all the ingredients. The batter will be very runny. Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes, until done. These are just barely sweet and great for little ones. If you want them to be sweeter, try adding sugar or maple syrup.  Extras can be stored on the counter for 3 days, in the fridge for up to 5 days.

I hope this post is helpful for moms who are starting on the journey to give solids to their babies. Please reach out to me if you have any questions. Also if you can comment and share some recipes that worked for your baby, it will be extremely helpful for me and the readers.

For your convenience I have made a Meal plan print out listing out Carbs, Proteins and Veggies/Fruits options that can be given to kids. Click on below link.

Toddler Meal Plan Print Out

Love

arushi

 

 

VIR’s First Diwali !

In my last post I wrote about how much I missed celebrating Diwali at home in India. And this year I long for it even more as its a very special one, since we have our beloved son Vir celebrating it with us .

The entire week I was face timing with my mom and brother and hearing their daily activity updates, shopping sprees, reminiscing old days and getting to share the real Gharwali Diwali experience with them. My mom got Vir a really cute ethnic outfit which she will be sending with my cousin sister and even though its is arriving post Diwali, I am super excited to dress him up in it. There is a charm in wearing vibrant desi/ Indian clothes, they make the festival so much more authentic.

Vir is 5 months old this month and loves being around people, he enjoys getting all the attention and lately has been putting his entire fist in the mouth and babbling. He has also started to flip over on his tummy and is in awe of Rio. Rio too has also started warming up to Vir and its a great feeling to see both my boys finally  show some love towards each other.

I am glad to share with you all, Vir’s first Diwali story  at our home in Houston  with these pictures.We celebrated it with our loving friends with great home cooked food,  Coconut ladoos ,Rasgullas,music, lots of cheer , laughter and a long game of Flush. I hope you enjoy looking at them .

(If you follow me on Instagram , you must have seen some of our celebration pictures and videos on my Instastories too)

Thanks to our friend Abhishek for these lovely clicks.

My Anarkali dress : Meena Bazaar

Vir’s Cardi Set from : Amy Collier Designs

 

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Home made coconut ladoos

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Our wonderful friends !!

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Diwali cannot end without some sparkles.

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The focus of this pic was on our fur baby Rio who was waiting to eat mom’s coconut ladoos.

 

Missing Home This Diwali !

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Hi Everyone!! Hope you are welcoming Autumn with high spirits as this is the season of festivals and celebrations. Festivals are a huge part of anyone’s culture and ‘Diwali’ – The Festival of Lights,  is one of the most significant festivals celebrated by me and my family.

This year we are celebrating Diwali on October 30th and although it is almost 2 weeks away, I just don’t feel the same excitement and fanfare around me as it was back home in India…..

The bright decorations at the mall, the shiny packaging on the sweets,

 the aroma in the meals, the sparkle on the clothes,

the buzz at home, the lamps on the floor, the gifts galore,

the shiny lights on the street, the new Bollywood beat,

the hymn of the prayer, the agarbatti smell in the air,

the colorful rangoli, the diya  and roli on the pooja thali ,

the ladoos and  the burfi , the win in teen pati,

I miss it all …..I feel the absence of my family.

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Image: Pinterest

Of course it is hard to find the same cultural experience here in United States and I know it is silly of me to even expect it. But hey! At least I can long for it. The other day I was in Michael’s to get some supplies for Vir’s Halloween costume which I intend to DIY, and as I stepped into the store, the buzz and hullabaloo reminded me of the scene at the firecracker store in my hometown in Rajasthan, where we would go when we were kids. How we loved going through all the different colored sparkles, amused ourselves looking at the creative names on the new rocket and chakri boxes and searched for that new cracker which our neighbor wouldn’t have, while making sure all of them were within our budget.

