BERF Part 3: The Fun + Convenient Foods

May 9, 2013

I’m enjoying making baby food. It’s incredibly inexpensive, pretty easy and I’m glad to know exactly what Mazen is eating. But I have no intention of feeding him only foods that I have made myself. Being that strict would drive me crazy. Here are a few foods he likes that come from a package – note that some of them came as samples from the companies below.

I love the squeeze packs!

Babyblog-4758

Pros: so easy, fun flavors, great for being out of the house and branding that sucks in a modern mom. Cons: wasteful packaging compared to homemade and expensive.

That said, I keep a few on hand at all time (including one in the diaper bag). When we’re at home we always eat homemade food, but when we’re out he will often have one of these (or I’ll bring some homemade food in my Little Green Pouch reusable ones). M is on the verge of learning how to suck directly from the packet, which I see from my older baby friends is quite convenient.

Mazen has liked all of the flavors I’ve tried. I tend to gravitate toward the ones with vegetables in them, although most of the veggie ones still have a fruit too. Friends have told me that Sprout makes a few that don’t have any fruit, which I think is good to mix in for ultimate vegetable palate training.

Happy Family sent me some coupons to try their pouches and puffs.

Babyblog-5528

I picked up a few of the Happy Tot pouches – green bean, pear + pea; spinach, mango + pear; and sweet potato, apple, cinnamon + carrot – fun flavors! Mazen gobbled them down – what else is new!? They have a touch of chia seed in them which made them a bit more gel-like and nutritious.

Babyblog-5529

The Happy Puffs have been fun too. My general thought on puffs (along with all of the carb-tastic finger snacks and cookies) is that they should be used for learning to grasp and as a fun appetizer rather than a meal itself. I did pick up the “green” ones fortified with choline for ultimate nutrition : ) They taste quite good and aren’t too sweet, and I like how they stick to little fingers thanks to their nooks and crannies to make picking them up easier. They also melt in the mouth very quickly, so concerns over choking are minimal. Mazen likes them a lot. He can pick them up himself and tucks them into his palms and just holds them there. He doesn’t quite get to put them in his mouth!

Babyblog-5530

On the pincer front, we also play around with good ole Cheerios. They sent me a box to have on hand when Mazen was ready. [Spoiler: more on Cheerios coming up on KERF soon!] I am normally a store-brand girl when it comes to things like “O’s” however, I am being completely honest when I say that after nibbling on real Cheerios for a few weeks I went to my parents’ house and had some of their store brand “O’s” and they were not nearly as good. They crumbled apart when I broke them in half for M and were just missing a layer of flavor (I guess I am now a Cheerio connoisseur Winking smile) That said, any ole O’s are great for baby munching.

Babyblog-5533

I was excited when it was time to try yogurt for the first time as it’s one of my favorite foods. Stonyfield sent me a coupon for their YoBaby line. Mazen loves yogurt and generally eats half of one of these at breakfast a few days a week mixed with some fruit and the other half at lunch on another day. They do have several flavored ones, but I prefer to get plain and mix things in myself. Long term I think we’ll just use a big tub of organic plain yogurt, but these are great for on-the-go.

Babyblog-5532Babyblog-5531

I also keep a big jar of store-bought organic applesauce in the fridge to use whenever I want to add extra flavor to our homemade foods and don’t have any homemade apples on hand.

Lastly, I wanted to make some berry cubes for M so he could get some anthocyanins in his diet : ) I usually use cow’s milk in my smoothies, but since that is not yet recommended I used a YoBaby yogurt and enough water to thin it out plus about 3 cups of frozen mixed berries.

Foodblog-5800

Smoothies frozen for mom and cubes frozen for baby! I thaw these out and stir them into his yogurt or oatmeal (they are a little liquidy for plain eating until he can learn how to drink through a straw). [The mom versions weren’t nearly as tasty as my usual smoothies, but they weren’t bad either.]

Foodblog-5803

That’s all for now folks!

