Episode 5: Navigating First Foods
In this episode of Healthy Family Project, we talk to Katie Serbinski, the official Produce for Kids registered dietitian, about navigating first foods, ideas for finger foods, and when to get babies started on solids.
Katie Serbinski is a mom, of two boys and a girl with another little one on the way, and a Registered Dietitian from Detroit, Michigan. She’s the founder of Mom to Mom Nutrition, a healthy food and lifestyle blog where she shares her “me time” with other health-minded parents.
On her blog, you’ll find simple, family-friendly recipes, tips for new moms, and realistic nutrition advice. Through Mom to Mom Nutrition, Katie shows her readers that raising a healthy family is achievable, even when you have a toddler throwing food across your kitchen table and a baby wanting to nurse around the clock.
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Want to skip straight to a hot topic? See time stamps below. But of course, we recommend listening all the way through!
- 2:35 – What inspired Katie to start her blog
- 4:29 – Timeline for introducing new foods to little ones
- 8:00 – When to introduce allergenic foods
- 13:32 – Baby Led Weaning
- 17:30 – Finger Foods
- 22:30 – Can picky eating be prevented?
- Complete Guide to Starting Solids
- Tear Free Tips for Feeding a Toddler
- 25 Finger Foods for Babies and Toddlers
- Toddler Serving Sizes
- What to Know Before Starting Solid Foods with Baby
Healthy Family Project Podcast
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Transcript for Episode 5
This transcript was produced by Otter.Ai. Please forgive any misspellings and grammatical errors.
Welcome to the healthy family project by produce for kids, covering the hot topics in the world of health,
food and family with a dose of fun. Today we are talking to Katie sir Verbinski who is the official
registered dietitian at produce for kids. Each and every recipe you find on produce for kids calm has
been carefully examined by Katie to ensure it meets USDA dietary guidelines. Katie is the founder of
mom to mom nutrition.com And is the mom of three kiddos under five and she has one on the way. So
she’s truly a real life Superwoman in my eyes. You’ll find her popping on her Instagram story from time to
time to share tips and ideas and a behind the scenes look into her world. We talked to Katie in our intro
episode and are super excited to dive deeper into one of the hot topics that is on all of our produce frickin
social media sites regularly and that is first foods finger foods foods for baby. That whole world of you
know where to go when this when it all starts. So you know, getting started on the right foot, the healthy
foot is surely something all of us parents, grandparents, caregivers, want to make sure happens, but
navigating this space can be kind of scary at times. So let’s get this chat started and see if Katie can help
us get rid of some of that stress and help us ease on into this world. Hi, Katie. Welcome back to the
healthy family project.
Hi, Amanda. Thanks for having me in. For our part two together on the healthy family project Podcast.
I’m excited to talk about one of my favorite topics. I feel like I’ve just been living in this world of first foods
with babies and toddlers for the past five years. So I’m just excited to share what I know with others.
I think you are the expert at this point with with three little ones under five, right? Yeah, and one and one
on the way. So yeah. So this one’s no longer a test dummy. This one. He’ll be making his own food, I’m
pretty sure. Oh, that’s the goal. Right. So before we dive in on this hot topic of baby foods, toddler foods,
and in case anyone missed our intro episode that we did, I guess now a couple months ago, can you tell
us what inspired you to start your blog mom to mom nutrition?
Sure. So um, you know, I think becoming a mom, there was so many different resources out there for
baby sleep, baby, feeding, you know, everything from pre pregnancy to post pregnancy. And I really
found that, um, you know, there on the internet, there’s just so many, you know, things aren’t black and
white, and on my way of feeding my kids and raising healthy family seem to resonate well with others. So
within my mom groups, my mom friends, and Dad friends, you know, or grandparents, you know, not
trying to exclude anyone here. And being a registered dietitian with a background in nutrition
communications. I knew that, you know, blogging, and obviously social media is a really impactful way to
reach others. And so I just decided, after the birth of my first son, Joey, that mom to malnutrition would
be my outlet, not only for creativity, but my business as well. So I kind of I stopped my full time office job,
and started mountain nutrition full time.
Wonderful. Well, so let’s start at the beginning here. So let’s jump right in. So we’ve reached that point
where for first foods are eminent and as a parent, you don’t know what to expect. So of course, we’re all
feverishly googling anything and everything. You know what to do next? What do you know? And then of
course, we’re all afraid of everything. So we want to raise healthy eaters. We want to not be super
stressed in this this zone of first foods. So is there a timeline that worked for you in introducing new foods
to your little ones?
