My youngest, JoJo, has now been trying various fruit and veggie purees for a little over a month now. Last night as I was blending up some frozen peas in my Beaba Babycook, I was realizing how it wasn’t the most amazing thing I thought when I first “had to have it!” Don’t get me wrong, the size is convenient and I use it, but I thought to myself, I could have just used the money I spent on this and gotten a really nice countertop-sized Cuisinart. At least a Cuisinart will be useful beyond the stage of purees for the baby. The steam feature on the Babycook is handy, yet I found it to take a rather long time to steam veggies, whereas I could put them in a pot on my stove (and more of them) and steam them quicker. Awhile back I wrote an email to a friend asking for tips about starting solids with her little one, so I went back to it and figured I’d share some basic ideas for feeding solids to your little one that make the task easier. It can be quite a chore to add one more meal to prepare at mealtimes, so I try to have lots on hand in advance. The freezer is your friend. You can feed your child home-made, healthy baby food without having to buy it all from the store. And its kind of fun too!
I try to set aside sometime each weekend to make up a few batches of different purees for my daughter to last the week. It is nice that it is squash season right now, as they are SO easy to puree and one squash can provide a lot of baby-sized meals. Speaking of in-season produce, I was given a good tip, even if your little one hasn’t started solids yet, take advantage of some of the seasonal produce and make a batch early and freeze. I got a ton of peaches, plums and nectarines at the farmers market before Jolie started solids, and had it on hand when she was ready. The fruits taste so much better that way too!
Squashes are a great first food to start your little one on. They are nutritious too! To prepare, simply cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, place flesh side down in a pan filled with a little less than an inch of water, bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until squash is soft. Scoop out the flesh, then pour the water out of the pan into your blending gadget of choice, and voila, squash puree! I then divide it up and add some seasonings to some of it, such as nutmeg or cloves or cinnamon. I might add some organic applesauce to some of it, or even another fruit or veggie you already have pureed, or that your baby has already tried. Leave some of your concoction in a glass pyrex in the fridge to serve to your baby in the next day or two and then I would spoon the rest into silicon ice cube trays, cover with foil and freeze. After frozen, pop out the squares into a gallon-size freezer bag and label and date. Now you have cubes handy for mealtimes; simply place one in a glass bowl, microwave and you are set! There are all sorts of baby food cookbooks out there. I suggest even going to the library and finding a few you like and copying the recipes. I have also listed a few suggestions on my Parent’s Bookshelf page.
For the materials needed to make baby food, really there isn’t much. The Beaba Babycook is nice, other other items like it, but really, I wish I had just gotten a counter-top Cuisinart, like I mentioned. The silicon ice cube trays I have seen sold at Whole Foods, although I got mine on Amazon. There are also silicon freezer trays which are specific for freezing baby food which are nice too, and have lids for freezing if you want to go that route. Or Baby Cubes that are handy to freeze meals in. For small, microwaveable glass bowls that are safe to heat food and serve it, I just went to Ikea and got some simple clear, glass, small bowls. Or even glass tupperware sets of the small-size are nice. The lids make it handy to travel with for when you need to feed your baby on the go.
One of my other favorite on-the-go feeding items is the Boon Spoon Squirt. Think of it like a toothpaste tube with a spoon on the end! Fill the tube with a VERY smooth puree (caution, if the puree isn’t smooth enough and has chucks, they may block the hole that leads to the spoon and you have a mess or a hard time getting the food to come out!), and throw it in a insulated bag and you are set to go. No bowl and separate spoon needed.
Once you get started and on a roll you will see how easy it can be to make good, healthy home-made food, even without a recipe! I also recently read that babies from 6-12 months who were exposed to a larger variety of tastes and textures at that age were more likely to be more adventurous eaters later on. Some babies will eat anything you offer them, others need many opportunities to try it before they eventually like it. So if you make something for your little one and they take one bite and refuse more, try again a few days later, and again, a good number of times, you never know, they just might end up enjoying it. You have to provide them with ample opportunities to learn if they do!