Simple Baby Food. A guest post from Dain of Everyday Paleo

Greetings folks! If you don’t already know me my name is Dain Sandoval and I am the one in charge of the nerdery over at everydaypaleo.com. During the most recent recording session of the PaleoTalk Podcast, Chrissy asked if I would be able to post about my recent undertakings of baby food production. A little background:

I have a 9 month old, Baby Olive. Yes, her name is Baby Olive. She will always be Baby Olive, or at least I tell myself that. She was almost entirely breast-fed until 6 months at which time my wife’s milk waned and her work schedule made pumping difficult so we began supplementing iron-fortified formula (Gerber Good Start brand). We also introduced soft foods at this time such as avocado for Olive to “gum on.” She is a remarkably healthy and happy baby girl. I made a decision early on that I didn’t want to rely on premade baby foods since a lot of them are so lacking in the fat/protein department and many are just glorified desserts with the amount of sugar in them. My wife agreed and we decided to basically give Olive what we were eating.

Right off the bat let me say this is a super easy undertaking if you are eating Paleo as a family. Your baby will get a terrific assortment of protein and vegetable nutrients. What IS necessary though is the proper equipment. If you have one of those plastic baby food mills – toss it. You are going to need heavier artillery to really make this work. I suppose I should add the disclaimer that I am not a doctor and that you should check with your pediatrician and your own family history to make sure that there are no known food allergies. Common sense, folks. For what it’s worth, the American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends delaying feeding of high-allergy-risk foods. I share that bit of info so I don’t get hate mail for feeding my baby pork and fish.

Today’s ingredients are sweet potatoes, grass-fed beef, mixed veggies, pears and pork belly. You can use whatever you like, or whatever you have leftover from last night’s dinner. I make a large supply of sweet potatoes because Olive likes to eat them as-is and it makes a great additive for the other foods. It keeps better separate than mixed in with things like beef. In the beginning of this post I mentioned that the plastic food mills of yesteryear will not cut the mustard, or the beef, or much of anything for that matter. The other drawback is that they are single-purpose. Once your child grows out of eating mush, the device is pretty much useless. Enter the heavy artillery – a 550watt  immersion blender.

Go ahead, make my purée

They also go by the names of hand blender or stick blender. This tool will last you a good while and you can use it for your own smoothies or sauce-making. Pick one up at any restaurant supply store, department store, or online. KitchenAid, Braun, Cuisinart all make fine models. Check reviews and get what best suits you.

 

For the sweet potatoes – wash and place in glass dish with a quarter inch of water and microwave for about 7 minutes. You can also bake them in the oven at 350* forever. Same as when you used to make baked potatoes. Slice in half then scoop out the ‘meat’ with a spoon and place into your blending container along with the cooking water. Add about another cup of water, and blend until creamy. Spoon into clean jars.

I admit this next one is weird but it goes along with using last night’s dinner. Pork belly and pears. Pork belly is SUPER fatty (and delicious) but also has some meat tucked in there. I picked the meat out and warmed it in my cast iron pan to render most of the solid fat out and isolate the meat.

Then it was meat+cubed pears+steamed mixed veggies and a cup of water in the blending jar. I couldn’t help but sneak a spoonful and it was delicious. Rich, creamy and quite satisfying! (Note: Baby did NOT like this meal. Maybe in time)

Babyfood Factory

My final meal of the day is grass-fed beef and veggies. I know Olive likes this one. In the cast iron pan I cook a pound of beef. At the same time I have a handful of baby carrots and broccoli steaming in the microwave. After 7 minutes, both are finished cooking. Combine in the magic blendy jar and liquefy!

I recommend tasting your creations. Yes, the consistency is strange – but the flavors are familiar. You will know that you are tasting whole ingredients with no added fillers or garbage. Really, there’s no new information in this post that I’m sure you don’t already know. My goal was to illustrate how easy and non time-consuming it is. I made all this (and some not pictured) in the span of an hour. You could take 30 minutes and still be able to make a day’s worth of food. If you were to process your dinner leftovers, even less time. Point is, your baby will eat what you eat and really enjoy it. (most of the time)

[UPDATED 6-10-11] Lots of folks mention practicing Baby-Led Weaning. I suppose I should have included in the post that in addition to these jarred blends, we offer soft bits of food on her tray to pick up and feed herself. Avocado, cooked carrots, beef, chicken – anything soft she is super excited to grip and place in her mouth. She only has the two teeth on the bottom at this time so her self-fed items have to be pretty basic and not tough. As she develops, the blends are getting chunkier and more challenging items are put on her tray. Playing with food is a huge learning experience! Definitely a great addition to feeding time.

