Cooking With Kids: Different Approaches to Baby Food

I was delighted this morning when I opened the New York Times and found an article entitled Momma, I’ll Have Some of Whatever You’re Having. (I was also jealous, because I didn’t write it.)

Jessica had begun making meals for Gracie, our 7-month-old daughter, following the recommended pattern for carefully introducing individual puréed foods.

That all changed when she called me at work one day to tell me that she’d taken the food mill to the next level: since Gracie had tried all the basic ingredients from what we’d eaten the night before—my pasta Bolognese with mint—she had milled some up and watched with delight as Gracie happily finished every bite.

I had the same happy experience when my daughter Iris was nine months old and scarfed down two chicken enchiladas. While I second the author’s advice about stewed meats—if there’s a more perfect baby food, I haven’t met it—I had a couple of quibbles with the piece.

First, you don’t need a food mill to turn grown-up food into baby food. You just need a sharp knife.

Baby food doesn’t have to be a perfectly smooth purée, though some babies prefer purées. (Ours, to put it mildly, didn’t.) The knife is easier to clean and allows you to adjust the texture of the product as your baby learns to chew.

Then there’s the article’s advice on salt. It’s true that very young babies (under six months, and especially under four months) have trouble metabolizing salt. But the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend introducing solid foods until six months anyway. A six-month old can handle the amount of salt found in a baby-sized portion of properly seasoned adult food, which, in any case, is much less salty than most processed food.

Cook. Chop. Serve. That approach worked for us, at least until Iris demanded her own slice of pizza.