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KatyBug May 9, 2013 at 9:14 am

We use a lot of those products, too — I’m doing a more BLW approach at home, but daycare is not comfortable with it, so I send applesauce, pouches and yobaby yogurt, as well as some puffs and baby mum mum rice crackers.

Audrey really seems to love certain flavors already — sweet potato, mango and pear are big hits.

Reply

2 Tiffany May 9, 2013 at 9:42 am

Question – I know cow’s milk is not recommended before age one, so why do you think baby yogurts, etc. are allowed? Don’t they contain cow’s milk?

Reply

3 KERF May 9, 2013 at 9:48 am
4 Sarah May 9, 2013 at 1:15 pm

And what I take from this is that since a large part of the reason that “they” say no cow’s milk before a year is just because they don’t trust parents not to be stupid and replace breastmilk/formula with cow’s milk, then small amounts of cow’s milk in recipes are just fine.

Reply

5 Lulu May 9, 2013 at 7:13 pm

I totally agree and that was what my ped told me :) The year mark is completely arbitrary.

Reply

6 Alexa May 9, 2013 at 10:00 am

There is an Ella’s that is just broccoli and peas, FYI. I use it because the little guy is developing an “I only want things with fruit in them!” attitude. Sweet tooth already.

Reply

7 KERF May 9, 2013 at 10:13 am

Oh good – I’ll look for it!

Reply

8 Alexa May 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I’ve bought it at Whole Foods and Target, hope that helps!

Reply

9 Halsy May 9, 2013 at 10:41 am

“The broccoli pea one” by Ella’s Kitchen actually has pear in it if you read the ingredient list. I was disappointed when I found this out awhile back. Also a lot of pouches by Sprout have extra ingredients not in the name. The sprout veggie ones are great though! My daughter loves the sweet potato white bean pouch by Sprout! My daughter has a lot of food allergies so I have to scrutinize the ingredient list on every pouch.

Reply

10 Ashley May 9, 2013 at 11:25 am

I love reading your baby food posts, since we are both RDs with babies just days apart!!

I’m totally on the same page with you on making the foods. I LOVE it, but I’m not freaked out by those store-bought pouches, and we always have one in the diaper bag. Once I was out to eat with my mom and didn’t have one on hand, and Clementine was clearly upset she was missing out on eating. She was watching us eat and you could just tell she wanted in on the action! I felt so bad my back-up pouch had been eaten and not replaced!

Puffs — ditto, and those green ones are actually the same ones I bought. Clementine LOVES them. I recently grabbed the purple Plum brand ones, and she couldn’t stand them. It made me happy that my little foodie baby preferred the veggie ones! I’ve never seen their pouches though, I’ll have to look for them.

And yogurt — I looked high and low for the ‘baby yogurt’ that didn’t have added sugars! All the baby brands (except, I’m assuming, the plain flavor you have there) have added sugar along with the fruits/veggies! I ended up just getting a full-fat tub from Whole Foods, too. It’s been working great mixed with pureed fruits, pumpkin, or butternut squash.

LOVE THESE FOODIE BABIES! :-)

Reply

11 Grace May 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm

This is why I hate prepackaged food aimed at babies – not only is it expensive and environmentally wasteful (all that additional packaging), why sweeten baby food like yogurt and puffs?? I’ve only ever given my daughter plain, full-fat Greek yogurt with real, fresh or frozen fruit mixed in on occasion – I don’t want her to grow up expecting things like yogurt and grain-based snacks to be sugary sweet since they are not naturally! I’m not fanatical, I’ll give my daughter homemade cookies and other treats, but I don’t understand the need to add sugars (even “natural” sugars) into all sorts of baby foods like crackers and puffs.

Reply

12 Meghan May 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Sweeteners for babies perplexes me too!

Reply

13 Grace May 9, 2013 at 11:36 am

If you want an alternative to Cheerios (I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible for myself, and even more so for my daughter), you may want to look for an organic puffed kamut cereal (you can buy organic puffed brown rice cereal, but I avoid it due to the high arsenic levels). You can get a number of different brands – all organic – and it’s a much healthier, higher protein grain than Cheerios, and they all have only organic kamut (an ancient wheat) as the sole ingredient. Cheerios have a number of added and artificial ingredients – sugar, salt, modified corn starch (!), etc. that you probably don’t want to introduce to Mazen’s diet!

