Good food choices

Apricot Apple Pear pureeOkay, so I don’t want to sound like I’m having a meltdown but I am in a bit of a major adjustment zone at the moment. (Haha. It’s not going to last until he’s 18 years old, is it???) While I feel more comfortable with my baby being at daycare — he’s slowly settling in – I am still torn about letting go of another ideal I held about being a “good” mother. The first one to slip through my fingers was breastfeeding. Going back to work, it wasn’t practical to continue. And I also realised that I wasn’t producing enough milk to sustain my growing boy. He actually became quite underweight. Now, I’m weighing up the pros and cons of homemade solids versus store-bought ones. While I look at the jam-packed website of Annabel Karmel and wish I had a spare day or two to make “Tasty Salmon Puree” or “Braised Beef with Sweet Potato” I just don’t have the time. And while there is probably more variety in store-bought baby food than ever before, there still doesn’t seem a huge choice. I’ve yet to see any fish on offer in the form of a baby food jar (locally farmed, preferably — yep, I warned you that I have pretty high ideals). I would love to know what choices you’ve made regarding homemade versus store-bought food, especially if you’ve gone back to work.

-Natalie

20 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Courtney | January 26, 2009 | Reply

Here in the UK, there are a few really good baby food companies that make great purees. Plum Baby has good, organic creations, like ‘Spinach with Salmon and Parsnip‘ and ‘Red Cabbage with Apple and Chicken‘, and “French bean with beef and apple“. They’re really great. And I didn’t feel so bad giving them to my kids because, like you said, I didn’t have enough time to sit and make such creations.

But I did make a lot of (more boring) purees. And this is why I couldn’t live without the Babycook!!!!

2. melissa | January 26, 2009 | Reply

I made the choice after I tasted some of the prepared jars of baby food veg’s.- I thought they tasted pretty yuck and nothing like the real thing. So, I do make purees and have found A. Karmel’s recipes to be quite good. It takes a couple of hours once a week if I plan it right.
I only have one baby though and have heard that when you have the second, you never have time to do things like that!

3. Libby | January 26, 2009 | Reply

I have made a couple easy purees so far for my little guy with the babycook. You can freeze them for up to 3 months.
The frozen purees obviously will not travel though.
I also only have 1 baby so it is a bit easier. He will keep me company from his high chair in the kitchen while I am cooking.
Whole Foods sells some organic jar foods.

4. Michela | January 26, 2009 | Reply

In italy there’s no much choice of ready made jars, plus my children never liked jars…. even the good ones i bought in england.
so not much choice for me, but they do not eat that much so with some planning, good containers and a freezer i think it’s feasible!
plus you’ll be so proud when he’ll devour your purees!

5. Tina | January 26, 2009 | Reply

I haven’t gone back to work yet, so I do have time to make some homemade food for my little guy. I’ve made homemade chicken stock (without salt) so I could use it for Annabel Karmel’s “lovely lentils” which I thought were quite tasty. I also used some of the stock to make Courtney’s squash bisque to mix with some chicken as I thought it would be tasty. However, despite these efforts which I was quite proud of . . . the little man seems unimpressed . . . in fact he seems to eat best from the jarred food! With the good organic options available I’m starting to think I should take advantage of them more!

6. Emilie | January 26, 2009 | Reply

I go for a mixture. I always have a couple of jars in the cupboard for emergencies or when we are running really late. I also always try to make double portions to freeze one for a later date….
The funny thing is now that we have 2 kids I have changed the kind of food I cook. We used to make purees especially for my daughter and then meals for us. Now we make baby friendly food for all the family, for example, a vegetable lasagne that can be blended and that can also be eaten by the rest of the family. So more pasta with tomato sauce and less spicy Thai green curry…

7. Christine | January 26, 2009 | Reply

We also use a mixture – for my first I did just jars, but with my second, I bought the Babycook which is amazing! Seriously, it gives a really really nice texture to the food – commercial quality. And if you plan ahead and actually get to it, you can make food for a week or two and freeze it. But if I’m feeling lazy or run out of time, there’s a good selection of organic jarred food, and increasingly more that are locally produced (Southern California). And I must say, I feel a lot less offended if baby2 refuses the jarred v. refusing the food I’ve slaved over… :)

8. Mammamsterdam | January 26, 2009 | Reply

Sorry to say, sweetheart, that the adjustment zone with us Italian mom may last for longer than 18ys. :-)

As for food: I also cooked once in the so much time stock and froze it. in Italy we have all the tiny baby-pasta sorts, which are actually great to teach a baby appreciating solid textures in food, not just puree. And grated parmezan cheese of course, something everybody in italy sweras it’s the best for babies, while outside it is thought of as too salty.

