{into the mouth of babes} New Series: Musings on Feeding Baby

April 26, 2010

So, have you caught on? I don’t believe in baby food anymore. I mean, I believe in feeding babies. (You see those chubby hands? They belong to a little someone who feasts in my kitchen.) I’m just not into making separate batches of special baby food. Instead, my littlest one, who started solids two weeks ago, gets a pureed version of whatever the rest of us are eating. Or, if there’s something in our food I’d rather he not eat yet (eg, bacon, hot pepper), I steam and puree some veg from our meal and mix with herbs, spices, grated cheese or yogurt.

Instances when I feed the Hungry Baby select ingredients from our meal are not about avoiding high allergen foods or maintaining slow food introductions. I’m over that, folks. And, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, given that he has no personal or family history of allergies, I have good reason to be. See, in 2008, the AAP released a clinical report that indicated there is no proven benefit in delaying solids—even high allergen foods–beyond 4 to 6 months. (Note that the report does not suggest solids be introduced before 4-6 months. Also, honey and foods that should be avoided during pregnancy—cured and raw meats, raw eggs, unpasteurized cheese and so on—should not be given to beginner eaters.) So, with the exception of recipes that are particularly rich, have meat, excess butter or oil and other things that I see no reason to put in the Hungry Baby’s little body, I’m going for it.

Since I hope more people who cook healthy meals made with natural, whole ingredients will consider this approach, I don’t plan on posting formal “baby food” recipes. Instead, I’ll post a little something here and there noting what the Hungry Baby has been eating. Just look for {into the mouth of babes} before a post title. (FYI: I’ll file these posts in “food for thought,” “nutrition” and “parenting.”) I hope my musings inspire you to get adventurous with your baby, too.

Oh, and, as for the age categories on the rest of my recipes…

They are a general guideline for those still interested in a more conservative approach to food introductions. You can read more about those age guidelines here (scroll to the bottom of the page).

7 Responses

  1. Kerrie says:

    I’m so glad you posted this — at about a month into my daughters’ journey into solid foods I’m already finding myself exhausted by the time-consuming and exhausting logistics of preparing and freezing enough cubes for two babies who are rapidly requiring even more and more. I remember how much I devoted to preparing meals for my son, and I think retreading that ground may be the end of me! While my father-in-law is allergic to fish and egg whites, my husband, my son, and I are in the clear re: allergies…. so are you saying that, at least in such a case, forgetting that four- or five-day wait rule for introducing new foods is generally fine? (I did throw that out the window at some point for my son — I mean, these kids will never get around to anything that way!) The prospect of just blending up a few age-appropriate ingredients from my own meal is so much more attractive than the neverending cube process — I even just ordered an immersion blender!

  2. Rosie says:

    Love your philosophy on this and I did the same thing with my, now 2-yr old, when she was about 5 months. I’ll never forget how shocked people were when I told them I’ve never purchased a jar of traditional baby food-instead just pureeing everything we ate with slight modifications. As a result, she is a hearty, healthy eater that eats the same dinner that we serve ourselves. Granted, there are times when she acts her age and doesn’t like something that she ate just last week but that is to be expected for someone asserting her independence.

  3. One Hungry Mama says:

    Thanks, Rosie. I, too, have never given either of my boys jarred food. The older guy tried a couple of the frozen organic brands back when I was researching for ChowBaby foods. But, other than that, it’s all me and, as he got older, of course, restaurant food.

    Kerrie: you’re feeding two! What fun… and a challenge! I can totally understand why you can’t go through the same process you did the first time. I feel that way and only have one little one on baby food. As for the wait rule, that actually has no medical/heath value for the child whatsoever. The suggestion to wait a few days is about helping parents isolate which foods are the cause if there is a reaction.

    Since there is a family history of food allergies, you should talk to your pediatrician about how to make feeding more manageable (though, I’m sure you’ve done that before). If I were you, I’d just go for it. But you know that I”m more liberal than most. That said, given the family history, I would skip the few day wait rule EXCEPT when you feed a high-allergen food. That way you can take it slowly and see if there is a reaction. You may also want to hold off though, my pediatrician has said (and the research suggests) that waiting isn’t likely to have any healthy benefit. In fact, you may want to identify the allergy early so that you can safely accommodate your baby’s (babies’) dietary needs.

    Hope this is helpful. And hope you’re doing well!

  4. nyc_via_pdx says:

    A great book that covers first foods is Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck. She has three of the healthiest wee ones I’ve ever met and I love her down to earth approach to real food.

  5. One Hungry Mama says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, nyc_via_pdx!

  6. CP says:

    You do not need to puree any food for your baby. They can literally eat directly from the table from the very beginning. Of course, you’ll still want to start with soft foods. If a baby can sit upright and pick up and bring food to their mouth with their own hands, they can eat finger foods. Many 6 month olds can do this, other babies will start at 8 or 10 months. You do not need to start solids until 12 months really. Skipping purees altogether is called Baby-Led Weaning.

  7. One Hungry Mama says:

    Thanks for this comment. Yes, I’m familiar with the baby led weaning movement and understand that those who adopt this approach skip pureeing. I didn’t do this with either of my children (though my second was eating soft finger foods by 8 mos), but think it’s a very interesting approach. Those who are interested in learning more can start: http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/babyledweaning.htm.

    The one thing I want to clarify is that though children don’t need to start solids until 12 months nutritionally speaking (ie, their complete nutritional needs are met by breast milk and/or formula until 12 mos), it is important to begin solids before then. The first 6 or so months of eating (from about 6-12 mos old) are an important time for the development of the fine and gross motor skills that go into eating and feeding oneself. (For example, evelopmental delays in the way the mouth and tongue move to masticate food may lead to speech issues.) And that’s not to mention the social aspect of bringing baby to the table. So, I’d encourage anyone interested in BLW to research how they can do it safely starting no later than 6-8 months old.

    Thanks!

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