Sunday, October 3, 2010

feeding frenzy

Yup, the kid loves to eat. Considering what a voracious appetite she's had since day one, I probably shouldn't be surprised that solid foods have been a pretty easy new addition to Natalie's routine. She's balked at new foods a couple of times (usually the first one or two spoonfuls of a new vegetable will be make her cringe, mostly from confusion, I think), but then she's on to her typical baby-bird behavior and can hardly get one mouthful swallowed before impatiently opening wide for the next. We have to remind ourselves to slooooow down when we feed her because she would truly gobble up every last morsel at hot-dog-eating-contest speed if we allowed it. Maybe she has a future in competitive eating, who knows.

I've gotten lots of questions about what things Natalie is eating, how we pick the foods for her to try, and what we think of the MYO baby food route. I figured a little (ha!) post on all those fascinating food facts was in order, so hopefully this is mildly interesting reading material.

So far, Natalie has eaten (and come to love): carrots, avocado, apples, bananas, pears, and sweet potatoes, in addition to her usual rice cereal. We've been very by-the-book in the foods we've tried, and have waited the requisite 3 days between foods to make sure she doesn't show any sign of allergy before introducing anything new. I really like the baby puree cookbook that has been my most constant baby-food-preparation guide thus far, and would definitely recommend it to other parents who would like to make their own baby food but don't know where to start. It's organized by baby age, so you can just follow along through it and add foods that are appropriate for your baby's developing digestive system as you go. Much of it is common sense, but my hyper-organized (and also paranoid) personality really likes having a guide in place to help me as I go.

I have felt pretty strongly about making her food ourselves as much as possible, partly for convenience (why add an extra grocery store aisle to our shopping trip when we can just cook up & mash what we're already buying?), and partly for health reasons. As much as possible, I want our family to eat fresh, local, organic produce--I want to know where my food comes from, and limit the amount of preservative material that we consume. That principle applies especially to Natalie, who will only be under my nutritional control for a relatively short period of her life--I want to make that period as healthful as possible.

I know the idea of making your own baby food can sound all fancy-schmancy, but it's actually pretty super easy. I'm sure we'll be buying some of the pre-canned baby food when we're on the go, or don't have the time to make a specific food we'd like her to try, but for now I have found it pretty simple to set aside an extra half hour on a couple of nights a week and get her food together for the following few days. Some of the food (like banana and avocado) is on the extra-easy end of the spectrum and simply requires peeling and mashing. Everything else has just taken 5 - 20 minutes of steaming or boiling, and then gets ground up in the little hand-crank foodmill that I bought a while back. The majority of her foods can be frozen for several weeks for us to thaw and feed her as needed, and others can be refrigerated for a few days, so we always have a stockpile ready to go. I took a cue from Melissa over at Dear Baby and bought some little tupperware containers and dry erase markers to label Natalie's foods with type and date, so it's just a matter of scooping out a serving of what we need and either heating, stirring with Natalie's cereal, or serving up as is. Easy-peasy.

As much as possible I try to mix all of her foods (at least the first time she tries them) with a little breastmilk to make them super smooth and to offer a little comforting familiar taste. When we see the pediatrician on Monday we're going to inquire about adding some seasonings to her food (aside from salt and sugar, which are big no-no's at this point), because I'd love to add a bit of cinnamon or cumin or dill to her food and expand her palate a bit.

I'd love to know what foods any of you loved as babies, or what things your own babies or friends' babies have enjoyed the most. I'm thinking that Natalie is going to be the "eat anything" type, at least while she's little (she takes after her mama on that one--apparently I earned great disdain from my sister as a baby when I would stoop so low as to gobble up mashed squash with great delight), so any suggestions about we should add to her diet would be appreciated!


  1. If the Dr. okays cinnamon..Carly LOVES apples with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled in!!

  2. The woman I nannied for this summer used to make babyfood in her food processor. And she had certain ice cube trays she would freeze the food in. She would then pop them out of the trays, and keep them in freezer bags--which allowed her to keep the food longer. And made serving sizes super easy!

  3. butternut squash is also pretty easy to make as a puree. I cook it when I cook the sweet potatoes since they can both be cooked at 400 for about 40-45 min. All you have to do is half it and scrap out the seeds. You then put about an inch of water in a baking dish. Place flesh side down. Once it is done it is usually pretty mushy so it doesn't take much to puree it up. Also the ice cube tray is a great idea. I used that will Luke...just make sure you label the bag with food and date so you know what it is and what to use first. Enjoy.