Yes, so one thing that my pediatrician told me that really resonated not my appeal, our pediatrician, the
kids. That resonated well with me is that if you look at any topic on children, or babies, and you know,
whether that be cognitive development, physical growth or baby sleep, that one was a big one, you
know, everyone’s like, how do I get my baby to sleep? Right? Yes. Oh, look at how many resources there
are and then think to yourself, Okay, There’s so many resources and different ways of doing things. Not
one size fits all. So, you know, after today, you know, listeners might think, Oh, well, I should try this at
four months or eight months. I would recommend first and foremost talking to your pediatrician first,
before starting solids with your baby. And then just really kind of look at your own baby their own little
personal personality individuality. So, you know, is he or she sitting up, right, are they able to use it’s
called like the pincher grasper. You know, with your finger, your sign your finger, are they able to pinch
certain pieces of food or bring food to their mouths. Those are great physical signs that your baby might
be ready for solid foods. And that typically starts to show around six months of age. But some babies
might start showing that around four months of age. So again, that’s why you know, you, you might often
see the recommendation between four to six months of age, you can start solid with your baby. But
actually, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending waiting until six months of age, and
that breast milk or formula B babies like salad, Soul nutrition source for those first six months. But again,
that doesn’t mean that your pediatrician might not give the go ahead for five months to start.
Okay, that’s good. That’s good information there. So I like the not one size fits all, there’s a lot of
information out there. And so definitely a good idea to check in with your pediatrician and really look for
those cues. Because we’re all different, and babies are all different. So wonderful. So I know you have
several blog posts relating to baby foods and first food. So we’ll link up we’re going to talk a lot today, but
we’ll link up to those in our show notes for everyone. I did have a great question from Trish who’s on our
produce for kids team. So she has dealt with food allergies her entire life. So whenever she had her
boys, she told me this week that she was just so stressed with every new bite that her babies took that
she was just waiting, you know, waiting for that reaction. So when I told her I was talking to you today,
she said Please, please talk about this. I was so stressed during the whole process. And I think even you
know, Trish has dealt with food allergies herself her whole life. But I think just someone even who doesn’t
have a food allergy might also be feeling the same way. You know, like when I introduced these things
like what should I be prepared to do? Like, what am I look reaction Am I looking for? So what are your
recommendations on that was first foods and allergies?
Yeah, so I mean, obviously a very hot topic and for good reason. Um, so I know Patricia’s kids are a little
bit older. I mean, not teenagers by any means. But not Yeah, so not there. Yeah. Okay. Um, so when she
was introducing that highly allergenic foods to her kids, the recommendation was to wait until after two
years of age, well, like a lot of nutrition and health recommendations. That has changed. So the recent
recommendation of when to introduce seven of the eight highly allergenic foods, so peanuts, tree nuts,
eggs, soy I fish and sell shellfish, dairy, or milk bean, after a year of age still is Yeah, so it’s the
recommendation now is to introduce these allergenic foods at six months of age, or when you begin
introducing solid foods. So no longer waiting to that two year mark. Mainly because researchers have
found that the longer we wait to introduce these allergenic foods, the greater the likelihood of a child
developing an allergy towards them. So um, which is nerve racking, because, you know, imagine the six
month old and you’re trying to give them a little bit of nut butter and you’re just again sitting there waiting,
like, Oh, my poor baby eating right? No, but, but that’s what the research shows and says and, again, the
American Academy of Pediatrics is definitely on board with that. Um, so but Patricia’s point if food
allergies do run in your family, specifically mom or dad having them I always recommend talk to your
pediatrician first before introducing the allergenic food because, you know, they may want you to be you
know, close to the phone or, you know, only introducing that food specifically For a few days or maybe
even a week, the the time to continuously introduce it might be longer than for someone who doesn’t
have food allergies in their family.
Right? Okay, that makes sense. Yes, my girls, me, especially me, my daughter, Mia is 12. And I know for
sure, it was two years, whenever she had a baby, you know, it was like, two years, there’s no questions
about it, these are these things they cannot have under that age. And so I have been seeing some things
come out about introducing these, these, these food sooner, which I thought that kind of makes a little bit
more sense. I mean, to do it sooner and kind of introduce them to those things and get their, into their
bodies instead of instead of waiting.
Yes. So I mean, again, it’s kind of, you’re kind of on edge when you do it. But then you you know,
obviously hope for the best that, you know, there’s no issue.
