Cooking for a Niche Audience
There are some really amazing baby foods on the market--with flavors like Basil/Apple/Kale and Peach/Sweet Potato/Dill. A friend of mine and I joke about opening up a soup restaurant called Baby Food and simply pouring the purees into bowls for our customers--straight from the package.
Jokes aside, feeding your baby his or her first bite of something is momentous. Initially, lacking any experience in this field, my husband and I decided we would embark upon a baby led weaning adventure.
It's not exactly what it sounds like--it is a process of allowing your baby to feed herself regular food, rather than beginning with a rice cereal or single fruit or vegetable puree.
One of Many You-Tube Examples
The books to read, if you're interested or care to evaluate the approach for yourself, are Baby-led Weaning: The Essential Guide To Introducing Solid Foods And Helping Your Baby To Grow Up A Happy And Confident Eater (the American version) and Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby To Love Good Food (the British original) by Gill Rapley.
Baby-led weaning, or BLW, as the insiders call it, has all sorts of purported benefits, from fostering independence to creating an adventurous eater. I still love the idea but it turned out to not be an ideal match for our baby.
Baby food isn't hard to make--you just have to make it. This is an area of interest for both parents and entrepreneurs. There are a couple of fresh baby food businesses in San Francisco (including a truly exemplary one in Bernal Heights that makes food out of local and humane food sources) that are quite successful and have served as inspiration for such recipes as a current favorite in our house--Organic Mashed Pinto Beans with Stewed Blueberries and Coconut Oil. For intriguing recipe ideas, check out The Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Karen Ansel.
We also rely on store-bought squeeze pouches--though we've never considered using them once our child can eat regular food at meal times (at least not yet)!. A recent article in the New York Times, "Putting the Squeeze on a Family Ritual", raises thought-provoking questions about issues surrounding extended implementation of the ubiquitous Plum packets and the like.
Photo credit: Caitlinator
Carine Risley is the chef and mastermind behind such edible delights as Fruity Chickpeas. Recipe available upon request.