Think Outside the Jar: Nutrition outside of baby food

Homemade Baby Food - Carrots

Homemade Baby Food – Carrots (Photo credit: Cascadian Farm)

 

We know that baby food isn’t always the best option for your baby. But sometimes, you just can’t help it. It’s what’s available. You work with what you got, right? (especially if there’s a lot of it, and especially if it’s free!) Last week, I discussed some options you can do to make baby food more nutritious.

 

Now, let’s take a look at alternatives. Baby food does its job, but you don’t want to be using it all the time. With that in mind, let’s explore other options baby can have.

 

Pre-made

 

Half of the convenience of baby food is in the fact that it’s already prepared, right? No cooking, no heating up- just pop the lid and serve. Did you know you can do the same thing with homemade food?

 

Freeze it

 

A lot of foods freeze really well. When you make up a batch of food, set some aside into containers to freeze. Make sure you leave room for liquids to expand! This works great for meals with a lot of leftovers. Recently, I made a large pot of soup and had plenty leftover. I poured some of it into empty baby food jars and stuck them in the freezer, so they’d be handy later!

 

Pre-prepared

 

Most foods will keep well in the fridge for at least a few days, sometimes even up to a week. Pre-make certain foods and just keep it in the fridge, ready to pull out when needed. Most of the time, you won’t even need to reheat them, so whatever is left uneaten can simply go back in the fridge! My 8-month-old daughter LOVES eggs. I often cook up to four or five eggs at a time. I scramble them as if for scrambled eggs, pour into the pan, and let sit for several minutes, until nearly cooked through. Do NOT stir! After a few minutes, I flip it to cook the other side. When done, I let it cool and then serve small portions to her. The eggs are healthy for her growing body, and the “pancake” style makes it easy for her to pick up the pieces. The leftovers I’ll put in the fridge to pull out later and serve cold.

 

Snack foods

 

If you have the time, you can also make up certain snack foods for your little one. The idea is to make foods that the baby can pick up and feed herself. Crackers, cookies, and other such things make great foods. For babies under a year old, consider using coconut or some other flour other than wheat. Some research shows that babies are unable to fully digest grains before one year old, and some experts recommend up to two years. If all you have is wheat flour, then try and at least limit your baby’s grain intake.

 

Fruits are also a great food. Your baby can have most fruits, barring allergies. Some, like apples, may need to be cooked first in order to soften. Keep bananas and avocado on hand to give your baby a healthy, nutritious snack!

 

I understand there’s a LOT more that can be said about this issue, but I didn’t want to go on too long! What foods do YOU give to your baby? Are there any suggestions you’d like to add?

 

Nutritional Baby Food

Baby Food

Baby Food (Photo credit: Cascadian Farm)

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 with spices

Baby food with spices

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.

Supplement

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!