Have you ever smelled or tasted jarred baby food? Especially the peas or green beans? It’s enough to make you throw up a little in your mouth. If you ask me (and I know you didn’t, but since you’re on my blog I’ll tell you anyway), processed baby food is a big fat waste of time and money. Not only that but jarred baby food is a step down in taste quality and nutrition. Food-from-your-own-kitchen beats store-bought-baby-goo in every one of these categories any day of the week.
My thinking about how I feed my infant has evolved with each child. With our first baby, Jack, I didn’t know any better. He got every kind of baby food off the store shelf. Hannah, our second, got mostly homemade baby food or some of what we would eat at our meals. Now with the third baby, Ben (7-month-old), I’m trying to incorporate two main things:
1) Give the baby what we’re eating. Of course, I don’t mean I give him Crispy Baked Drumsticks or Powerball Cookies, as good as those are. While following Wholesome Baby Food.com‘s baby stages safety guidelines, I’m just trying to give Ben some of what we’re eating at most meals. This takes a little forethought to make sure each meal contains something he can have, but it’s worth it. Some of the foods I’ve made recently that we can all eat: peas (smashed for Ben), apple slices (cooked for Ben), and sweet potato (mashed for Ben).
2) Baby-Led Weaning: I’m incorporating some of the principles of Baby-Led Weaning into the way I’m feeding Ben. Have you heard of this? I just read about it for the first time a few months ago. I find the whole concept to make a lot of sense for a few reasons.
1 – It allows baby to feel, taste, and experiment with real food, not some nasty, overcooked goo in a jar. You know that this has to taste better!
2 – It’s a first step in teaching your child a basic life skill–how to listen to and satisfy his own hunger cues. In this approach, the parent provides healthy food options. Then, the child has the freedom to choose what and how much of what to eat. The parent can’t overfeed their child this way.
3 – From some other reputable reading I’ve done, there would be a lot fewer eating issues/disorders if we had all been exposed to a variety of foods in a neutral way (without pressure) and learned from a young age how to do feed ourselves until we felt satisfied (not until someone told us we were done).
4 – This way of feeding is easier on the parents, because the baby does most of the work. That means instead of feeding him before the rest of the family, he can sit with us and eat at the same time. Now granted, I still need to help Ben get things in his mouth sometimes, because they are hard to grasp. And, he does occasionally gag (not choke) on it. In those cases, I try to mash the food a bit.
The jury is still out on Ben, our baby, but guess who the pickiest eater in our family is? That’s right…Jack, the one who only had processed baby food. Hannah, on the other hand, will try many new foods and has a much broader palate. I’ll keep you posted how Benny-boy does. If he ends up being picky, you can disregard all my highfalutin ideas above I guess!
Update at 3/5/12: Ben (age 16 months) seems to be trending the direction Hannah went. He’s willing to at least put new foods in his mouth and eats a fairly wide variety of foods compared to my oldest, Jack.