Right? Okay, well, great tips there, I’m sure Trisha will be, will be really happy that we’re able to share
some information out there with the families who are going through some of those things that that she
went through. So Alright, so let’s talk finger foods I, I remember, feel so old Dell. When Mia was a baby, I
remember ripping out a page of parent thing magazine, Parents Magazine. And it was just kind of it was
like a two page spread all of these finger foods that you didn’t know, we’re finger foods, like the typical
finger foods. And so, you know, that was before Pinterest, or you know, before a lot of things. But um, so
I just plastered that up in my kitchen. And it was just so visual for me, and it helped so much. And I think I
actually still have it like in our baby book because it was such a part of my life at that point, but so this
stage usually happens around six to eight months, I think correctly here. So depending on your baby, of
course. And then, like I said, I think there are finger foods that are the typical finger foods parents think of
maybe just like the Cheerios or something easy for them to pick up and grab. But I know there are a lot
of healthy ones. So can you touch on some of those options. And then also, while we’re on this subject, I
know that the baby led weaning is a is a hot button out there. So maybe you can if you have some
insight on that, I think that would be wonderful to share with our listeners.
Sure. Yeah. Okay, that’s a lot. Sorry. No, I know, I’m like, Well, no, the finger food stage is kind of like that
moment where you’re, again, still a little worried. Are they gonna choke me out? Or can they really do
this? You know, babies, they don’t have all their teeth yet, you know, but it’s also that moment when
you’re kind of like, hey, everybody can sort of eat the same thing. You know, you’re not necessarily
making something special for baby. That’s kind of the end goal with introducing finger foods. So I think
what I’m going to do here is start with the baby led weaning the baby led, weaning, weaning. And then
we’ll go into more about the finger foods if that works. That’s perfect. Okay, great. So yeah, so baby led
weaning well, okay, there’s two schools of thought right now on how to introduce solids to your baby. So
the one the traditional route with starting with purees. So that might be you know, prayed pureed fruits,
vegetables, meats, on different cereals. And then the baby led weaning side. Now the baby led weaning
is, you know, essentially, you are skipping that pureed stage and going straight to finger foods. And most
parents who follow baby led weaning are not introducing solids to their babies until six to eight months of
age, because they’re waiting for baby to be able to grab the foods play around with foods on the tray by
themselves. So you know, you’re not lifting the spoon to baby’s mouth or the little spork or fork to baby’s
mouth, you’re letting baby control what and how much they’re eating, you are just providing the food
source. So I can tell you that I with my three right now. I’m with my first I felt what the recommendation
was then, you know, go ahead, do purees we started at four or five months and, um, you know, he is
what he is with the eater he is now um, He’s four years old. And I like to think that he just you know, food
is one of the only things he can control. So some days he’s eating a lot of fruits and vegetables other
days. He’s not you know, but, um, with my youngest Lily, we did we started with baby You led weaning
mainly because I didn’t want to sit there and feed her purees and we were running around trying to feed
I can’t imagine.
So, I mean, she knock on wood has been open to many different foods so far, and she’ll be to this month.
Um, but that’s not to say that baby led weaning is going to be the end all be all, when it comes to picky
eating in kids, again, I think it’s just picky eating comes with, you know, again, something that the kids
can control in their lives, you know, we tell them when to get up when to go to school, this and that. So,
um, but you know, a lot of people swear that by doing baby led weaning, you are setting your children up
for a more diverse palette. So So you know, um, to, again, talk to your pediatrician, if that’s something
that you think you’d like to do. Um, and, you know, like, like I said, the American Academy of Pediatrics
does not have a like sperm stance on baby led weaning. So, you know, again, it’s just something
important to talk about with your pediatrician.
Well, that’s interesting. I, we talked a little bit about this earlier, you and I, the, this whole concept, and I
think, I think for me, it probably would have been something I would have gone for with my girls, I think
that moving, you know, staying with the formula, and the breast milk for those first six months, and then
moving straight on in would have been a good route route for us. But like you said, always check with
your pediatrician. But I do like that this is a conversation that’s happening, and it’s, you know, something
that’s being looked at as an option. So that’s always good to get that conversation started. Because, you
know, it’s in the convenience factor as well, I know you with the two other little ones, it’s like, okay, how
do I sit here and make sure the others are safe and sound and while I’m, you know, taking the time to
feed over here.
