Market Musings Blog

Baby Foods 101


As a prelude to the class, this blog post gives you some background on how store-bought baby food came to be and encourages you to try to make your own. It’s easy and so much less expensive! [Sorry, this class has passed. But we’ll continue to offer it in the future!]

Once upon a time, not so long ago, infants, toddler, and young children ate what their parents ate. There really wasn’t any other choice: it was not until the second phase of industrial food production in the late 1920s that canners had the bright idea to sell baby food to young parents as something more suitable, more scientific, than what could be produced at home.

Today, baby food manufacturers have won over all but a very few parents of infants and toddlers. The mystique they built up around baby foods is meant to leave you thinking that there’s something in those wee jars that parents cannot hope to provide on their own—a balanced diet? enough vitamins and minerals? fairy dust?

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Science in the Public Interest agree that with few exceptions, your baby or toddler can and should eat exactly the same things you do. Not only will you help your child develop a taste for foods that will help to keep her or him healthy lifelong; you will also save a substantial amount of money. (Canned baby food costs an average of about $400/year for most families who use it regularly.)

Once babies have good head control and can sit up in a high chair, particularly if they are lunging for your food and can turn their heads away if you try to feed them (indicating that they are not hungry), you can introduce solid foods.

Most foods can be successfully squashed to a purée with a fork or potato masher; they may need to be diluted a bit with water, breast milk, or formula if they are too stiff (for example, potatoes). Or try an old-fashioned food mill.

Here are some food suggestions to get you started:

6 months                      8 month                           12 months-2 years
apples, pears,               citrus, tomato,                  whole egg, honey, maple syrup,
avocados, bananas,      broccoli, green beans,      egg yolks, poultry, pasturized cow milk,
melons, peaches,          turnips, cabbage, kale,     cheese, yogurt, shellfish, egg whites,
nectarines, papaya        celery, beets, collard,       apricots, plums, soy sauce, peanut butter
sweet potatoes             cooked legumes,
potatoes, peas,             whole cottage cheese
dried fruits,
squash, whole grains,
fish, meat, carrots,
spinach, broccoli,
green beans, cabbage

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