If you’re worried about his developing pincer grasp, peas and plain (well-cooked) black beans are other great whole food options for him to work on his fine motor skills. Since we did baby-led weaning, our daughter was self-feeding exclusively by seven months and it make dinner time so much fun and easy for us; I could finally eat with both hands free. :)

Between making our own smoothies that we put into the Green Sprouts reusable pouches and freeze (which you can pop into the diaper bag frozen in the morning and use throughout the day), frozen peas and other mixed (organic) frozen veggies, puffed kamut cereal, and a variety of fresh fruit cut up in small Tupperware containers (as well as whole bananas and whole clementines), we manage to make all of our own “convenience” baby foods to take on the go. It’s surprisingly easy, and very little additional work. And to be honest, around Mazen’s age we just started feeding our daughter what we ate (for very spicy dishes we’d pull some aside while cooking before adding the spice, and we salt our food after we give her some), since we eat healthy, whole foods. And now as a toddler, she’ll eat anything we put in front of her! Really, once they can feed themselves there’s no need to feed them a separate diet if you eat healthy yourself.

Reply

14 Meghan May 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I couldn’t agree more, Grace. Thanks for the tips and kind reminders of eating real/whole foods.

Reply

15 Janine May 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm

I second this too! Bananas and avocados are also good foods for the road.

Reply

16 Monique May 9, 2013 at 11:54 am

Great idea on the fruit puree in ice cubes- i love it! Since you love (or dont mind) making baby food for M, have you considered making your own yogurt? I was hesitant to try it until a month ago, I still have to create my own post on my experiences but its really cost effective and in my opninon, tastes so much better!
In my town, a half gallon of nonfat milk costs $2.40, plus .50 cents for a starter yogurt. It makes half a gallon of yogurt whereas the yogurt I like is $1.50 for 6 oz. The taste alone was enough to make me a yogurt maker for good.
And if you already have tried it and dont think its for you, I still love the smoothie idea! :-)

Reply

17 KERF May 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I’ve thought about it, but since you still have to buy the (grass-fed, organic) milk, it seems cheaper to just buy the yogurt! But I do like the idea of making my own flavors. However, I really like plain most so I’m not sure I’d make that many flavors after all`

Reply

18 Janine May 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm

You don’t even need to buy the starter… you can just use 1/2 cup of yogurt.

Reply

19 Erica May 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I’m curious about how starting solids affected M’s nursing.

Starting my daughter on solids next month and I am so looking forward to making her food, too. Thanks for these posts.

Reply

20 KERF May 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Barely at all! I would think he would be full after a half cup of sweet potatoes, but he seems to still nurse about the same, although our nursing time has gone down a ton from 30 minutes in the beginning to about 5 now, so maybe he has gotten less since we started solids at 6 months.

Reply

21 Grace May 9, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Babies should get vast majority of their nutrition from breast milk through the first year – most breastfeeding sources say that babies shouldn’t start to decrease their breastmilk consumption until 9-10 months – so Mazen is right on target! Solids at this point are for fun and learning how to eat, not for any nutritional or caloric needs until much, much closer to a year in age.

Reply

22 Sara May 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I find you terribly holier-than-thou Grace

Reply

23 Polly May 13, 2013 at 1:03 am

For stating the facts? Babies are supposed to get most of their nutrition from breast milk or formula their first year!

Reply

24 Nicole May 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Always make sure to offer the breast BEFORE offering any solids. Breastmilk should make up the main part of their nutrition for at least the first year.

Reply

25 Jennifer May 9, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Plain greek yogurt is great for mixing in your own fruits, because it doesn’t get watered down by the fruit as much as regular yogurt. Took me about three weeks to figure this out ;).

