A comment about a week ago that received a bunch of interesting responses was the one where I revealed that I made my kid’s baby food instead of buying it.
Yes, I guess I was being a “hippie freak”, Hubman.
Whenever I reveal this to someone, I am always amazed at the response. Why? Because it is so freaking easy – and not very time consuming to do.
I won’t pretend I can write the book on how to do it, because I found out afterwards that I did some things that go against the “baby books”. Things like introducing honey to a child younger than a year old. My kids’ pediatrician laughed at me when I confessed that one. And, I gave my younger than a year old yogurt. I know – but yogurt doesn’t have the lactose that milk does because the active cultures break it down….that was my rationale anyway.
What I did was very simple. Babies start out eating the simple things – apples, bananas, pears, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, etc. These are all things that are easy to bake and/or steam – if you have to cook them at all. I would simply buy the produce at the store or Farmer’s Market along with our usual veggies and fruit for the week, and they were usually organic, (thus adding to my Hippie Freak status, I’m sure). Then, I would cook them until soft.
Let me point out that I don’t read directions so writing them usually results in statements like “cook until done”. I’m not being a smart ass, really – it is the way I approach things. I mean, I don’t know how your stove works, it may take 30 minutes instead of the 20 minutes it takes in my stove. But, I digress.
Most of the time, I would clean up the sweet potatos, potatoes, and squash – then bake them all until they were soft. The apples, pears and carrots, I would steam usually together. Then I used a ricer or a food mill to make it smooth. You could use a blender or food processor, but that would mean more cleanup which means I avoided it if I could.
Once they were all made smooth, I would freeze the resulting baby food for the week ahead.
When they were just starting out, I froze them in ice cube trays since one ice cube was about the right portion for a 6 month old. Once frozen, you pop out the ice cube trays and put them into freezer bags. When they got older, I bought a bunch of very small resealable containers and froze them in there. Each morning, when we were getting ready to go to daycare, I would pull out a couple of the containers and throw them into the diaper bag. The daycare would simply warm them up when ready to use.
As they got older, I would create concoctions. Frozen blueberries and cooked apples in a blender was a favorite. Or apples and bananas. I would even throw some baby cereal in for added texture (especially if the apples were pretty watery). And, this is where I would throw in yogurt as well. I called it my baby smoothie.
I did not, however, cook anything green using this method. When they got to a certain point in their eating development, I would just steam up beans and feed them to the kids (supervised, of course). Same goes with peas. I’m sure you could do it, but this would have required more work than I was willing to do. Peas have an outer skin you would have to get rid of, and beans can be stringy. Again, too much work for me.
If I fed them meat as they got older, I would simply feed them off of my plate in small sizes.
Do I think taking this route mattered to my kids? I’m not sure. My kids will eat anything. When we go to the store, they beg for veggies and fruits. They get excited when our box of veggies arrive each Monday. They have shown all of the neighbor kids where the snap peas and cherry tomatoes are in the yard so they can eat them as snacks as they are playing. Was that because I fed them non-processed baby food? I have no idea. I would like to think it helped and wasn’t just some hair brained idea I had. I mean, Garbanzo and I love good food. We love cooking with fresh ingredients and making things from scratch. Maybe doing this showed them our love of food from the start. Who knows. All I do know is that it worked.
And, I should mention during this economically challenging time, that I’m pretty sure we saved money going this route, though I never took the time to calculate it.
Like I told my sister-in-law when she recently asked, the whole thing was pretty easy. It would take me maybe 1-2 hours tops on a Sunday afternoon to make a week’s worth of baby food. And, that includes the time it took for the food to cook.
So there you go – baby food making demystified.
Oh, and for those of you whose kids are too old or you are beyond adding more to your herd, this is fun to do for someone else’s baby. They make funny faces.