As a kid, Diwali for me was about new clothes, firecrackers, chocolate covered dry fruits, decorating the balcony with lights, meeting my cousins and enjoying the break from school. Chores like cleaning the house, shopping for gifts, selecting that dress, seeking for more pocket money were the little things we looked forward to every year as Diwali got closer. As I got back from Michael’s the first thing I did was to create a Diwali wreath with the help of my cousin sister and my dear husband. I just wanted to get a whiff of that the Diwali spirit which has been lost in modern times.

Today, I am so thankful for all the cultural traditions that I grew up with. With every passing year, I have learnt to appreciate the meaning of each of these traditions even more. They constantly remind me of who I am and where I come from. These festivities also make me reflect on the literal importance of the holiness of each occasion. Staying away from home has made me preserve these traditions even more…..my culture, religion and language are the essence of my Indian Heritage and as a new mom I feel it is my responsibility to introduce my child to them and maintain their essence in our lives.

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Image: Rang Decor

Even though I have been visiting India every year since I moved to Houston 6 years back, I sometimes get nostalgic. Especially during the festival season! On our trips to India, we would travel between 3 states to visit our homes and squeeze in as much as we could within the 2 to 3 week vacation. Lately, these trips have been planned around marriages in the family. A perfect opportunity to meet all our cousins and family members at the same place and the same time, dancing off to latest Honey Singh’s songs, while wearing  elegant desi outfits and enjoying the incredible food.

However, right now, at this moment , I wish I was home preparing besan ke ladoos with my mom , making  rangoli with my brother, choosing the color for this year’s salwar suit, packing the gifts for my friends and practicing my skills for teen pati. And even though there is time to book my tickets and head off to India, there are work and life commitments that I cannot get out of. Celebrating Diwali at home will have to wait again.

Yet!! I believe, it’s more the reason for me to celebrate my ‘Gharwali Diwali’ with similar emotion and joy at my home in Houston, because this Diwali is SPECIAL !! We were blessed with our son ‘Vir’, our bundle of joy this May !!  And even though it will be difficult to recreate the same sentiment, I aspire towards sparkling my home with happiness, decorating it with shades of love , preparing the food with more joy and stand in the light with my husband and son beside !! My hope is not to lose my texture as an Indian in a foreign land with time, but to celebrate its elements and authenticity as much as I can.

A Happy Diwali to you and your loved ones!! May the divine light of Diwali spread peace , prosperity , pleasure and good health into your lives.

Do share with us on how  you are planning to celebrate Diwali and what is missing this time.

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Happy Diwali !! Acrylic Rangoli perfect for wooden flooring.

 

My Post-Baby Weight Loss Journey

 

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After a good run ! 10 weeks postpartum

I am three months and 1 week postpartum and you might wonder why I am already talking about weight loss. I have been struggling to write this post and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit this to the blog. Yet, I am posting it and I have decided to do so because it will not only motivate me to continue to work towards my “goal” but also give me a chance to celebrate my progress so far.

Will I ever get back to my pre-pregnancy physique? When will I hit my goal? How long will it take me to fit in my jeans? Will I have to continue buying bigger size clothes? Ahh!! .….all the questions pop up in my head as I step into my closet. No matter how many clothes are hanging in your closet, there are always those days when you feel you have nothing to wear. It’s all there but it’s all wrong and then you want to shop. I’ve faced this almost every day for last five months. Earlier I was so big that I could survive only in my maternity clothes and now, when I am neither 9 months pregnant nor my original size, I am in this no man’s land with only a handful of stuff I can fit in.

To fulfill my goal and stick to this weight loss journey I am putting a stop to buying any bigger size dresses or jeans or shirts. I think that this will encourage me to stick to my workout routine and healthy lifestyle to get back in shape and not fall off the wagon.

