Sunday, December 20, 2009

Making Homemade Baby Food IS Just as Easy as Opening a Jar...

...and tastes oh-so-much better. Trust me on this. With my first child, I bought a lot of organic jarred baby foods. I waited until she was 7 months old before I fed her because she was not very interested in food. In the end, she was not much of an eater until she was close to a year old, she preferred to nurse. I was all geared up to make her homemade baby food, but the few times I did she didn't eat much of it, so I stopped. I had cookbooks, a food mill, and storage containers all ready to go. I held on to it all. I am happy I did because our second little one recently started eating pureed food and she LOVES to eat. She is also nursing but she got to a point where she was so interested in food we actually started her at 5 1/2 months, which is a bit early. She insisted. And now, just a month later she wants to eat food if the rest of us are. So, now I get to make baby food, and I have a babe who can't get enough. I have not bought one jar of canned food. I have only bought organic fruits and vegetables, rice, and oatmeal, and have made it all myself. You can, too. It is truly simple!

A few tips on early feeding:
~ It is best to start with foods which are least likely to be allergenic. These include banana, brown rice cereal, and avocado. My first child started with avocado and my second with brown rice cereal. It is a good idea to avoid feeding acidic foods like berries, citrus, and tomatoes to new eaters as they can be allergenic.
~ There are theories on not starting your child with sweet items first as they might tend to crave them. My second child actually didn't like banana at first, she preferred cereals and vegetables.
~ Don't expect your child to eat a lot at first. Do not force a baby to eat. If they are interested they will open their mouths and if they close them or turn away when you try to feed them, stop. They should still be getting plenty of nourishment from breast milk or formula.
~ Do not save any leftover food from the serving your child has been eating from. Once the spoon has been used and put back in the food, bacteria is in the food and it should be thrown out. For this reason, when you make food, keep it in a larger container and spoon it into a smaller one.
~ Do not microwave your baby's food. I use a regular bowl, filled with hot water, and I put a small glass ramekin (bowl) into the larger bowl and mix the food to warm it up.
~ Most new parents have many questions about introducing food to babies. I can only cover so much here. Please see the resource links below for more information.

So far, Elle has eaten brown rice cereal, oatmeal, avocado, banana, potato, sweet potato, green beans, applesauce, and mango. My best friend gave me a wonderful Kidco food mill (see resources below). It is a super easy way to puree anything. I just put the chunks of food in it, add a bit of water and turn the crank. It is easy enough for my three year old to turn so she is happy to turn the crank and feels she is a part of feeding time. This food mill is really good for fibrous fruits and veggies, since it keeps the fibers, seeds, skin, and even bone beneath the medical grade stainless steel strainer and cutting blade set, which is not at all sharp to the touch. The body of the mill is made from BPA and PHTHALATE FREE plastic. The newer deluxe version has a skid proof bottom and crank, a snap on lid, and a travel case. Once you crank the food it fills the 4 oz feeding cup so you can feed from it. It is a snap to clean, in fact it is dishwasher safe, although I always hand wash mine. They are well worth their affordable price of about $20 Canadian. If you prefer you can also use a food processor or blender but they are more work to clean and you may need to strain the food before serving, depending upon the type.

Here is how I have prepared everything I have made so far.

Banana & Avocado
My daughter doesn't seem to like banana unless it is very ripe. It is easy cut up avocado and banana and to mash it with a fork. You can also put it through the food mill for the smoothest consistency. Because neither banana or avocado keep very well once mashed, I usually use about a 1/3 of the banana or avocado, and eat the rest myself.

Cooked Brown Rice Cereal
This recipe is from the book Simply Natural Baby Food (see resources below).
Place 1/2 cup of brown rice in 3 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.

Rice should be very soft so you can cook it for longer if needed. Water may not be completely absorbed which is fine. You can puree this in the blender, which I actually do, because it is a large batch. I keep about three days worth of feedings in the fridge, and freeze the rest in ice cube trays. I usually have about 24 cubes (see photo below). I take them out of the ice cube trays and store them in freezer safe Pyrex bowls with plastic lids. I keep the cereal that I store in the fridge quite thick, and I add boiling water to each serving to warm it up and thin it out when it is time to eat. For the frozen cubes I usually put two in a hot water bath, letting them thaw, and then put them through the food mill. They hold their shape as they thaw and they absorb enough water that they usually come out of the mill the perfect consistency.

