Becoming a mother for me was an overwhelming experience. I wanted to do it right. No, I wanted to do it perfectly. And when I say “do it” I mean be a parent. I refer to parenting as “it” because it felt like a project to me. It was this task that I had to accomplish. I took breast feeding classes and learned how to swaddle and read books about sleep. But as any mom knows, the “parenting degree” I obtained prior to giving birth did not make becoming a parent any easier. Because to sit in
a class and learn about breast feeding is quite different than actually getting that baby to latch on to your breast. And getting that perfectly tight swaddle is a little harder when the kid is kicking and screaming at the top of his lungs. Then there is so much to worry about. The nursing, the routine, the sleep, colic, vaccines, milestones, the list goes on and on…and all this worry is really exaggerated when you’re working on drastically interrupted sleep. So when the time came for my first son to start solids, my brain was overloaded. I really didn’t feel that I had the capacity to take on the task of making baby food. And to be honest, I also didn’t know any better. At the time I did not know what I know now about food. I’m not even sure I knew that I could make baby food. It is difficult to explain just how foreign and overwhelming the whole thing was.
But I am a rule follower and I wanted to “do this” right…So I followed the books and started my son on cereal followed by a series of gerber veggies one at a time, etc. I did buy Earths Best organic baby food because one of the only mommy friends I knew at the time had bought those for her son. Funny (true) story: our cousin was graduating from law school in Washington, D.C. I wanted to pack my son’s baby food for the trip but my husband didn’t let me. He said “Caro, surely there is a grocery store in Washington DC where we can buy his baby food. Its kind of ridiculous to travel with all this stuff. I conceded but not happily. When we got to dc, we were in a college town. Much to our surprise there WERE NO local grocery stores to buy baby food. We didn’t have a car. There was only little specialty places and a cvs type place. I remember walking in and seeing in one little corner a few jars of baby food. They had sweet potato and banana. My poor son ate nothing but sweet potato and banana for 3 days because it never dawned on me that I could actually give him real food in soft pieces or mashed. I’m not sure what exactly I thought would happen to him if I gave him adult food but being the rule follower, paranoid first-time mother that I was, if it wasn’t made by gerber or earths best, he was not having it.
Wow!!!!! I’ve come a long way.
It wasn’t until Justin (my second son) was born that I was able to wrap my head around this baby food concept. I’ll never forget when my paradigm shifted. I was talking with a girlfriend of mine and I casually mentioned to her that I was curious about people who made their own baby food. She told me she made her own baby food and immediately offered me a book that helped her get started ” Top 100 Baby Purees”
(This is yet another example why it is so important to have a community of people around you to offer you ideas and support and help you grow)
When she brought me the book, I was expecting nothing short of a science project. To my defense, I don’t cook at home and I am (WAS) intimidated by the kitchen. When I opened the book and realized that to give my son “baby food banana” all I had to do was peel a banana and mash it with a fork, my world literally opened up. Its that easy. Really? On one end I was totally relieved, and on the other end I was totally embarrassed. How did this not dawn on me before? Talk about some serious tunnel vision.
I began with the easy stuff first and then I moved on to the more challenging meals like cooking with raw chicken. Yuck – but doable. Pretty soon I was buying more advanced baby food books and giving my son food was exciting and fun. My possibilities were endless.
Making my own baby food changed my life. Not only was I offering my son a much wider variety of non-processed foods but I believe that this was the first baby step I needed to move into my own healthier life style. Making baby food involves combining single ingredients and whole foods. When I was ready for my own transformation I thought about food very much in the baby food sense. I moved away from the boxed foods and the never ending ingredient lists that had more science words than food words. My salads, smoothies, soups, and snacks were nothing more than baby food with stronger spices. Something that may seem so simple to someone else, lifted a veil off my eyes and allowed me to see a whole new world.
By the time my third son was born, I had learned so much and grown so much that his very first solid food was egg yolk and avocado. Wacky huh!!!!! Turns out cereal is not the best first solid to offer your kids contrary to popular opinion. You’ll have to wait for another blog post to learn why!