What I’ve Learned About Feeding Babies and Making Baby Food

Sean is eating solid food.

Sean is eating solid food.

Time goes by fast. It seems like it wasn’t too long ago that I was anxiously waiting for Sean to get here, and now he is already 6 months old! And he’s just starting to explore the wonderful world of food. Before he was born, I promised myself that I would try to make as much of his baby food as I could. Now that time is here, and I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve learned about making baby food and feeding babies.

The first 6 months are for practice. As long as the baby is breastfeeding or getting formula, he doesn’t really need that much more nutrition from food. So until he’s 1 year old, I consider meal times to be learning times. He’s learning about the different tastes and textures of food, how to eat, how to pick up small things like Cheerios and how to drink water from a cup. So I am not stressing about how much he eats during this practice period.

Start out vegetarian. Doctor recommends holding off on complex proteins, like meat and cheese, as long as possible. Eggs and dairy have to wait until he’s 1 year old. So we are focusing on a vegetarian diet: cereal, fruits and vegetables. Of course, some things have to wait. My rule of thumb is if it’s acidic or allergenic, wait until his first birthday, so I’m holding off on tomatoes, sweet peppers, citrus and berries.

Serve something hearty at every meal. This isn’t too tough, even with a vegetarian diet. I prefer to include a cereal, potatoes or avocados at each meal. We may add beans soon for another option.

Rice cereal tastes like soggy paper. (Yes, I tasted it!) No wonder my baby didn’t like it. I don’t think many babies do, although they tell you to start off with rice cereal. We switched to oatmeal. Big improvement.

Baby should eat when I eat. It’s just easier if we both sit down at the table together, and it helps him learn about eating as a social activity. Because he goes to bed before our dinnertime, I usually have a snack with him for his evening meal.

As much as possible, baby should eat what I eat. This just makes it easier for food preparation. If I am making potatoes for dinner, then I’ll also mash some potatoes for him. If I’m slicing an avocado for lunch, then he’ll get some too. I always try to think how I can combine preparing my foods with preparing his, taking care not to season or add fat to his foods, of course.

Making baby food is time-consuming and messy. Yes, it’s easy, but it does take some time, which is at a premium around here. I’ve learned some tricks to cut down on the time involved, but I’ve also allowed myself to have jarred baby food on hand for when I can’t get to it. Mostly I buy the hardest stuff to make, like applesauce, but also the AAP recommends that you buy spinach, carrots and beets instead of making them yourself. It’s a nitrates issue.

The easiest baby foods to make are (very ripe) avocados and bananas. Just smush and serve. My baby loves them. I love them.

Next I’ll post the two — only two! — recipes you need to prepare any kind of baby food.

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10 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned About Feeding Babies and Making Baby Food

  1. dylan555 18 September 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Beans?!? I’m not sure if I’m ready for that horror to be visited upon our household!

  2. […] Comments dylan555 on What I’ve Learned About Feeding Babies and Making Baby FoodMore thoughts on what I would like to do « One Breath at a Time on I Have a […]

  3. Lars 3 October 2008 at 2:30 am

    I totally agree with these.

    When I cook, the kids 1 and 3 now are always in the kitchen (sometimes on the countertop) “helping” to cook, and they love to taste all the ingredients. I think this is a way to learn them how things taste, and also how the cooking alters the texture and taste.

  4. Lin 2 January 2009 at 2:58 am

    I was excited to make baby food and had been doing so for about 2 weeks (applesauce and carrots), until Dad spoiled the fun and said the American Pediatric Association recommends that babies get jarred foods because it is pasteurized – unlike homemade. I have tried to refute that with online research, to no avail.

  5. Shannon 2 January 2009 at 8:13 am

    Lin, I have never read that anywhere, not even in my mainstream book What to Expect the First Year, which includes baby food recipes! Lots of people make their own food successfully, including me. I would encourage you to go ahead and have your fun.

    PS My husband points out, rightly so, that pasteurization is only needed in food that will sit for a long time before consuming to prevent bacterial growth. If you make and serve your baby food with 1 day or so, you should be fine. Good luck!

  6. Kristian 31 January 2010 at 9:06 am

    Baby should eat when I eat. <—I totally have to agree with you.
    It have always been convinced that if my kids see what I eat, they also want to try it out and for know its working, allthough they are now eating olives, wich im no fan of – maybe they will teach me to eat those some day 🙂

  7. Shannon 31 January 2010 at 10:12 am

    I’m not a fan of olives either, so I’ve never given them to my little one. Nor tofu. I suspect he might like both.

  8. howmanac 28 April 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Great thoughts! I appreciate how simply and honestly you wrote and shared your thoughts and experiences. There’s already a lot of pressure raising kids, and we all want our children to healthy and do all we can for them, but sometimes feel inadequate and unprepared. Making baby food can be one of these uncharted areas of parenting. Really, so simple, but it can seem so daunting of a job! Thanks for simplifying it!

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