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28 Responses to Simple Baby Food. A guest post from Dain of Everyday Paleo

  1. Ollie says:

    Thanks, Dain! I hope this shows folks that making your own baby food is not very difficult. We did this for our 2.5-year-old when he first started eating solids, and we still do this for our 10-month-old. Chicken and sweet potatoes has been a favorite for both. Our newest creation for our youngest is grass-fed beef with spinach and apple. We tend to make a whole lot of food at once, store them in freezer-safe containers, and defrost them when needed. Anyway, great stuff! Also, great name for a child (coming from an Oliver)!

    • Tania Garby says:

      Hey Dain!

      Thanks for all the great suggestions! My only concern is micro waving ingredients, as it destroys most vitamins during the process of heating…I guess I can go oven top instead.

      Beautiful kids by the way!

  2. Michelle says:

    Great post! I did the same thing for my little girl who is 13 months now. Sadly, she rejected all of the purees I lovingly created and went straight to table food around 8-9 months. Oh well!

    So I read on another paleo parenting blog recently that babies and kids shouldn’t get too much protein – the author sites dr cordain. I have never limited my baby’s protein intake and just offer it to her. Sometimes she eats a lot sometimes none. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Dain says:

      Too much of any one thing can’t be good – regardless of age. The foods I make are probably about 30% meat/protein as the bulk of the food is sweet potato, squash or other green vegetable – so it’s not like I’m throwing a giant ribeye on her tray. Obviously do what you feel is best in your situation.

  3. Jenn T says:

    Thanks for sharing, Dain! I’m on baby #3 (7 mo old) and like her brother and sister, I’m feeding her homemade baby food. I never thought to use the immersion blender. I’ve been using the mini-prep food processor and ice cube trays. The funniest thing happened with my first born when he first started eating solids. I found that he liked carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. I didn’t realize this was a “problem” until my relatives (who didn’t see him everyday) asked, “Why is your son orange?” All that beta carotene had resulted in an orange tint to his nose, ears and fingers! I realized he had something orange at every meal. LOL!

  4. Lori says:

    Although my children are older I made all of their food. I am proud to say they ate nothing from a jar. I cooked everything squash, sweet potato, chicken ground beef, broccoli (that texture was weird for them – but they still eat it till this day). I froze it in ice cube trays. It was so easy and I made days worth of food. My children now like their veggies raw most of the time!!!. That baby picture brings back nice memories :) great post!

  5. Jennifer says:

    I made 90% of my 2nd twins baby food. I can’t say I was totally paleo but I did it to know exactly what was going into my babies’ food. I used a basic blender & food processor and froze everything using ice cube trays. It was easy to microwave small portions as needed. I also felt good knowing the chicken & beef I gave them was “real”, not that weird stuff in the jar. Also, the chicken & beef smelled and tasted so much better. I think it familiarized their palates with the real thing leaving them open to liking more foods as they grow older.

    To address a previous post, I was worried about the orange baby thing, too, so I tried to alternate green & orange veggies – green lunch, orange dinner, then vice verse next day.

    • Denny G says:

      What are the the portions sizes of your solid feedings??
      We have been doing Paleo/GAPS diet with our 7.5 month old and can’t get a read on with the ideal feed should be?

      Feed and feed until the baby stops eating?
      Set up 1 tbsp of puree, portion of organic yogurt then feed?

      Thanks!

  6. Amanda says:

    You may or may not have have heard of “Baby-Led Weaning” here is a great website http://baby-led-solids.blogspot.com/ and another great blog http://baby-led-solids.blogspot.com/

    Baby-Led weaning has helped me with my 9month old daughter to enjoy a paleo lifestyle as well.

  7. Amanda says:

    Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett is another great resource!

  8. Meghann says:

    Great post and great recipes! They made me hungry…lol!

    We didn’t even do purees. We did baby led weaning and our son ate what we ate, just cooked to a different consistency. There’s lots of info about it online and it’s another great way to make sure that your baby is getting a nutritious diet.

  9. Erin says:

    Another option, at much less effort, is to not mush up food. I never mushed any of it for my kids and only tried out “baby” food (made at home) a few times with my first. Even if you start baby food as early as 6 months they’re more than happy to chew on a rib or mush their own soft banana/cooked peas/etc in their own little mouths. If you google baby-led-weaning, there is a bunch of info about alternatives to spoon feeding and some of the many benefits to allowing our young to feed themselves such as self-regulation, developing the pincer grasp, etc. I only offer it because I would have never known about it had a friend not turned me onto it. Really fun and SO MUCH EASIER! Kudos to you for avoiding the packaged C.R.A.P :)

  10. Dain says:

    Due to the many comments mentioning Baby-Led Weaning, I made an update to the original post.

