“Make your own baby food? Are you insane? Don’t you have enough to do?”
Yes, probably, and definitely.
I probably never would have considered making my own baby food, if my sister-in-law hadn’t done it first. I’d never imagined such a thing somehow. Baby food comes in jars, right? It’s specially formulated for the nutritional requirements of babies…or so I assumed. As it turns out, a baby food jar of pureed carrots contains…well, pureed carrots. Expensive pureed carrots, I might add, since you can buy a bag of carrots for a whole lot less. Once cooked, throw them in the blender, pour them into ice cube trays and freeze, and voila!–you have just created several servings of homemade baby food.
Commercial baby food was first introduced around 1900, but didn’t become more available until around 1930. It gained in popularity in the latter part of the twentieth century (sounds like a long time ago, huh?) as pre-packaged, processed foods moved to the forefront of the American diet. Organic baby food didn’t appear in jar form until 1987, however.
So while there’s the option now of less processed, more organic prepackaged baby food, it’s still relatively easy to make your own. You’ll save money, have more control over what goes into your babe’s tummy, and maybe feel a little smug about your amazing Supermom (or dad) abilities. It also made me take a closer look at what our family eats, and has led to healthier choices for all of us. And if you think about it, it’s only a span of three months or so that babies require pureed foods. Before you know it, Baby will be asking for food off of your plate!
The Library has several good books to get you started:
This self-proclaimed baby food bible is just that–a comprehensive guide to foods by age as well as a thoughtful look toward healthier eating habits for the whole family. I just recently discovered this book and am looking forward to trying some of the recipes for toddlers.
Yaron’s book is considered by many to be the ultimate baby food guide, although it goes a little overboard in some areas. It’s essential as a basic what-to-feed-when-and-how guide, though, so mark the pages you’ll use the most (like the list of foods and how to prepare them) and ignore the rest until you need them (and unless you like dessicated liver or making your own finger paints, you may never need everything in this book).
A great quick-reference guide for each month of age, Karmel’s book offers fresh suggestions for mixing different purees and keeping your baby’s food interesting. I did find some foods listed for early eaters that are sometimes considered allergens, so use your own judgment and check with your doctor if you’re not sure.
The Baby Bistro Cookbook by Joohee Muromcew
Like a little more style with your baby food? Muromcew shows you how to cook for the mini-gourmet-n-training. Not to fear, though--recipes are simple and wholesome, and many are simple, modified versions of adult meals. Lots of great recipes for toddlers, too.
If you’re looking for even more information, try one of these sites:
Wholesome Baby Food: A friend suggested this site to me, and at first I was a little wary since it was a .com site, but it seems to contain reliable information and doesn’t seem to be promoting anything other than the idea that making your own baby food is a healthy choice. Lots of moms I know use the site for recipes, and there are guides for age-appropriate foods.
Getting Started with Solid Foods: This site from the American Academy of Pediatrics provides basic guidelines for feeding solids.
Feeding Infants and Toddlers: This site has an overview for feeding from birth to two years, as well as information on chokable foods, allergies, and tips for picky eaters (hint: most babies need to try a food 6-12 times before they actually decide they like it, so don’t give up!).