Hudson Valley Parent

October 2013

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Baby's first foods One mother shares the unexpected joy found in making her own baby food By LINDA KASTIEL KOZLOWSKI W hen my son was 4 months old, he was diagnosed with a serious milk-protein allergy. I was faced with a decision I had not read about in any baby book. Do I make his baby food or buy prepared food from the store? For me, the answer was to make all his food. As I spent the next 8 months making his food (and later his baby brother's, I discovered a host of advantages that far outweighed the extra work. Since the food you feed your baby is literally the building blocks of his growing body, isn't it worth considering the pros and cons, and then making an informed choice? As I learned, there are numerous advantages to making your own food. Some can be verified only by an expert, others are learned through the day-in, day-out experience of mothering. Save time and money Judy Dodd, a nutrition education consultant with the University of Pittsburgh, says the main advantage is clearly peace of mind. "You are able to use food and ingredients you can trust, with minimal processing for better nutrient value," she says. Once a child is ready for more advanced meals, you're able to use the same foods you are feeding the rest of the family, saving time and money. Dodd also points out, "you can prepare any amount, and not be limited to opening a standard size serving, determined by a baby food 36 Hudson Valley Parent n October 2013 company." Wonderful advice, in this age of overeating. Lisa Simone Sharda, a clinical pediatric dietitian at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, notes that homemade food provides more fiber, has no preservatives, and in general has a higher nutrient composition than jarred food, since there is less processing involved. "It's also easier to transition to table foods due to stronger tastes. Jarred foods tend to be bland in flavor," says Sharda. I personally found it easy to transition my sons to "regular" food, since I kept feeding them the same items, just not as mushy. From early on, they acquired a taste for the foods we still have nightly. You control the ingredients Preparing your own baby food is an excellent way to get control if your child has any restrictions on their diet. It's also a wonderful way to teach your kids to appreciate the true taste of plain old fruits and veggies. Jorj Morgan, author of "At Home in the Kitchen - The Art of Preparing the Foods You Love to Eat!", underscores the advantage of being able to control the quality of the ingredients. "You, the mom, are choosing the best looking apple, the ripest banana, the leanest meat and poultry," she says. "You also control any added sugar and salt." She feels this technique can introduce your child to a "life-long habit of good food choices." A matter of taste For some, the number one reason to consider switching to homemade baby food is taste. Pure and simple, homemade food tastes better than anything in a jar. It also exposes

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