The first year of your baby’s life is filled with something new and exciting each month. At 4 to 6 months you can begin giving your baby solid foods. As their digestive systems and palate mature you can begin introducing your baby to a more complex menu. In the beginning your baby will have single-ingredient foods and once they have tolerated this you can begin mixing ingredients. This is where you get to have the most fun!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics your baby should have formula or breast milk for the first year. However, according to the AAP your baby can have cheese and yogurt at 8 months. How does that make sense? We checked with a local pediatrician and he said that it has to do with iron, allergies and their immature digestive systems. Therefore, recipes that contain whole milk or cheese are allowed, however if your baby has milk allergies please avoid these recipes. If you have further concern, contact your pediatrician.
When you’re making your baby’s food always avoid adding salt. Too much salt before the one year of age is bad for their kidneys. Also try to avoid strong odors, spicy foods and be cautious with citrus and tomatoes that can upset their tummy. For the most part, your little taster will let you know if it agrees with him/her.
Instead of the usual peas and carrots, try converting some of Paula’s best recipes into baby food treats. Find your favorite recipe take out the salt, anything too high in preservatives and get to cooking.
Note: To make a typical squash casserole, you boil the squash and onions, drain and mash. However, in order to preserve the most nutrients possible the following recipe uses a steaming method to keep the nutrients locked in.
4 medium squash, sliced into 1/4 slices
1 medium onion, diced finely
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (buy cheese made with whole milk, avoid fat-free cheese)
1 sleeve of buttered crackers, crushed (no salt added or low sodium crackers preferred)
Place diced squash and 2 tablespoons of water into a glass or pyrex dish. Cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving a small vent. Microwave for 5 minutes. Let rest/steam in microwave for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet melt butter. Add diced onion and saute for 5 minutes or until soft.
Add steamed squash and any cooking liquids to the onion and continue to saute for 5 minutes, stirring and mashing using a potato masher throughout the 5 minutes.
Add one cup of cheddar cheese and 1 sleeve of crushed cracker crumbs to the squash mixture.
The squash and onion mixture should have accumulated quite a bit of cooking liquids to allow you to mix in the cheese and crackers. If the mixture gets too thick (depending on the amount of crackers used and the moisture of the squash) you can add chicken broth or water to thin down the mixture.
At this point, you can serve the squash casserole to the entire family. However, to make the recipe just for baby put the squash casserole into your blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Spoon into ice-cube trays, let cool slightly and freeze for 8 hours before transferring to a zip-lock bag.
Yield: 2 trays or 1 8X8 casserole if served to entire family
1 cup of Star Shaped Pasta or very small pasta
2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of cheddar cheese
1 cup of whole milk
Bring water (no salt added) to a boil and boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
To the same pot, add 2 tablespoons of butter, melt over medium-low heat.
Slowly add flour. Stir continuously to avoid any clumps.
Slowly add 1 cup of cheese and 1 cup of milk. You’re making a cheese sauce, but slowly is the key. Continue to stir, and pull off heat once sauce has come together.
Add pasta and stir together. No pureeing is needed with this dish due to the tiny size of the pasta.
Let cool slightly and pour into ice-cube trays or jars. Freeze for 8 hours before transferring to zip-lock bags.
Fun add-ins to this dish:
finely diced/chopped ham
pureed carrots and/or peas
Yield: 2 trays or 4-6 adult portions of mac-n-cheese if served to the entire family
APPLE CRISP INSPIRED OATMEAL
2 pears (I used d’anjou pears), peeled, cored, chopped into 1 inch chunks
2 apples (I used golden delicious), peeled, cored, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of whole oats (not instant, however if you choose you would substitute the instant oats for the whole oats and milk)
dash of cinnamon
Add chopped pears and apples and place into a pyrex/glass dish, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving a small vent. Microwave the fruit for 5 minutes. Let steam in microwave for additional 5 minutes. Set aside.
In another pyrex/glass dish add milk and oats. Microwave for 3 minutes, stir and check for consistency. You want to keep the oatmeal a bit on the runny side since your are mixing in the fruit.
To the food processor or blender add the finished oatmeal, the fruit and any accumulated cooking juices, and a few dashes of cinnamon. Blend until smooth. Let cool slightly, before putting into ice-cube trays or jars. Freeze for 8 hours, before transferring to a zip-lock bag.
Yield: 2 trays