Loulou Maya has a 1/2 birthday today, as she turns 6 months. This translates into “SOLIDS!”. It is a pretty exciting time for her, I can imagine, considering that she has only had breast milk her whole life (yes, I know that sounds ridiculous if you are just 6 months old. I don’t care).
The non-hip hippie that I am, I was a bit skeptical about all those baby food jars and cereal powders, even when it comes to the organic/bio brands. [Full disclosure: They are of course a great solution, in terms of convenience and I do have a box cream mix in my cupboards, as my wise mother in law suggested, because there are THOSE days, that you just can not prepare wholesome baby food from scratch. And what do you do these days? Do you let your baby starve? Nope. You just open that baby food jar or make that instant cream. And with a new developmental leap approaching in a few weeks, I can imagine that sleepless nights are on the card for us and I am sure I will be grateful for the baby food companies.]
As we are planing to raise Loulou Maya vegetarian (more on that on a future post), fruits, veggies, seeds and grains will be a great part of her diet. Therefore it is important for us to get her used to the tastes of different produce. There is not such a great variety in the baby food jars that you find at the grocery store, so that is one more reason to prepare our own baby food. However, as I mentioned before, there isn’t always time to cook from scratch. Therefore I thought about making and freezing some of her food ahead of time. I was a bit worried about losing a great part of the nutritional value of the produce, but Loulou’s doctor and dietician assured me that it is perfectly safe to freeze fresh or cooked produce, as long as it is thawed safely.
HOW TO prepare your own baby food
I made a list of the general rules that apply to many different types of produce, based on my own readings and the discussion I had with Loulou’s doc and dietician. I hope that you find this helpful.
- You can blend fresh or cooked produce and store it in ice-cube trays.
- Ice-cup trays that have a lid are the best, as they prevent freezer burns. You can, however, use plastic wrap. Don’t use aluminum foil, as there is a danger that small pieces stick on the food.
- To thaw the baby food take as many ice cubes as you need and put them in a container in the fridge overnight. They will be ready to consume in the morning.
- There is no need to heat the food. This will only make your life more difficult. If your baby gets used to eating cold/room temperature foods you won’t have to heat anything ever!
- Especially teething babies appreciate cold food, as it numbs their itching gums. So it’s not that hard to apply the previous tip!
- You can use spices when cooking for your baby, but not salt. Take it easy on the hot stuff too. I was told that it is better to stay away from chillies, pepper and paprika but all herbs are safe to use, as well as onion and garlic.
- You can mix different ice cubes to create new meals every day. Variety without effort!
- If you see that your baby doesn’t like a food, keep offering it. Some times they need to get used to the taste. Obviously, you shouldn’t push your baby. Just give them the option.
- Your baby might not like beets mixed with broccoli, but they might love a beet ice cube mixed with a banana one (Loulou you are really weird).
Here are a few “recipes” for you, to experiment on your baby 🙂 Keep in mind that officially babies are not supposed to have seeds before they are 8-9 months. I gave tahini (sesame seed paste) to Loulou at 6 months but I was told it’s fine, since we are not allergic to it and there is no history of allergies in the family.
- Beets, sesame paste, a bit of water or breast milk/formula.
- Broccoli, green beans, a tiny bit of garlic. Cook your greens as little as possible. You want them to be tender, but not mushy, as they loose lots of their vitamins.
- Oats, banana, breast milk/formula, Dutch stroop (or blackstrap molasses. They are rich in iron).
- Oats, apple, pear.
- Strawberries, blueberries, oats and breast milk/formula.
You might have heard that you should avoid giving your baby strawberries this early on, as they are a common allergen. A 2008 study though has proved that introducing allergens like berries later does not make a difference. Obviously, if there is a history of food allergies or sensitivities in your family, you should be extra cautious.
A note on baby-led weaning: We are planing to try that and we already do with certain foods, that are soft. We just feel more comfortable doing a mix of purees and whole foods at this stage, that Loulou is a beginner eater. It is a very interesting approach though, and if you want to check it out, this is a great link.
More on baby food soon! Stay tuned 🙂