  11. Anna says:

    Thanks for sharing. I have a 4 month old baby and I am planning on making his baby food as well. There is one thing in this article that I don’t recommend though, and that is the use of microwave to cook. We do not use microwave to even heat our food, never mind cook the baby’s.

    • Hannah says:

      I was wondering the same. I haven’t used a microwave in almost 2 years. I’m thinkin’.. “you’re concerned about giving your baby grains and toxins but not radioactive food?!” lol. Oh well. To each his own.

  12. Cyan says:

    Great article! I have a three month old and am planning on feeding him paleo, and practicing baby led weaning also. Amazingly, in Australia (where I’m from) the official advice from maternal health professionals is baby led weaning, and just giving your baby whatever you’re cooking (minus salt or anything very hard such as carrots or nuts). I couldn’t believe it! They even suggested chunks of meat (such as lamb cutlets) for them to gum on for iron! It’s especially impressive as only 6 months ago they were still promoting baby rice cereal as a first “food” (gah!)…

  13. John Valenty says:

    Love these ideas. I’m going to have to purchase some heavier “artillery” but I definitely plan on making my own baby food.

  14. Anna Bauer says:

    Good for you! I made all my own baby food for our second child… and some of it was darn good, I found myself eating it by the spoonful before I gave it a whirl .
    I would highly recommend the Top 100 baby purees by Annabel Karmel. She’s not paleo, but she has some delicious and easy recipes that are simple to modify.

    Enjoy Baby Olive, she’ll be throwing you glares sooner than you think!

  15. matt murawski says:

    Good stuff thx for sharing we have an 11 month old and enjoy making most of his food. Curious how after one year you are going to approach the no more bottle feeding. Are you going to switch to milk in sippy cup?

  16. Heather T says:

    Great article.

    You also might want to look at Weston A Price’s Baby Formula for those who can’t breastfeed or ween early. It is far superior to any powdered formula out there.
    http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/319-recipes-for-homemade-baby-formula

    They also have great guidelines for feeding baby’s that are right along the lines of Paleo…
    http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/318-feeding-babies

    You can also add, Coconut Oil, Raw Butter and Raw Cream or bone broth to your veggies before blending them. Also Celtic sea salt is another great addition.

    WAP (Weston A Price) also reccommends liver and cod liver oil which is great for baby’s.

    Check it out.

    Heather

  17. Laura says:

    Kudos to you, daddy, for all your hard work in raising a healthy paleo baby!

    We did baby led solids with both babies and they never touched purees, just fyi. No teeth needed! Gums are super hard and can handle chewing! My eight month old eats steak with us LOL. He’s a champ! The thing with baby led solids is if they can get it in their mouth themselves, they can chew and swallow it themselves – fine motor development matches oral development and digestive development.

    Also, Nourishing Traditions has a great homemade baby formula recipe that is waaaay better than the store brands. I never had to use formula, but if I had to, I would go that route. Some readers may find that helpful. (have you read the ingredient list for store brand formula – yikes!)

  18. Ruth says:

    My kids all liked salmon as an early finger food. Run your fingers through to check for bone obviously. But it’s very easy to gum up! I also didn’t do purees with my third baby. We just mashed things with a fork from the beginning.

  19. NalaWalla says:

    Between five and six months our son started
    showing an interest in what we were eating, so we offered him some– we were eating lamb, and I didn’t know if he’d choke, so I poked a hole in one end of a stick of lamb to make a ‘meatsicle’–we figured we could simply pull it out if it went down too far. We live off the grid and have no spare power for blenders or microwaves, so I just chew meats up in my mouth (adding butter if the meat is lean) and then give him the mush. They say the enzymes in mama’s saliva make it easiernto digest, to boot! Nowmthats paleo, yes?

  20. ARC says:

    Yep, we also did Baby-Led Weaning with ours, and used the Beaba Babycook just to steam veggies (but not puree them!). I have to say, not doing the purees made it *so* much easier because we ate the steamed veggies as well and fed her most of what we eat so there wasn’t a lot of special prep involved.

    Be on the alert for allergies though – we introduced new foods slowly, and found out ours is allergic to all dairy. After testing, she’s also allergic to some nuts (but not peanuts, oddly).

  21. Pingback: Paleo for Babies | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

  22. J. McCabe says:

    Thanks for this post! It was exactly what I was looking for…it confirmed that it is okay to feed my baby what we are eating…yummy food.
    However I have to disagree with the use of microwaves….they “zap” all the nutritional value of food. Some say they are a necessary evil…I disagree. They are evil and not necessary! I don’t see how living a healthy life style includes a microwave! Just sayin’.

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