Make Baby Food
Great! You want to learn how to make baby food. It's not difficult, it just takes a bit of planning and a few pieces of equipment. After a few days you'll be a pro.
I can think of 3 reasons why making your own baby food is superior to buying the stuff at the grocery store:
- Studies have shown that commercial baby food has lower nutrient content than homemade. By making your own you ensure baby gets fresh, wholesome, nutrient dense food that is not watered down and is free from fillers.
- Sometimes synthetic vitamins and minerals are added to commercial food but these are poor substitutes for the real thing as they can be hard to absorb - better to get real nutrients from real homemade foods.
- Your choice is limited at the store. By making your own you can offer a wider range of tastes, textures and nutrients.
But don't worry... if you don't have time to make your own, once you understand the nutrients needed for optimal growth you can learn how to supercharge commercial baby food to make it more nutrient-dense.
When choosing raw materials to make baby food, it's best to go organic for as much as you can.
Babies' systems are sensitive to pesticides and chemicals and they can trigger allergies and disrupt development. Studies have shown that adopting an organic diet does reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals.
If you don't want to make baby food or prefer to use commercial baby foods, I suggest you go organic (the ones in glass jars - as opposed to plastic - are best. There are also some good frozen foods now available as well).
Why? because many of the ingredients found in commercial baby foods are high on the Environmental Working Groups pesticide and/or GMO list and are thus more likely to trigger allergies.
What to offer
When starting out keep meals simple - one food at a time is best and look for reactions. Keep a chart to track which foods you have introduced.
Understanding food sensitivities is a must-know for parents! Many health complications can be avoided by paying attention to the early signs of food sensitivities
I don't recommend starting with grains, and here's why...
It is not necessary to offer commercial fortified baby cereal as long as you make sure baby is getting enough iron from other foods.
North America is one of the only parts of the world that introduces babies to grains right away. Health Canada has actually changed its recommendation to include all iron rich foods as baby's first food. (Here's my blog post about the most recent guidelines.)
Here's the abridged version of why I don't recommend starting with grain cereal...
If you work with the premise that nutrients, rather than convenience, should be the driving force behind choosing baby's first foods, then grains fall short.
In particular, we know that at around 6 months of age, when most babies are ready to start accepting solids, breast milk no longer supplies appropriate amounts of zinc and iron - nutrients that are critical to development.
Do grains contain zinc or iron? Not in significant amounts. Animal foods supply these in a readily digestible form, (along with essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins A and D, cholesterol, and saturated fat which are also critical at this age).
Grains became popular because they can be processed and fortified, which makes them convenient.
If you're willing to get into the kitchen to prepare iron and zinc rich foods, there's no need for fortified grain cereal.
Choose grass-fed meat as it contains higher amounts of essential fatty acids and no growth hormone or antibiotic residue. Omega 3, free range egg yolks provide fatty acids, cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins and choline.
If you'd rather not introduce meat, be sure to offer high iron fruits and vegetables and monitor for signs of anemia.