Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Why I make my own baby food.

{Cal, age 8 months}

I've never thought of myself as an overly crunchy mama, although I guess I do baby wear. And I did have a doula. And I do use essential oils. But seriously, in Los Angeles, that is not crunchy. And I had epidurals with both labors, and both of my children have partaken liberally of formula (although to be honest, it wouldn't be that way if I had another choice). My point is, I never would have thought that I'd be the "type" to make my own baby food. I don't feed my family only organic food or have a problem heating up dinosaur shaped nuggets every other day for my 3 year old.

I do use pre-packaged baby food, especially for things we don't have in the house very often (green beans -- Scott hates them; applesauce, because I would never make applesauce from scratch for myself). But for the most part, I make my baby food, with both kids.

I think one of the main reasons has to do with being scarred as a child by having to feed my little brother baby food in the back seat. As a child, I was very, very easily grossed out, and those olive and puce colored jars of slime that smelled like vegetables (which, I might add, I never ate as a child -- I ate one baby carrot at dinner every night and that was it) were my responsibility to feed to my brother in the carseat. And, Jace ate baby food until he was five years old. I'm so not kidding. So I've always had an aversion to those baby food jars. Even now, when I do buy baby food, it is never the jars. I buy the plastic ones or the pouches. I wish I were kidding, but I'm not. I seriously can't deal with it. (I also can't eat bananas because I threw one up when I was 3. I still gag at the smell of them. Okay, I have a few issues).

{Nolan, age 6.5 months)
In a more serious vein, though, as I mentioned above, I wasn't able to feed my babies the way I wanted to feed them. I was so passionate about exclusive breastfeeding, and it simply wasn't an option for me. My babies lost excessive weight in the week after they were born (and yes, I know all babies lose weight -- this was above and beyond the normal amount of weight loss for a breast fed baby), and I was never able to produce sufficient milk for them. I have fought hard to breastfeed my small amount of milk to them, and was even able to give Nolan donor milk as his supplement for his first month thanks to some lovely ladies with extra milk. But I still feel that pang that I wasn't able to exclusively breastfeed. For that reason, when I started giving Cal solids, making his food felt like a special thing I was doing just for him. It felt like an act of devotion to take that extra time and plan for his baby food. I listened to a podcast once that said you could turn any task from dreary to enlightening by adding "meditation" after it, but in all seriousness, I feel like it is a very intentional, special task for me when I make my babies' food for them. I have tried to apply that feeling to making and cleaning Nolan's bottles this time around as well (a task that does feel dreary and disappointing to me, more often than not).

Finally, I genuinely love to cook. My idea of a break is not necessarily not making dinner, although of course there are times when that feels wonderful. It's more just to be left alone while I make dinner, and then to have everyone eat and enjoy that dinner happily (a girl can dream). Turning on a favorite show or podcast and spending an hour steaming and pureeing fruits and veggies, and then freezing them and sorting them into different colored bags, is my idea of a good time. But seriously.

If you are interested in making your own baby food, a few simple how-tos:
* I usually use a Beaba Babycook and my Vitamix. The Babycook has a steamer and a blender, but I do use the vitamix for larger batches, as well as tougher things that don't puree as well or fruits that don't need to be steamed like peaches.
* I freeze them in little trays with lids, but you could also use ice cube trays covered with saran wrap.
* I have a few cookbooks that were given to me, along with the Babycook and the trays, by my cousin Michele. My favorite one is called "Cooking for Baby" and has great month by month information about when it is appropriate to introduce different foods, as well as great finger food meals for older babies.
* I do love cookbooks, but it is also fun to be creative! As Cal got older, sometimes we even pureed parts of our meals for him. We also do a sort of adapted Baby-Led-Weaning where we give our kids a taste of whatever we are having in a form that they can handle.

To finish off, the favorite meal of both my kids (from The Baby Bistro)

Banana Avocado Mishmash
1 banana
1 avocado
1/2 c silken tofu (if baby is over 7 months)

Puree or mash, depending on baby's ability to handle texture. My kids devour this, and it is pretty high in calories. I felt like it helped my kids stay full through the night.

Do you have any favorite baby food recipes? I'm always looking for new ones to try!

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