Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Importance of a Variety of Healthy, Colorful Foods for Baby

I have always had the notion that fresh foods are best for all people. Although, our busy and chaotic lives often make it extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to make healthy meals. First off, let me say that I am no food guru. While growing up, raised by a single mom with two jobs, she had very little time (and to be honest, no interest) in concocting the latest cullinary cuisine. But, I have to give her some props because we almost always had a healthy meal. We ate a lot of baked boneless skinless chicken breast and a lot of veggies. Once in a while we had a side of pasta or rice. Looking back on my childhood meals prepared by mom I can say two things: One- Our meals were very healthy and trained me to make wise food choices; And Two- Many of our meals were mundane and boring! (I love you Mom!)

Long before the meals that I can remember my mom was laying the foundation of my taste buds and love for a variety of foods and textures. As an infant and toddler, whatever the family was having eat that is what I also ate. Mom blended the family's meal up for me. Roast beef- plunk, carrots- plunk, potatoes- plunk--Blend and PRESTO... homemade baby food! Mom followed many of the guidelines found in Vicky Lasky's book, Feed Me! I'm Yours. What I great book! I picked up a copy for myself for a whopping 25 cents at a baby resale.

Anyways, since starting Bryce on solids at 6 months of age we have been preparing his food. While we are not quite to the stage of him eating the same meal as mama and papa, we do share some of the same foods. For instance, last night I baked a butternut squash and all three of us had some for dinner. I know what some of you might be thinking-- we're crazy and we must have too much time on our hands. While the crazy part may be true, I can assure you that the latter is not! Truthfully, it does not take much time or effort to clean, prepare, and freeze and store homemade baby food. It really feels so good knowing exactly what I'm putting in his lil' mouth is good for him. As Bryce's reperatoire of food expands our concoctions are becoming more exotic and exciting. Once he can start eating dairy- yogurt, cheese, tofu... no cow's milk for a while- the combinations are going to be endless.

I stumbled across a TIME magazine article this evening about the Feeding Infants, and Toddlers Study (FITS), conducted in 2002 by Mathematica Policy Research and sponsored by Gerber Products Co. Taken from the TIME article, the following stats blow my mind. "Babies and toddlers are also learning early on to indulge their sweet tooth. FITS found that 10% of 4-to-6-month-olds consume desserts, sweets or sweetened beverages daily." Even more disturbing, "A quarter of 9-to-11-month-olds [who participated in the study] do not routinely consume even one helping of vegetables a day. " It's a very interesting article, so check it out.

If you're looking for more information on the benefits of making your own baby food, or tips on when and how to get started, visit a couple of my favorite baby foodie Web sites:

Ooo I also want to add... breast milk should be the primary source of nutrition for babies through 12 months of age, or longer.

Happy blending, chopping and freezing to all the mamas (and the papas)!

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