What a Chef Feeds His One-Year-Old Son – Chef-Crafted Baby Food

Nov 9, 2020 | Food and Culture

When my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby we knew straight away that we were going to make our own baby food. There was no question that our baby would never eat any store-bought baby snacks, jarred food, or any of that garbage. In all honesty, that was probably the easiest decision that either of us had to make. I mean, I’m a chef for godsakes. I don’t usually buy prepared foods for us, why would I do it for our baby. How would that look? We knew straight away that our sweet, innocent, little guy would never eat anything that we didn’t make ourselves. Period. Then we had the baby, and like a soiled diaper to the face, reality hit us and all that posturing and confidence that my wife and I had when we used to sleep went right out the window.

I get asked a lot about what we feed our baby. I think that there is an expectation that I make all these fancy purées and baby snacks for him. Our reality is much different than that expectation. For example, we really expected that we would do those things, but then the reality of having a baby, and jobs, a house to clean, and laundry to do, really got in the way of all that. Today I am going to share what we feed our baby with the hope that this will help someone out there. Let’s get to it.

What a chef feeds his son

A good eater

I think it is safe to say that my baby is what most people would call a good eater (when he wants to be). It’s not really a struggle to get him to eat or to try new things for the most part. Of course, like most babies, and like my wife and me, he can be stubborn at times. But generally, he eats pretty well. Really, the only thing he doesn’t seem at all interested in and never has are jars of puréed baby food. But we did try. Before we get into what we feed him now at thirteen months, let’s take a look back at the progression of how we got to where we are.

Introducing foods

Baby food

My wife had read about baby-led weaning before we started feeding our son solids, and so we actually very loosely subscribed to that school of thought. If you are unfamiliar with baby-led weaning, the basic idea is that you skip purées and mashed baby foods altogether and go straight to foods that your baby can pick up, chew and swallow on its own. Essentially, you give your baby options, let it choose what it wants to eat, then he or she has to troubleshoot and solve the issues that arise like gagging. Now, I have to tell you, being a new parent, and watching a six-month-old pick up a piece of banana and shove it in his mouth, and then gag is pretty terrifying. That’s why we didn’t go full in on baby-led weaning. It was just a little too scary for us. But I think it did give my son a sense of choice, which has made him a better eater and more independent than he may have otherwise been.

My son’s been breastfed from day one, and up until he was six months old, he didn’t have anything but breast milk. Then at six months, we started introducing baby cereal, bits of banana, and things like that. Essentially, we kept it very simple for the first month or so. Interestingly enough, he used to love banana and would eat it like crazy a but will hardly even look at it now.

Trying Purées

Baby food puré

It’s a bit blurry when we introduced what to my son. For the most part, my wife took the lead on this, so I’m a little foggy on the details. But, when he was around seven months, my wife started making vegetable purées and meat and vegetable purées for him. He didn’t really take to them at all. So, I think it was around that point that we started trying to introduce store-bought baby foods. He didn’t take to those either.

I should say at this point that my son is pretty small. Height-wise, he is fine, but weight-wise he is in the bottom tenth percentile. Part of that is genetics. I was a very skinny baby, as where my sisters and their kids, and my wife and her brother. Another part of that is that he was severely tongue-tied when he was born, and we didn’t know right away. So, for the first few months, he was only getting enough milk to sustain him. But, at five months, we got his tongue clipped so he could move it more freely and eat better, which helped a lot. He is still pretty skinny, though. So, we were understandably concerned and just trying to find anything that he would eat and hopefully put on some weight.

What worked and What Didn’t

What became obvious to us pretty quickly is that our son was never going to eat purées. He won’t even eat mashed potatoes. So, those were off the table. He will eat fruit purées now, but they are not his favourite by any stretch of the imagination. He did eat baby rice cereal and baby oatmeal for a while, for breakfast or dinner. Often those would have fruit in them. We also started giving him quick-dissolving baby crackers and stuff like that. Eventually, we even started giving him baby cheese puffs because he would eat them. We fed those kinds of snacky things to him for about a month before deciding that we didn’t want him to eat junk food, even if it was designed for a baby. So, we cut out all that stuff and started giving him a cup of Cheerios that he carries around and snacks on. He also loves frozen peas as a snack, or as part of a meal, and anything blueberry, especially frozen blueberries he goes crazy for.