Pre- Pregnancy

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Last year Aug 2015, hiking Whistler Mountain, Vancouver

I feel I have always struggled with weight. I’ve always been the tall and athletic body type and never close to the slim shape. I played basketball and represented my school, college and state at competitions for almost 7 years. My love for sports directed me towards a healthier lifestyle and maintaining a workout regime so far. But my love for chocolates and cakes would wash away all that hard work and I would end up at the same weight rather than losing it! Post college I started getting comfortable with this theory and worked out so that I could indulge in my favorite food. I always enjoyed cardio and high energy activities like jogging, swimming, kickboxing etc . I have never been a big fan of dieting or staying on a controlled diet or eating clean. Right before pregnancy I was 150 pounds (68 kgs), a few pounds over what I envision my ideal weight to be, but I was working my butt off to maintain it. (Thanks to my metabolism which dipped like the oil prices last year, as I turned 30)

Pregnancy

When one is a pregnant you get a license to pack on the pounds!! Now since I have been pregnant let me tell you this is a load of bull….. I was obsessed with my weight gain (some of you might relate to it, except for a lone few who can rise above the weight gain issue). I stepped on the scale every day, I wanted to make sure I stick to the healthy weight gain between 25-35 pounds; in fact my target was to gain under 30 pounds. I was eating healthy, eating more green vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk, multigrain bread; cheese etc. (Bought mostly organic food) Also made healthy smoothies with Greek yogurt, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds, spinach etc as staple ingredients. I ensured that I was having high nutrition snacks like dry fruits and nutritive bars daily.

 

As I wanted to be in the healthy weight gain spectrum, start first trimester I was running 3 miles, four times a week and swimming occasionally. Second trimester my energy started getting low and I began to walk 3 miles and do some weight training. Fast forward to third trimester I joined yoga and even with back pain issues I made it a point to go for a 2-3 mile walk daily with my fur baby Rio. Deep also accompanied me to keep me going.

Yet I gained 43 pounds!! I couldn’t believe it. Moreover, my yoga class was torturous; To make matter worse, where I live, pregnancy seems so competitive ! Somehow everyone manages to stay slim and gain weight just around their belly.

No matter how crazy the weight gain issue makes us, most doctors agree that we should keep check on our pregnancy weight gain, as many studies show it can lower risks of pre- eclampsia, gestational diabetes and other pregnancy complications.

Now 3 months Postpartum

After baby Vir’s arrival in May 2016, I was looking forward to lose the weight so that I could feel like myself again.  I wanted to live the lifestyle of my goal as I couldn’t believe that I had gained 43 pounds after working out almost every day and not falling for those ghee loaded “laddos” and sweets lying in my refrigerator. Within 3 weeks post delivery I had lost 15 pounds. Of course, Vir was 7 pounds of those.

I read success stories online of women bouncing back to their pre-pregnancy weight  in 4 months just by ‘breast feeding’. Also some stories mentioning that the ‘last 10 pounds will be the hardest to lose’ and  how the ‘wider hips and bigger breasts are here to stay’. These anecdotes helped me prepare mentally as to what I should work towards to achieve my goals and at the same time be realistic about them!

I believe its important to have your energy levels back; as life of a new mom is very demanding. I didn’t want to lie down and rest while my family manages things at home. The C section made mobility hard for me but I wanted to be up and working. For me getting my body back was also finding and developing my inner strength. Post my 6 week check up and getting thumbs up on starting my workout regimen from my doctor, I ensured that I got at least 4 days of workout weekly and started with 2 mile brisk walks around my neighborhood. The first few days of walking 2 miles were hard. My belly would hurt if I tried to jog,  but gradually it started getting better. To kick start my workouts Deep bought me a Polar A 360 fitness tracker which helps me keep a tab on my daily steps, workouts and weekly fitness reports. It also buzzes every 50 mins prompting me to walk if I have been sitting for that long. I highly recommend getting a fitness tracker.

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Walking Rio while wearing Vir in Baby K’tan , 8 weeks postpartum.

2 months postpartum, I had lost a total of 22 pounds. Even after that I was somewhat horrified to discover that I still had a belly and looked 5 months pregnant.

