For the first few months of life, the only involvement we have in the feeding process is cleaning up the waste products. I’m sure many of us would man up if we could, but frankly man boobs don’t function for feeding.
Once your child starts moving into solids, however, you have a chance to get involved at the front end of the food chain. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Iron Chef or merely a Master of Microwave, chipping in by making baby food is easy and, more than likely, appreciated.
Annabel Karmel has a number of baby food cookbooks and after using them with our first son and again for our second, I can summarize the directions for the majority of the recipes as “boil and puree.”
That’s it. Peel a carrot, chop it, boil it until it’s mush and then puree so it looks like the stuff in the jars. Same with apples, pears, yams, sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli and more. Boil it and mash it. Easy.
Sunday nights are usually baby food night for me, I’ll get 3 or 4 different recipes going, and then squish the purees into ice cube trays overnight. The next morning I pop the frozen food cubes into freezer bags and my wife has a wide menu for the week for the little one.
In the beginning, it’s easy. One food for 2 or 3 days to have the stomach adjust and to make sure there are no allergies, once they get to 7 and 8 months, then you can do some blending and get more creative with the recipes.
My brother would just leave a food mill at the side of the table for his daughter. He’d scrape off a few bits of everything on his plate and hit puree. This varied “grown up” diet has given my niece an amazing palate that is up to try anything from Korean BBQ to ethnic curries.
Some might try the “sneak it in” cookbooks. The ones where chocolate cake is made with beets and spinach or macaroni and cheese has blended cauliflower. Sure, your kids may get the good stuff into their systems, but you’re cultivating a taste for the bad stuff while you do it.
It’s best to start them on a variety of fresh foods the way they’re meant to taste right from the beginning. Of course, talk to your pediatrician first, but to help you get started, here are a few recipes:
My nine-month-old son’s favorite recipes are Spaghetti Bolognese and Apple Oatmeal.
- 3/4c orzo pasta
- 1 carrot, peeled diced
- 1 celery, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 large can of tomato sauce
- 1/2 pound of lean ground beef or chicken or turkey
Heat up some oil in the pan and fry the meat until it’s cooked. Set it aside and then add the garlic and onion to sweat for a few minutes. Mix in the carrot and celery and sautee it all until the vegetables are very soft. If you think the chunks in your mixture are still a little too big for your baby to bite through, you can toss this into the blender to turn into a finer chop.
Mix in the can of tomato sauce, the meat and the orzo past and continue to cook until the pasta is softened. You can add some water for the orzo to absorb if the sauce is too thick.
- 5 apples peeled and chopped
- 1 cup of steel cut oats
Follow the directions for the steel cut oats. Usually for 1c of oats, that means boiling 4 1/2 cups of water and adding the oats to cook for 20 minutes or so.
While the oats are going, you peel and chop your apples. Melt a pat of butter in a pan and throw in your apples. Sautee them up a bit. To help them break down and soften, I splash in a 1/4 cup of water every now and again. Once you can mash the apples easily with the back of a fork, they’re soft enough.
Toss the apples into a blender to make a puree and then mix it with the cooked oats. It’s a breakfast infants love and you’ll even make extras for the whole family to have.
Once you get through the first few weeks of rules for infants and their change over to ‘real food,’ you can let your creativity fly. Just remember to keep things on the bland side of spicy, avoid nuts and seafood and if your inspiration falters, you can always cruise the baby food aisle to see what’s in the jars and DIY your own version at home.
This post was originally written for Man of the House in October 2010.