Monday, September 19, 2011

Homemade Baby Food!

Henry (right) and his best friend Ellie Cate (left)

Our baby food making party was a huge success! I have to confess that I was a little stressed about how it would turn out at various points during the process.

First, I had the opportunity to attend a day and a half of professional development related to charter schools, which meant that I enrolled Henry in day care during that time. Since I hate pumping and have committed to feeding Henry directly for approximately a year, it meant that I had to leave the training every three hours to go feed him. Of course the stress that comes from leaving a training, going down three flights of stairs, trekking across the scorching parking lot, getting into a blazing car, driving a mile, parking, trekking across another scorching parking lot (in high heels), signing into the day care, feeding Henry, trekking back across the parking lot, driving back to the training, checking in with the security guard, parking, trekking across the parking lot, signing in with the administrative assistant, and taking the elevator back up three flights--does not compare to the kinds of stress that people might experience at lower levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. But it was still stressful for me.

And then on the second day I had to drag Matt into the stress because the tollway (which is supposed to be faster and non-traffic-y!) was PACKED and I was about to be late for the second day in a row. So Matt had to meet me at the training and we had to move Henry from my car to his.


So when all that was done on Friday afternoon, I finally had time to think about preparations for the baby food making party. Fortunately, my friend Sarah (Ellie Cate's mom) had done a ton of work already. She had picked out all the recipes, multiplied them by the right amount, and generated a list of everything we needed to get. She totally saved my butt! My original plan was for us to do it together while we drove to the grocery store, but that never would have worked.

Thank you, Sarah!

The other stress came as we completely loaded up a giant cart with ORGANIC produce. I was so worried that we were generating an astronomical bill and that we would have to say to our other five friends, "Please write a check with three digits!"

But the bill only came to approximately $234, which is not bad for 20 different recipes (approximately 10 ounces of each).

The other stress came on Saturday. Matt and I had to go to a baby shower that we thought was in our neighborhood. Once we got in the car (late) and I double-checked the address, I realized it was in Katy, Texas, which is about 40 minutes away. Eep!

So we went to the baby shower, then drove to Whole Foods to get a few last-minute items for the baby food making party, fed Henry in the car while Matt went in (which required taking off my enter dress in the backseat of Matt's Prius), returned home to load up the car, and arrived at the party 15 minutes late.

But once I was there, it was fun. Really, really fun. We snacked, cooked, chatted, laughed, asked each other for advice, and got caught up. Fortunately, a member of our group had a large and fancy kitchen with two(!) ovens and five burners (plus every kitchen gadget, bowl, and pan imaginable). The space was absolutely perfect.

Each of us cooked three recipes. Since baby food freezes for 2-3 months, we picked recipes for babies 6-8 months old. Once we had a big bowl of pureed food, we would work with a partner to ladle the food into quart-sized storage bags labeled with the ingredients and age recommendation. Then we loaded those bags into a larger plastic grocery bag so we could take everything home.

From start to finish, the process took five hours. It was stressful not knowing how long it was going to take. All the dads were watching the babies, so it was difficult not being able to tell them when we would be done.

Once I got home, I started transferring the food from the plastic ziplock storage bags into ice-cube trays. I simply snipped a corner off the bag and poured the food into the tray. I strategically used foods that had very different colors, so there wasn't any confusion. Then I covered the trays with tin foil and put them in the freezer. While they were freezing, I labeled new ziplock bags with the ingredients, age recommendation, and expiration date.

A few hours later, I used a butterknife (very carefully, Carla!) to pop out each cube of food. I squeezed out the excess air, and now I can store them in the freezer for up to three months.

Since I have an amazing variety and quantity of food for Henry in my freezer right now, my plan is to simply make one new thing for him each week and add it to the stash. That way, he gets a good variety of healthy food, and I don't have to put too much work into it.

I definitely recommend this idea to others!

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Festive Attire said...