What really worked for us for meals, even early on, was feeding him what we were eating. He is very much a social eater, wants us to eat with him, and really wants to eat what we have. This has led to some interesting experiences. For example, a few months ago, we had some Thai Curry, which he really wanted to try, and to our surprise, absolutely loved. We did a big mussel boil a few weeks ago, and he probably ate a pound of mussels by himself. Really, feeding him what we want to eat has been the most successful thing that we’ve tried.


baby sign language

One thing that we did that has been very helpful is that we taught our son a few rudimentary sings when he was first learning to eat. He has a sign for hungry, a sign for more, a sign for milk, a sign for a drink, and a sign for all done. The sign for milk is mostly just pointing at my wife’s chest and doing his sign for more. The drink sign never really took, but the other ones have been unbelievably useful in learning what he likes and doesn’t. And even just for knowing when he is hungry or when he wants more of something.

A few weeks ago, I made a spicy Indian curry, and my son kept signing that he wanted to eat it. I didn’t want to feed it to him becasue it was pretty hot, but he started having a bit of a tantrum becasue I wouldn’t let him have it. So, I put just a little bit of the broth from curry on my finger and let him try it. His eyes got super wide, and he started shaking his head back and forth and buried his face in my chest. Then about a minute later, after the spice had calmed down, he signed for more and just kept signing for more over and over until I gave it to him. He actually ate quite a bit of it and loved it. Without the signs, I probably would have just assumed that he hated it, and it was too hot, or I wouldn’t have given it to him at all. But he loved it, and now I know that he will eat stuff like that.

The Big Take-away

Let’s be very clear; I am no expert in feeding babies. I’m not even an expert in feeding my own baby. And, every baby is different. But what I’ve learned about my son and his eating habits is that he wants to choose what he eats, he wants us to eat with him, and he mostly just wants to eat what we are eating. Any time we have tried to insist that he eat something or tried to get him to eat something that he didn’t want to, it has been a disaster. But, letting him choose what he wants to eat (obviously within reason) and giving him a way to communicate with us what he likes and doesn’t and when he’s hungry and isn’t has made feeding much easier. Of course, there are still days when it is harder than others to get him to eat. But, for the most part, and compared to a lot of other babies, it’s a breeze.

One other thing that I just thought of that I think has been very helpful is having him in the kitchen with me when I’m cooking. Obviously, I make sure he is away from the stove and safe. I put him in his highchair in the kitchen and let him watch me cook. He even gets to smell all the herbs and spices and taste some of the ingredients. I give him spatulas and wooden spoons to play with and all that. For whatever reason, I think this has also helped him become a better eater than he may have otherwise been.

Meal Break Down

baby food

Really quickly, for those you that are interested here is a breakdown of somethings that my son may eat during the course of a day.


  • eggs (scrambled or boiled)
  • cheese
  • grated apple or pear
  • yogurt
  • banana oatmeal pancakes with peanut butter on them.


  • slices of roasted vegetables (beets, sweet potatoes, etc.)
  • frozen peas
  • roasted chicken or meat
  • rice, pasta or quinoa if there is any cooked
  • some fruit for dessert.


Whatever we are having for dinner which can vary from curry to pasta, stir-fries, meat and potatoes, fish, barbecued pork chops, and vegetables of some kind. On tub nights, he has blueberries for dessert; otherwise, it will usually be another type of fruit.


For snacks, he has a cup of Cheerios, maybe some peas, fruit or cheese. Occasionally he will have some puréed fruit but not very often.

Every meal is served with either a cup of water or a cup of milk and he pretty much gets as much breast milk as he wants.


When it comes to feeding our baby, I’ve learned three things. Number one, whatever you plan before you have the baby, doesn’t mean anything. That goes beyond feeding. Number two, trying to dictate to him what he has to eat, will only end in frustration and a big mess. Number three, giving him a way to communicate what he wants, has been a game-changer.

I’m going to say again that I am no expert and that every baby is different, but this is working for us for now. If I can give one bit of advice to other parents out there that may be struggling with feeding their baby, it’s to try not to get frustrated as hard as that can be. Try some different things. You never know what your baby may like. It might even be spicy curry.

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