Sunday, April 5, 2015

Making Baby Food

Posted By on Sun, Apr 5, 2015 at 7:26 AM

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Our pediatrician recommended we start our baby on solid foods at the six-months-old mark. One would think foods would spoil after the first month, but I’m not here to pretend I’m a doctor of medicine or of babies.

My wife and I bought a book on how to make our own baby food. It’s a hefty book — I told my wife I read it front to back — but the parts I did read I found to be eye opening. According to the first chapter of Super Baby Food, by Ruth Yaron, the bottled mush in the stores is only about 30 percent real food. The other 70 percent is made of cheap fillers and water. Yet the Gerber Baby manages to smile about that.

Imagine peeling a banana that immediately melts down your wrist in an unhealthy glob that tastes only a third as delicious as what the gorillas in the wild are licking off their fingers. Bananas like that would have a hard time getting past quality control at Chiquita, and if they did manage to get by, they would turn brown by the time you got them home.

And if bottled baby food is only a third of its original nutrition, think of it this way: The lost nutrients from the real food are enough to power an additional two, normal-sized babies. So after a year of real food I can expect our son to be grabbing my nose with the super-human strength of three babies.

Thus far, my wife has handled the nourishment of our boy, waking up in the middle of every night for the last seven months to feed him. Breastfeeding is hard work. It’s amazing what she’ll go through for a kid who bites her and smiles about it. But it’s not that I do not pull my own weight. I sit beside them in the dark for moral support, patting her shoulder when I remember to.

Breastmilk is unsurpassed in value for babies. It’s the perfect nutrition for them, and my wife has worked very hard to make sure our son gets the best start to life he could possibly get. It’s my job to not undo everything she’s worked so hard for by choosing bad vegetables at the store, vegetables that the bottling goons at Gerber wouldn’t think twice about.

Pureed whole foods make a big difference in IQ and overall health in a developing person. I’m sure you can look that up somewhere. The food you give a baby affects the rest of his or her life. I can always tell which adults were fed bottled slop as babies: They slouch and mumble their words. They squint at things up close.

So the boy and I cruise the produce aisles, where I hand him random vegetables to approve of before purchase. Soon we’ll peruse the farmers markets. He tests the firmness of yellow squash against his forehead and tastes the raw skins of sweet potatoes with the taste buds on the back of his tongue. I’m still learning what his faces mean.

In addition to nutrition, making your own baby food also makes financial sense. A four-ounce bottle of baby food costs about $0.60 cents in stores. A man of my intellect is too smart to fall for this. I can buy a single sweet potato for a dollar and puree it into anywhere from fifteen to twenty ounces, depending on how big it was when the farmer picked it from the tree.

It may sound like a lot of work, but making your own baby food is simple: Just steam the food to a soft state and puree it in a powerful food processor. Ours has a supercharged motor and can handle whole carrots and hunks of Callicrate beef with little difficulty and a lot of noise. It does startle the boy, so I sometimes have to take it outside on an extension cord.

And when you’re done you have the equivalent of liquid gold: perfect, mushy nutrition for a baby with only two bottom teeth to transition to. We pour the finished product into ice cube trays to freeze. It’s great for portion control, depending on how big you like your ice cubes, or how big you like your babies.

Pico spent his childhood years in the Springs. Now, as a father, he's seeing the city (and life) in a different light. Follow him on twitter at @DavidXPico.

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