Right, right. And, you know, whether you do baby led weaning or not when you get to that finger food
stage, I mean, there’s just, there’s so many options and things that you know, you might not consider a
finger food, because again, baby might not have a lot of tea. And you’re wondering, well, how can my
baby gum a cucumber, but really, if you cut things in strips, and six and squares, small squares, baby can
pretty much, you know, take to most foods. So we laugh because, oh, my mom, my parents laugh. My
daughter Lily, one of her first Foods was like a strip of avocado. Like what I don’t even think they’re like,
we don’t even think we ate avocado until we were like 35 or something. I mean, that’s obviously more
popular right now than it was 30 plus years ago in Michigan, where I live. Um, but it’s just funny to see,
you know, the options and the foods that we’re giving our kids now versus what they did. So. Yeah, and
with that, you know, another thing about the finger foods when you look at foods like a cucumber pepper
or something like that, you might think well the skin again, how can they chew or gum it? If you’re worried
about that, or like the skin on an apple, by all means, go ahead and peel it off before you cut it in strips or
sticks. But, you know, just keep an eye on baby and trust them, give them a smaller piece and you know,
I personally believe that they’ll be able to handle it.
Great. Well, okay, so not to put you on the spot. But if you had your top five healthy finger foods that
people might not recognize as finger foods for Baby, what would those be? What are your faves? Are
your kids faves? Hey,
number one avocado. Not by I’m not ranking by most important, right? But so I would do avocado for the
healthy fats. And the textures. Great for them. Um, let’s see what else sweet potatoes a great one. Sweet
potato. One that a lot of parents, I think wait on any kind of meat. I specifically like giving like little strips
of steak or lean cuts of meat, but I’m obviously tender and cutting little strips. Because beef is a great
source of iron. And I know that, you know, a lot of parents are worried about you know, their child’s iron
intake and if they’re getting enough iron in protein, so that’s a really good one and the kids can actually
get it Babies can get that nutrition, just from even sucking the juices out of the beef. The iron specifically.
So that’s another good one. Um, oh, geez. I’m like, why am I blanking on what foods are
you I put you on the spot
I’m thinking of a fruit here. Ah, Bananas, bananas are a great one. And then I would say, you know,
sometimes even just like a piece of whole wheat bread, or a strip of whole wheat bread, with a thin layer
of nut butter on it, obviously, if your child does not have a reaction to nut butter that’s another that’s
another good one. It’s messy, but it’s good.
That’s good. And I like your, you know, incorporating those textures. I have my almost eight year old she
has a texture thing with foods. So she likes very plain foods. And so I think that the sooner you can
introduce those different textures to your babies, the better they will be as they get older and you know,
encountered those different textures was, you know, the more advanced I guess was the bigger dinner
options and things like that.
Yes, definitely. Yeah. It’s again, kind of expanding their, their palate and they’re just experiences with
different foods. Yes.
All right. Well, so yes, the the lead weaning I like I said, I feel like that would have been right up my alley.
But alright, so let’s get to our last question for today. I something that’s on the mind of many parents, and,
and for me with my girls. I was on this mission from the very beginning. And one ended up being a picky
eater and one ended up not being a picky eater. So I’m not a good example maybe for what what to do. I
did exactly the same thing. I felt like my girls are just, you know, they are who they are. But I know this is
on the minds of many parents just starting off with feeding their babies. So can picky eating or raising a
picky either be prevented somehow.
I wish there was really a magic answer for that, or like a magic juice or something, you know, your drink
this and you won’t have you won’t be a picky eater, you know? Gosh, I mean, again, that’s if you go too
picky, go to Amazon type in picky eater book or something. Um, you’ll see a ton of different resources.
And I think, you know, personally, there’s a lot of validity Validity in the claims of the more you introduce
early on the different textures, the different flavors, spices, the greater the likelihood that you may or may
not, your child may or may not become a picky eater. Um, but going back to something I said earlier on
when we were talking. I think, just sometimes it’s really inevitable. I found that between two and four with
my older two has been a really trying time, not just with food, but with all things that you know, are just
activities of daily living, you know, brushing your teeth, you know, like them just such a struggle. And I
just believe that this is when they’re learning that, okay, I can control this, this upsets Mom and Dad or
Grandma, you know, or the babysitter. And so they they, they’re learning what they have control over
again, food being one of the biggest things so I kind of go into meal time. I don’t know if you’ve heard of
Alan’s. Excuse me, Ellen Sattar. She’s a child feeding expert guru among the nutrition community. And
she has something called her method is the division of responsibility. So mom, dad caregivers provide
what the child is eating. So you know, we are preparing the meals and giving them their plate or asking
them to plate themselves. Where and when the eating is happening. So you know, dinner table park, you
know, restaurant wherever, and then the child’s responsibility is to decide what they’re eating on their
plate and how much of it so everyone has little responsibility here at during meal time. And really, it goes
far back to when you’re bottle feeding or breastfeeding. You know, your baby’s going to stop eating when
they’re full. Right, right. So um, you know, taking it a little bit older though. You know, some meals, my
kids eat everything. And then some meals I go into it knowing well, they might not like this spicy rice I
made or you know, I kind of know that, hey, this this recipe or food item is a little dicey. I’m not sure
they’re going to eat it, but I’m still serving it, I’m still giving them the option. And if they decide not to eat it,
that’s their choice. So it sometimes it at for me, I’ve had to be careful with food waste, so I might not plate
as much myself knowing that I’ll eat what they don’t eat. Right?