Have you heard of baby led weaning (blw)? What do you think of it? I don't know much about Montessori, but it sounds like blw would be a great fit because it fosters independence. Sounds like the party was lots of fun, but you can save lots of time if you just let the baby feed himself. My daughter is close in age to Henry and we started blw at 6.5 months. So far she has eaten broccoli, banana, avocado, watermelon, kidney beans, nectarines, peaches, kiwi, pasta, mango, plum, and who knows what all else, all on her own. You might check it out. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Brannie said...

I was actually going to make the same comment as Festive Attire! We have been doing baby led weaning for a month now and its been great - my son has tried so many different foods and has really increased his dexterity. He loves meal time. My favorite part is that you all sit up to the table at the same time and everyone eats their own food. No having to spoon feed while trying to eat your self.

Raquel.Somatra said...

A baby food making party sounds like a great idea! And Henry and his best friend are just adorable.

I've been following your blog for a little while now. I love your viewpoints on life and raising your son. My husband and I have decided to begin trying to conceive in a year and a half (I am very interested in taking Purposeful Conception beforehand), so I am tucking away your awesome ideas for the future, as well!

Hope your days are much less stressful than the one you outlined in this post!


Anna said...

Cute kiddos!!!

lisa said...

I'll forth the BLW. There's really no need to spoon feed an infant. By the time they are ready to eat, they will cheerfully shovel food into their own is a messy process, but quite functional.

The best part is you eat your own food hot.

redfrizzz said...

This is genius. Will you share your recipes please?

angie said...

"It was stressful not knowing how long it was going to take. All the dads were watching the babies, so it was difficult not being able to tell them when we would be done."

I don't understand why this was stressful? Did Matt have somewhere else he needed to be at a certain time? I'm really not trying to be snarky, it's just that statement seems so far removed from the equal relationship you always talk about fostering.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Angie! Out of respect for Matt, I would have liked to been able to tell him when I was coming home, since we usually eat dinner together and take care of Henry together in the evenings. He fully acknowledged that we were both doing something for our family, so it's not like he was doing me a favor by watching Henry. It's just that Matt would prefer to know what the schedule is (as would I), but I wasn't able to provide that because I had no idea how long it was going to take. We actually got in a little fight about it when I got home because Matt was frustrated that it took so long and he had no idea when I was coming back. I was frustrated that he was frustrated because I had no way of knowing how long it would take. In the end, we both agreed that we should have called each other. I should have called to say, "I know it's late, but we're still cooking," and he should have called if he wanted updates about how much work there still was to do. Does that make sense? Matt and I really do strive for an equal partnership. He works full-time outside the home, and I work full-time to watch Henry. But all the hours outside of that time we try to divide evenly. For example, on Saturday, he'll take 3 hours to go on a really long run while I watch Henry, and then I'll take 3 hours to do whatever I want. Then we'll have family time together. In the middle of the night, we alternate who goes in to soothe Henry back to sleep. If Henry only wakes up for a feeding, then Matt will change his diaper and I'll breast feed him. We're constantly re-assigning roles and responsibilities as our lives evolve, but we always try to keep it fair.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for elaborating on Angie's question. I have been wondering the same thing, especially because I will have to navigate this soon with our baby coming. I noticed in several posts that you mentioned feeling bad about imposing on Matt and I thought that was odd. I realize you are full time at home, but realistically, it would seem you would need more breaks away from parenting, and Matt would want to spend more time with Henry since he doesn't see him as much. I guess I hope I don't feel I am imposing on my hubby when I need him to "cover" for me or when I suddenly need to get out of the house, or when something goes wrong, etc. I think the big picture is a happy family and less about 3 hours here and 3 hours there. That said, it is good to hear how you do it--gives me ideas. I think we are just more organic, I don't think the tit for tat would work for us. I would love to read a whole post about this if you ever feel the urge! (:

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Anonymous: I've been meaning to write a post called "On Equality" for a while now. It's an issue that comes up constantly for my mom friends and me. Stay tuned!

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