Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Baby Food for the Competitive Set

I laughed out loud when I read this article about new baby foods. I like the concept of exposing babies to a wide variety of tastes and feeding them with fresh and organic foods. But I question the extremes that the parents in the article go to. It just reeked of one upsmanship. Kinda like those Boulder parents that broadcast that their children have eaten only organic since birth.

Why don't the folks in the article just puree some fresh local organic veggies themselves? Why Fedex frozen organic gourmet food from across the country in vacuum sealed baggies? Is such a huge energy expenditure justifiable? Maybe it is the same set that flies corporate jets to get to their second or third or fourth vacation home.

Mothers in the "old country", whichever country that means to you, just did what came naturally. They fed babies the same stuff they ate. My mom cooked foods until very soft and mushed them up for me. To this day, a steaming bowl of congee still means love to me.

Even though I have been ill since she was born, I still fed Iris with a variety of home-prepared foods that cost little in terms of time or money. Here's how.
  • This one is obvious. Breastmilk is essentially free and melts those pregnancy pounds away. I breastfed for 18 months, enough to see her through the first two flu seasons. I also ate lots of strongly flavored foods, just to give the breastmilk extra oomph. I thank my lactation consultant for urging me to do this in order to expose Iris to strong food flavors early.
  • This works better (cheaper) if you have a Trader Joe's near you. I microwaved frozen organic veggies or prepared bagged produce with a little bit of water. Then I pureed them in the blender with just enough water so that the blender blades would work and froze the puree in ice cube trays. In season, I sometimes did this with fresh veggies. But frozen veggies can be more nutritious than veggies sitting in my fridge for a week or two. Try peas, carrots, squash, edamame, zucchini and broccoli.
  • I boiled potatoes, pureed them, and froze them in ice cube trays also.
  • I made rice porridge (aka congee aka wet rice) and froze them in ice cube trays.
  • Why buy those little packs of applesauce when you can buy a big jar and spoon out into a bowl just what the child will eat in one sitting?
  • When eating chicken, set aside some small cubes for the baby to gum. Save some in the fridge for later.
  • Soft tofu cubes are also good for gumming.
  • Don't forget how easy it is to mash a banana. You can use a knife to slice through the whole banana, peel and all, and then store the chunks in a ziploc bag at room temperature. They won't turn mushy and brown if you squeeze the air out of the bag.
I put each batch of baby food in a ziploc and wrote the date on the outside. When Iris was hungry, I plopped a couple of cubes of different foods into her bowl, microwaved it a bit, tested the temperature, and fed her.

This sounds alot more labor intensive than it was. It literally takes only a few minutes of active prep time to microwave a bag of frozen peas, blend it up and pour it into ice cube trays. It was a helluva cheaper and tastier than jarred foods. We always had trouble using up the whole jar before it went bad or felt guilty about force feeding her the same exact menu until the jar was empty. A single cube is less commitment.

We bought little plastic containers and slipped frozen cubes of food in them when we went on outings. The food was the ice pack!

If you find another like-minded mom, you can trade the cubed foods in your freezer. Lazy, cheapskate moms of the world, unite!

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