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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Life in Photos

Aveline’s Introduction to Solid Food at 5 Months (with Video)

So, if you saw my Facebook or Twitter over the weekend, then you’ve already gotten your fill (no pun intended) of Aveline’s foray into food. I just might have gone a wee bit overboard with the photos, the status updates, and the steady stream of emails to our respective families in California and the Midwest.

Introducing baby to solids -- photo of baby Aveline ready to take her first bite of avocado at five months old

But I couldn’t help myself! I was excited.

Now I know some books say to delay solids as long as possible to prevent food allergies. But there are other studies which argue that earlier introduction of solids might actually minimize the chance of food allergies.  And the British Medical Journal recently challenged the recommendation to breastfeed exclusively for six months. Their analysis on the topic has become a heated source of debate among those who make their living creating these guidelines.

In light of my own food allergies, I’ve been reading and fretting over these studies, trying to make a decision whether or not to let Aveline have food. All this reading suddenly seemed pretty silly when my mom simply said, “I think you’re over-thinking this. Just do what makes sense.”

Aveline’s been so hungry lately — grabbing for the food on our plates, nursing hourly during the day and every 3.5 hours at night. And so this weekend, we decided it was time. Josiah got a nice ripe avocado at the farmers’ market (we chose avocado instead of rice because of the high fat content) and Aveline had her first taste of food.

And you know what? She LOVED it.

Poetry & Words

Hello, New Readers!

Hello, new readers! If you’re stopping by via Artsy Ants, welcome! I’m happy to have you here and hope you stick around. (Thank you so much, Sylvia and Simona, for the mention and the blog award.)

This morning, I’m extra tired. Baby Aveline fell back asleep this morning, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t. And so here I am awake, rubbing my eyes and downing decaf.

The sun is pouring in through the windows, which are closed tightly to keep out the heat. At 9:30 am, it’s already 80° F (27° C). The forecasted high is 95° F (35° C), with a UV index of 10+. And that’s on a scale of 1 to 10! Looks like the little miss and I will be staying indoors today.

gluten-free waffles on white ceramic plate, coffee in white and black mug, on wooden table
turquoise, white and navy floral fabric belt over chair back
gluten-free waffle macro/close-up image on white ceramic plate

P.S. Want the waffle recipe? They’re gluten-free!

Life in Photos

all in an afternoon lunch

mmm, lunch. a latte with water-processed decaf mocca-java, organic soy milk and deliciously caramel-like coconut palm sugar. organic tofu scrambled with dill and onion, then tossed with quinoa and a splash of olive oil. juicy pieces of navel orange mixed with half an avocado and sprinkled with a little sea salt. wide-eyed baby staring out from her cozy little nest. delicious!
pieces of navel orange and half avocado on cutting board with paring knife

aveline alenka - nine and a half weeks old