If your baby is old enough to start on real food, you probably have a lot of questions, and you may have received more advice
than you can process.In the following Q&A, Carolyn Land Williams answers common questions about feeding your baby and making
homemade baby food. For even more information and great recipes, check out Cooking Light First Foods.
Making Baby Food
Q: Did you make your own baby food?A: Yes, and I think it's important for moms to know it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing
decision. There was nothing that I loved more than going to the farmer's market to pick out fresh produce to make baby food
for my little girl. But as a working mother, I had to be realistic; sometimes buying commercial baby food was the best option
for my sanity!
Q: As a dietitian, what would you say are the key benefits of homemade baby food?A: I love knowing exactly what's in the
food that my baby is eating! Being able to hand-pick ripe fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality protein is
a huge benefit of making your own food. Another benefit is that you have so many more puree options and can expose your child
to more foods such as avocado, papaya, and blueberries.
Better for the Budget
Q: Is it cheaper to make baby food or buy it?A: Homemade baby food is usually cheaper if you plan to make and store it in
large batches. For example, a large sweet potato costs on average $1 and will give you 3 to 4 servings for baby. Four jars
of commercial baby food costs about $2. This cost difference adds up when you consider how much baby food will be eaten during
that first year.
Q: What is the most common mistake parents make with homemade baby food?A: Wanting to add salt or sugar to foods is one
of the most common, but babies don't need either. It's a natural tendency for parents to think that sugar or salt might make
homemade baby food better. What they have to remember is that baby hasn't had anything other than milk or formula until now,
so the natural flavors of fruits and vegetables taste wonderful to him.
Q: Do you have to use organic fruits and vegetables in homemade baby food?A: There is no clear answer about the long-term
effects of pesticides and hormones on humans, but when you think about feeding your baby, going organic seems like a good
idea. However, organic varieties are often more expensive. I suggest going organic for varieties of produce that tend to retain
more chemicals, such as apples and strawberries.
Q: Can you use frozen produce to for homemade baby food?A: Yes, and many frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious
as fresh because they are frozen just after being picked, so few nutrients are lost. There are even organic varieties of frozen
produce available these days. The downside to frozen produce is that it usually doesn't have the vibrant colors and flavors
that ripe produce provides.
Sweet Tooth Myth
Q: Is it true that you should introduce veggies first so your baby doesn't have a sweet tooth?A: Parents often worry that
if babies taste sweeter foods first, they'll develop a "sweet tooth" and reject veggies. However, research hasn't proven this
to be true. Several of the beginner purees in First Foods are made with sweet vegetables and fruits. This is because root
vegetables and soft fruits are mild in flavor and make smooth purees, which babies just starting solids tend to find more
Meals Made Easy
Q: Are there dishes from MyRecipes.com that baby could eat?A: Definitely, and part of what First Foods does is teach parents
how to take the meal being prepared for the rest of the family and to break it down into purees or finger foods that baby
can eat, too.Try these: Bake Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins and serve half of one to your 12- to 18-month-old.