Reply

26 Sarah May 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I promise I’m not trying to be snarky, but I’m really wondering what the point of breaking Cheerios in half is – it’s something that never, ever occurred to me when my daughter was that age. Did they seem to big, or does breaking them give them a rougher texture that’s easier for Mazen to grasp?

Reply

27 KERF May 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm

They say nothing bigger than a pea for choking concerns and the Cheerios just looked big to me. He will probably be fine eating them whole in no time.

Reply

28 Amanda S. May 10, 2013 at 1:52 am

As far as foods to worry about your kids choking on, Cheerios are low on the list. The hole in the middle and the fact that they dissolve quickly make them unlikely to get caught in a child’s airway and prevent breathing. No need to cut them up the way you would with grapes.

Reply

29 Shel@PeachyPalate May 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm

We sell the Ella’s food pouches! They are handy alright but definitely the wasteful packaging is a huge drawback! Love the making and freezing smoothie idea. The only thing I don’t buy in to is the healthy wholegrain cereal – fortified because it legally has to be having been stripped of its nutrients and ultimately high in sugar and starch and partially responsible for the rise in Type 2 diabetes..sorry I know that sounds harsh but I just finished reading Wheat Belly! How they can get away with putting “wholegrains” on some foods sometimes is such marketing trickery!

Reply

30 Susan May 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I was always wondering about the point of fortifying cereal as well, esp. iron. My 20 month-old eats his cheerios soaked in milk, and calcium supposedly inhibits the absorption of iron. I know, I could use other milk products for the cereal, or give it to him dry, but isn’t the whole point eating it with some kind of milk? So confusing…
So, now we end up giving our son (he’s slightly iron deficient) loads of green smoothies and red meat (and we’re not huge meat eaters ourselves). Meatballs are one of my son’s favorite, cut into quarters. Perfect toddler finger food. ;)

Reply

31 Gen May 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Have you ever used breast milk in M’s smoothies or baby food instead of water or baby yogurt? Obviously, if you’re not pumping regularly, this could be a huge pain, but my BFF swears by it!

Reply

32 KERF May 9, 2013 at 3:19 pm

If I were pumping a lot I totally would…but the thought of pumping just for a smoothie makes me want to just give him berries and then latch him on : )

Reply

33 Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles May 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Very cool Kath. I am going to start feeding Reed in a couple of weeks and can’t wait. On another note, do you know of RSS platform that allows you to leave blog comments without having to open up the actual web page through your browser? I vaguely feel like you wrote about this once long on Kath Eats but I searched and couldn’t find it…

Reply

34 KERF May 9, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Feedly does!

Reply

35 Jess May 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Just a note, name brand cherrios actually melt best in baby mouths. I learned this while working for a daycare. They were only allowed to give out name brand because the store brands don’t melt and were considered more of a choking hazard (state mandated, I believe)

Reply

36 Jeanie May 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm

I, and even my kids, am past the having a baby around stage, but I just wanted to say I’m with you on the Cheerios. Love them. In fact that’s the only cereal I eat.

Reply

37 Mandie May 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Have you tried giving him frozen berries? My guy is roughly the same age and loves to chomp away at them using one of , bonus that it helps his sore gums!

http://www.amazon.com/Sassy-Teething-Feeder-Blue-Green/dp/B0045OW4LA/ref=sr_1_sc_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1368152891&sr=8-2-spell&keywords=meshfeeding

Reply

38 Carrie May 10, 2013 at 12:39 am

Just wanted to send a tip your way for when Mazen starts learning to feed himself more complicated foods: to make fruits or veggies more “pinchable” you can coat them in ground Cheerios. I did this with small banana and sweet potato cubes. The Cheerios makes the fruit more tactile and babies can pinch them more easily and you don’t have to rely solely on puffs and cereal for practice.

Reply

39 KERF May 10, 2013 at 8:19 am

Great tip!

