Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Make Your Own Baby Food, Part I

With all of the information flying around out there, it's easy to see how someone might get confused as to what is safe or best to feed their children. To be perfectly honest, sometimes I find it difficult to tell which things I should listen to and which I shouldn't. Brand X says it doesn't use preservatives? Brand Y says it's all-natural? Brand Z claims to be organic? What does all of this even *mean*? Ultimately it's up to you and your pediatrician to decide what's best, but here are a few recipes for homemade baby food.

Some things to remember-
-Always check with your pediatrician before starting your baby on a new food. S/he may be able to tell you if your baby is at the right stage and/or give you some tips.
-Introduce only one new food at a time.
-It's best to feed your baby the same food for at least 4 days to check for signs of allergies or intolerance.
-You'll never know what your baby likes because all babies change their tastes approximately every five seconds. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but the point is that you shouldn't get discouraged if your baby doesn't seem to like a particular food the first time you try it because their tastes are constantly changing. Feel free to re-introduce a food later on, up to 10 or so times. Also, it could sometimes be the texture that your baby doesn't like; feel free to experiment with those as well. With your pediatrician's approval, of course.

Avocado is a good 'first food' since it is usually soft enough to be served without having to be put through a blender first. If you want to add a bit of extra nutrition, you can add breast milk or formula one teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.

As anyone who's ever packed a little kid's lunch knows, children love applesauce. While it's not necessarily a bad thing to buy the stuff in the grocery store, some parents are concerned about additives in their children's food. If this describes you or if you just want to know for future reference, here is a recipe for homemade applesauce. You can use however many apples you want.

First, peel your apples and cut into chunks or slices. Then, put them into a pan and add just enough water to cover the apples. Boil or steam until tender, stirring. Usually I would say to puree in a blender until smooth, but it might be possible for you to achieve the same results using a simple mallet or potato masher. Whichever way is fine. The point is to get it to a thin, smooth consistency. It's possible to puree apples and bananas together, although pediatricians usually recommend staying away from blends when you first begin to introduce solid food to your baby.

One hint: Steaming helps the food retain more of its vitamins and minerals than boiling. The less water it comes into contact with, the better. Either way, save some of the water you use to cook in case you need to thin things out. 

More recipes in the next post! 

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