Food For Thought Friday: What's For Dinner?

We screwed up big time with the four-year-old. I got stuck in a trap, and have been trying to get out of it for... 3 years? It's the baby food trap. Let me be clear on the front end here, I generally don't have an issue with purchased baby food for convenience. My beef with baby food (the kind that lines the shelves at your local grocery store) is that it gives you the impression that it is what you NEED to feed your baby.

I was about 3 weeks into feeding the four-year-old baby food (not when he was four... when he was a baby) when I realized that the bananas that I was buying from the store, were nothing more than mashed up bananas. I was eating a banana when I realized it. I took a fork, mashed the banana, and voila -- mashed bananas. That was the end of the purchasing of banana baby food. About a week later, I realized that the applesauce I was feeding him out of the little jar, was the same as the applesauce I eat out of a big jar. So, I only bought big jars from then on. Only for some reason, I was never able to translate that to his other foods. Sure, at some point, we transitioned out of giving him the pureed food in a jar, and transitioned him into finger foods, and more of what we were eating... sort of. I have to say, though, the jarred food had really messed with my mind. Even though I had always planned on making our own food for him... I grew to depend on this food in a jar for the convenience, and then I was stuck in a box... okay, a jar. In any case, we ruined the four-year-old something awful. Here's where it's particularly heartbreaking... Mr. Lindstrom and I are foodies. We LOOOOOOOVE food. Lots of food and lots of different kinds of food. The four-year-old... not so much.

So, when the Twinstroms were ready to start eating solid food (which Mr. Lindstrom often called "people food." Which still makes me kind of laugh... for obvious reasons) we were going to take a whole different approach. Partly out of necessity, and partly out of and urgent need to not fall into the same rut we did with the four-year-old, we began offering them some version of whatever we were eating during our meals. Save for those high allergen foods (peanuts, tree nuts, strawberries, egg whites, the like) we made good use of our food mill, immersion blender, and Magic Bullet to puree our dinner within an inch of it's life and hand it over to those sweet little growing babies. I never once have worried about what they were going to eat for dinner, they will (for the most part) eat whatever I put in front of them, and I feel like, with these two, we are well on our way to raising adventurous eaters. Now, don't think that we didn't feed them some prepared foods in a jar -- we TOTALLY did when it was convenient, but for the most part, we have given them what we are eating. As for the four-year-old, we are still undoing a lot of the damage we accidentally did with him. I say he is a picky eater, but the truth is... I sort of made him that way by not giving him the full range of options that were available to him from the get go. Every time I have a showdown at the dinner table with him about trying something ("Just one bite. Seriously, just one. You don't know if you don't like it. You haven't tried it yet...") I think to myself, "you created this monster, deal with it."

Really, all you need to make your own baby food is some sort of blending apparatus, and some ice cube trays. There's not much more to it. Plenty of companies are marketing their baby food apparati, and they are probably all just fine, but it complicates what should be the simplest action - eating. As long as you're paying attention to keeping the allergens OUT of the food you're feeding and being particularly mindful of potential cross contamination, there is nothing difficult about making your own baby food. I tell you this because if you're on the fence, or you'd like to do things a little different than you did before, I want you to know that it takesno extra time to cook for your babies, especially if you maintain a healthy diet. They are just fine eating a version of what you are and you won't waste a whole lot of money on a pureed version of what you could make yourself.

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  1. Shameless self promotion here but we've instituted Wacky Wednesdays to avoid at least one night of food battles a week at our house.


  2. I have to agree with you! I made most of the twins' food, and it was great because I could control the consistency and give them a greater range than what was out there in jars. Until they reached toddlerhood, they ate just about anything I put in front of them. The book Super Baby Food helped me out a lot. The little one? I didn't have time to make her food, and I can hardly get her to eat a darned thing. She hated it when I moved to the textured foods. Now in finger foods she's getting better, but nowhere near how her sisters were.

    I had to clue my sister in too that for what she was paying for a jar of bananas, she could get a small bunch of ACTUAL bananas.

  3. Don't be too hard on yourself Mr. & Mrs. Lindstrom. I fed both my boys the exact same way. Some jarred food, some people food :)
    And they couldn't have turned out more different in the food aversions department.
    Boy #1 has always been a good eater. He would eat anything we served him from day one, and I do mean anything. People would often marvel at the food he would consume.
    Boy #2 is beyond picky. I have those identical battles that you described "...just one bite, you don't know if you like it..." The truth is he probably does know that he doesn't like it. The aroma's are all he needs to know if it's something he will try. Forcing the issue only causes an onslaught of the "gag" reflex, and often losing the food that DID make it down the hatch.
    Maybe TMI, but my point is this...some of it is just the way they are born.

    I recently learned a couple interesting facts:
    At birth children have more taste buds than adults, and they are more sensitive than ours. Kind of in the same way that we are mostly all born with 20/20 vision and it deteriorates over time, some faster than others.
    There can be great variances in the range of sensitivity. So children whom we dub "picky eaters" may actually just have extra-sensitive buds.

    I believe in the case of my boy#2 this could be his issue. He also has an aversion to soda pop - it hurts to drink - so he prefers milk or water. I never really thought much about it, but those extra sensitive buds are probably the reason for that. (not that I'm complaining)

    In any event....great post Colleen! I agree 100% about how easy it is to make your own baby food, and how non-complicated it needs to be.
    And to some extent I do agree that feeding a variety of foods will help expand their culinary horizons...just don't be too hard on yourself if you end up with a macaroni & cheese only eater. He'll grow out of it someday.

  4. huh. my husband & I feel the same way about our FIVE year old.
    We broke her...we were so hell bent on following 'the rules' - you know - the things that 'they' say - try one jar of this...and nothing else for XXX, and then try a DIFFERENT jar of something else...
    Well crap...by the time we got done introducing stuff we had another baby! By that time we were like...ok, here...sure you can have some cheeseburger and french fries little baby...Will you sleep afterwards?? And now? That first born...won't. eat. anything. ANYTHING! Ok, well, tortillas, pb, and...captain crunch. The 2nd baby? Anything...and everything. Broccoli and salad are among his favs...


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