Eat, Baby, Eat!

by Jessica Brita-Segyde

Parenting is an adventure. We spend the first three years trying to keep baby from putting things in their mouth. Ironically, it’s what you purposely put into baby’s mouth that makes the biggest difference in your little one’s beginning. If you’re like most parents, you want to nourish your baby, teach them to appreciate all the food groups, show them table manners, and all while keeping yucky pesticides off the plate. This is a tall order and parents don’t get enough credit for the hard work that goes into mastering mealtime. Whether you purchase pre-made baby food or whip up your own at home, you can give baby a great nutritional start. This blog will explore the ups and downs of dinnertime once semi-solid and solid foods are introduced. (Formula versus breastmilk is a topic for another day!)

Buy Your Baby Food

One organic serving of baby food in a glass jar retails for around $2.00 ($1.29 for conventional). Depending on baby’s age and nutritional needs, you could be serving up 4-6 jars a day, then adding solids once he or she is ready. Step-up foods for toddlers are also available at around $2.00 each. Despite the price tag, many parents choose to purchase ready-made food for their babies. It’s convenient, portable, and generally a healthful option. And in terms of the time commitment, you’ll only need to buy “baby food for about a year.”

The cost, however, is real. Plus, with store-bought food you never really know exactly what’s in there or where your food has been. After all, it was probably made in a factory, packaged, stored, and shelved for some time before making it into baby’s tummy. If you’re the farm-to-fork type, you may want to consider homemade.

Make it At Home

Making baby food is less expensive than buying, but you will give up some time for the money you save. According to the foodie blog FeedingOurFlamingoes.com, parents can save 62% off the cost of organic baby and toddler  food by purchasing in-season produce and making purees at home.

Another reason some parents choose to kick in the time is the joy that comes with sharing meals and feeding one’s family. There’s something very special about cooking for your kids, so why not start right away? The food you serve your baby has an immediate as well as a lifelong effect on their development. Plus, you’ll know exactly where his or her food came from and how long it’s been stored.

One potential negative to consider is that homemade baby food will need preserved. You could take to canning your steamed and pureed concoctions, but this is time-consuming and requires more supplies. Most home cooks refrigerate or freeze their baby food to keep it safe. The need for refrigeration can become an issue when traveling, even on day trips.

The Combo Plan

The combo plan makes sense to many busy families out there. The goal here is to make all the baby food you can and supplement with store-bought food as needed. For example, jarred baby food like Gerber fits nicely into baby bags and travels well overnight. It also doesn’t need refrigerated until opened. Other times store-bought baby food comes in handy are when the cook is under the weather or the power goes out.

Learn More

Are you interested in making your own baby food? It’s a simple process. The first time is the hardest and once you get the hang of things, baby food can become a workable part of your meal plan. The four main steps are to wash, chop, steam, and puree. If you’re cooking meat for baby you’ll probably boil or roast it to temperature, then let it cool before pureeing. For a step-by-step guide on how to make your own baby and/or toddler food at home, check out Mother Nature Network online or the book Starting Solids by Annabel Karmel.

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