Baby Food – Part 1 (with a recipe!)

Food is a big topic. This is so big that I almost don’t know where to begin. Often, I have asked friends or they would ask me,”What is your baby eating these days?”. Before I talk about some baby food recipes, I want to talk about jarred baby food.

Jarred Baby Food

When I started making baby food, I would go to the supermarket’s baby aisle to get ideas on what to make for baby to try for the next 3-4 days – as is recommended that babies should have a 4 day wait rule when introducing solid foods. At first, I really was tempted to stock up on jarred baby food for the convenience and a lot of variety is offered on the shelves. I made some homemade food and also bought some jarred baby food like puree prune for those “uneasy #2 days”. I noticed the baby food that I made are a lot thicker than what you get from jarred food.

Ingredients: WATER, CHICKEN, TOMATO PUREE, SQUASH, RICE, RED PEPPERS, CELERY, CARROTS, ZUCCHINI, PEAS, LENTILS, YELLOW SPLIT PEAS, TAPIOCA FLOUR, BROWN RICE FLOUR, SAFFLOWER OIL, ONION POWDER, SPICES, CHICKEN BROTH, GARLIC POWDER, DEHYDRATED PARSLEY.

A close look at the ingredients label shows that water is the first ingredient in a lot of these baby jarred foods. The order of the ingredients in food/cosmetic labels often indicates the content of the ingredients from most to least – i.e. most of these baby jarred foods has water as the highest content compared relatively to other food ingredients. This means for the chicken & vegetable paella above, you are feeding as much chicken, or a little less, as water to your baby.

Conversely, if you make your own baby food, you are only adding a little bit of water to allow food to be blended in a food processor. Another fact is that baby food may be on the shelve for couple years in the store – so you may be feeding food that is older than your baby.

Jarred food is great when you want to let baby try a little bit to see if they are allergic to the food or not. Sometimes you just want to spend 70 cents for a jar of green beans instead of spending the effort to wash and cook a few beans. It is also great to take out or have as an emergency when you have forgotten to bring baby food from home. If you do need to buy food for convenience, the baby food in a pouch is a better option. With these ones, you don’t even need a spoon and baby can suck at the opening to get food on the go or you can buy an attachment spoon which fits most of these pouches.

Ingredients: APPLE PUREE*, BLUEBERRY PUREE*, WATER, QUINOA FLAKES*, WHOLE GRAIN OAT FLAKES*, TAPIOCA STARCH*, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE*, ASCORBIC ACID. *ORGANIC MAY CONTAIN WHEAT.

These are also pricier (more than $1 CAD each) and you are paying what you get – no water as a first ingredient.

Homemade Baby Food

I am not sure if there are many websites that are dedicated to baby food recipes, but one that I find informative is the Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food Recipe. It talks about the foods that baby should eat at each stage (4 -6 months, 6 – 8 months,…) and each food’s benefit and recipes and general guidelines on how to make baby food.

Rice Cereal as a first food?

Rice cereal is often recommended as a first food to introduce to baby but there are other foods that can be introduced to baby too. Avocado which is packed with nutrients is also a possible choice. Orange foods like squash is easily digestible for baby’s young digestive system. Some babies actually don’t like rice cereal and it may cause constipation for some too. BRAT foods – banana, rice, apple, toast may cause constipation as they don’t contain much fiber.

P-foods to relieve constipation

Often, when babies start solid foods, their bowel movement may not be as often as compared to when they were solely on breast milk or formula. Foods that start with the letter p like peas, pear, prunes, peaches are good for relieving constipation. I find prunes often works well and can be mixed with rice cereal or other grains as the ones that come from jar are very sweet.

Tip: To avoid constipation, combine foods high in fiber with one that may cause constipation (BRAT food) like the one described below.

Recipe #1: Sweet Potatoe, Apples and Chicken

This is all-in-one sweet and savoury recipe that has it all – carb+fruit+protein. These three ingredients are all part of the first foods that can be given to baby after meat is introduced. Sweet potatoe is packed with lots of nutrients and fiber while apple provides a bit of a fruity flavour to make the sweet potatoe not too filling. Chicken is the protein part of this yummy meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potatoe, medium sizedย  – sliced to half inch thick or diced to half inch cubes
  • 1 apple – diced to cubes
  • 1 chicken breast – diced

Sweet potatoe can be sliced or diced to cubes and steamed on high for 15 minutes. Put diced apple and chicken on another plate and steamed for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Put all cooked ingredients along with the liquid from steaming in blender and blend to desired consistency.

What is your baby’s favourite food(s) so far?

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17 thoughts on “Baby Food – Part 1 (with a recipe!)

  1. T’s first favourite food was steamed asparagus in its natural, solid form. We did baby-led weaning with her, and just started it with S who turns 6 months next week. We never pureed anything – much easier for us, and for babies too because they learn early to self-feed and to chew / gum their foods. T actually disliked mushy foods as a baby; she wasn’t into bananas, avocados, mashed sweet potatoes, etc.

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  2. One thing I wish we’d started earlier with T is added spiciness. She can only tolerate the mildest spicy foods right now and that’s a bummer to J and me who love spicy foods ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Hi Emily, these are both good points with the no puree and spicy food! Mine also doesn’t like bananas but he was ok with sweet potatoes – i guess for its sweetness. I gave baby mint chocolate ice cream the other day and he made a funny face but was asking for more after the first taste. I guess I can introduce some spicy a little later. Do you just cook foods really soft for them to eat in the beginning? How about meat?

