A Little About Me

New York, New York
As a newly married woman, it has become my mission in life to learn how to cook. Gone are the days of picking up sushi and ordering curries. In order to jump-start my education, I enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education's Fine Cooking I course where I learned the basics, from roasting to boiling to mousse-making (ok, maybe not that basic)! I've attempted to replicate some recipes - somewhat successfully- and create a few of my own. This blog is for friends and foodies and is intended to document my cooking adventures (and occasional fiascoes). Enjoy the pictures and bon appetite!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Baby Food Making 101

Don't worry, just because I recently had twins, doesn't mean this blog is about to only feature mashed up baby food recipes! However, I thought I'd dedicate a post to Baby Food Introduction and Making 101, in case there are any new and confused parents out there who are looking for some helpful hints the way I was!

In general, infants are ready to begin their foray into solids somewhere between 4 and 6 months of age. Our pediatrician ok-ed them once they were able to hold their heads up on their own and showed increased interest in watching us eat and drink. (aka they tried to grab my glass out of my hand as it made its way to my mouth!) Around 6 months is also when the tongue thrust reflex starts to disappear, a reflex which causes the tongue to push out objects placed in the mouth to prevent choking.

The first foods ("Stage 1") for babies need to be soft, thin, strained and puree... similar in texture to breastmilk or formula. You'll know it's the right consistency if you turn the spoon upside down and it drips off. Some of the most popular Stage 1 foods include rice cereal, bananas, sweet potatoes and avocados! I don't know if this is necessarily true, but I've read that it's best not to start off with fruit, because then your child's palate will prefer sweet foods. For me, sweet potatoes seemed like the perfect choice. They were sweet, though not as sweet as fruit, and have tons of flavonoids like beta-carotene and vitamin A!

If you're going to try and make your own baby food, it's best to make it in bulk and freeze it in large batches using the ice cube tray method, which I found extremely easy and resourceful! Here's how I made my girls' first meal:

Start by buying some fresh, organic if available, sweet potatoes, butternut squash or yams in your local supermarket or farmer's market.

Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes well, prick with a fork, wrap in aluminum foil and stick in the oven at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are very soft. Let them cool.

Scrape out the flesh and toss into a food processor. Make sure the equipment has been washed well to prevent contaminating the food with any bacteria.

Puree well and add either water, breastmilk or formula to thin out the sweet potatoes. Seeing as how I was already giving my girls formula, I thought adding formula to the puree would not only give it a familiar taste, but provide some extra nutrition! Make sure there are absolutely no chunks in the puree, since new eaters may choke. The puree should be served warm. Make sure there are no heat pockets that will burn your babies' sensitive mouth.

To save all the food, I used the ice cube tray method which involved pouring the puree into an ice cube tray (wrap it in saran wrap to prevent freezer burn) and leaving it there until completely frozen. Once frozen, remove all the cubes (to get them out, flip the tray upside down and run some warm water over the bottom to loosen the cubes) and placed them in a freezer bag.... make sure it's a freezer bag and not a sandwich bag. Lastly, make sure to label the bag with the type of food (since orange cubes can get mistakes for several things) and the date made so you know when it's time to toss it (usually 2-3 months after making it.)

In the very beginning, solids should not replace bottles or breast milk. After offering the normal feeding, then offer an ounce or two of solids so that your child can experiment with textures and flavors, and basically learn how to swallow their food.

Your babies might love solids and grab the spoon to feed themselves, like mine did, or they might push the food out of their mouths. If they do that, don't be discouraged, sometimes it takes a while for them to get used to it. If your child turns their head when you offer the spoon or close their mouths, don't force it on them. If they don't want to eat, wait a few days and try again! Eating is a learning process and before you know it they'll be eating entire meals!

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