Solid food solutions and turn your babies into home cooked foodies!
Beginning solid food is one of the great milestones of the first year of life. It is one of those subjects that every mommy (grandma and aunt) has an opinion about. According to a book I read, just a generation or two ago, babies started on solids at 6 weeks. YES! 6 weeks! I was shocked too. At 6 weeks, Micah and I just finally figured breast feeding out. But now, thank God the advice has changed. Most experts recommend exclusively breast feeding or formula feeding for the first several months. Some moms start at 4 months and some at 6. I waited till Micah was 6 months before I started. I had no clue about solids at all! My friends told me to watch for Micah’s cues but I had no idea what I should look for. I quickly read some books and looked online (thank you Google) and started observing Micah. On his 6th month birthday, my husband and I gave him his first taste of solid food. The expressions on his face were priceless! We laughed but struggled as we powered through a few spoonfuls of sweet potato. I knew we couldn’t live on sweet potato alone but luckily I had the 3 day rule to give me time to find other alternatives. What is the 3 day rule? When you introduce a new food, feed it to your baby for at least 3 days before you introduce another new food. IF your family has allergic tendencies, you can extend the testing period to 5 or 7 days. This gradual approach makes it easier to identify the culprit if there is any problem. My cousin (who is an amazing mother of 3) was kind enough to give me ideas of what I could make. Yam, potatoes and peas were some easy ones I began with. As Micah started to eat more, I realized I had to be more creative. I started combining veggies and watching for his reactions. So far, he has liked every single combination I’ve made. (Thank you Lord! I hope it stays this way.)
Here are a few of my reasons for making homemade baby food.
1. I wanted to prime his palate for a lifetime of healthy eating. By making it at home, I know exactly what goes into the food.
2. It is more versatile because I can make it as thick and as chunky as he can handle. I realized early on that he didn’t like it when the food was pureed too much.
3. It is more nutritious and varied. Jarred baby food is heated to high temperatures during processing. This destroys certain heat-sensitive vitamins than ordinary cooking does. By being able to choose my ingredients, I can also mix and match what I make for him.
My cousin advised me to start by giving him jarred food when I first tried solids. This way, if he didn’t like it, I won’t feel so bad and I won’t waste what I made. (I AGREE & I would give the same advice!) She also told me, after he tastes your cooking, he won’t like eating out of a jar anymore. I am not a very good cook, but according to Micah, I think I’ve won Top Chef! He really doesn’t like jarred food anymore. Sometimes I want him to because it is a lot more convenient especially when we are traveling.
But for parents who enjoy cooking and eating home cook meals, there is no reason to exclude your baby! Start exposing him to the food he will soon enjoy with rest of the family. I know making baby food does take time and energy. But by cooking in batches and freezing, you can make it nearly as convenient as jarred! Hand blenders are the best! They are so easy to use and so easy to clean! IF you have a steamer, it is best to use it but if you don’t, a pot of boiling water works just fine. Rules on refrigerating and freezing: Refrigerated food is good for up to 3 days and frozen food is good for up to 3 months.
Here are some of our favorites. (They actually taste pretty good even without salt!)
1. Sweet Pea Puree
Boil the peas (fresh or frozen) in a pot. 5-7 minutes for fresh peas; 3 minutes for thawed frozen peas. Remove the peas and rinse them quickly to stop cooking. Puree the peas until smooth. Add the cooking liquid (it contains the nutrients!), breast milk or formula to thin pea puree to the consistency your baby can handle. Store or serve…your choice!
2. Winter Squash Puree (Micah’s absolute favorite)
Preheat the oven to 350F. With a heavy and sharp knife (and all your might), cut the squash in half. Scrape out the seeds and strings. Put the squash cut side down in the baking pan. Pour water into the pan to come 1/4 inch up to the side of the squash. Put it in the over for 45minutes to 1 hour-depending on the size or until it is tender. (you can check by piercing it with a fork) Let it cool. Scoop out the flesh and puree it until smooth. Add water, breast milk or formula to the consistency of your choice. Store or Serve!
1. Whipped Cauliflower and Broccoli
Trim the cauliflower/ broccoli and cut into similar sized florets. Put them in a pot with cold water to cover. Put the lid on the pot, bring it to boil over medium heat. Boil/ steam until they are tender (about 7 mins). Be careful not to overcook it or they will fall apart. Drain. While it is still hot, puree them until they are smooth and creamy. Again, you can use the water that you boiled them in. Store or Serve!
2. Carrots, corn and potato (Micah’s favorite)
Saute the onion for a minute. Add the carrots and saute for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, cover with water and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the corn and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Puree them and add the water used again. Store or Serve! *food fact: corn is a good source of beta-carotene and fiber*
1. Fish fillet with vegetables (He loves fish!)
Cook the carrots in boiling water for 15 minutes. Add the (frozen) peas and cook for 5 more or until the veggies are tender. (you can use other veggies too) Put the fish in a pan (you can add milk). Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Drain the veggies and mix the flaked fish. Blend to a puree to your desired consistency.
2. Chicken with Tofu and Kale (I liked it too!)
Cook the ground chicken in a saucepan. Chop up the tofu into cubes. Drain out the excess fat. Add the tofu and the kale into the pan once the chicken is cooked. Saute them together. Puree it to your desired consistency, use the water from the pan. Store or Serve!
*With the chicken, tofu and kale recipe, I also added some corn, carrots and peas into it and he loved it!
I hope you enjoy making some of these and your babies will like them too! Feel free to share your recipes with me!
* I realized I should have taken better food pictures! Sorry!