All superheros in training need the right food to fuel their bodies right? Recently, Boy Wonder has started branching out from the boob to a more sophisticated pallet. That means I’ve started exploring the baby aisle of my local grocery store. It was absolutely overwhelming. Believe it or not, I walked away with more questions than answers.
Have you visited the baby aisle in your grocery store lately? There are all these prepackaged purees, that are certainly convenient, and come a variety of flavors, but outside of brand recognition, I know absolutely nothing about them. Questions started to pile up in my head. Where do I start? Which one is Luke ready for? What’s actually in them? Most importantly, are they actually healthy for him? Like most parents, I want to feed my baby the healthiest options out there. But what does that really mean? Are there alternatives to store bought food? Relax, it’s all gravy. Just sit back, pour yourself a frosty beverage and enjoy the latest adventure of The IncrediDad.
When the topic of real food came up, my first question was:
What foods do I start him on? Our pediatrician told us to start with rice or oatmeal cereal and then graduate to the carrots and squashes. She also told us to introduce one new food a week in order to see if he has any allergies or reactions to them.
So, we went to the store and bought him a jar of carrots. Bex and I were surprised when we looked at the nutrition labels. Gerber, a brand I recognize and would have trusted, actually had more sugar and a bunch more unnecessary ingredients than the Store Brand (which only listed carrots and water). On top of that, the Store Brand was more than half the price! It seemed like a no brainer.
It was love at first bite. He was a carrot fiend right away. So, we graduated to jarred squash. Again, he loved it. But then I started to wonder about the shelf life of these jarred veggies. Remember the incident with the expired formula? I bet Aunt Jenna does. There was no way I was going through that again.
I read a lot of things about store bought baby food not being as nutritious, not having as high quality of ingredients, not to mention those disposable plastic packages aren’t eco-friendly. What killed it for me was when I learned that store bought foods are cooked at extremely high temperatures to kill bacteria. Even though you are getting a longer storage life that way, at the same time, you’re losing many of the food’s vitamins, nutrients, and taste.
Yes, I know there are plenty of healthy premade options out there, like organic baby food but we decided to go the DIY route. Why? Because I want to make life hard on myself. Actually it’s not as hard as it might seem. On the weekends, I will roast, steam, or boil some veggies and then puree them in a our food processor. I can make three or four different fruits and veggies at a time and wind up with a month’s worth of food. Not a bad return for one weekend’s effort. On the other hand, it’s a pain. I take an entire weekend to cook the foods, portion it out into ice cube trays, freeze them, label them, and store them. I could be doing something productive, like watching baseball or Batman!
Homemade baby food is an tempting alternative option for paranoid parents like me, who want to know exactly what goes into their baby’s mouth. Most of the time, It’s more economical than buying pre-packaged foods and it gets the baby used to eating the same food as the rest of the family, just in puree form. My favorite reason for DIY baby food though, is that I’m not limited by the variety on the shelves. I have the freedom to choose what fruits, vegetables we puree. You’re not going to find cantaloupe or avocado in the baby aisle, not even at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Well, maybe at Whole Foods. That place has everything.
Throughout all of this, I also came across something called “Baby Led Weaning”. The idea behind it is that you let your IncrediBaby feed themself from the very begining. You just hand them a small piece of of food and see if they eat it or not. Yes, it takes a little more effort because you have to keep a close watch to prevent choking but the benefit is that Boy Wonder would be capable of feeding himself big boy food much sooner. Bye bye puree! Because of the choking hazards, it’s a little controversial, at least in our house.
I’ve convinced Bex to let me try a hybrid style of feeding. We make purees for Boy Wonder all the time but every once in a while I sneak real food in there. Just this past week, we let him suck on a piece of cantaloupe and a piece of watermelon. He made his usual, “Ew! What is this?!” face but quickly decided he liked both. I guess those will be the next baby foods I make.
There’s so much more to type and I’m learning more every day. For example, did you even imagine that broccoli would be too gassy for him to handle until he’s older? Well. maybe you did but I had no clue. I’m sure there’s plenty I have no clue about on this topic so please feel free to add your stories in the comments below.
Wait…did you hear that? From the next room, it was the cry of hunger also known as the Dad Signal. I’d better defrost some sweet potatoes and race to the rescue. Until next time IncrediFans!