The Business of Baby Food
I’ve been thinking recently that I can’t really be called a mom blogger or a mommy blogger (*cringe*) because I don’t usually write blog posts dispensing advice about child rearing. Besides the fact that I don’t actually know what the hell I am doing most of the time, I believe there are about 234,567 right ways to parent and very few wrong ones. I also acknowledge that I write from a position of great socioeconomic privilege; that my choices are just that – choices – and I am lucky enough to be able to make them.
However, something has been grating me recently. Probably because Charlie has grown up enough that we are well into feeding him people food. Personally, I love it when babies start eating solids. My experience with my three has been of adventurous palates and no issues with texture – this may, of course, not be the case for everyone. And I’m sorry if your weaning experience has involved more complex issues.
But there are companies out there who are capitalizing on your anxiety about transitioning baby to solid food. Companies selling quite expensive baby food processors and food storage containers, among other things. And I really do think the whole thing is ridiculous.
My thoughts spurred me into making a list. Here are my tips and tricks:
- Want to make a purée? Get a cheap mini-food processor (they often can be found for $10 or less) or a cheap immersion blender (like you’d put in a pot of soup) or a food mill (if you wanna be low-tech and probably smarter than me). Whizz something up – steamed fruits and or vegetables/meat/lentils/whatever. You’re done. If it’s not smooth enough, add some water or milk (breast/formula). If it’s too runny, add a bit of rice cereal or another thickener to thicken it up. But do NOT spend a lot of money on a baby food making machine. Unless you are totally rich and like throwaway appliances. Do you know how short the window for purées is? Charlies is just over 7 months and he’s already like, whatever, mom, gimme something huge I can shove in my gob and bite with my gums since I have no teeth yet. And he does.
- Get a banana. Mash it with a fork. Get an avocado. Mash the flesh with a fork. Avocado a bit tasteless for baby? If you don’t want to give them guacamole (yum), mix avocado with banana – all 3 of mine loved it.
- What’s for lunch or dinner for everyone else? Chuck some of that in the baby’s direction. Literally I spend my mornings tossing Cheerios at the baby if the bigger kids are having them. Bits of toast. Bits of garlic naan. Bits of broccoli spears. Scrambled egg. Whatever. He eats it all.
- Don’t want to make your own baby food? There are tons of brands on store shelves and they’re all fine – organic, or not so much; strained or thickened, vegetarian or meat, whatever. Feel no guilt. Life is busy and not all of us are cooks. I keep some on hand for when we’re having a meal that doesn’t make sense for him (like last night’s burgers, onion rings and coleslaw) or for travel. I am really digging the Baby Gourmet pouches that seem to be in all the grocery stores. Organic, no funny ingredients, and Charlie always approves.
- When we were in Florida, I marveled at the diversity of pouched organic baby food choices they had. It was amazing. I wanted to cry for us, Canada. Instead, I purchased the Boon Plum Dispensing Spoon at Target and it turned out to be a nifty tool while traveling (they aren’t going to tell you this, but it fits on any pouched food, obviously, not just Plum Organics which we don’t get up here). Also, the spoons and pouches are a major conversation starter for anyone over the age of 40. “Wow! Cool! We never had things like that!” The human race has come a long way – thanks Boon.
- They’ll never suggest it but those cups of applesauce or applesauce blends make great baby foods in a pinch. President’s Choice 6 packs were just on sale at my grocery store for a dollar, so I specifically picked up a bunch with no added sugar for all 3 kids. All 3 of them love the new Mott’s Fruitsations vegetable and applesauce blends (I know the Peach Apple Carrot is VERY tasty, as I stole a bit of Charlie’s) that we recently received at an event.
Obviously speak to a health professional if you have concerns about your kid. Our doctor told me that the general advice has changed to just pretty much: let them eat anything except honey before age 1, and make sure most of their nutrition is coming from milk (breast or formula). And unless there’s a history of food allergies, no more worrying about introducing one thing at a time.
Once Charlie grabbed my pizza crust out of my hand at 4 months, I knew we were going on a path of baby-led weaning – or probably more accurately, intuitive parent and baby weaning. Don’t worry, I didn’t actually let him have the crust. That time, anyway. And sometimes we do well together, and sometimes we don’t. The other day I puréed some lentils (cooked with tomato, onion and cumin) that we’d had for dinner. I then added a bit of orange juice, thinking making it a touch sweeter might suit him better. So proud of my creation, ready for my baby food cookbook deal, I presented it to him and he totally screwed his face up at me. Whatever, mom. Where’s the pizza crust?
What was your weaning experience like? What worked and didn’t work for you?
Note: this post is not sponsored in any way. It is chock full of my own opinionated opinions. I am not a pediatrician or a dietician, CLEARLY. We did get some Mott’s products at a fun event but I was not asked to write about them.