Do you make your own babyfood?
Here’s part of a message I wrote to a friend, who has an 11 month-old with NO teeth, and is trying to figure out some non-milk ways to add protein to his diet.
For little ones, this sounds a little crazy, but I like serving beans. Of course, too much beans will make anyone gassy… But a small amount is a great source of protein. Garbanzo beans are the least gassy of all beans and have a very mild flavor that is appealing to most babies.
Also, you can use a blender or mini food processor to mash up beans and even meat. It’s really easy, actually, to make your own baby food. Put some cooked brown rice, some cooked beef (stewed works well), some cooked garbanzo beans, and some spinach — raw or cooked — into the blender (or some other healthy combination you think he’ll like — cooked squash, chicken, oatmeal is another idea, or plain yogurt*, blueberries, and oatmeal) and blend to process. Put it in an ice cube tray, and when frozen, pop out and put the cubes in a Ziploc. Then you’ll have quick little portions. I’ve even saved store-bought babyfood jars, and in the a.m., put 2-3 cubes in the jar in the a.m., and by lunch time, they’re thawed and ready to eat.
When I make babyfood, I will often just set aside an unseasoned portion of whatever I’m making for the family either to grind up for baby’s dinner that night OR I’ll save brown rice one night, beef the next, squash the next, etc. and then when I have small bowls in the fridge of a good babyfood combo, I will put them in the blender and make the babyfood.
I do that, though, because I’m cheap + healthy. Gerber and Beechnut typically have so many crappy additives, especially in the stage 2 & 3 meals, but the organic baby food is SUPER expensive. And once you get in the habit, it literally is about five minutes extra of your time to make and freeze babyfood cubes.
For babies younger than 11 months, it’s even simpler, as you should only use one food at a time — steamed carrots, baked squash, etc. When your baby is around 7-8 months, they can usually tolerate a simple combination of two foods at a time. The older they grow, the better able they are, typically, to digest more complex food.
Making your own babyfood is more trendy than when I started to do it, nearly 15 years ago. Responding to consumers, the are now a number of babyfood cookbooks, “kits”, and other supplies… Although I love cookbooks and kitchen gadgets, I find most of that stuff to be kind of a waste of money. Just take plain versions of what YOU eat — provided that you eat healthy, whole foods — and prepare it as babyfood. Voila! No cookbook needed. And if you have a blender or a mini-prep food processor and some ice cube trays, you don’t need any special gadgets.
*And, yes, I know I just said “non-milk” and there was a reference to yogurt in there. It appears that her little one MIGHT have a sensitivity to milk — but milk sensitivities can be tricky. Is it just lactose? Lactose is milk sugar. In honest, fully cultured yogurt, there is virtually no lactose; the yogurt cultures “eat” the milk sugar, and the resulting fully cultured yogurt has no lactose. Same with hard, aged cheeses — like cheddar. The process eliminates lactose. But, if a child has a sensitivity to casein or whey or another milk protein, you’re up a creek, and even yogurt won’t help; you have to quit all milk products altogether.