We like to put oatmeal powder in our bath water to guard against dry skin. I have an electric coffee grinder that I use just for grinding oatmeal and other grains. I spoon a few teaspoons of the powder into a small glass bowl and I add hot water. As it cools the cereal thickens so I add water once more right before I serve it so it is the desired thickness. It ends up about one part cereal to three parts water. You can also powder the oatmeal in a blender or food processor, a few cups at a time, and store it in a jar with a lid.

Potato, Sweet Potato, & Apple
Peel the potato or apple. Cut it into small pieces. Put in saucepan with enough water to cover, bring to a boil, then simmer on low until they are soft enough to puree, usually about 15 minutes.

I cut it into small chunks and put it through the food mill.

Green Beans
I cut the beans into small pieces then over cook them in boiling water. Once they are very soft I put some of the cooking water and the beans in the mill to make a smooth puree.

Food Mill
Kidco, Inc
~ Mothering Magazine Online
~ New Vegetarian Baby by Sharon K. Yntema
~ Simply Natural Baby Food: Easy Recipes for Delicous Meals Your Infant and Toddler Will Love by Cathe Olson

I would love to hear your recipes for baby food and am always looking for good resources. Please leave me a comment if you have something to share.

If you are wondering where I got this adorable handmade bib, it is from Christine, at Barnyard Baby on Etsy. She gave it to me as one of the Etsy Virtual Baby Shower gifts I received back in June, after Emmanuelle was born. It is well made, beautiful, and washes up well. I love it!


kimbuktu said...

First of all, my husband and I both got a kick out of the pictures of your adorable baby.

Secondly, I love that you are encouraging homemade baby food. I fed my children that way 30 years ago (and yes Gerber was available then), didn't allow sweets until after two years old, and then limited. They both nursed until 2 years old, which I don't think is the norm now. But they started with some homemade foods at about 5 months or so and weaned themselves from there.

Great information!

Anonymous said...

I love the pics of Quin helping to feed Ella
so cute (and helpful too!)

Serena said...

We have also never bought a single jar of food for Sebastian! (so proud to say that). He only ate purees for about three weeks and then moved onto age appropriate solids; we use baby led weaning - basically he chooses what to eat and self feeds. Tomorrow Sebastian will turn 1! still nurses before I go to work and when im home in the afternoon/all evening and eats almost anything except turkey :) We didnt delay introducing eggs, shelfish or nuts, just spaced everything out so we could watch for allergies. Im looking forward to him trying honey for the first time soon!

We have the book First Meals by Annabel Karmel and love it for new idea's. Theres also a ton of recipes on her website

Tiffany Teske said...

Hi everyone! Kym, glad you like the photos :) We sound the same, homemade food, limited sugar, and Quin weaned from nursing at 2 years 3 months. I was actually pregnant with Emmanuelle. Thanks for your comment. Serena, thanks for your comment, too, since I wanted to mention child led weaning but since we have not personally done it I am glad you did. Thanks for link! Hi K! :)

O Bella Naturals said...

Thanks for all the great links and encouragement on making baby food at home. My little girl turned one at the end of December and I've been looking for creative things to keep her attention since she's moving more towards finger foods (and wanting what's on my plate). I found some awesome dip and spread recipes in one of the links, so thanks so much!!

I didn't start my daughter on food until 9 months (she loved nursing!) I did organic canned baby food for a while, until I found this article on the Dr. Sears website: Shaping Young Tastes:

He also has up there 17 creative to feed toddlers.. which I am always reading before I go to the store and shop

So thanks for these tips, I am compiling in my head how I will be prepared for my next :)



Tiffany Teske said...

Hi Betsy! Thank you for your comments. I hope to do some more posts on combo purees and finger foods as we get to each of them here. I really appreciate your link to the article on shaping young tastes. I will include it in one of my future posts. The 17 ideas article is really good. Please keep in touch if you come across other things to share. It is amazing how much each child benefits from what a parent has learned since the last one. Cheers

Anonymous said...

That was brilliant! Thanks!


Tiffany Teske said...