I often share my thoughts on “food for babies” with the women attending my pregnancy and mom & baby yoga classes. Many new moms tell me how helpful it’s been as a guide. I’m not sure what possessed me to document what we started feeding our first baby, but I’m glad I did because it was an easy guide to follow when it came time to feeding our twins.
We decided to make all our own baby food (organic if possible) after having a discussion with friends about nutrition. The thought was that as adults we had already spoiled or abused our system with not so healthy food choices, but with a baby their pallet and digestive system is clean and untainted.
In the beginning it was daunting to make all the food, but after a few months of experimenting I got a system down that became easy. I liked knowing exactly what my baby was eating and I was also able to monitor if there were any reactions to foods. Our efforts in the first two years created some good eating habits. My kids eat a wide range of foods now, are willing to try new things, and they are starting to make some cool choices about what they eat! One of our twins prefers salads to desserts. The other twin prefers light foods and lots of fruit. And our first daughter eats anything.
For the first two years, I really tried to limit the amount of sugar they had. I didn’t give them any fruit juice or sodas, only water and whole milk. For the most part, I baked all my own cakes and cookies. I did use sugar in baking but would cut the amount down by a quarter to half. I preferred to make something like banana bread with very ripe bananas.
Once our girls started preschool, I had to give up a lot of control because they were offered fruit juice, snacks and the usual holiday treats at Valentine’s, Halloween, Christmas, etc. Although the idea of candy, cake and sweets is very appealing – they are first in line for cake at a birthday party – I can pretty much guarantee that after half a piece of cake they’ll say, “Mom, it’s too sweet.” I still make a lot of my own cookies and have an amazing (sugar-packed) brownie recipe that I’ll share in the recipe section soon. When I buy food from the supermarket, I try to stay away from corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, MSG and any product with ingredients so long I feel like I’m reading a book.
We try to buy as much organic food as possible. It is more expensive, but we believe it’s worth it. It’s much easier now than when we started because many supermarkets, like Safeway, have their own organic range of foods. In Honolulu, Down to Earth has veggies and good bulk items (rice, oats etc), Kokua has lots of locally grown veggies and a wide range of free-range and organic meat products (chicken, turkey, beef), Whole Foods has great specialty items, and even Costco has an expanding range of organic products.
In next month’s blog post, I’ll present my guide to starting babies on food. I’ll share the beginning weeks and experiences of feeding food at six months old. I’ll also be posting some tasty, easy recipes that we still feed our kids today.
The most important thing for new parents is that you look at the time you have and the resources around you (ie. your food budget and available food stores). There are good readymade baby foods. Try supplementing some of these products with homemade food, or you can try making all of your own food. Again, in the beginning it’s scary and daunting but after a while you’ll get into a groove and it’ll become second nature. What we feed our kids feeds their growth and sets up patterns for the rest of their lives.