Thursday, February 2, 2012

Baby Food and my not so soapy soapbox

Ok, I mentioned a while back that I had a soap box that I would go up on in the future.... well guess what... the future is now! Are you so excited? Ok, really, it's not that huge of a deal, and I'm not going to preach too much, BUT I do want to tell you about making your own baby food and why I think it's so important.

I made all of Max's baby food and kept sugar completely out of his diet until his first birthday. (He has made up for lost time with this, I assure you.) I was very slow to introduce shellfish and nuts, since there are so many server allergies when it comes to these foods, and he has yet to have juice or any of those drinks that just add more unnecessary sugar to his diet. It has proven to be great for many many many reasons, but here are a few of the obvious:

1) I know what's in all of his food
2) He has been "really sick" (beyond just a cold) twice-- and once was when I gave him the flu :(
3) He's a good eater- and even now as the picky two year old stage is upon us, he'll drink smoothies and veggies pouches stuffed full of veggies and he loves them
4) He eats what we eat- I rarely fix him his own deal, besides lunch when he requests a peanut butter sandwich EVERY day!
5) Max is a fruitopian and will eat endless amounts of fruit any and every day-- berries are the best thing that ever happened to him... besides me of course!

A couple other great reasons for making baby food-- it's easy, I always have it on hand and can freeze it/ let it thaw, so meals are ready when I'm ready. I don't have to run out quick because I'm out of jars-- and if we do get low on food before I've had a chance to re-stock our freezer, I can just look around my kitchen and find something to mash up. Also it's SO cheap compared to baby food. I can make a month's worth of food for $20, easy! And even now, as Jack branches out to more and more, I can just add another food anytime I'm in the babyfood making mood, and it just adds to our stock and his variety.

Now I will also tell you that I began food with Max REALLY early- more on Dr. Denmark's plan as Kellee recommended to me-- even before the pediatrician gave me the green light. With Jack, I waited until he was 6 months, just because I was busier, and Jack always seemed so full after nursing. Jack was also a WAY better sleeper early on (even though I had to re-train him recently, he started out good, ha!) and with Max, who never slept more than 3-4 hours at a time until he was 5 months, I was so desperate for sleep, that I was open to anything! So with that being said, Max has definitely been healthier than Jack- Jack has been sick more-- ear infections, RSV, etc... and seems to take longer to kick colds, while Max is just rarely sick. And the only other difference besides Jack arriving early, that I can think of is when they started food, and how quickly I introduced those nutrients.

So here's the quick "how-to" on making baby food....
1) Go to this website, it's my best friend-- soak it up, love it, and print all the pdf's available... that's what I do :)
2) Find your blender and/or food and some ice cube trays-- these are my favorite because of the top and they stack easily in the freezer:
3) Begin!

You either bake the veggie or cook it on the stove top first-- this is also that case for fruits as well, up to a certain age. In this example, I'm doing butternut and acorn squash which are Jack's favorite!

First cut it in half and scoop out the seeds

Then place it face down in a baking dish, and add about an inch of water around it

Bake for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees until the skin is puckery

Once it done and cooled, then scrap it out of the skin- either into a blender or food processor
(I do blender when the baby is younger and you add more water so that the puree is finer-- then it's easy to pour into the ice cube trays. Once the baby gets older and is ready for thicker food, I use a food processor and just drop it into the ice cube trays)

Then you pour it into ice cube trays-- I pour some into bowls for the fridge for that day/ the next day, and then into a couple tupperware jars that I use for "to-go" food if we're going to be out. (I do freeze the to-go jars and just keep about 6 on hand at any given time.)

Then once it's frozen, I run water over the back, pop them out and put it in zip locks bags, labeled with the food and the date, and put it back in the freezer and we're ready to go for the next month or so!

With this squash I mixed in a banana too, so when it comes to meal time, Jack gets about 4-5 cubes (4-5 oz) and it's fruits and veggies.

If you scour that website or other books/ websites, you'll find lots of ways to do it, the step by steps, and you'll learn the rules-- for instance don't use the water you cook carrots in because the bad stuff gets in that water, but to cut corners you can find apple sauce and pumpkin that are 100% pure, at the grocery store-- the ingredients label will say "apples and water" or "pumpkin"-- I use those and mix them in with stuff. (I have made applesauce a couple times, but the peeling of apples takes a long time, and I love the natural applesauce I've found.)

This does take time, but I usually just devote a nap time every 4 weeks or so and we're good to go... and again, all the pros make the work (and the mess) worth it.

(AND I'm not sure how this works, but usually I can talk Chad into helping me with cleaning up or even doing it all... maybe it's because I'm saving him $$ and giving his little people healthy stuff... or maybe it's just because he thinks I'm awesome... regardless of the reason, it's a good thing!)

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