Last summer at my baby shower, one of the games that my cousin organized was the blindfolded baby food game. You know, the one where the participants taste the baby food and have to guess what it is…
Yeah. Well, we made the guys in attendance be the guinea pigs. We all know how it ended: grimaces and choking dramatics. But from that, I remember one of my brothers asking, “and you’re going to feed that stuff to the baby?”

AdvocadoAnd right after he asked that, I’m pretty sure I chimed in and said something about my desire to make my own baby food, following the lead of several of my friends.

I vividly remember getting a few chuckles and even a pessimistic, “Sure…we’ll see how long that idea lasts.”

Last weekend, we officially introduced avocados, marking Jack’s first foray into homemade organic baby food.

And survey says…it was a success!

So, here we are, some 10 months later and I am, indeed, making the baby food just like I had hoped.
And dudes? It’s much easier than I imagined.

According to Foodtimeline.org,

Up until the middle of the 19th century [in industrialized nations] infant food was generally made at home. Food historians generally agree that manufactured baby food, as we know it today, was a byproduct of the European Industrial Revolution. The first mass-produced baby foods were invented by scientists/nutrition experts and manufactured in the mid-19th century by innovative companies.

Generally speaking, commercially packaged baby food is a modern convenience, spawned by the venerable Gerber company. By the time baby boomers were having kids, commercial baby foods were a staple of the infant diet. From my research I found,

Baby food is a $1.25 billion a year industry in the United States. Just three companies–Gerber, Beech-Nut and Heinz–control over 95% of the market.

Quite honestly, perhaps due to my grandma’s old school influence, I don’t think we even had store-bought baby food back then. As babies, our menus consisted of porridge and Advocadomashed up vegetables. And so, can you imagine my excitement when I picked up Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food after a friend’s recommendation? Yaron’s book is quite possibly the bible to homemade baby food. It touts the ease, convenience and wholesomeness of making baby food at home with supplies you might already have. She overviews the significance of organics, how to cook, store and then freeze the homemade food into baby cubes. The book is a thorough reference to nutrition, different foods, recipes, as well as a plethora of other DIY tutorials, including recipes of porridge– the same food that I grew up eating. I still eat porridge whenever I’m sick!

As a DIYer and wannabe foodie, making baby food is hardly a far-fetched concept. For someone who only runs errands and drives on the weekends, the most time consuming aspect of the whole process was actually finding the car and then going to buy the vegetables (because I was too lazy to walk the 10 blocks.) For the most part, the gist of homemade baby food is shopping for economical quaAhhhhlity ingredients, mashing, steaming or cooking and then storing. It saves money and definitely not as time-consuming if you know your way around the kitchen.

I’m not exactly sure how much commercial baby food costs, other than the cereals I’ve bought, but I’m imagining each jar/package is somewhere in the dollar range. For about $5, I bought a bag of carrots, a Japanese Sweet Potato and a Yam at the organic store. After doing several batches last night, if I did my math correctly, I have almost 2 months worth of baby food. As I said before, I’m not against the prepackaged baby food at all. But, if I’m going to be cooking for my family anyway, why not go an extra step and cook for the kid, too? Not to mention, it’s much easier to control costs and minimize unnecessary packaging to make the food myself. There are various benefits of making the food at home.

Since we’re doing organic food, I know exactly what I’m buying; thus, I know exactly what he’s eating. We’re observing the 4-day wait rule so, besides avocado he’s only had the Japanese Sweet Potato. But based on his flailing arms and legs and his very wide mouth every time he saw the spoon, SweetJeff helping out with the baby food Potato was a success too.

The cooking part was the most seamless. (Well, almost.) Cooking and baking, to me, is another creative outlet. Besides washing dishes, being in the kitchen is fun for me. I read that steaming retains the most nutritional value of vegetables. There really isn’t much brainpower involved– or so I thought.

In my steamer, while we ate dinner, I steamed a Japanese Sweet Potato and Yam together for 35 minutes. Once they were finished, they were mushy enough to slice into cubes and plop into our mini Cusinart. Jeff felt that “pushing the button was the fun part.” After two minutes of pureeing, I was ready to scoop. While I scooped the sweet potato and yam into their containers, I decided to steam carrots to make a 3rd batch of veggies.

baby cubes

What I failed to do was add more water TO the steamer. Not so surprisingly, 15 minutes into the scooping, we started to smell burning paper. We looked around to make sure we weren’t catching the kitchen on fire.

And then the lightbulb went off.

Steamer was out of water.

Shit.

Jeff lifted the steamer portion to reveal what we already knew: I had successfully burned boiling water like a jackass.

Mental note: you need water to steam vegetables in a steamer.

Concerned about our precious freezer space and constant lack of ice cubes, I chose to buy 2 different types of storage/freezing options. I bought the plastic Baby Cubes as well as a silicone ice cube tray ($10 for 2.) While the Baby Cubes, in theory, are a great option ($5 for 10 ), I don’t think they’re the best route for us. I like how they’re silicone ice trayBPA-free individual closing containers, but I don’t like how I more than likely would have to buy more than one set in order to make the food in batches.

Jeff walked into the kitchen when I was making “silicone ice cube tray and bottle nipple stew.” I was actually sterilizing all of the above, but still, he thought it was hilarious to see me “cooking” the baby paraphernalia. Once I was finished cooking the trays and let them cool, I scooped the pureed yams into the ice tray. It almost felt as though I was painting the food into each respective cube. And for the most part, the trays held so much more food than the aforementioned cubes. But best of all, the silicone trays are literally and figuratively more flexible and conducive to batch storage.

In a way, making Jack’s food is redemption for my inability to be around as often during the work week. While nothing can replace my physical presence as his mother, I know in my heart that I am doing something for him that will hopefully go on to reinforce a love for delicious and nutritious food.

yum yum

Passed on by some friends and found from a few searches, here are some helpful links on homemade baby food:

Wholesome Baby Food
Organic Homemade baby food

Super baby food
Cusinart Baby

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