Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baby Food TIps

I have to admit, I am unexpectedly delighted by the amount of feedback I have been receiving on Isaac's Big Day. I am so happy that so many of you have taken the time to read about our daily ups an downs! So much has happened over the past 17 months that I can hardly remember a time I wasnt thinking about Sir I. 17 months ago I had all these crazy ideas of being the perfect Mom, and for the past 8 months I have been praying daily just to make it through the day! Gone by the wayside are my ideas of all organic clothes, cloth diapers, no tv, all natural everything...I don't know what I would do without my daily PBS Kids!
But one pre-baby ideal I have stuck with has turned out to be completely satisfying for both I and me:  Making our own Baby food. I LOVE to do it and it is not nearly as daunting of a task as you may think!
Many of you have asked me what Baby I eats and what I make, so I thought I would jot down some notes & tips for all us (and maybe this would be a good refresher for me if I am ever brave enough to take on a Baby #2!, although I doubt it!)
 1. When to start? The general rule is 4 to 6 months. I would stick with introducing solid foods at 6 months or later. We tried at 4 months and Isaac couldn't be more disinterested. We held off and by 6 months we knew he was ready. Really there is no need to rush, Baby will be eating the rest of his/her life, enjoy the simplicity while you can!
2. Rice Cereal. I had a lot of issues with rice cereal. For one, it was an automatic poop stopper - literally. Secondly I couldnt figure out why we were supposed to be feeding our babies white (or brown) rice. It is not a significantly nutritious food. So why was it Rice! Rice! Rice! Well it turns out "back in the day" rice was fortified with iron and  given to babies because formulas were not fortified with any Iron. Basically it was a yummy Iron supplement. Fast forward to 2010, Our formulas (and breast milk) are already fortified with iron, so adding rice cereal to them is simply adding starch and carbs to our baby's diet. It doesn't magically put the baby to sleep or stay in their tummy's longer, it simply adds  calories. I would use it as a thickener for runnier baby foods, but as a major meal component I would opt for something a bit more nutritious and satisfying.
3. Avocados. What can be a more nutritious and satisfying food for your baby than rice cereal? Avocados are a miracle baby super food! Chalk full of nutrients, vitamins, and monounsaturated fats (the good fats), avocados are a perfect addition to the Baby's diet in numerous ways. Isaac (and babies) love it's mild and nutty flavor. Mash it up with a fork for a perfect no-cook ready to eat meal, puree it in the blender for a liquid thickener to a bedtime bottle, or dice it up for a yummy finger food! Isaac loves his avocados! I am surprised that kid isn't green by now! I add mashed avocado to his morning fruit to make breakfast a more fulfilling longer satisfying meal.
4. O or No? There is much debate over the benefits of an Organic diet.  There is little debate, however, that an Orgnaic diet is the healthier choice especially for babies and small children. Baby, unlike mommy and daddy, has not built up the immunity to harmful pesticides yet, so an organic diet is best. Certain conventional foods, however, are generally as safe as their organic counterpart. In general anything with an outer discardable "skin" is OK to buy conventional - such as bananas, oranges, avocados, squash, melons, and mangos. Anything you eat with the skin on, such as apples, pears, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, berries, and tomatoes are best to be Organic.

So What does Isaac eat?
It may be easier to start off with what Isaac DOES NOT EAT. Obviously everything he eats has been mashed or pureed, but there are some things that babies should not eat under the 1 year mark.
Dairy (Yogurt may be given after 6 months)
Citrus fruits ( too acidic for babies tummies)
Meats, fish and Poultry
Processed foods
Honey (can lead to baby botulism)
any Unpasteurized juices
Foods with a high content of added sugar or salt

Making Isaac's food is actually quite simple. Organic Fresh fruits and veggies are always the best options, but frozen fruit and veggies are also Okay to use, just be sure they contain NO added salt or other ingredients. A clean food processor/blender/food mill is all the equipment you need to get started. We started with a few simple root veggies (carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes) to test out his palate. From their we moved onto simple fruit purees of apples, pears and mangoes.
I maintained a 3 day rule (most of the time) with the introduction of each new food to observe any allergic reaction. As his list of "happy"foods grew we began mixing and matching flavors and combos. Butternut squash and mangoes/avocado are sure winners right now. Sweet potatoes and green beans have moved to the bottom of the leader board!
Simply steam (boiling destroys the nutrients) the fruits or veggies you are planning to serve until soft and then puree when cooled. Use the water in the pot as a thinner for thicker foods. I freeze everything as soon as I make it to preserve the freshness. Food can be frozen into clean Ice cube trays, milk bags, ziploc bags or plastic containers.
Use all frozen food within 1 month of freezing for optimal taste and to avoid freezer burn.
Most importantly have fun with the introduction of food to your baby. Isaac loves to eat - or at least try to eat. Be prepared for some messy, yet camera moments. The looks on Isaac's face after every taste were priceless. He acted like everything we put in his mouth tasted like a sour lemon! But watching him discover food was a Mommy highlight regardless!
Well, I know these ideas are pretty scattered but if anyone has questions or comments I whole heartedly welcome them all! I never thought Baby food would turn into such a passionate "hobby" for me, but I love making it - almost as much as Baby I loves to fling it! Maybe someday You will be seeing Baby I's favorite foods in your grocery stores! have the spare time for that to come true!
Thanks again for reading our blog and I look forward to hearing form you all soon!

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