Reply

40 jen May 10, 2013 at 8:13 am

We were never a Cheerios household but also became hooked after my girl started finger foods. They were one of her very favorite things for a while and since breakfast cereals are only a once or twice a week thing in our house and one of a small handful of processed foods we eat I didn’t feel badly about it. As she got older and able to chew more and then wanted to start actually having milk on her cereal and eat with a spoon she moved on and fell in love with Wheat Chex, any kind of wheat or bran flake cereal (all plain, unsugared), and the unfrosted mini wheats — all store brand. She’s no longer as crazy about them for plain snacking in hand now that she’s approaching 2, but loves to eat a bowl for breakfast and then her favorite part – slurping up the remaining milk!

Reply

41 Kim @ Cooking in the City May 10, 2013 at 8:20 am

I’ve always been curious- how is baby yogurt any different than regular yogurt?

Reply

42 KERF May 10, 2013 at 8:42 am

It’s not. It’s always whole milk though for the important fats. The yobaby are single serving whole milk plain, which otherwise would be hard to find

Reply

43 Sarah May 10, 2013 at 11:42 am

It’s always better to feed your baby homemade, whether your goal is convenience or not. Most (and I mean about 95-98%) baby food on shelves, organic or conventional, contains preservatives and starch fillers. In fact, check your local state’s laws on how much “real” food they must put into the jars/pouches. It’s generally only about 8-10% of the content. A good bit of it is water, of course, but who wants to give their baby the additives? I’m not trying to be difficult; I know this post is sponsored–I fed my daughter some of those pouches when she first began solids thinking they were amazing and diverse and convenient, but come to find out the “food” they list on the packaging was barely there. Every parent should be informed about the things we put into our children’s bodies.

Reply

44 Sarah May 12, 2013 at 11:24 pm

I was curious about this; I didn’t buy much baby food with my daughter because we took more of a baby-led-weaning approach, but I’ve seen some of these pouches, and other than being fruit-heavy, they seem like they’re pretty much all real food. I just Googled about 4 different brands, and Heinz was the only one that looked like it had anything I’d consider “filler” (random starches, although in some cases they had rice or quinoa or something in the “title” foods, too, so I wouldn’t consider that filler since it was clearly indicated on the front of the package, not just in the ingredients list). The others all had various fruit and veggie purees, sometimes water, and usually something like lemon juice or ascorbic acid, which I guess is technically a preservative but certainly not a scary weird one! Nothing crazy, and I assume that food labeling for baby food is the same as food labeling for anything else – the ingredients are listed in decreasing order by volume, so if the first three ingredients are real fruit or veggie purees, followed by water, it certainly sounds like it’s mostly real food. Maybe there are other baby foods that only contain 8-10% of the foods in the “title” on the front, but the pouches Kath is talking about don’t seem to have that problem at all, and presumably if you read the ingredient list on anything you buy, you’ll get a sense of what’s in it anyway.

Reply

45 Sarah May 13, 2013 at 9:09 am

Ella’s certainly isn’t the worst offender, but I was trying to relay that just because a brand touts the label “organic” or “all natural” (especially the latter) doesn’t mean everything in it is essential for baby’s nutrition, or even safe. Earth’s Best Organics has all of 2 or 3 first foods without things like brown rice or other grains, which in general aren’t easily digested by an infant as young as six months. Those Happy Baby Organic Puffs contain over 24 ingredients–the first of which is brown rice flour. You could easily make your own puffs with a quarter of those ingredients (the added vitamins are nice but totally unnecessary in a breastfed or even formula fed infant). Also, the jarred/pouched foods are pasteurized in way that damages a lot of the nutritional value of the vegetables, just like any packaged food, so they add vitamins and minerals to compensate for that. The point is, minimally processed is best. I don’t think anyone can argue that prepackaged baby foods are very expensive and ultimately less nutritious than homemade. These companies are making millions of dollars on the fact that people think buying them is more convenient, but in reality making your own foods takes very little time and energy–truly knowing exactly what is going into my baby’s mouth trumps “convenience” any day.

