Baby Food

Now that Laurel is 7 months old, we're feeding her solid food. She's still mostly a breastfed baby, nursing six to eight times in a 24 hour period, but I also prepare three "meals" a day for her. At the recommendation of our pediatrician, we're feeding her fortified infant cereal, instead of grinding up regular old oatmeal and rice, to make sure she gets enough iron. That, however, was pretty much the extent of the advice that our pediatrician gave us. He said that without a history of food allergies in the family, there was no real need to avoid anything except foods she could choke on until she gets the rest of her teeth. I found lots of, sometimes conflicting, information on the internet about how to start solids, which I basically decided to disregard, and just listen to the doctor.

Here's the approach we're taking.

First, despite a few recent experiments with fish and meat, we're a mostly vegetarian family. We eat a lot of beans and grains and vegetables. Furthermore, we cook a lot of food from scratch and buy fresh, organic, local food whenever possible.

Second, we're on a budget. The baby food you can buy at the store is really expensive! Therefore, we make our own.

Finally, we want to introduce solid foods in a way that will foster good life-long eating habits. I think this will come more into play as she gets older, but for right now, we sit down at least once a day for a meal together as a family. I give her an opportunity to feed herself for at least part of the meal. There's no rule to clean your plate in our house - eat until you are full and then make yourself a doggie bag for your leftovers (although it would be hard to enforce with a baby anyway...she blows raspberries when she's had enough). We want Laurel to know where food comes from and how it grows.

So what does this look like? Well, I have a small food mill that my friend Sarah gave to me. It's perfect for smooshing up veggies and fruits. I usually prepare 1-2 tablespoons of cereal, mixing it with either breastmilk, formula or water. Then I add another tablespoon or more of whatever other food Laurel is trying. So far, she likes avocados, peas, carrots, lentils, eggs and sweet potatoes. By far, her favorite food is sweet potatoes. She's not keen on applesauce, or most fruits, for that matter. She really hates bananas. If it's a food that needs to be cooked, I steam it or bake it, and then put it through the food mill, or simply mash it up with a fork.

I think as she starts to eat more, I'll want to come up with a better system of preparing larger batches of food at a time. Right now, I shop and prepare as I go. In a few weeks our CSA is starting. On Monday, Laurel met "our" farmer at the East Liberty market. Mark is planning to do a workshare for part of our CSA dues, and we're all looking forward to going to the farm to help. Once we get our CSA box, Laurel's diet will be based on whatever we get that week.

Laurel seems to enjoy both the eating and the social part of meals. She makes little munching motions with her mouth, "chewing" up her food. She says, "mmmm" when it's something she likes. She loves to play with spoons, although she often chews on the wrong side. She is taking many more baths since starting to eat...it's a messy venture!


Anonymous said...

How is it possible that you can have a post like this with no pictures? :)


Anonymous said...

Hey cuz,
For the long term... my friend makes her own baby food in a mini food processor on the weekend and fills up like 5 ice cube trays with all kinds of food, as long as it's smushable. They make perfect portions and last for a long time. Then in the morning she packs up a couple cubes in little tupperwares and they thaw by the time lunch and dinner come around or she nukes 'em.
Her little girl hates bananas too!
I can't wait to meet Laurel, my little bday buddy, see you in July!