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how to make “baby food” from “family food”

Posted by on Mar 3, 2011 in Blog Posts | 17 comments

We’re all pretty sick and tire of being sick and tired…

But, here’s a quick product mention. Though the days of grinding or making baby food are behind me, this is one gadget I think would have been nice to have.

In my variuous home visits, I’ve seen several different kinds of gadgets, from small pink or blue blenders to hand held immersion units to things that looked like a giant garlic presses with plastic mesh.

This is the unit that our pediatric nutrtionist Hydee Becker used to grind her family’s food when she was doing a combination of finger feeding and spoon feeding.  (See recent post review of book Baby Led Weaning, iron concerns, and Hydee’s description of how she fed her little one.) Hydee has put every meat imaginable in here, from ground beef to pork chops. So many parents tell me they worry about protein, and the texture of most meats is so tough that many children won’t eat them reliably until they have molars (M was at least 2 before she reliably ate most meats.) For many parents, the protein worry in particular leads to the chicken nuggets that become the staple because it’s the only “protein my kid will eat.” Here’s an alternative.

Feeding your baby the same foods you eat is the best way to teach them to learn to like the foods you eat. Prepare your squash, chicken breast, rice, or casserole, or whatever you are eating. Sit at the table together, pull your little one up to the table, put some of your chicken through the grinder (add a little broth or water if it’s too dry,) mash up some squash, have a little iron fortified cereal to go with it in the first months and enjoy! (This is not a comprehensive how to feed solids, but a typical way a meal with the older infant might look.)

Allow your little one to play with the food, touch it, lick it, spit it out, put it in their hair. Help her pull the spoon to her open mouth, or skip the spoon altogether. This little gadget can help introduce the variety of flavors she will be eating growing up.

What are your favorite feeding gadgets?

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  1. Erin Harrison

    I just used a regular blender! I cooked items stovetop or steamed, then blended with salt-free broth, breast milk, water (whatever) and blended to the appropriate consistency. I froze the items in the ice-cube tray. As she advanced, I blended less or went to fork mashing. I got a grinder but never liked it as much as the blender, I liked doing batches. I guess it didn’t bother me that she wasn’t eating the same food as us, especially when she was still so limited.

    • katja

      Thanks! Batches are great, but I was talking more towards the kid transitioning to table foods where the grinder could do a quick business on a portion of chicken that the rest of the family was eating. I love all these comments!

  2. MrsH

    I actually really loved using this exact product. While I agree with other commenters that peas in particular were a challenge, it really served us well. We often made prunes (soak in hot water then give a run through the little foodmill) and froze in an ice-cube tray. She only ate a couple cubes a day so it lasted pretty well. I found that in the early days especially, filling up the grinder gave us enough food for 2-3 meals so I froze those. Very useful on days that we ate salad for dinner! We stopped grinding when she was pretty young though, since our daughter got her teeth so early. Anyway, I do highly recommend this product for anyone who, like me, is just making a little bit of food at a time and wants a quick and easy way to grind it up! The mashed foods stage is often so short, no need for expensive gadgets.

  3. Jenny Islander

    I love my mesh feeder for the gumming stage! I can put a chunk of pretty much anything in there, hand it to the baby, and turn him loose. (NOTE: We have tile floors throughout our house!) Apple with the skin on, banana, a whole chunk of pineapple, carrot from the stockpot, some soup meat, whatever. No choking hazard and the baby can explore at his own pace. He just drops it when he’s done. (ALSO NOTE: We have a small house.)

  4. Nicole

    I used this grinder with the same results as the other commenters (generally good but not for large batches) with both my kids. I really liked being able to offer whole foods rather than prepared (although I was not nearly as successful with #2, thanks to being back in the U.S. and not in the land of excellent paid maternity leave and, you know, second child). There was also a book that I found very helpful–Super Baby Foods. It was definitely a case of “take what works, leave the rest”, but the reference section on how to prepare foods for certain ages and stages was excellent.

  5. Jennifer

    I used this type of grinder and found it pretty handy. It was nice to sit down at the table and just grind up a bit of this and a bit of that for my older baby or young toddler. I liked that it didn’t grind stuff up too much, it still left some texture in the foods.

    It definitely is not good for large amounts though. I agree with Hayley in that it can get clogged up pretty easily and takes a fair amount of strengh to get some things through. It’s good for grinding up a meals worth of food but not to stock the fridge or freezer.

  6. katja

    I also liked my “Baby Safe Feeder” but it can be used in not very “feeding dynamics” ways. It’s great for teething (frozen fruit or ice) and was fun with a meal or snack sometimes (piece of apple) but I do think if folks are too worried about choking, they see this as an alternative to moving forward with textured foods. Anyone used these guys? Also was nice at a restaurant to give her something off the plate and it kept her busy for a few minutes so we could actually eat our own meal!

    • Elizabeth

      I didn’t really use the Baby Safe Feeder at home – it stayed in the diaper bag for food on the go. At home, I generally just cut up everything appropriately fine, kept dishes “disassembled” (pasta, meat, and sauce in separate bowls to mix at table), etc., but the gadget kept me from having to rummage in friends’ kitchens looking for their sharp knives.

    • hayley

      i liked it too, for teething mainly. frozen mango chunks really soothed the sore gums! pretty messy though, lots of juice runoff 🙂

  7. Hayley

    Also, I had this Kidco grinder and I found it pretty difficult to use. Cooked pea skins would get stuck in the blades and prevent the flesh from squeezing through, and grinding carrots (even well-cooked ones!) required a lot of strength. Nice and portable, obviously, but i think for large batches at home, something like the Baby Bullet or Ninja would be a better investment!

    • katja

      great feedback! I never did grind my own, but for sitting at the table and throwing a small piece or two of chicken in it sounded pretty good!

  8. Hayley

    I love my Snack Traps. The original brand and now there is one made by Munchkin also. I have used them for trail mix, dry cereal, goldfish crackers, etc. SO handy when snacks need to be on the go! or even for littler ones sitting at the table.

  9. sarah

    I have the “Munchkin” brand food grinder and use it all of the time for grinding fruits and veggies for my nearly 7 month old. It can sometimes fall apart if the food is too difficult to grind though it but works well for softer foods.
    I also used a stick blender a lot when my oldest was a baby, but it broke last week. 😛