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Tiny Tummies celebrates food and family. Our mission is to help parents raise curious and enthusiastic eaters. The newsletter is full of delicious recipes, cooking and gardening activities for families, and practical ideas for parents.

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  Sanna Delmonico
M.S., R.D., Editor
P.O. Box 5756
Napa, CA 94581
Ph: 707.251.0550
Fx: 707.251.5721
   
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Baby Food Basics

Does your four-, five- or six-month-old baby watch intently as you eat? Does he grab your spoon? Can he sit upright (with a little support) and hold his head up well? If so, get ready, it's time for solid food!

Homemade vs. jar food? Jars are really convenient but fresh food tastes better. Making food for your baby is easy; if you can boil water you can make baby food!

Choose your fruit and vegetables . The easiest first foods, that don't need any cooking, are ripe banana and avocado. Just mash them with a fork.

Next, make baby food out of your food. Apple for breakfast? Cook one for baby. Carrots for lunch? Steam some for baby. Potatoes for dinner? Mash some for your little one. Just cook a little more of what you are eating and store the extra.

Whenever possible, choose in-season fruits and vegetables. If your baby starts solids in winter, begin with acorn or butternut squash and pears. In spring, try peas. In summer, treat your baby to zucchini, peaches, and green beans. And in fall, offer apples, sweet potato, and pumpkin. Since we don't know what effects pesticides may have on developing babies, it is wise to choose organic produce when you can.

Stay away from fruits and vegetables that can cause reactions in young children: tomatoes, citrus fruits and berries, until baby is close to a year old.

Prepare produce by washing it well in water to rinse off dirt, bacteria and pesticide residue. Use a scrub brush if you can. It's easy to scrub carrots, potatoes and apples, but more difficult with soft fruits like figs.

Peel things with tough skins like winter squash, apples, and potatoes. Remove stems, pits and seeds. Cut the fruit or vegetable into one-inch chunks.

Steam fruits and vegetables in a metal steamer basket. Put about an inch of water in a large saucepan along with the metal steamer basket and the fruit or vegetable. Bring the water to a boil (it will start to steam), then cover and steam until the fruit or vegetable is very tender. The time will depend on the variety—it may take five minutes for ripe peaches but 15 minutes for carrots, and so on. Check every five minutes and test for softness with a sharp paring knife. When the paring knife easily pierces the food all the way through, it is done.

Mash the food using the right tool. For soft fruits and vegetables like pears and potatoes, a fork may be all you need. For tougher things like carrots and apricots, try a food mill. For stringy or tough produce, like green beans and mango, puree with a blender, an immersion blender, or a food processor. Thin purees, and make them easy for young babies to swallow, with a little of the cooking water, some breast milk or formula.

Feed your baby seated upright in your lap or in a highchair. You may need pillows to prop him up at first. Use a small spoon and wait for him to open his mouth before feeding. Never force his mouth open and avoid using tricks like flying the airplane into his mouth to get him to eat. Trust that he will eat if he is hungry. Let him eat at his own pace, whether it is fast or slow. Pay attention when he closes his mouth or turns away to tell you he is done.

Store leftover baby food in the fridge, but throw away any food baby's spoon has touched. His saliva contains bacteria which can contaminate food. Freeze baby food in ice cube trays, then store the frozen chunks in a plastic bag or airtight container. Another way to freeze baby food is to “blob” it onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, freeze the blobs, and then transfer them to a bag. Defrost baby food in the fridge.

Progress to chunkier foods and finger foods. By nine or ten months, most babies love to feed themselves finger foods like:

  • soft bits of avocado or cooked carrot
  • bits of ripe pear or banana
  • tiny pasta shapes like orzo
  • cut up kidney beans
  • ground cooked meats
  • grated cheese


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