In a recent blog post, Ruth answered a question about feeding raw parsley to baby where she mentioned phytonutrients. When it comes to phytonutrients (organic components of plants…thought to promote human health – thanks for the definition, WebMD!), which get destroyed during cooking, she mentions that it is better to use raw or steamed greens. Always remember to check the age-appropriateness of raw foods for your baby, though. As Ruth mentioned with parsley – no raw parsley until baby is 9 months old!
Phytonutrients are the big thing now that have been discovered and proven in studies to really be good for you, although not all are “essential” for life. They are the plant nutrients that you may have been hearing about – lutein, lycopene, etc.. The supplement manufactures have jumped in head first and there are now lots of pills with phytonutrients, but don’t use the supplements. Use real whole food, which will have the entire realm of related phytonutrients in the proper proportions.
There’s lots of info on the net, but use only trusted sites that use scientifically proven info. Here’s a page you can trust: http://www.ars.usda.gov/aboutus/docs.htm?docid=4142 You are sure to hear more about phytonutrients from us in the near future!
We love when Moms ask Ruth questions because (1) the questions are always so great and (2) we feel that that for every question asked, thousands of other parents have the same question and will have their question answered! A mom recently asked the following question to Ruth about parsley.
Hi Ruth. My son is almost 8 mos. old. I’m reading your chapter (in Super Baby Food) about what to feed at 8mos and love the idea of throwing some cooked parsley in the mix, but I’m confused. You say that at 8 months they should only eat cooked parsley, but you also say that cooked parsley tastes bitter. Do you think the cooked parsley mixed with something sweet, like sweet potato will mask the bitterness?
Or should I wait until he can eat it raw? Thanks.
Absolutely you could mix the cooked parsley in with sweet potatoes and other things he likes to decrease bitterness. However, he can eat it raw soon (by 9 months) but you have to be careful to wash it thoroughly, as with all raw produce, because his little immune system is still immature. I wouldn’t use a microwave – steam it instead.
Here is more interesting information:
Within the last few weeks I read where microwave ovens destroy more of some phytonutrients than steaming. Organic produce is best and is definitely worth the extra dollars in my opinion because babies don’t eat too much and pesticides get concentrated in their little bodies since they eat lots of food for their little sizes. Make sure it has the certified organic symbol.
I’m finding out that raw parsley is up there with kale, maybe even better, and you know how I adore kale if you read my section in Super Baby Food on Super Greens. AND now the AAP says spices (super sources of phytonutrients) are OK for babies starting around 6 months. Don’t use imported spices which may contain heavy metals. Frontier is a nice organic brand you can trust.
Dr Greene.com recently asked Ruth to be a special guest perspectives blogger on their informational website. Ruth was more than happy to provide 5 terrific blog posts sharing all kinds of great, detailed information on finger foods and tips for getting started with finger foods for babies and toddlers. In case you missed it, here is a description and a link to each fantastic blog post.
Super Baby Food is happy to be a part of the Dr. Greene team! Be sure to check out some of the other terrific information on Dr. Greene’s website.
When parents consider making their own baby food the first concern is invariably: Is it safe to make my own baby food? Or said another way…Is commercial baby food better for my baby? Let Super Baby Food dispel the myths.
Myth #1: Commercial baby food is superior to homemade baby food.
The food that you make at home from fresh, whole vegetables and fruits is nutritionally superior to any jarred commercial variety on your grocer’s shelf. The cereals you can quickly and easily make at home from brown rice (and other whole grains) cannot be compared to the processed, refined white rice commercial baby cereals.
Myth #2: It takes too much time to make homemade baby food.
Making homemade baby food is easier than you think. Check out WholeParenting.com’s pictures showing how simple it can be to make your own nutritionally superior baby food.
Myth #3: Homemade baby food may cause my baby to get sick or get food poisoning.
Some parents think that there is something magical that goes into the preparation of commercial baby food that can not be done at home, which somehow makes it the only food suitable and safe for their baby. Not so, baby food can be made easily, nutritionally, and safely at home.
Myth #4: The convenience of commerical baby food is worth the price.
Actually, making your own baby food is the cheaper alternative. Check out this handy dandy chart prepared by WholesomeBabyFood.com to see the price per baby food manufacturer as compared to homemade baby food from your ice cube tray. Homemade baby food is much cheaper!
Can you think of any other myths surrounding commercial baby food vs baby food made at home? Share them with us so we can dispel more myths!
Pureeing is all the rage and thank goodness. With just a few tips under your belt, you can prepare your baby’s own food using organic, delicious vegetables and here’s the best part – you will know exactly what is in the food you give your baby!
I will use the term “processor” to refer to your blender, your processor, your food mill, or whatever you’re using to puree. To get the correct liquidy consistency necessary for beginner eaters, water must be added to the food mixture being processed.
Cook the vegetables
For most vegetables, use the water in which they were cooked, whether the water is from steaming, baking, or boiling. This water containes valuable nutrients that have leached out of the vegetables during cooking.
Save the water
Pour the water from the cooking pot into a container with a spout so that it will be easy to pour into the processer. I use a little glass measuring cup with a spout.
Place chucks of cooked vegetables into the bowl of the processor so that it is almost full. Make sure you leave some head room. Add a tablespoon or two of the cooking water. Cover, keep your hand on the lid, and start the processor. Pour water very slowly throuugh the hole in the top of the processer until the food moves freely. Use the least amount of water necessary to get the consistency you need for your baby’s age. Use the Food Cube Freezing Method to store pureed baby food! That’s it, you’ve done it!
