When I was struggling to be cool in elementary school, along with everyone else, there was a brief period in fourth grade where the cool girls—I kid you not—brought little jars of baby food in their lunches. It was a bizarre, elitist move that I secretly found gross, but I begged my mom to buy me some baby food on our next shopping trip anyway. “Everyone is eating it!” I don’t know why, but my mom acquiesced. Perhaps just because she knew what I didn’t realize until much later: Baby food is just blended fruit or vegetables.
So I had my two weeks of eating my glorified applesauce, and then lunches went back to normal. Presumably the mom of Jennifer (the coolest girl) finally made it to the grocery store and stopped packing her the dregs of the pantry. I learned that baby food is simple, and when it’s done right is just wholesome, whole ingredients. Pureed. You can make your own. And depending on what you use and where you buy it, it could be cheaper than buying it at the market.
Some baby food has other ingredients, such as meat, but we recommend only making the fruits and veggies varieties.* Now, on to the organic part. As some of you may know, there is no FDA definition for, or rule regulating, organic foods. The USDA oversees a National Organic Program, but the definitions of what constitutes organic can be blurry. The surest way to get true organic produce is to grow it in your own garden. You will know that no pesticides or other chemicals were used.
Another way is to shop your local farmers market or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Then make sure you thoroughly wash all of your produce before using.
Here are some easy taste ideas to get you started making your baby noms. You can always experiment with new flavors, introducing your baby to a wide gourmet world. However, stick with things you would eat yourself. Mango sweet potato could be an appealing combo, but blueberry radish asparagus, not so much.
This is like level one difficulty. Mash a banana with a fork until smooth. That’s it; you don’t need to cook it or anything! If baby likes banana, you could add a tiny pinch of cinnamon for variety.
Same thing here, no need to cook. Just pit an avocado, mash it into a smooth paste and viola.
Sweet Potato Carrot
Scrub your sweet potatoes and carrots, and chop them into chunks. Then cook them in a saucepan with a very shallow amount of water for about 20 minutes. They should be soft. Puree them in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Brown Rice and Blueberries
This one is a bit more labor intensive. Cook some brown rice normally, either on the stove or in your rice cooker. Simmer some blueberries in a little bit of water on the stovetop until you can squish them with a fork. Put equal parts brown rice and blueberries into the blender and puree. If you need to thin the consistency, use a little formula or breast milk.
This should get you started with concocting a few recipes at home, and as you get more comfortable with it, try different flavors to see what your child likes best. Chances are, you already know where to start based on which foods go down the easiest with them now. Good luck, and let us know if you have any other recipes or tips you’d like to share below in the comments or on our forum.
*Discuss your baby’s diet with your family doctor or nutritionist, or some other health professional you trust.