In the NL the trend is to start with all sorto of fruit and vegetable puree, every new one for at least three times in order to check immediately if baby is sensitive or allergic to certain sorts.

My sister in law freezes puree in small batches in a bigger ice-cube silicon forms, and warms them up easily au bain-marie.

The good thing is that my children love pastina, so you can easily recicle baby purees for the old one in soups, with more seasonings.

One great thing my mom did was to shred some vegetables (a potato, carrot, zucchini etc) and cook them rapidly. they are ready in minutes and then you puree it (minipimer).

I basically used organic pots onlt when travelling, but being blessed wit a long breastfeeding period, I always had my emergency rations with me. Other friends always take a small thermos of hot water a small bottle of cold water and a few servings of milk, in order to make a drink whenever and under all circumstances.

9. Abbey | January 27, 2009 | Reply

We used Annabel Karmel’s books until our daughter started eating with us and they were amazing! My husband is a great cook and makes everything himself. He works, so he just plans one Sunday afternoon a month and buys all the ingredients the day before. Most of A. Karmel’s recipes make 6 or 8 servings, so he makes about 7 or 8 different dishes of different variety and we freeze them for the month. This way we have food for the baby and only have to put aside one day a month for this task.
You could also just make more simple meals and puree them for your little one, and then add more seasoning, sauces, etc. for the rest of your family. We did this with lots of success (using A. Karmel’s recipes) when we ran out of food but didn’t have time to make any more until that weekend. I stay at home, but I’m a terrible cook, so I only tried the fruit or vegetable purees and they were pretty easy and quick.

10. jude | January 27, 2009 | Reply

When you are working you just don not have the time, and when you do have the time you do not want to spend it cooking meals to freeze!!

I use mixture of both, and when I do cook my daughter eats the same as us, or I will do something really quick like pasta with steamed veg, I bought this really good mini steamer that does it in 10 mins – you must get one! chuck some cheese and you are done!

Sometimes my daughter likes a plate of finger food, cheese, grapes, cheese on toast fingers, egg, she loves that and it is really easy, you even get to drink your coffee at the same time!!

11. MadridMum | January 27, 2009 | Reply

We don’t start solids for yet another month but I was planning to go down the Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) route. find that it makes so much more sense! I guess this is what Jude was talking about?

However, for back-up, I’ve heard good things about Ella’s Kitchen. They have also just launched their Stage 2 products – Fish Pie, for example, contains organic salmon, potatoes, broccoli, etc.

12. Esther | January 27, 2009 | Reply

It’s true – things are different when you’re working!
I can recommend the Baby-cook, it’s really easy and you don’t have to stand besides it while it is steaming the veggies.
And make double loads, for the next day!
I also like Jude’s method – loads of different things on a plate for them to discover. (Some left-overs, cheese, fruit etc).
Don’t sweat it! Jars are perfect as well!

13. Maraka | January 27, 2009 | Reply

I know how you feel while I did manage to breastfeed our daughter until she was 10 months old, I was not sure what to do once she was ready for soilds. I hated cooking and really wanted to be one of those mother earth people who would cook up a storm, puree it all and then freeze it. But that was not me. I hated the look and smell of anything in a jar so that was off the list. But I live in the UK and had such brands as Plum Baby and So Baby to help me out. But as you are in Australia I know this is of no use to you, so I have found Bub Grub http://www.bubgrub.com.au//. Friends of mine have used them and have been very happy. I hope this helps.

14. Marianne | January 27, 2009 | Reply

Whilst I only used jars occasionally for my first son, I had to hand make everything for my second (he’s severely allergic to most of the big allergenic foods- wheat, fish, eggs dairy, soya, the list goes on…..). This time around, with my third son, I’ve thankfully been spared all of that, and now I use jars alot, especially when I don’t have time to do any pureeing. I sometimes mix in a little pasta, to give a bit of texture. Or I’ll give him a little of what the others are having, so that he doesn’t feel left out :)- Barely cooked broccoli is a real winner- they love holding on to those little trees. Speaking of babyfood, I just wrote a little thing about that on my blog.
http://www.worldofmmm.blogspot.com

15. Natalie Walton | January 28, 2009 | Reply

Thank you SO much everyone. Wow, it’s great to know that I’m not the only one dealing with this situation.

