If you’ve been following along with my baby journey, you probably know by now I’m a researchaholic. Comes with being a journalist I guess.
Baby food has been no exception. When it was time for Jane to start solids, I scoured the Internet, consulted my go-to baby manual Baby 411 and reviewed all the information from our pediatrician.
Most of the advice was pretty straight forward: Start with rice cereal. Move onto purees. Slowly introduce one item at a time (fruits, veggies, proteins.) Add textures and variety as baby grows. Seemed easy enough.
I’m kind of a “natural minded” momma (yes, we’re still cloth diapering) so I decided we’d go for organic baby foods only. When I found a good sale on Earth’s Best at Publix, I stocked up on the little jars. Then I found a good sale on Plum Organics brand at Target and stocked up. Then… I went sort of crazy trying to find sales on as many varieties as possible. It became an obsession. lol. The end result is a cupboard that is literally overflowing. Like, can’t shut the door overflowing. If it’s an organic baby food pouch, we have it. (Has this happened to anyone else?)
Then it happened. I talked to a close girlfriend with a baby only a few months older than mine. She mentioned how she was making all of her own baby food: how she just loves picking out each new item to whip up into a puree for baby.
I felt sort of… guilty. I never really even entertained the idea of making my own baby food… at all. Suddenly though, after talking to my pal, it felt like I should be doing it too. Plus, making my own baby food seemed like the sort of thing all “natural minded” mommas do.
I went online. A quick Google ninja search turned up all kinds of stories on why you should make your own baby food, how it’s cheaper, more nutritious for baby, and generally a sign of better parenting.
I started researching baby food makers on Amazon. After days of mulling the options, I finally logged online one afternoon to buy one. It never happened.
I just don’t have time or the will to make baby food. I barely have enough time to make and freeze healthy meals for the week for myself. I’m supposed to spend hours chopping and pureeing and mashing? I’d much rather be playing with baby. Jane really seems to like the store bought varieties too. So, why change up a good thing?
Maybe it’s self-justification but I came up with a list counterpoints, a list of all the reasons to choose store bought over homemade. Maybe it will make other store-bought mommas feel better. Here it is:
1. It’s convenient. I can buy all kinds of varieties and expose baby to various tastes and textures without having to search for all manner of obscure fruits and veggies in the store. It’s not always so easy to find peaches or mangos in the dead of winter, amiright? And seriously, pureeing a turkey?
2. It’s not necessarily more expensive. If I have to spend $100 + on a fancy baby food maker or food processor, suddenly the extra expense of buying pouches and jars doesn’t seem so bad.
3. USDA Certified Organic. If you’re buying food with this seal, you know it’s been held to a certain inspection standard and will likely have less pesticide/chemical residue than conventional baby foods, or items you get in the produce aisle.
4. Less waste. The pouches and jars can generally last for one or two days in the fridge after being opened. On the other hand, if you’re making and freezing your own baby food, you might have a harder time gauging how much to thaw at a time. I’ve since surveyed some close friends with babies doing this and they’ve admitted yes, a lot can go to waste if baby has an off eating day.
So, that’s it. One caveat though. I do think it’s really important for all parents to read the labels of what they buy carefully to make sure they’re feeding what they think is best to their baby. Sometimes labeling can be pretty misleading.
A jar of Earth’s Best Chicken & Brown Rice Dinner for example, actually contains the following: Water, Organic Butternut Squash, Organic Ground Chicken, Organic Corn, Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice.
I’ve also noticed many of the fruit and veggie combo jar/pouches have fruit listed first in the ingredients. I’m sure this isn’t an accident. Fruits are going to have higher sugar concentrations naturally, so if there’s more of them instead of veggies, baby will probably gobble it up. What baby likes, momma buys.
So how do you feel about the baby food debate? Did you make your own baby food? Go with store bought? Why or why not? Share your experiences here!