Q&A: Daycare and food question for baby

Here's one that kind of makes my head hurt.

Elise writes:

"My daughter is six and a half months old. We introduced solid foods around five months, and she does well with cereal and some mashed foods. However, she is not very interested in purees and has recently begun insisting on finger foods (she snatches food out of my hands and puts it in her mouth). I've given her cubed, steamed carrots and potatoes, sliced ripe banana, etc, which she really enjoys. This is all great, so no problem, right?

The issue is with daycare. My daughter is in a full-time daycare center. She has wonderful caregivers, it's in my office building which allows me to come by to breasfeed one or twice during the day, and we are mostly happy with it. Unfortunately, they have very strict food policies. Parents are only allowed to bring in bottles and jar or some other type of pre-packaged food until their babies are old enough to start eating the center provided lunch at age one. There are no exceptions -- infants cannot start center lunch early and parents may not bring in food prepared at home. 

I plan to speak with the director in hopes of getting the rules changed (I am not the only unhappy parent either). Right now my daughter only eats cereal at daycare and has dinner with us at home. I'm hoping you or some of your readers might have suggestions for what I can bring for lunch in the future. The center suggested that I bring Gerber Graduates (Puffs!! Crackers!) and things like fruit cups (that come packaged in syrup!). I would prefer it if she were eating fresh fruits and vegetables. She only has two teeth, so anything I bring needs to be soft and easily gummed. 

Any ideas?"

Speaking of advocating for better food for kids, it makes me sad that already in daycare kids are being fed stuff that's less-than-healthy. Everything pre-packaged is really restrictive. I can understand that it's probably some kind of liability, but they're not the only daycare in the country, and many many daycares don't have restrictive policies like that, so it can't be an insurmountable policy. Keep pushing for change.

(As an aside, I love questions about daycare in which the caregivers are great. It makes everything so much better when you're really happy with who's with your kids all day.)

I've been wracking my brain to try to come up with something fresh but also packaged, but am not having much luck. Could they count a banana? It's in its own package, and if they broke off big chunks she could handle it.

I'm going with the Baby-led Weaning research that shows that kids do better with bigger pieces at first that they can control and put in the fronts of their mouths, than with small pieces or purees that are shoved into the back. Their finger control keeps pace with their tongue/mouth control, so that by the time they can pick of a small pea they're able to eat it safely on their own.

So a half a banana is something a little baby could pick up and gum in the front.

But even if they allow a banana, that's not a lot of variety.

Help.

Does anyone have any ideas to save Elise's baby from eating lunchables?