I am 3 months postpartum as I write this post and have lost a total of 30 pounds !! 🙂

I still have 13 pounds more to go ! To reach my goal my fitness plan includes 3 miles for at least 4 days a week in the evening as its super hot here in Houston. Rio and Deep are my workout buddies and sometimes when the weather is good, Vir also join us in his jogger. (Highly recommend a getting a jogger so you can start going on long walk/runs with your baby. Great way to unwind and the babies seem to love it). Honestly, the new game Pokemon Go is also making my workouts more fun and has somewhat helped me maintain my 3 mile run and not cheat on my workouts. (I am very competitive when it comes to gaming and Deep is currently leading).  I also do 1 minute planks 5 times everyday to strengthen my core muscles and tighten the belly.

Since I am a breast feeding mama, I am not working on curbing my diet or following a restricted meal plan.  I eat 6 small meals a day. Milk and fruits is a must daily and as I am a vegetarian, cottage cheese, pulses, beans and green veggies is what I live on. Yes I am chocoholic and I can’t do without 1-2 small pieces of dark chocolate daily and  my homemade healthy popsicles . However now I have moved on to chocolate chips which are used in baking to work on my cravings and eat less calories. I also indulge in cupcakes and frozen yogurt on weekends.  No soda, no junk and no processed food for me!!

“Be gentle with yourself and accept the changes of your body” says my Mom and I think she is right;  I don’t want to lose steam too fast by focusing on my weight loss.  My plan is to include different types of routines like weight training, yoga, rowing , home exercises in my regimen than simply running. I am building my endurance and my back and leg muscles groups so as to join Kayla Fitness BBG program by next month. For me it isn’t about a skinny body, but more of a healthier and stronger body. (you can see my workout updates on my Instagram page. Do follow!!!)

My hope here is not to get frustrated but to stay motivated and keep reminding myself that I have created a fabulous tiny human being, who adores me! The best advice I want to share is “Let’s not obsess over how we LOOK but how we FEEL !!! ”

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3 months Postpartum !! I finally feel I can run 3 miles at a go 🙂

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Multitasking  !!  (This pic is from when I was 10 weeks postpartum)

 

Guilt Free, Homemade, Refreshing Popsicles!

Hot summer days are are upon us and these homemade popsicles will help you and your little ones beat the heat !! For me it also a healthy alternative for my sweet cravings. Fruit lovers, chocolate lovers and clean eaters, you can all follow below steps for these easy to make ice pops with pantry staple ingredients. I have added some tips to suit different tastes.  Enjoy these fresh from the freezer homemade ice pops and stay refreshed all summer long!

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Watermelon & Strawberry Lip Smacker!

Ingredients : 1 cup Watermelon , 1 cup Strawberries , Lime zest and few drops of Lime

Directions

  • Blend all 3 ingredients in a blender or mixer and mix to combine
  • Fold  the mixture into the popsicle mold and insert the sticks
  • Freeze until firm (1-2 hours)
  • To easily remove the Popsicle from the mold after they are frozen, put the mold under running water or immerse them in a hot water bowl.
  • Tip: Add honey for extra sweetness , and flax seeds for some nutritional value.

Tangy Coconut and Kiwi Kicker!

Ingredients : 1 cup coconut water ( bottled or fresh) I used Vita Coco, 1/2 cup kiwi slices

Directions

  • Pour coconut water into the Popsicle molds
  • Cut Kiwi into small pieces to fit in the mold and add them from top.
  • Insert the sticks and freeze until firm. (1-2 hours)
  • Tip:  Add blueberries for sweetness and extra color . Add Chia seeds for nutrition.

Banana and Peanut butter Pop!

Ingredients : 1 Banana , 1 and half Tbsp Peanut butter, 1 cup milk

Directions

  • Blend all 3 ingredients in the blender until combined .
  • Fold the mixture into the popsicle mold and insert the stick
  • Freeze until firm (2-3 hours)
  • Tip: You can add chocolate syrup for sweetness or chocolate chips for the crunch.

Notes