As a parent of three kids ages preschool to teen, I look back and realize just how important — and, frankly, how simple — feeding my kids was when they were babies and toddlers. I had so much more control back then. I was in charge of all of their meals, of every fragment of food that entered their world. They were too small to sidle up to a school snack bar, be influenced by their best friends; indeed, they hardly ever ate a meal that I didn’t prepare.
It has been shown that children tend to form long-term likings for certain foods and flavors based on their earliest years of eating, and infants tend to be more amenable to trying new foods than their scarcely senior toddler and preschool siblings. These are all good reasons we should feed our babies fresh, delicious, real food from the moment they first seize a spoon.
Homemade baby food is generally more nutritious and tastier than commercially processed food if it is fresh and made from whole foods and nothing else. When cooked in bulk, it is cheaper than commercial options. And you can control the quality of ingredients when you make your own. Seems like homemade baby food is a no-brainer.
Oh wait, it takes time! This is true, but just like any meal, some homemade baby food is better than none. So try making a little bit and see how it goes. In fact, mashed fresh avocado or banana would make a perfect first food, with no cooking required.
How will you know whether your baby is ready for solid foods? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, she may be ready if she shows interest in the solid food around her, can sit up with support, is able to turn her head to refuse food and has doubled her birth weight (usually at about 4 to 6 months). Always consult your pediatrician, as babies grow at different rates.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN
Vegetables and fruits
Worried about allergies? Introduce one food at a time, and wait at least four days before introducing another. Common problem foods: cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, soy, nuts, shellfish and artificial additives. Shellfish and honey should be avoided until at least a year.
First published in the Washington Post on Thursday, October 22, 2015.