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  3. Haha, mint chocolate! T has no objections to ice cream whatsoever ๐Ÿ˜›

    Hmm… soft, but firm enough to hold in hand without automatically becoming mushy. We either steam or roast, depending on what the food is.

    With T, we started with hard-boiled eggs, and later fried/scrambled (it’s weird, Chinese ppl say to give egg white first, and non-Chinese ppl say egg yolk first. I can’t remember which we gave T first, but she has no food allergies so everything’s fine). After eggs, it might’ve been fish or chicken but I can’t remember.

    T didn’t like meat of any kind — other than eggs — until she was almost two yrs old… probably a texture thing? She now loves meat. In the beginning we gave her ground meats, and also thin slices of cooked meat that she could gnaw on. She’s always been good with chewing and not choking though, otherwise we’d have held off on the thin slices of meat.

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    • Yes, I started with egg yolk first but then my pediatrician said the whole egg is fine. I think the difference is the egg white contains other types of protein which may cause allergy so it’s suggested to try egg yolk first. I haven’t heard about Chinese people saying to give egg white first.. I think back in the day, they just gave us whatever they ate. It seems food allergy is more prevalent now than before. I have yet to try peanut butter :).

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  4. Thanks for this great post! I have been pureeing food since he started solids on day 1. Mainly so that I can control what I put in his food. Also, baby food, in order to survive a shelf life of 1-2 years, needs to be processed in high heat. This can inactivate some nutrients. Although it is a good idea to buy a few jars for travelling etc., If you buy Heinz brand, this recall came out yesterday http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/heinz-canada-recalls-baby-food-due-to-packaging-defect-1.1721784

    I puree all my baby food with similac formula instead of water. I find that it tastes a lot better than water, as the formula has a bit of sweetness to it. Also, baby can get more nutrients.

    J loved all the orange root veggies, and didn’t like the greens all that much. The thing is, there are not many options for greens. Green peas (he refused and hated!!!), zucchini (so-so), spinach (mild dislike). What greens have you tried for D when he was about 6-8 months?

    In terms of meat, chicken is the easiest to eat. Veal we have tried and it is hard to make because it is very tough in nature, no matter how much we puree, it is still tough. Does your baby eat any other kind of meat, other than chicken?

    Thanks so much for the website link. Very resourceful!! and your sweet potato, apple and chicken recipe sounds yummy. I will give it a try after he finishes his current butternut squash-chicken zucchini =)

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    • Thanks for your support, Gracie! I heard about the recent recall of Heinz pouch food too. I haven’t bought much baby food now.. mainly just bring crackers as snack for outing.

      Such a great idea about mixing formula into the baby food – especially if you are exclusively bf-ing and have formula samples! I used to mix rice cereal in the beginning with all his baby food.

      I think green peas doesn’t taste good on its own.. it is good with potatoes – classic green peas and potatoe and meat dinner. However, you will find that they will love green peas again when they are able to pick their own food. I mainly give broccoli and spinach. When I first introduced zucchini, there was no bowel movement for 3 days! So I held off until recently when he can eat almost anything. Broccoli is his favourite finger food now. I haven’t tried veal but as for beef, it really needs to be pureed but it never goes smooth due to its complex texture.

      Turkey and pork (tenderloin) are also good choices for meat.

      I have given this link to another friend when she first started solids but really never spammed everyone. If you have other mommy friends, please feel free to forward my blog to them ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. One question I just thought of…. do you give D any water before/ after meals? Just curious because my doctor never mentioned to give any, just that he should have formula/ breast milk at every meal.

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    • Yes, my pediatrician said just give milk but I find they sometimes want to drink water rather than milk. It also helps to prevent constipation or help them swallow the food.

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  6. Funny. Apparently S’s favourite first solid food is also steamed asparagus, same as T. What’s up with that? (Not that I’m complaining!). Maybe something to do with asparagus spears being easy to hold?

    And that’s true… all these food allergies weren’t a big deal back then. Never heard of them until I was in grade 4. I think we gave T peanut butter when she was around one year old. Have you ever tried sunflower seed butter? So delicious, even better than peanut butter IMHO.

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    • I have tried almond butter but not sunflower seed. I find it heavier than peanut butter. Let me go find it at the grocery next time! Thanks for the info!

      Not sure why baby still choks on vegetable sometimes and throws up when he choks.. I guess he is eating too fast.

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      • Forgot to answer re: choking.

        Do you spoon-feed, or let him self-feed? The key with baby-led weaning is self-feeding… let baby decide how much to eat at a time, how fast to eat, and how to eat. Neither T nor S has ever choked on anything even though we give them solid, non-pureed foods.

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      • Mine tends to eat fast.. he would stuff all the food in his mouth and sometimes not chew then causes him to chok…and sometimes throw up. I guess he has more mushy food that doesn’t require much chewing and not enough chances to eat more food which requires chewing.. i want to wait until he has molars to give him more chew-foods

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  7. As for green peas, you can try adding spices or herbs to them. e.g. mint, garlic powder, lemon juice, lemon thyme. Or cooked in a bit of broth. We started adding spices when T was maybe 8-9 months old?

    Frozen peas is also liked by little kids, though we never tried it until T was much older since I’m not a fan of raw veggies.

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  8. I tossed out or donated all formula samples. Have you ever tasted that stuff? So nasty ๐Ÿ˜› I’d tried a bit out of curiosity, thinking it’d taste like malted milk (hahaha), but… yuck.

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    • Yes, formula tastes metallic .. not good. Baby didn’t like it when transition from breastmilk but he drank it afterwards as he had no choice ๐Ÿ˜› Now I don’t have anymore samples and he is onto whole milk.

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