Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Weaning your baby - Home cooked vs Jars

There's a story in the news today that caught my eye - it turns out that the factory produced jars and pouches sold to help parents wean their babies, aren't as nutritious as home cooked food. Seriously. No schizzle Sherlock!

Baby weaning foods found 'lacking'

I'm not going to wax lyrical about why home cooked food is better for your baby. It's just so obvious isn't it? Food cooked at home from scratch is going to taste better than something mass produced in a factory and created to have a long shelf life. It doesn't warrant a news article does it?

What I think does warrant a news article is the fact that these manufacturers are misleading parents into thinking that this stuff is just as good as home cooked.

Weaning is such a emotive subject. Nothing but milk before 6 months? Baby-led vs purees? Jars vs home cooked? Everyone has a strong opinion about these things. It's such a minefield. But for what it's worth, this is my two penneth.
  1. Start weaning when you think your baby is ready for food.
  2. Choose baby-led, purees or a combination and find the one that suits you and your baby best. 
  3. Even if you think you really can't cook, try to make your baby some food from scratch. A bit like breastfeeding (eek, another dynamite topic!), I think that everyone should at least try it. If it's not for you then fine, but I think that giving it a go is the least you can do for your baby.

Give home cooked food a try

In the spirit of giving something a try, and the spirit of my blog which is to help out others by giving some tips, I want to share my tip for making weaning easy. Annabel Karmel's wonderful book, Top 100 Baby Purees was given to me by my lovely sister in law. Having successfully weaned her two girls using these recipes, it came highly recommended.

There's lot to love about this book:

  • The recipes are split into sections based on your baby's age to take you through from first tastes at 6 months, moving on from first tastes at 6-7 months, second stage weaning at 7-9 months and finally 9-12 months. You don't need to worry about what age your baby can eat certain foods, you just work your way through the book.
  • You don't need to know anything about cooking as the recipes explain everything in simple steps. 
  • Nearly all of the recipes are suitable for freezing, so you can batch cook and defrost different meals as you need them. 
  • There are recipes for all meals, including breakfast and pudding. 
  • A lot of extra information is provided about the principles of weaning and food allergies etc. 
  • The recipes really are delicious. I would quite happily eat everything that I've cooked from this book.

My other tips for making weaning fun, enjoyable and successful

  • If you're not a great cook, why not use weaning as an excuse to get better? Learning to cook really isn't that hard, and it can really make a big difference to your health and lifestyle. Speak to your health visitor about the places where you can get support.
  • Give jars and pouches a try and see what you prefer. They definitely have had a place in my kitchen purely from a convenience point of view, but I prefer to make Bobble nearly all of his food as I have the time to do so. 
  • If you have a friend who is staring weaning at a similar time, why not share the cooking? You both cook a new recipe but make a double portion to share and swap with the other person.

Buy Annabel Karmel's Top 100 Baby Purees from Amazon

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