We've begun our entry into the wide world of solid foods, and it is every bit as fun as I thought it would be to share new tastes with my daughter. What must it be like to taste a carrot for the very first time? Carrots, to us, are so commonplace. Ho-hum, a carrot. To her, it is an adventure, a new frontier!
We decided to start giving Anne solids because she had started staring us down while we were eating, and grabbing at food or water as we brought it to our mouths. Other great indicators of readiness are the ability to sit up unassisted, and the emergence of teeth (of which our girl has an adorable pair!). We're making our own food for the most part, because it seemed easier, cheaper, safer, and ultimately much more fun. And the timing couldn't have been more perfect, since seasonal eating will be easy as pie in the next few months.
So far, there's nothing she doesn't like. Including a lime (we were looking for a reaction, to no avail). and a spoonful of straight steamed kale (that was so bitter I wouldn't have eaten it). She's won the title of least picky eater in our house.
Here's the stuff that has made it easier for us in the baby food-making department:
1. Immersion blender.
This immersion blender (only $30 at Costco) comes with a tiny food processor attachment. Easy. So easy.
2. Steamer basket.
Perfect for cooking vegetables to puree-able consistency while maintaining their nutrients.
3. Plain ol' ice cube tray (with a lid).
You don't need a special silicone one that's manufactured for babies. The lid is nice, to keep things from getting in the cubes of purees, but I pop them out and store in freezer bags once they're frozen anyway; keeps them fresher (and easier to access).
4. Baby spoons. (Baby bowls? Not so much. I just use the smallest bowls from our normal dishes.)
5. A high chair.
One that clamps directly onto the counter or table is an awesome space-saver. Great for travel, too.
6. Mesh self-feeders for soft foods.
A chunk of frozen banana popped into the mesh part of one of these is food and teething soother all in one. Awesome. I've also put an ice cube made out of chamomile tea (supposed to help teething, too) in there for stroller rides on hot days. Baby popsicle.
I tried to do without buying baby cereal, thinking she could probably just eat the oats I bought for myself. Turns out, it's kind of hard to grind oats finely enough to make a baby cereal out of them, and cooked oats get really pasty when pureed. Easier just to buy a box of the baby oatmeal for now. It's great to thicken up thinner purees, and since it doesn't have to be cooked, I'd say it was worth the $3 I spent on it.
I also really like this baby food cookbook I was given at a shower last summer. It has a lot of good ideas and suggestions for what to introduce when (especially for allergy-prone kids). Mostly, though, I haven't been using recipes. I just take a little bit of whatever I'm cooking and mash it up before I season it. My favorite so far has been asparagus and roasted chicken. It was seriously good.
Baby Food: Carrots
(12 1-ounce servings)
6-8 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
Set a steamer basket over a pan of simmering water (or if you don't have a steamer, place the carrots directly in the water). Cover and steam for 20-25 minutes, or until very tender. Puree in a food processor or blender, adding some of the cooking liquid as needed to thin the mixture. Allow to cool before feeding or freezing.