Yes, I know that very well.
Right, you’re like, I’m the leftover person here. Um, but and then it also is like, Okay, well, you’re sending
your child to bed hungry. So with this division of responsibility, I always ensure that they have some
people call it a safe food, you know, something on their plate that I know that they’ll eat. And then I also
have an option for them. One option that’s offered, sometimes they do every night depending on what
the meal is, or I tried to do it once or twice a week. Now for my kids, that is a bowl of cottage cheese,
which is very healthy and nutritious and you know a lot of protein. But if they’re saying they’re hungry,
and they’re starving, you know, gosh, Mom, I didn’t like this dinner or whatever they come up with, you
know, I’ll say all right, well, if you’re still hungry, you can have a bowl of cottage cheese, but then kitchen
is closed. Um, that’s my way of doing things. But I mean, when the babysitter’s here my husband’s home,
I and I’m not I tried to just, you know, I don’t ask what did everybody have for dinner, I just, you know,
they know when mom’s around this is, these are kind of our food rolls. You know,
I like that I like the idea of a safe food, we do that a lot with my younger daughter, I have found that if she
has something that is, you know, that is safe for her in her mind, then she’s more likely to eat some of
those other things around it. So I do, that’s, that’s definitely a good route to take. It’s worked for us. So
and then again, back to, like you said about the, you know, the, the kids being different and how, and I
said, you know, both of mine, I tried to do the same thing with foods, and they both ended up one picky
one not, but I do know, my younger daughter. There’s other things outside of eating, that I see her also,
you know, the socks, the way her socks fill, and the way you know, certain these things that she wants
things a certain way. So I just felt like, you know what, this is who she is, and I get to work with her, not
Exactly. I love that. I love that working with them, not against them. And, you know, kind of thing is I don’t
like every food that’s out there. You know? I mean, I can’t if I’m not giving myself the same expectation.
Like, why should I expect that of them? You know,
So chances are you wouldn’t be serving it anyways. But you know, just in case they’re at somebody
else’s house too. So
exactly. Well, I can’t thank you enough for being part of the healthy family project for coming back on
today. And of course, for serving as our official registered dietician at produce for kids, we, we lean on
you so much, and are so grateful to have you as part of our team. So that we wanted to add a little bit of
fun, an extra element to this podcast. So next week, tune into our Instagram story, Katie will be on the
story, giving you a real look inside the everything you know that we kind of talked about today and into
her world. So that’s always fun. So we can’t wait for that to tune in next week. And then Katie, besides
finding you on the produce for kids blog, can you tell listeners where else they can find you?
Of course, yeah, you can find me online. My blog, my website is mom to mom nutrition.com. You can
also find me on Facebook at mom demand nutrition, everything’s not nutrition here. And same with
Pinterest and Twitter and Instagram. So Instagram, I will say is just mom nutrition. And lately, we’ve been
kind of lacking in some of the Instagram posts just because getting ready for a move and what we’ve
been eating, but I was gonna say,
Wait a second. You’re busy. You’re moving. You have three kids under five and expecting another and
you’re not keeping up with Instagram.
I know, right? There’s only so much time in the day, right? I do fall. I read everybody else’s stories,
though. So just priorities right?
Yes. Well, thank you so much, Katie. And I’m sure we’ll be talking to you again soon on an upcoming
Great. Thank you, Amanda. Have a good day.
Thanks for listening in today, I’ll be including relevant links in our show notes including information on the
baby led weaning and relevant content from produce for kids.com. Check out Katie’s site mom’s mom
nutrition for new content on all things baby and toddler eating. And then like I mentioned, Katie will be on
our Instagram story next week, giving a behind the scenes look at what real life toddler eating looks like.
So that should be really fun, but if you do miss it on the story, we’ll add it to our IG TV, which is on
Instagram and then we can also pop it up on our produce for kids Facebook page. Visit our website
POTUS for kids.com for more than 400, registered dietitian family approved recipes, tips and more. And
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