By Julia Vinokur


When my eldest daughter was ready for solids, I decided that she would eat only home-prepared food. It was very tempting for me to go to the local store and buy different jars of baby food: fast and easy. The problem was that I was very skeptical about jar food. Not relying on blind trust, I would ask questions such as:


•Where did they get their fruits and veggiesetables?


•How long ago were they picked?


• How much nutritional value was left after they went through

the pasteurization process?


•Who cooked them, when and how?

•What additives were used in the process?

My position was that since my husband and I did not eat any processed jar food on a daily basis, why would I give it to my babies?

When time came to introduce solids for kids, I turned to my mom’s and grandma’s experience, and started experimenting. First of all, I bought this wonderful product called the KidCo Food Mill. I have no doubt there are other similar products out there, but this one served me well, and made my baby food preparation easier. You can find it at www.amazon.com or www.ebay.com. It is very cheap and simple to use, easy to set up, allows you to prepare small portions of baby food, does not take a lot of space, and disassembles very easily for cleaning.

412_79218_2123584_498526Vegetables

I would take some vegetables, like organic zucchini or squash, cook them slowly untill it a bit soft, and mill them. I was giving them to my daughters mixed with breast milk at first, and then with broth or chicken stock that I prepared for the whole family.

Meat

I would mill a small amount of cooked meat and mix it with some breast milk. Once my daughters got used to the texture, I started mixing it with broth. I started with chicken at first, than introduced beef and lamb. When my older daughter was 11 months old, she tried her first lamb chop right off the bone, and she has loved it ever since.

Fish

When time came to introduce fish, I picked fresh wild cod. I either cooked it slowly in water or sautéed it. I never milled fish, just checked it for bones, and gave it to my daughter in tiny chunks. It served well as her first finger food. Then I introduced salmon. I always pick wild fish over farmed, preferably from a local source or the known region.

Fruits

22216692_mFruits were easy. I started with organic bananas. Milled it just a few times, and then switched to using a fork to make it a bit smushy with lumps. Again, great first finger food. Apples can irritate stomach easily, so I started with baked apples.

Just washed them and put them in the oven till they arewere soft. It actually could be a great desert for older kids when topped with some honey, raw pumpkin seeds and nuts. When my children were closer to 11-12 months, I started giving them berries, raw apples, pears, and grapefruits. Among all the citrus fruits, grapefruits cause no stomach irritation, therefore are best for small babies.

Grains

I am not in favor of grains.  However, if cooked properly and consumed in the small amounts by a healthy child, they could be beneficial.  At about 11-12 months I introduced regular grains: rolled oats, rice and buckwheat. I would always soak them overnight in plain water, then cooked them and served mixed with organic butter. I cooked rice and buckwheat in homemade broth or stock to add a bit more taste, nutrients and minerals.

 Dairy

I never gave my children cows milk. I find it very hard to find a good quality cows milk nowadays: it is all pasteurized (or even worse, ultra pasteurized) and homogenized, and loaded with poor quality vitamins, such as D2 and D3 (first is toxic, second is not absorbed properly). I started buying cultured goat milk, or kefir. It is easily digestible, has probiotics that are beneficial for our gut flora, vitamin C (replenished by good bacteria after pasteurization), easily absorbed Calcium and other minerals.

My older daughter loved it from the beginning, but it was harder with my younger one. It took about 2 moths for her to get used to its sour taste. Now she is a big fan. I introduced yogurts (plain, organic, non-homogenized milk), farmer’s cheese, and home made mozzarella cheese at around 9 months. If you have a source of unhomognized goat milk – great. Otherwise, cultured milk products are better all-around.

Superfoods

Egg yolk.  I started serving my daughters egg yolk at 7-8 months of age – first mixed with breast milk, then with broth.  Eggs are one of the best brain foods, full of EPA, DHA, and Omega 3 fatty acids.   When preparing eggs, I never boil them until firm – when the eggs are no longer runny, all the beneficial components loose its properties.  Organic/local eggs are obviously better.

Cod Liver Oil.  Introduced at around 1o months with a tiny drop, making sure there are no allergic reactions. Increased to 1/2 tea spoon by 18 months.  Kids now love it (and also like fish as a result, since the taste of it is very familiar to them since early childhood). 

Butter (grass fed cows).  Has vitamins A, D, beneficial fatty acids. Started to give at about 9 months by mixing with meat.  My kids prefer sea salted butter, will happily consume it without any condiments or bread.

Broth or Stock.  Mineral-rich bone broth (or stock) has a lot of the minerals–sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur–that are available in ready-to-use ionized, easily digestible form.   I introduced it plain at around 7 months and used later for mixing with meat, egg yolk, and cooked vegetables.  I also use it to cook rice, buckwheat, soups and sauces.  For cooking broth or stock, I buy organic (or better grass fed) marrow bones and organic (or free range) chicken.  Can be frozen in BPA-free pastic bags or glass containers, and defrosted when you need to make soup in the coming days.  

Older Kids


When our daughters got closer to 11-12 months of age, my rule was to give them the same food that I would cook for the whole family. If we had soup for lunch, they would too. I just did not season it as much while cooking. If we ate meat with salad for dinner, they would too. I would mill it at first, and later just cut into pieces. Cooking one meal for the whole family saved a lot of time.

Eating out was the same – most restaurants have fish, meat and vegetables on the menu, and that’s infinitely better than a kid’s burger, mac and cheese, or french fries. Most portions in the US are much larger than you need anyway, so feeding the kids what was on my plate was both economical and healthy.

Baby meals could sound overwhelming. But with just a bit of an effort, cooking for them could become a nice habit that would allow you to save some money, eliminate stress related to how to feed each member of your family, and would allow everyone to enjoy one meal during a family gathering. The healthy habits you instill in your kids early will last you through years of childhood and possibly adolescence, so the small early challenges do pay off in the long run!