Baby/Toddler Food, How To

3 Simple Baby Foods You Can Easily Make at Home in 2 Minutes or Less

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. :-)

Avocado - Baby Foods You Can Make on Your Own in Less than 2 Minutes

Here are a few alternatives to packaged baby food, each of which takes only a minute or two to prepare.

Avocados

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 Flakes

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.

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Baby/Toddler Food

Thoughts on Baby Food :: 3 Reasons Why I Don’t Buy Prepared Baby Food

Recently, I’ve had many people ask me what Aveline eats (I suppose the questions are fueled by Facebook status updates like “Aveline is eating copious amounts of ratatouille for lunch!”) I have a lot of thoughts on this subject, so I’ll break it up into a series of blog posts. I’ll start out by talking about what she doesn’t eat: store-bought baby food. There are several reasons I don’t buy prepared baby food. (UPDATE: Sylvia of Artsy Ants brings up a good point; these reasons are specific to the US).

Aveline feeding herself

1. PRICE: This should be obvious, right? There is a very, very high markup on prepared, packaged baby food. I can’t bring myself to spend that much on just a couple of ounces of food, especially when most of it is going to end up rubbed into Aveline’s hair or stuck to her eyelashes anyway. ;-)

2. IT’S BRILLIANTLY OVER-MARKETED: The baby food industry uses clever marketing, people. Remember this. Last time I checked, farms aren’t growing any separate specialty crops called baby oats, baby rice, or baby sweet potatoes.

3. ADDITIVES / EXTRA INGREDIENTS: This is a huge issue. I’m not comfortable with my daughter consuming additives at such a young age. I want her to eat foods made from real, whole ingredients.

You wouldn’t think baby food contains extra things, but it does. Let’s look at a few examples. (I didn’t go out to try and find the most shocking examples of added ingredients, I just clicked around at random on the Gerber site.)

For instance, one would assume Gerber Oatmeal and Banana contains oats and banana, right? Well, it does. Sort of. But the oats are in the form of oat flour, to which Gerber has added wheat, and there’s soy lecithin and soybean oil in the ingredients list, too. Oh, and tocopherals (a preservative) and added vitamins.

I’m a big proponent of eating organic (we personally follow the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen when buying produce), but use common sense when it comes to prepared food that’s labeled organic. It might be called Gerber 2nd Foods Organic Green Beans, but that doesn’t mean it contains only green beans.  This particular product also contains tuna oil and gelatin.

Most pediatricians recommend that when feeding your baby new foods, you should introduce them one at a time, and wait three days for any adverse reaction before introducing another new food. If the food you’re introducing is on the Top 8 Allergens list, you need to be even more careful. Ok, you’re probably thinking…how does this relate to packaged baby food? Well, oatmeal and bananas aren’t on the Top 8 list, but the packaged oatmeal-banana cereal contains wheat and soy, which are both on the list. And green beans aren’t a common allergen, but fish, one of the ingredients in the prepared green bean baby food, is on the Top 8 list.

So, read labels. Don’t fall prey to clever marketing. And mostly — you don’t have to spend a ton of money to feed your baby!

In future blog posts, I’ll share how to easily make your own baby food (it’s so much easier — and cheaper — than you think!). I’ll also list suggestions for easy baby meals and talk specifically about what Aveline eats.

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