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Archive for Monday, September 14, 2009

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Outside the jar: Parents find success making homemade baby food

September 14, 2009

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Depending on your baby’s particular tastes, a healthy and tasty meal can be made by pureeing many kinds of vegetables, fruits or various combinations of the two.

Depending on your baby’s particular tastes, a healthy and tasty meal can be made by pureeing many kinds of vegetables, fruits or various combinations of the two.

A good first step is to cut up pieces of fruit or vegetables and place them in a food processor.

A good first step is to cut up pieces of fruit or vegetables and place them in a food processor.

Next blend or puree the vegetables or fruit.

Next blend or puree the vegetables or fruit.

Finally, spoon the processed baby food into ice cube trays to be frozen and later thawed when desired.

Finally, spoon the processed baby food into ice cube trays to be frozen and later thawed when desired.

When it came time for Chelsea Hibbard’s son, Ben, to start solid foods, she didn’t reach for a jar and a spoon.

No, she plugged in the food processor, threw in some fresh ingredients and pureed away.

Breakfast in an instant — nearly as fast as popping the top of a commercial baby food jar, though albeit a bit more noisy.

Now, as Ben approaches 9 months since his birth at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the Lenexa mom is still making his food at home. And Ben is lapping it up, each pureed dish at a time.

“When it came time to start solids with Ben, it was really a no-brainer for us,” says Hibbard, whose son was diagnosed with gastrointestinal problems at a month old. “Couple his stomach problems with our new knowledge about pesticides and hormones in food, and my husband and I didn’t have to discuss it for more than a minute’s time before the decision was made — Ben would get homemade, organic foods.”

That “no-brainer” decision is becoming an increasingly popular one, says Ruth Yaron, author of “Super Baby Food,” the top-selling book on the subject, now in its 25th printing since 1996. Yaron wrote the book after raising three sons on homemade food that she served them after, like Hibbard, struggling with infant health problems.

“When my twins were born ... they were like 9 1/2 weeks premature,” Yaron says. “In the health food store, which was kind of a rarity back then (in the 1980s), very few people went, there were some books on how to feed babies. You should see my guys now, you could never tell.”

So, how is the food made? Anyone with a blender, food processor or food mill can make it, Yaron says. Just steam foods and puree them with a little bit of water added.

Yaron recommends freezing the puree in ice cube trays and defrosting cubes at each meal. She says that each cube is equal to an ounce of food.

Lawrence mom Jenn Hethcoat made her own adaptations for her son, now 3.

“He was a really big kid and a really big eater,” Hethcoat says. “The whole ice cube tray did not go (well) with me. That wasn’t enough food. So, I had the little half-cup size Tupperware containers. ... That’s what I froze, and then it stacked really well in the freezer.”

Hethcoat says she has those containers ready for a few months from now when she’ll need them again — she’s due with her third child in October. She says that while raising three kids and wrangling a food processor may sound like a lot of work, it’s not, and it’s worth it for the amount of money she has saved, as well as her peace of mind. In fact, she’s not sure why it’s not a more popular part of motherhood.

“I don’t think that people probably think it’s more expensive (making it yourself). I think they maybe don’t even think about it — ‘This is what you do, you buy baby food at the store,’” Hethcoat says. “I think people look at it like some big process they have to go through, when it’s not. I think that’s probably the biggest misconception, that it’s difficult or time-consuming and it’s really just that not that much, I don’t think.”

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