A few things:
* I have been making purees for the past couple of months – using an Asian bamboo steamer combo and wok and then whipping it up with a blender stick – but now it’s just too time consuming so Babycook sounds great, although I wonder if I’ll only get another month out of something like that now Little C is 7 months old?

* I LOVE the idea of baby-led weaning too. But I need to read more about this because Little C is very hungry at the moment and when I hand him a piece of fruit he sucks a little but certainly doesn’t sate his appetite.

* I also like the idea of just giving him what we eat without the seasoning – but how can we cook without olive oil????? It seem sacrilegeous. Or do you think it’s okay to give a 7 month old a little bit of olive oil?

* I have discovered that he likes cottage cheese and avocado mixed together – perfect – no cooking and super speedy to prepare. Banana and farex also goes down well. And he’s also a fan of Weetbix for breakfast with fruit. I’m finally getting somewhere!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

16. Emilie | January 28, 2009 | Reply

Ok, some of my family is Italian and especially the older generation swears by olive oil for babies. My step grandmother even recommended feeding a spoon full of olive oil a day to a weaned baby, as having some fat in the diet is so important. (Granted she had children during the war — but the kids turned out great)! The interesting thing is that the Italians in my family are obsessed by the age of the oil. I was given a bottle of oil especially for my daughter. I believe it becomes softer in taste, and maybe easier to digest, with age. So the older the better, I think. Michela might be able to shed a bit of light on that question…

17. jude | January 28, 2009 | Reply

being half Italian and a mum who believes that the sooner you try kids with new tastes the better, my four year old eats octopus, squid, crab, all manner of veggies, and has done from an early age. I say go for it, plus a little olive oil is good for you! Look at us Italians!!

18. Michela | January 28, 2009 | Reply

I’m afraid I do not know enough on olive oil and its ageing… but I’m pretty sure bottled oil must be consumed reasonably soon.
regarding olive oil to babies, in italy it’s one of the first foods we give to babies.
Mind you, raw oil… so you should add it at the end. So yes, stir-frying it’s a bit too much for a 7 months old baby. But in a couple of months you can start i guess.
The babycook it’s helpful even when you do not puree everything, just to cook and steam stuff.
But honestly if you have an asian bamboo basket and a blender you can do without, it just needs a bit more attention once you put it on.

19. Keri | January 29, 2009 | Reply

Hi natalie,

Full disclosure: I’ve not fully read all the posts, so apologies if I’m repeating or maybe even missing the point.

I have time now, but did not when my first son was born; I was working full-time and we were adjusting to the eating-at-home gig. Pre-kid we both worked a lot so we fended for ourselves or ate out often. So, in panic mode, I started to just double recipes, and pureed and dated and froze leftovers. It worked perfectly, our son ate whatever we ate, and still does to this day. I always left herbs in, took down the spice to bland, and obviously avoided adding or pureeing what I worried about or the pediatrician warnings. Which seems different in every country; what we avoided in America, our friends in Germany embraced and vice-versa… funny how that happens.

it is also a good way to always have something on hand (to toss in the daycare lunches, or picnics, or you are busy with work) and you know it is something you made and can trust, and a good way to have variety for them. And obviously you get a sense for what freezes well and what doesn’t. And Anabel’s book gives good suggestions for how to go about it.

We actually tossed lots of food at one point because we overloaded our freezer. But I’m convinced that keeping him (and now her) on our menu (with alterations for their safety) contributed to their good eating habits today.

We know people who would spend whole weekends cooking up pots of things to puree and freeze for the week, so if that works it sounds nice, but we managed it pretty well through the “just make extra” plan.

Oh and on the olive oil we added often because we had underweight issues as well and our second one couldn’t do dairy so we tried to get the fat in where we could. I’m in America so i never heard warnings against and am not aware of them, but it didn’t seem a problem for us.

Sounds gross but a tried & true mix for us was mushing together avocado with banana — good in the good fat department.

best of luck.

20. carina | February 3, 2009 | Reply

hello natalie,

I have to say that Keri’s comment inspired me to comment, I think she has a great idea to just make more and freeze it! how easy. I think the sooner you get your kids used to what you are eating the better. Our kids loved anything orange, so it was carrots, squash and well anything orange… But this stage is goes by so quickly, I think it’s a really nice idea to embrace it and puree a few of things and have them ready. The ice cube tray works great for getting out of the house if you just stick it into a bowl, by the time you get to where you are going the frozen cube will be room temp… voila! it’s hard when you are working but it’s really not that big a deal to steam some things and puree them and freeze them. just take it in stride! (ha! easier said than done!) good luck!

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