Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Baby foods

There are many commercially produced baby foods available these days. I used to, occasionally, buy the fruit purees for my children when they were babies, but having tasted the bottled ‘dinners’ once, I never bought them again. Cereals are the exception to my ‘home-cooked only’ rule; they are the correct consistency and texture (according to age) and are usually fortified with various vitamins and minerals.

Babies often prefer bland tasting foods and it is really easy to prepare fruit and vegetables for them at home. By cooking at home you have complete control over the amount of salt and/or sugar added, plus the added bonus of the food containing no preservatives, flavourants or colourants.

To begin with, a baby will probably take no more than 2 to 3 teaspoons of ‘solids’ at one time. Obviously, you won’t want to cook that quantity fresh every day, but you can successfully freeze tiny portions in an ice-cube tray. One vegetable I don’t like to freeze is potato. To me, it develops an unpalatable flavour when it is frozen or refrigerated, but you can overcome this by mixing half potato with half sweet potato.

When first introducing ‘solids’, it is probably best to start with root vegetables, although some people do introduce fruit initially, apples and pears often being the favourites. Breast milk and formulas are both sweet, so babies will readily accept fruit, but there are long-term advantages to getting them accustomed to savoury flavours first. Carrots and butternut are both naturally sweet, and most babies will enjoy them.
Broccoli and cauliflower are strong flavours perhaps best kept for bigger babies.

If you feel you must use commercial baby food, then try to buy ‘organic’, and always check the nutrition label and contents. The contents of all food products is always listed from most to least, so if you are buying strained carrot, then carrot should be the first item on the list. And hopefully salt, sugar and fillers will not be included at all.

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