Most any natural foods/whole foods/healthy living blog will tell you to never, ever, under-no-circumstances, use baby food. They instead offer a few options for making your own (suggestions which are often minimal at best, for a mother with no idea where to begin).
But… what if you’re on WIC? Not using baby food means there’s a LOT of food being wasted. 19 jars of baby food is a LOT- and that’s only one check! All total, I receive up to 95 jars a month for my seven-month-old. At the end of the month when pickings are low and your EBT card doesn’t refill for another week (or two), those 95 jars of food can make a difference for your growing, hungry (starving!) baby.
As a mother, reading about all the evils of processed food, including baby food, can make you depressed. It’s tough enough trying to feed your family on good, wholesome nutrition. But what about your baby, so fragile and easily susceptible to the dangers lurking in those tiny jars?
And yet… there’s nothing else to eat. It sounds all good to feed the baby the same meals that you eat- but that isn’t always practical. Moms skip meals a whole lot more than babies do. And what if dinner is just enough for hubby and yourself?
I know. I’ve faced this. I’ve literally cried as I fed my baby that disgusting, processed foods that have little to no nutritional value, and whose preparation methods are highly questionable. But through that experience, I’ve found at least a few tips that might help you to maximize your food budget (Seriously- who doesn’t want free food?) and still provide good nutrition. It isn’t perfect, but few systems are, especially when you’re living on WIC. That said- here goes…
Spice it up!
Baby food makes for a picky eater. The foods are bland; unflavored and unseasoned, they do nothing to tickle your baby’s palate. So the baby gets used to the lack of flavor, and begins to refuse delicious, home-cooked meals. To combat this, add your own seasonings to the jars. Use moderation, since it IS a small jar. Add spices just as you would to your own food. Bear in mind that some spices, like garlic, may cause an upset tummy if using too much. This will help your baby’s taste buds to get used to good, flavorful foods!
Avoid GMO’s and the Dirty Dozen
GMO foods are those that have been genetically modified to withstand lethal doses of pesticides. The problems that go into this are for a post in itself, so I won’t go into it here, but suffice it to say that you don’t want your children eating them, if at all possible! Avoid corn and other likely GMO foods.
The other problem with conventional foods is pesticides. Although they are approved as safe by the FDA, it’s still not something you want to be putting in your body, and especially not in your kids’ bodies. Make a note of which foods are less likely to have higher doses of pesticides, and focus mainly on those.
Baby food doesn’t have to make up the entirety of your baby’s diet. In fact, it would be good that it doesn’t, if possible. Make sure your baby is getting other good foods, too. There are two ways you can do that:
Mix baby food with “real” food.
This works great for leftovers, or even dinner. Mix a jar of baby food with, say, mashed potatoes, or gravy, and you’ve got a yummy and nutritious meal for baby! Another option I would often do is mixing baby cereal with bone broth. While the cereal isn’t ideal because of the grains, the broth will still provide some great nutrition.
Just real food
If you have it, use real food for your baby. While it may not always be practical, there are some things that you can give to your baby. This includes foods you have handy already as well as mealtime foods. Besides meals, you can also do veggies, fruits, and other foods like yogurt and cottage cheese, which are also good probiotics. Some will need preparation, such as cooking, while others can be given to them straight.
This section requires a post by itself, so I’ll just leave it at that. We all want real nutrition from real food. But sometimes, it just isn’t an option for all of us. Fortunately, you CAN feed your infant baby food and still give them good nutrition!