Making Baby Food-Not Only for Granolas

3 Apr

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This is the first in a serious of articles written by my wife about why and how she made our baby food.

First of all, I in no way am a nutritional specialist, a granola girl or a health snob. When I started making baby food, it was for two reasons: 1) I didn’t sit well with the fact that meat was sitting on shelves in little jars, and 2) We didn’t have a lot of money and I couldn’t afford to pay for baby food! A third reason could very well be that game that women torture other women with at baby showers where you have to guess the baby food in an unmarked jar by smell. I mean, really, who came up with that game??? Torture, I tell you, especially for the expectant mom who may or may not still be suffering from pregnancy food aversions.

When I started making baby food, I discovered how inexpensive it was and how easy it was. I learned a lot about food while making Noah’s food, and I loved it! I wasn’t a girl who grew up loving to cook, but I’m learning how to be healthier. Of course, then I realized how cool it is to really know what’s in my kids’ food, and claimed that this was the reason I’d made it all along to my foodie-all-organic mom friends.

What you need to know before you start:

1) I don’t add anything to food to get my kids to eat it. I don’t use butter, salt or sugar because it’s not good for them. They’ll have plenty of years when they stuff their faces with these things, knowingly and not. So, we choose to try to get our kids used to just eating plain things, and so far, we’ve had success!

2) You don’t need a lot of fancy stuff. I’ll get into what we use, but ultimately you need a blender or food processor, pots and pans, a veggie steamer and some ice cube trays. You can choose to purchase other things, but you don’t have to.

3) Babies should get a new food every two to three days. Don’t blend a lot of purees up to get one that’s more flavorful or colorful or whatever, because if your kiddo has an allergic reaction, you won’t know what food it’s to. You need to be able to look at your baby or your pediatrician and say, “All s/he had to eat that was any different was ____________, which I started her on yesterday.”

4) For the reason above, we start new foods at lunch time or in the morning. I don’t want any of my kids to have an allergic reaction at night when we’re both sleeping and I don’t know anything about it.

5) Babies can eat meat as early as six months. Obviously, you want to puree it in with something, but we start our kiddos on lean proteins because we know proteins are good for us; we know they keep us full, we know they build lean muscle and we want our children to get used to having a protein as part of most meals.

6) Generally, kids have aversions to textures instead of taste. There’s a theory that it can take up to ten times for a baby to appreciate the texture of a new food. The beautiful thing about making baby food is that you’re generally going to have multiple servings that are all freezable, all of which are two ounces each, so you’ll have more to pull from. If you’re working with a baby who has another dish, add the new food to an old food if they initially balk at a new texture.

7) Food that has been frozen cannot be prepared and then re-frozen. Use fresh vegetables, fruits and fresh meats. You can and should freeze baby foods so that, if your baby doesn’t like the texture but isn’t allergic to the food, you can try again at a later time.

How to get started:

We start our kiddos at four months old with some sort of cereal or oatmeal. Noah started with rice cereal because we didn’t have whole grain baby cereal when he was young. With Caden, we did have whole grain, so that’s what we did with Caden and Hannah. With Caden and Noah, we mixed the cereal with breast milk. For the very first feed, we had about ninety percent breast milk and ten percent cereal, and over the next two months we increased the cereal percentage (and also decreased the milk percentage) until the cereal was about the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Side note:

The purpose of feeding a cereal starting at four months, as I understand it, is two fold: 1) You’re teaching your child how to eat with a spoon instead of a bottle, and 2) By four months of age, your child’s iron reserves that he or she was born with has depleted and they don’t usually get sufficient iron from breast milk. Formula, we now know with Hannah, is fortified with iron. Either way, if your child is forcing the spoon out of his or her mouth after a few weeks, give him or her another week. That’s a reflex that will go away, and (particularly if you’ve got another demanding child in the home…say banging his milk and throwing raisins at your head with stunning accuracy for an 18-month-old) starting them and not relenting will only serve to frustrate you!

In order to help with how this fits in to the day, I’m going to go into detail about where in our day we fit in feedings. Our kids are early risers, so we generally had breast milk/formula feedings somewhere around 6 am, 9 am, noon, 3 pm and 6 pm (and 9 pm if there was a growth spurt) by six months. So, I usually tried their first real taste of baby food right before the noon feeding. They’re starting to get hungry, and are most likely used to sitting up and being spoon fed. But the very first taste of real food happened on each of their six month “birthdays” and were well documented using video and still camera! After he or she gets the hang of real food, we replaced the evening cereal feed (usually happens whenever we have dinner, so right before the six pm bottle/feeding) with baby food. By their first birthday, you’ll need to be at three meals, snacks and a sippee cup, so you’re going to have a huge transition in a relatively short time of life.

This is the 1st post of 3 in a series about how we made our own baby food for our little ones.

To see the other posts, click the links below…

1) Making Baby Food-Not Only for Granolas

2) Homemade Baby Food-What I Made and How I Made It

3) Homemade Baby Food-An Example Food and Process

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One Response to “Making Baby Food-Not Only for Granolas”

  1. danamcshan April 3, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    I absolutely loved making Gwyn’s food when she was a baby. I miss it so much! Seeing jar food just makes me cringe. What’s IN that? I knew exactly what was going in her mouth.

    Its very inexpensive. Just 1 blended banana would make atleast 3 jars, depending on the size. 1 avocado – atleast 4, and so on. One butternut squash lasted forever!

    Then there are foods I didn’t even think of
    blending until she could just eat them as we do. Ex: Kale, garbanzo beans. I’m looking forward to being a baby chef again when the time comes. 🙂

    I’m so glad to see this post! This blog brings so much awareness. Keep it up, Smith Family!

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