Welcome to the wonderful world of making solid food for your baby!
Whether you’re planning ahead or eager to start making purées
tomorrow, get ready for countless messy, surprising, rewarding, frustrating, and
hilarious experiences. Eating and sleeping are two of parents’ greatest
preoccupations during the first year of their baby’s life. While your child’s sleep
is largely out of your control, what you feed your baby is entirely—and usually
literally—in your hands.
All parents want to give their babies the healthiest possible start, and there’s
no better way to do that than by feeding them the most nutritious and delicious
foods on the planet. But while natural homemade fare may be the most
wholesome option for little ones (and big ones, too), not all parents feel they
have the time or energy to prepare baby food from scratch. That’s why so many
busy moms and dads find themselves resorting to prepackaged purées: They’re
fast, easy, and virtually mess-free.
Making your child’s meals in your very own kitchen is actually much easier
and less time-consuming than you might think. Whether you’re just introducing
your baby to solids or teaching your toddler the joys of feeding himself, this
book will help you prepare simple but flavorful everyday meals that can be
prepared and cooked in 30 minutes or less, and are a snap to store.
FRESH, FROZEN, OR CANNED?
Wondering how to choose among fresh, frozen, and canned foods?
Theoretically, fresh is the best—but not, as previously noted, when produce is
picked too early and shipped across several states (or even oceans) to reach your
table. In those cases, frozen fruits and veggies provide a surprisingly nutritious
alternative. FDA guidelines released in 2002 not only confirmed that frozen
produce is just as nourishing as fresh, it also noted that fruits and vegetables
meant for freezing are picked at peak ripeness, blanched, and frozen within mere
hours of harvesting, locking in optimal levels of vitamins and minerals.
Canned produce is processed differently from frozen, and the canning
process can sometimes deplete nutritional value. Foods are still picked at peak
ripeness, but tend to lose some of their vitamin C due to the high temperatures
used for canning. Still, according to the American Dietetic Association, some
canned vegetables (such as tomatoes, corn, and carrots) actually provide higher
levels of antioxidants than their fresh counterparts.
When purchasing canned produce, be sure to avoid varieties with added salt
and stick to non-GMO (genetically modified organism) brands when possible.
GMOs are combinations of different species of plants or animals that can’t occur
in nature or by traditional crossbreeding. While GMO consumption has been
deemed safe by the FDA, groups such as the Organic Consumers Association,
the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, and the Institute for
Responsible Technology warn that it has been linked to side effects including
allergies and infertility. By buying organic, you can be sure that your purchase
does not contain GMOs.
Also steer clear of cans containing bisphenol A (BPA) whenever possible. A
common chemical found in the lining of metal food cans and numerous other
household products, BPA can disrupt the hormone system, particularly when
exposure occurs in infancy or early childhood.
Chances are, you’ve heard the buzz about “superfoods” and how they should be
a part of everyone’s diet, but what makes these foods so super—especially for
kids? Think of superfoods as turbo-powered produce: fruits and vegetables that
not only provide your baby with the nutrition he needs to grow, but also with the
disease-preventing antioxidants and healthy fats he needs to thrive. Here are 10
superfoods to include in your little one’s daily meals.
Avocados: High in protein and monounsaturated fat, avocados may help reduce
the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They’re also high in the
antioxidant lutein, which plays an important role in skin and eye health.
Bananas: A great source of potassium, carbohydrates, and fiber, bananas help
ease digestion and maintain healthy blood pressure.
Beans: An excellent way to add protein to your child’s diet, beans also provide
fiber and calcium and may help control cholesterol levels.
Berries: Packed with fiber and vitamins A and C, blueberries, raspberries, and
strawberries all boast high levels of immune system–boosting antioxidants.
Broccoli: A cruciferous vegetable known for its cancer-preventing properties,
broccoli also delivers generous amounts of beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, folate,
and vitamin C.
Butternut squash: Like broccoli, butternut squash is high in beta-carotene,
vitamin C, fiber, and folate, plus potassium and certain B vitamins.
Carrots: Your grandma wasn’t kidding when she said eating your carrots would
help your eyes! These root veggies are bursting with beta-carotene, which
converts to vitamin A and supports vision.
Kiwi fruit: In addition to containing vitamin E, thought to protect against the
damage caused by free radicals, a single kiwi provides a generous amount of
vitamin C, plus plenty of potassium and fiber.
Quinoa: This is one of the most nutritious whole foods available; it’s high in
protein, fiber, and iron, as well as zinc, selenium, and vitamin E.
Spinach: In addition to vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lutein, this leafy green
contains almost twice the daily requirement of vitamin K, which promotes
cardiovascular and bone health.
BUYING LOCALLY GROWN
Another great way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your groceries is
to search for locally grown and produced foods. When you shop at farmers’
markets and in the “local” section of your supermarket, you’re buying the
freshest produce available, picked hours before delivery instead of days. When
fruits and vegetables are shipped long distances, they’re exposed to extreme
temperatures, light, and other conditions that can cause important nutrients such
as vitamins A and C and thiamine (vitamin B1) to be depleted. Plus, produce
meant for traveling is often picked before it has a chance to ripen completely and
develop full nutritional potency. Depending on the time of year and weather
conditions, however, the fresh fruits and vegetables you’re looking for might not
always be available. In those cases, frozen or canned produce can be perfectly