Valio Onni Potato-Carrot, Banana-Blueberry, Corn and Rice Gruels

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The first food we tried after the fruit purees was liquefied baby cereal. Gruel, to be exact. A friend pointed out that “gruel” wasn’t a term regularly used in the States, but I’m not sure if there is anything else that quite describes this stuff. The word that comes to my mind is “muay”, which is Taiwanese for rice congee — when we were young, my mom would make a version of this with various broths instead of milk. The Finnish word is “velli” and it refers to a milky, starch/grain-based beginner’s baby food/beverage. Lots of babies get this instead of formula for their nighttime bottle once weaning is started, since it sits in the stomach a bit longer than plain milk. Since it isn’t a huge step away from formula, they usually take to it quite well. I know Blob certainly did. Valio had four flavors of this stuff for the 4 months+ set when we were using it — I have arranged them from left to right in order of household popularity.

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Blob’s hands-down favorite was the potato-carrot velli. Guess that would be his Finnish side showing through. Ingredients listed: fresh milk whey, milk, 15% potato, 10% carrot, lactose, rapeseed and sunflower oils, vitamins (D3, thiamine, niacin, B6, folic acid, C), minerals (calcium, iron, zinc and iodine). They last for two days in the fridge once opened, but we rarely had these cartons around for that long.

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It’s a really nice smooth consistency. He would readily drink this stuff straight up in the beginning, so I started thickening it gradually with powdered baby cereal or vegetable purees, to get him used to something more on the solid side. You can see from the previous picture that I added equal parts of it to some pumpkin-chicken puree, one of our earliest successes with mixing flavors.

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Grabby grabby hands can’t wait to be served 🙂

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Second favorite was banana-blueberry rice velli. Ingredients listed: fresh milk whey, milk, banana (10%), rice flour (4%), rice starch, blueberry juice (1%), rapeseed and sunflower oils, vitamins (A, D3, thiamine, niacin, B6, folic acid, C), minerals (calcium, iron, zinc and iodine).

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A testament to blueberries, because just 1% goes a long way. I use substantially more in my smoothies and they end up electric purple sometimes. Blueberries, by the way, tend to give babies black poops — something they really should warn new parents about, because it can be somewhat alarming to see if you are not prepared.

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Ooooh, fruity goodness! I started using the spoon and bowl with him pretty early, which was rather difficult with stuff as liquid as velli. A lot of face smearing went on in those early weeks. I do think it helped him to eat neater in the long run, though.

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Corn velli was really good for mixing with vegetable purees, since it nicely complemented a lot of different flavors. Ingredients list: fresh milk whey, milk, corn starch, corn flour (3%), rapeseed and sunflower oils, lactose, emulsifiers (vegetable-based fatty acids), vitamins (A, D3, thiamine, niacin, B6, folic acid), minerals (calcium, iron, zinc and iodine).

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On the day this picture was taken, I was apparently mixing it with sweet potato and green beans. If I remember right, that met with only moderate success, and even then only thanks to the velli and sweet potato. Green bean puree never really caught on with Blob. He’ll readily eat them as finger foods, though. Go figure.

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Last but not least, the most useful of them all, rice velli. Ingredients list: fresh milk whey, milk, rice flour (5%), rice starch, rapeseed and sunflower oils, lactose, vitamins (A, D3, thiamine, niacin, B6, folic acid), minerals (calcium, iron, zinc and iodine).

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Also the blandest on its own — you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between rice velli and regular formula if they were just put side by side. This makes it great as the very first velli, or to chuck into any baby food that needs a bit of thinning. Since Blob eats so much more now than he did in the beginning, I currently buy rice velli in powdered form and mix up batches as needed to add to food or for the bottle. We don’t really use the other flavors anymore because he has transitioned to table foods, but I still find the plain stuff useful as an evening bottle. We just recently dropped his late night milk bottle, so it’s become more important for us to make sure he’s full before going to bed so he can last the night.

 

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