Before I start, I feel like I need to say up front that my intention isn’t to ignite a firestorm on the topic of babyled weaning (BLW) vs purées. I’m not preaching purées over BLW. We personally have used a combined approach. If you read my prior post in this series, you’ll realize that my point in writing this baby food series is to encourage mama to feed baby using foods already in the grocery budget, rather than using purchased “baby” foods. Obviously, if you’re practicing BLW you already know this. :-)
Here are a few alternatives to packaged baby food, each of which takes only a minute or two to prepare.
This is an incredibly nutritious food, and is an excellent choice for baby’s first food. (Yes, as baby’s first food! Contrary to common belief, babies don’t need to eat white rice cereal. White rice has very little nutritional value, and (hey, it’s a fact) contributes to constipation.)
Avocados contain healthy fats, which are essential for the development of baby’s brain and central nervous system. They are also a good source of vitamin K, B6, and folate.
As far as preparation, you really can’t get any easier than avocados. Wash, peel, and mash some up with a fork. Or, if baby is feeding herself, you can cut ripe avocado into little pieces. Easy peasy!
Canned Pumpkin/Winter Squash
Purchase plain canned pumpkin in the baking aisle. It’s the same pumpkin they use to make jarred baby food, except without the additives. And, it’s a fraction of the cost. Win!
Of course, it doesn’t have to be canned. If you have the time and desire, you can halve, deseed, and oven roast your own winter squashes. Prepared this way, it can also work as (a messy) finger food.
Nutritionally, winter squashes are a good source of both vitamins C and A, which are excellent for the immune system. It’s also very easy on baby’s digestion! (I like to stick to pumpkin and squashes rather than sweet potatoes or yams, because the latter are much higher in sugar.)
Quinoa’s recent surge in popularity is for a good reason. This unique food — actually a seed, not a grain — contains all nine amino acids and is, on its own, a complete protein.
Quinoa flakes are extremely easy to prepare, since you just add water and cook for 90 seconds. You can mix cooked quinoa cereal in with any other food to add protein to baby’s meal.
Don’t be scared off by the relatively pricey cost of quinoa flakes (~$5/box). A single box goes a very, very long way when you’re just using it to feed baby; one has literally lasted us for months.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. As this series on baby/toddler food progresses, I’ll talk more about practical ways to feed baby with the same ingredients you’re using to cook the family’s dinner.