Reply

46 Hope May 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm

“truly knowing exactly what is going into my baby’s mouth trumps “convenience” any day” It must be nice that you never have to give your kid a “convenience” food but occassionally some of us do.

Here’s the ingredients for the Plum Organics Apple, Raisin and Quinoa packet: ORGANIC APPLE PUREE, WATER, ORGANIC RAISIN PUREE, ORGANIC MILLED QUINOA, ORGANIC LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE. I’d say that Mazen will be just fine eating this.

Reply

47 Sarah May 13, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Hey, whoa, that’s not what I meant. Let’s not get aggressive here, I didn’t imply whatsoever that Mazen would suffer some horrible tragedy from eating prepackaged baby food. And for the record, yes, I am a SAHM, but I recognize that for the time it would take me to drive to the grocery store, read the ingredient list, go through checkout, and go home, I could have easily steamed and pureed at least one of my baby’s meals. It just takes prioritizing, just like everything else in motherhood.
Kath, I really enjoy reading your blog, but if I can’t even comment with a differing opinion without being attacked, I don’t think I’ll be coming back…

Reply

48 Emily May 12, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Aw, this is bringing back memories. We LOVED Stonyfield baby yogurt, making our own baby food, and experimenting with pouches – Happy Family was one of our faves.

Reply

49 Amelia Winslow May 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm

We have such a similar philosophy and method when it comes to baby feeding and nutrition in general. Wish we were neighbors so we could get together and gab about this stuff ;)

Reply

50 KERF May 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Agreed!

Reply

51 Hope May 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Some of the sprouts packets have onions, fyi. ;) It isn’t listed on the front but is in the ingredients list.

Also, I usually buy store brand foods but I can often find Cheerios on sale for cheaper than the store brand.

Reply

52 Sarah May 14, 2013 at 3:06 pm

You are all holier than thou, wow. Babies will be fine whether their mothers feed them homemade food or store bought food, whole Cheerios or Cheerios broken in half, generic Cheerios or no Cheerios. Humans have been raising babies since the beginning of time. You are not the first to do it. Your baby is no better than anybody else’s just because of how you feed them. We are all doing it how it’s best for our lives, so relax and go get a hobby.

For what it’s worth, my children eat nothing but grass and I don’t sweeten it at all. Their palates have learned to appreciate it unsweetened. Actually I just send them out into the yard to graze; that way I know the grass never stepped foot in a factory because packaged foods are evil (except those I buy at Whole Foods of course). Oh and I don’t fertilize the grass other than throwing manure on it because manure is organic so it has to be good.

Reply

53 Anon May 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Jeez, lady (or gentleman)…why don’t you relax and stop trying to start conflict online? I’ve seen blogs and threads where the author and individuals commenting legitimately have a superiority complex for whatever inane reason–I haven’t seen a single thing here like that. The fact is, you can’t just feed your baby anything. Some things harm an infant’s digestive system, and certain companies only care about making a quick dollar. Would you eat McDonald’s all day, every day? No? So why feed your kid something that’s the equivalent?
Go take a hot bath, mate. All these parents care about is making sure their kid is well nourished, and to take a good look at the ingredient list on the packet.
And for what it’s worth, store bought food hasn’t been available since the dawn of time, nor has Cheerios. Until recently every mother made their baby’s food from scratch.
Also, isn’t blog reading/commenting a hobby?

Reply

54 Abby May 16, 2013 at 11:08 am

Hi there!
I’ve been reading your blogs forever but have never commented. I noticed that you started your little guy on oatmeal rather than rice. My daughter is almost five months and I’ll be starting solids at six months and was going to start with organic, brown rice cereal as I did with my older one. Just wondering if oatmeal has more nutritional vaule than the brown rice and why you chose it (other than your obvious love of oats:-)

PS: As I reread this, I realize I’m probably way overthinking this pretty minor decision!

Reply

55 KERF May 16, 2013 at 11:25 am

Our ped recommended oatmeal over rice because of the recent arsenic-in-rice news

Reply

Leave a Comment

Current ye@r *

Previous post:

Next post: