As a mom, you care so much about what you feed your child. You do your best to keep your little ones healthy and happy, while exposing them a plethora of flavors and diversifying their young palates. NYC-based mother of three Michelle Muller is someone who can relate to that.
When she isn’t busy running marathons or summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, this super mom is busy operating her company Little Spoon. Created with the vision that quality nutrition should be accessible to everyone, everywhere, Little Spoon is a comprehensive nutrition solution dedicated to delivering you the peace of mind that you’re feeding not just the best food, but the right food, to your baby.
Little Spoon offers Babyblends— fresh, organic pureed baby food made of multiple fruits and vegetables– and Boosters– clean, concentrated vitamins and probiotics in a powdered form. How do you chose what’s right for your child? The process is simple: take the quiz on the company’s website, receive a personalized meal plan, and have fresh, organic baby food delivered to your doorstep every other week.
Muller recently caught up with Mama Glow to talk all things babies, health, and nutrition. Here’s what she had to say:
Mama Glow: We love that you created a beautifully branded line of organic and plant-based baby food. You’re a mom who wants to feed her children the best. What inspired you to move into the baby food category?
Michelle Muller: The baby food industry is a space that literally hasn’t changed for 100 years. If you think about it, baby food as a food product hit the market with Gerber and the only innovation to the space has been the pouch. The food itself didn’t improve, just the container it was served in. Fast forward to 2019 and we now know that feeding our babies out of pouches is bad for their speech development so even that innovation ended up bringing us back to square one. I’ve experienced first hand how early exposure to fresh, nutritious food sets up your children for overall mind/body health as well as adventurous eating habits – no one wants a picky eater!
It really just came down to one simple concept: your baby’s food shouldn’t be older than the baby you’re feeding it to. Shelf stable and pouched baby food can last for up to two years. That is just crazy! Baby food should be fresh, vibrant, packed full of flavor and expansive. The more we introduce to our babies before the age of two, the more likely they are to eat adventurously in adulthood not to mention the optimization for development. There was no way I could sit back as a bystander when I knew how to solve the problem of making fresh, nutritious baby food available to families nationwide.
MG: What are some common concerns that parents have when it comes to feeding their little ones?
MM: Feeding your baby their very first bites is a big milestone! In so many cultures, feeding is synonymous with caring for and nurturing your child. No wonder we all put so much pressure on ourselves! Some of the biggest concerns I see coming up for parents are around when to start feeding (speak with your pediatrician but babies typically start between 4-7 months of age), incorporating enough variety and ingredients (Little Spoon uses over 80 ingredients to comprise our flavors and we offer 25 different flavors at any given moment in time) and making sure their child isn’t a picky eater (the key here is to introduce as many different ingredients as possible while they are still little and easy-going).
MG: You’re not simply a baby food company, you’re a technology brand. You have developed a platform that allows parents to track the growth of their children and other milestones. Can you tell us what parents are learning while using this platform and how it helps them?
MM: The Little Spoon experience is much more than just purchasing baby food for your child. We want to be there for every milestone that matters for you and your newly expanded family. When our customers sign up, they move through a quiz – we ask basic questions about your child like their birthdate, but we also ask more detailed questions like where they are developmentally, if they are a picky eater and how they handle texture among many others. This helps us to provide a custom meal plan for your baby based on his or her needs. Afterall, a premature 6 month old will eat a very different diet than a 6 month old baby who was born two weeks overdue. As your child grows and hits new milestones, your menu will adjust and change to best suit their needs. We optimize the ingredients, vitamins and nutrients your child is receiving to best help their development. It really is revolutionary! All along the way, we encourage parents to get involved and regularly update their baby’s development so their plan changes accordingly. We then offer lots of educational tips and tricks based on what’s going on with their kiddo at various moments in time.
MG: Little Spoon offers a rotating menu? Can you speak to the importance of palate development in the first 1000 days?
MM: Before a baby tries their first solid food, their palate can be seen as a blank canvas. Research is now showing that a baby’s palate can actually be trained to prefer and enjoy healthy foods such as vegetables, super foods and fruits when introduced with patience, persistence and repetitively over time. Think of your baby’s first year of food (typically months 6 – 18) as the “palate training” time. Exposing your baby to a variety of foods and flavors is essential, but it is equally important to serve real foods and avoid processed foods as much as possible as this is what they will be primed to prefer down the road. Speaking from personal experience, all three of my boys (who are now 7, 9 and 12 years old) are incredible eaters. When we go out to restaurants, they almost never order off of a kids menu.
MG: We love your flavor combinations, they sound so tasty. Where else would we be able to find a combination like: Quinoa Raspberry Pear Coconut Milk Vanilla Date Wheat Germ Oil?! Why did you all choose combinations like this in a landscape where most baby food brands highlight 2-3 star ingredients?
MM: A big part of our mission is palate development in addition to nutritional support. Exposure is so incredibly important when it comes to palate development. The more ingredients you can introduce to your little one, the better off you are. After all, no one wants a picky eater on their hands. This is the exact reason why we use over 80 different ingredients on our menu. We also carefully formulate our flavors with the help of our pediatric nutrition council so not only are all Babyblends nutritionally balanced, but you can also taste each and every ingredient in it.
MG: Being so connected to the first foods for babies must rub off on your personal diet. What do you eat to thrive as an entrepreneur, mother and wellness advocate?
MM: I’m a big believer in the cliché “you are what you eat.” Life is all about balance for me and my diet mirrors my life in many ways. I subscribe the 80/20 rule: I eat super clean 80% of the time and indulge the other 20%. Typically, my Sunday – Thursdays consist of intermittent fasting (I never eat breakfast actually!), clean snacks like cucumbers, carrots or fresh fruit, a big green salad and fish or a veggie dish for dinner. I am also caffeine and alcohol-free during the week. Fridays and Saturdays, you can usually find me food adventuring around the city and eating ALL THE THINGS: tapas in Cobble Hill, ramen on the UES, Lobster Rolls in Red Hook, Peruvian in Jackson Heights…the list goes on. I had a personal trainer once who coached me with the following mindset: “During the week, you should eat to live. On the weekend, you can live to eat.” I love that saying!
MG: What brings you joy?
MM: My relationships with the people that matter most to me bring me joy. My children, my sister, my mother, my partner, everyone on the Little Spoon team and all of my friends. I am also a passionate traveler. There is nothing that exhilarates me more than landing in a new country where I don’t speak the language. Adventures abound! Last but not least, food and wine bring me joy – mostly in the sense of entertaining. I love to cook for the people I care about. Nourishing the ones you love is such a fundamental part of being a human – it’s in our DNA. Preparing a meal that is shared with people I love is so incredibly fulfilling for me. I’m very lucky to do this in both my personal and professional life.