Friday, July 15, 2011

Baby Food

Sweet Pea is funny about food.  About halfway through May, she started wanting to only eat foods that she could pick up and feed herself.  Independent, much?  She loves spicy food and while she's not a picky eater, she will turn down food that's not flavorful enough.  When she's hungry or finds something she loves, she will yell at you if you don't feed her fast enough.

Feeding her has actually proved to be a bit challenging at times.  I'm sure that sounds crazy, but you see, Sweet Pea has to eat gluten-free.  No, we don't know yet if she has celiac disease (like me) or even a gluten intolerance (like her daddy) because you can't officially test for those things until a child is two.  Early signs of celiac disease can be really hard to miss, but once you've triggered it by eating wheat, it's hard to take back damage that might be done.

I several early signs of celiac disease as a baby.  I was less than 5 percentile, had colds frequently, and wasn't a great eater.  (Some kids with celiac are good eaters, but still don't gain weight well.)  My mom knew that something wasn't right, but the doctors kept poo-pooing her with comments like, "She's just small.  Look at you!" and "She'll grow out of it."  There was a period of time where my mom would cry because I just wouldn't eat, and a doctor had threatened medical intervention if I wouldn't start eating more on my own.

I wish so much that those doctors had known more about celiac disease.  So many years of sickness could have been avoided if we'd just caught it sooner.  I wouldn't be plagued now by chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

So, all of that said, I'm really, really conscience of the effect of food on our bodies, particularly my baby's tiny body.  Maybe overly so.  She eats completely gluten-free, as well as low-sugar, low-salt, and as much organic as possible.  This can get a little restrictive because, other than pre-packaged Baby MumMums, we don't buy any pre-packaged baby food.  For the most part, I've just used our Magic Bullet (which broke, so now we've got an awesome stick blender that I LOVE) to puree organic fruits and veggies.  I buy Giant-brand organic jarred applesauce, and sometimes canned organic butternut squash.  She eats a lot of quinoa and organic whole-milk yogurt.  I bought Yo-Baby once, but then I realized that the sugar content is pretty high and they are really expensive, so I switched to buying a big tub of yogurt and adding fruit.  When she was first starting to eat, I bought Happy Bellies organic brown rice cereal, even though it was pricey.

By no means are we completely organic.  She gets sugary Greek yogurt.  She's had potato chips and even- gasp- a few Cheetos.  She's tried ice cream and you can bet your breeches that she will always get french fries at the boardwalk and share in my weird guilty pleasure of popcorn from Target.  Yet I think every little bit helps, and the more we can limit the "yuck" factor of chemicals in our food (while keeping to a very tight food budget) the better.

I try to keep a hold on the budget by buying organic produce in the frozen section and sticking to the "dirty dozen" list for organic.  Not always, but I try.  I also try to just give her as much of whatever we're eating as possible.  Sometimes I break it into little bits for her, and sometimes I puree it for her.  When she was tinier, I made little meals and put them in little plastic containers to be ready for on-the-go.

Here is a quick list of my favorite baby foods that are quick, easy and economical.  

- Plain Rice Chex.  This is my go-to baby snack.  They are pretty junky and certainly not organic, but they are about the only easy carb snack out there that is gluten and honey free.  She pretty much only gets them when we're out and about.
- Quinoa.  I buy a HUGE organic bag of it at Costco for only $10.  It lasts us about two months, and I mix it into yogurt or make mac n' cheese out of it.  You can also get quinoa flakes, which I substitute for oatmeal.
- Cheese.  I buy regular because organic is way too expensive, but it's a good, easy, non-messy baby snack.  She also loves cottage cheese.
- Bananas.  These are not on the "dirty dozen" list, so I buy regular for those, too.  So easy to toss in a bag and go!
- Organic diced mixed veggies.  She LOVES these.  I get a huge bag at Costco and often just heat up a little bowl for her.  I pull out the green beans because they are too tough, though.
- Beans.  Healthy and cheap, and you can even get organic canned aduki beans places.  When she was little, I often purred different types of beans with veggies.  She loved it!
- Avocado.  She's not a huge fan lately, but they are so healthy.  Also easy to toss in a bag and go.
- Homemade soups.  The other day I made a literal vat of 15 bean and veggie soup.  She likes it.  Easy to freeze in small containers for leaving.  I also sometimes get organic, low-sodium canned or boxed soup because it's cheaper than jars of baby food.
- Large containers of yogurt, jarred organic applesauce, etc.  I keep an eye out for food that is healthy and worth buying ready-made.  Best examples are canned or frozen purred squash, jarred applesauce, and big containers of yogurt.  All of these can be spooned into smaller containers to take on the go.

All in all, she's healthy, she's growing and I'm getting the hang of this.  Gluten-free and organic might not be the way to go for everyone, but it is possible to do it cheaply and efficiently.  I save money feeding her this way, interestingly, although it takes more work and effort.

As always though, it's worth it.


  1. this was so informative and came right at the perfect time for me! thanks taylor! i'm literally going to print it!

  2. Awesome post, lady! :)


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