For more tips on starting your baby on solids, try the Super Baby Food, iPhone App!
I am just beginning to feed my second child solid foods using your Super Baby Food book as a guide. Our CSA share this week included “vitamin greens” and I am wondering if they can be prepared as other greens and fed to my son when he is old enough for cooked greens. I also wonder about “bok choy”. Thank you for your help, and for writing such an excellent resource for parents.
Vitamin greens (I don’t why they call them that since all green leafy vegetables are loaded with vitamins) and bok choy should be introduced to your baby just as any other veggies. Use the 4-day wait rule.
Cook as you would kale. Thanks for writing!
Happy Memorial Day!
The Super Baby Food Blog would like to highlight two blog posts this week that we feel are particularly well done.
Ali at MomSpark.net put together a fantastic post to help beginners start to make their own baby food. Super Baby Food lovers know that the first step can be a bit daunting but once in the groove, making your own baby food is as easy a one, two, three. Momspark.net identifies one, two, three for you to help you get started in a quick and easy way.
Naomi Odes Aytur of Babble wrote a terrific post with a recipe of homemade baby food made with cauliflower and millet. She made it sound and look easy and her testimonial of her baby’s love for the dish is inspiring. Thanks, Naomi, for posting this terrific recipe for homemade baby food.
A mom had a question on the Super Baby Food Facebook Page about feeding a baby radishes!
Are radishes OK to feed a baby?
Here is what Ruth had to say:
Radishes technically are OK to give to a 9 month old, but I would suggest giving very little and very well diced – use a garlic press and knife to get it into the smallest pieces. Radishes might cause stomach upset and may be difficult for your baby’s immature system to digest. Try just a little tiny pea-sized bit and wait a day or so to see if your baby has any reaction.
Use only organic radishes and herbs and spices.
You can add herbs and spices anytime after 6 months, but I would first start with spices that are not hot. Try a little cinnamon, or ginger first, then move on to turmeric (a SUPER spice loaded with good stuff), cumin, and others. Stay away from the hot ones, such as cayenne pepper and garlic, for a while. Introduce in very small quantities and, as always for new foods, use the 4-day wait rule. Spices are loaded with antioxidants and are super foods, however, do NOT use imported spices, as they may have heavy metals (lead, mercury) in them.
TIP: If your mouth gets too hot from hot or peppery spices, cool it down with milk, which cools better than water or juice.
Thanks for writing!
Does anyone else have a question regarding a vegetable? Send them to Ruth!
Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A that is not toxic, even in large doses. Your baby should get a vitamin A veggie every day! Here are some details for feeding you baby carrots:
Age: Baby must be at least 7 months old for cooked carrots, 10 months for finely grated raw carrots.
Choosing: Carrots should be firm, and not pale. The smaller the carrot, the sweeter the carrot.
Storing: Carrots need cold temperature and high humidity. Store in the refrigerator in plastic bag with holes. When properly stored, carrots retain their nutrients for up to two weeks.
Preparation for cooking: Nutrients are most concentrated in the peels of carrots and just below. You don’t have to peel or scrape young or small carrots if you give them a good scrubbing with a vegetable brush. Older, bigger carrots are probably better peeled.
Steaming: Steam whole carrots 15 minutes, carrot slices about 10 minutes.
Baking: Large carrots can be baked in the oven. Scrub them and leave whole and unpeeled. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes.
Freezing: Freeze pureed carrots using the food cube method for up to 2 months.
In a previous post, we outlined the Super Baby Food Food Cube Freezing method. Freezing food is an important step. Thawing the food is the next important step. It’s important to thaw the food “safely.” “Safely” here has two meanings. First, baby food should be thawed in a way which prevents bacterial growth. Baby food should never be thawed at room temperature, and baby food should not be kept at room temperature for more than several minutes. Second, “safely” means thawing baby food so that it is not too hot or too cold to be a danger to your baby. If it’s too hot, it may burn your baby’s mouth. If it is too cold, and therefore not thawed thoroughly, it may contain frozen food chunks that are choking hazards to your baby. Food that is too cold may also “burn” your baby’s sensitive mouth. In thawing food, you simply want to take the chill out of baby’s food, you don’t want to make it hot.
Here are a few ways to safely thaw those frozen baby food cubes:
Thaw Food Cubes on the Stove Top:
Place frozen food cube in a pot and thaw over very low heat stirring often. A double broiler can also be used. This method takes a while so begin to warm the cubes 15 minutes to 1/2 hour before mealtime.
Thaw Food Cubes in the refrigerator:
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Be sure to stir insuring that no frozen chunks are left. If you need to warm the food a bit, place container in a larger container with hot tap water.
Thaw Food Cubes In the Microwave:
Many experts recommend avoiding the microwave altogether because of the uneven heating that microwaves are notorious for. It’s a fact that parents use the microwave regardless so, if you are going to use the microwave to thaw, be careful. Place the frozen cubes in a little microwave-safe bowl. With experience you will know exactly how long to thaw a frozen cube, probably between 30 seconds and a minute. Once thawed almost all the way through, mash the remaining cube to even out the temperature.
Here are a few tips to make sure that baby’s food will be safe for baby to eat:
- Stir, stir, stir baby food thoroughly to distribute heat
- Always test the temperature of your baby’s food BEFORE feeding to your baby
- Never re-freeze thawed baby food!