In 1995, I was 19 years old with two children, a boy 3 years old and a new born daughter. I was on food stamps and WIC giving my babies what I thought was the most nutritional food available. I had quit school in the 9th grade and was basically uneducated in many subjects, especially nutrition. I wasn’t breastfeeding and was actually under the impression that the baby formula I was giving my children was better than the milk I produced naturally. False advertising, lack of information and no access to nutritional education except TV commercials found me giving my children fake juices, sugar cereals, cow milk, cookies, candies, fast food and everything else that claimed to be healthy.
Naturally, today those two suffer from a variety of side effects of those early choices. Asthma, allergies, ear infections, and eczema to name a few of the issues we have dealt with over the years.
The People’s Lunch Counter in Dallas is a nonprofit dedicated to providing healthy food to better the lives of the people. One of the programs we are developing focuses directly on educating teen mothers in low income environments on how to feed their babies with natural food. It is cost effective and has long term benefits to the children. Access to and the consumption of healthy food is a proven link to higher test scores and educational success.
By making the food we give our children we control the energy that is put into the preparation of the food. The love and desire for success for babies is then transferred to them directly along with the nutritional benefits of the right foods. Knowing what ingredients are in your babies’ food provides a level of satisfaction for the parent and making baby food at home is economic and cost effective as well.
To make many of the baby foods I am listing requires only a fork or blender in some cases. Our program encourages mothers to participate in our community gardening. By growing your own fruits and vegetables making your own baby food is very cheap! The best fruits and veggies to start with are apples, apricots, bananas, blueberries, mangoes, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, asparagus tips, avocados, carrots, peas, potatoes, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best of course but if access to those are not available canned fruits and frozen can be used.
Proper storage and washing of the produce is important. Some fruits and vegetables will require cooking to soften them. Like apples, for instance. Boiling is what we recommend and using just enough water to cover the produce is best. You can use the leftover water during the rest of the process. Next, just peel and remove any pits if necessary and take out any seeds.
Some fruits and vegetables won’t need any liquid. Just use the fork to mash, add a seasoning or two, and serve. For some, you may need to add a little liquid like breast milk or the leftover cooking water. The more your baby starts to get used to solid foods the less liquid you will need.
Never sweeten the food. Babies don’t need the extra sugar, but seasonings are fine when used lightly. Remember to try one new food at a time to see if your baby has any allergy to the new item. Also foods like bananas and kiwi don’t require cooking to mash up.
Freezing extra portions of the baby food is okay before you feed the baby, but remember that saliva breaks down the food so once you start to feed the baby from the container it can’t be restored. Microwaving baby food is not recommended, if you are not aware of the concerns regarding microwaves and plastics please research that.
Recipes for more advanced food are available on the net or in bookstores but the basic food preparation information above will work for children up to about 14 months.
Easy first-time baby food preparation
Remove the banana peel and just mash it with a fork. Adding some breast milk or formula will help with the consistency.
- Prepare melons the same way by mashing and serving or adding to baby cereal.
- Bake a sweet potato on 375 degrees in its skin and then remove the inside and mash with a fork.
- Additional home prepared baby food can be found online at: www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com