by Guest Blogger Mama R.M.
Caitlin’s introduction to solid foods did not go according to plan. After days of rejection, followed by days of constipation, followed by more days of rejection, I worried Caitlin would subsist solely on breast milk. Forever. Considering this scenario unacceptable, both for baby and for myself, I persisted in my efforts to introduce solid food. Despite my earnest attempts, Caitlin refused everything, other than a swallow of oatmeal here and there.
In the midst of Caitlin's food rejection phase, I met my friend Jess for lunch. Jess has an eleven month old baby who loves food so much he cries after finishing a meal. I asked my friend for the secret to her success. She asked, "Have you tried making your own food?" Seriously? My husband and I are lucky to eat peanut butter and jelly for dinner, how can I find the time to cook baby food? Life with a new baby leaves little time to do anything extra, especially for a working mama like myself. But, after my conversation with Jess I was curious.
After I got home from lunch, I burrowed through my pantry until I found Williams-Sonoma's Cooking for Baby (a gift from my foodie mother). After brushing off the dust, I skimmed through the first section, "Wholesome and Homemade." The first lines read, "Do you eat a lot of jarred, canned, or processed foods? If the answer is no, then why should your baby?” While I occasionally enjoy a bag of Cheetos, I generally steer clear from the aforementioned food no-nos. I value healthy, nutritious food and I hope Caitlin will sooner or later do the same.
For my first attempt, I made sweet potatoes. The recipe was surprising simple:
Sweet Potato Puree
Use 2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Prick sweet potatoes with a small knife and place on a baking sheet
Roast until wrinkled and tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 45-60 minutes. Let cool.
Halve sweet potatoes, scoop out flesh from skins, and puree flesh in a food processor until smooth. Add water, breast milk, or formula to thin sweet potatoes to a consistency your baby can handle. As baby gets older and can eat thicker purees, mash some or all of the sweet potato with a fork.
To store, refrigerate cooled puree in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or fill ice-cube trays or other containers to freeze for up to three months.
So simple, and even better, the 45-60 minute roasting period allows me to catch up on DVR, paint my nails, or even take a nap without guilt.
Later that evening, I gave Caitlin sweet potatoes along with oatmeal for supper. Amazingly, Caitlin ate an entire 2 ounce serving of sweet potatoes, more food than ever before. Caitlin's acceptance of my homemade sweet potatoes was so satisfying, so gratifying. Then and there, I became hooked on homemade baby food.
Since then, I’ve made applesauce, carrots, peas, turkey, and plenty more sweet potatoes. Caitlin enjoyed everything, except the peas. Can you blame her? Peas really only belong in a chicken pot pie. Cooking for Baby contains lots of nutritious and delicious recipes (Asparagus Risotto, anyone?) organized by age. It also describes the nutritional value of each food and gives great suggestions for yummy finger foods and snacks.
As a working mama, time management is a constant challenge. To keep a supply of homemade food at the ready, I usually make a batch or two over the weekend and another batch on a weeknight after Caitlin goes to bed. Especially for Baby, sold at Babies R Us, makes individual food storage containers that are freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe. Each container holds two ounces of food, just enough for one serving.
Homemade baby food does take a little more time than opening a jar, however I am fully invested (by that I mean, obsessed). First, homemade baby food is economical. Two sweet potatoes, which make ten servings, cost approximately $1.68. On average, ten servings of jarred sweet potatoes cost $9.90. With the money saved, you can upgrade your tall latte to a venti! Twice! Second, homemade baby food allows mamas to use super fresh, in-season ingredients. Finally, making homemade baby food provides a perfect excuse for postponing less desirable chores. “I am too busy to scrub the toilet or iron because I am preparing nutritious, wholesome food for my child.” Nobody will argue with that line of reasoning!