Saturday, February 19, 2011

Baby Food: Introduction and Rice Cereal

Over my six plus years of being a parent, I have learned that every exciting milestone comes with a bit of sadness.  For every time my children enter a new stage of life, it means we can never again return to the previous one.  A few weeks ago we hit one such milestone with April—solid food.  I am now no longer her sole source of nutrition, and we now have one more tiny mouth to feed.  And while I am sad that my little baby burrito is growing up faster than I want to admit, I will embrace this new adventure wholeheartedly.

This being my fourth child, I have learned a few things about feeding babies that I would like to share with you.

First, store-bought baby food is expensive.  And it smells gross.  I can very easily and inexpensively make my own baby food at home.  While Gerber would have you believe otherwise, babies don’t need special “baby cereals.”  I make all April’s cereal from dry rice, cream of wheat, oats, and grits.  Once she finishes trying all the cereals, she will move on to fruits and veggies, all of which I will make myself.

Second, babies are messy eaters.  I know, this isn’t news to anyone.  But I have discovered an amazing invention that reduces the mess factor.  Meet the Boon spoon!  When I first saw this, I thought it was weird and would never work.  But I got it for free through an internet deal so I thought I’d give it a try.  I won’t use anything else now!  The spoon holds the food and you squeeze it out.  Pros:  one-handed feeding, no food on the bottom of the spoon, no bowl for baby to knock over, portable (comes with a cover).  Cons:  can’t think of any.  I think this is going to become my new favorite gift to give at baby showers.  You can find it here.

Third, don’t give up.  Just because your baby won’t eat something one day doesn’t mean he or she won’t eat it later.  If baby is not digging peas, wait a few weeks and try again.  Also, try processing rejected foods to a different consistency.  Keanna hated potatoes the first time I fed them to her.  Next time I made them stiffer and she liked them.

As we tackle solid foods with April, I will continue to write special Saturday posts highlighting baby food recipes and tips.  Even if you don’t have a baby, perhaps you can use the information provided here to help a mother who is trying to feed her own baby in a healthy, inexpensive way.

The first recipe I would like to share is rice.  One advantage to making your own baby cereal is that the rest of the family can enjoy it too.  I like to use rice leftover from dinner.  If I don’t have any left over, I make a big pot and use some for cereal and the rest for lunch for the older kids.  Because rice is very starchy, you will need to add a lot more liquid to it than other grains to reach the desired consistency.  I have recently switched from long grain to medium grain rice which is starchier and thus requires the addition of a lot of milk.

For large batches, I use my food processor.  When I want to make just a little baby food, I pull out my immersion blender and the food processor attachment.  This is also a great tool for making baby food away from home.
Rice Cereal
Breastmilk, formula, or water

Place rice in food processor.  Add liquid and process until smooth.  Add more liquid as necessary to reach desired consistency.

Simply squeeze food onto spoon.

April loves her homemade rice.

She gets upset when it's gone.
Here is a video to show you how easy the Boon spoon is (and to show off my cutie pie).  I fed her with my left hand while taking this video--that's how easy it is!  Sorry for the background noise.  The boys were eating their rice in the dining room.  They were telling each other not to take such big bites.


StaceyN said...

Your baby is SO PRECIOUS! What a cutie-patootie. I have never heard of that spoon before but am definitely going to try it once New Baby is eating solids. You are lucky your baby is mellow enough to sit in the Bumbo seat. We are yet to produce a mellow baby. We tried the Bumbo with our youngest son, enticed by the promise that any little baby can sit up in it and can't get out. Yeah, whatever. He immediately let himself out, again and again, even with the tray attached. He hated it. We renamed it "The Screamin' Blue Seat of Baby Angst" and sold it on eBay LOL! Good thing there are high chairs with nice, thick restraints :-). Thanks again for the heads-up about the feeding spoon. We have enough messes around here already, and it will be great to have just a little less food on the floor under my bare feet.

Sarah said...

How long does this last usually? Does it do well stored in the fridge or should it be eaten fresh every time? Does it freeze well? Do you think it would keep longer if you just kept cooked rice in the fridge and pureed up a baby serving size each time you need it?

Sumiko said...

Thanks, Stacey! We think she's precious too! As for the Bumbo, she only stays in it when there is food to be had. If we just leave her in it to contain her, she eventually twists around enough to fall out, usually face first.

Sarah, I usually make enough for at least a few days at a time. I will go into more details about storage in next Saturday's post, but yes, it does freeze well! If you are mixing water into it, you can keep it longer in the fridge. Because I mix breast milk into it, I usually only keep it in the fridge for a few days. Be sure to check back next weekend!

Sarah said...

Jonathan did NOT like the homemade rice cereal that I made him last week. :( He was actually gagging on it. I think it was just too textured for his age (he just turned 5 months, but has been eating store-bought rice cereal since he was 4 months). I got it as smooth as I could, but I'm guessing he may just need to be bigger before having homemade texture. Luke was the same way with homemade green beans - he refused them, but gobbled up the store-bought kind. There's something about store-bough texture that can't be matched sometimes. :) Now I'm wondering if I should try to put some through a strainer? Mmmm...

Sumiko said...


Sorry he didn't like the rice! Do you have a good food processor? I am able to get my rice cereal super smooth with my food processor, but now so much with some of my other blending appliances. Fortunately for me, April's not too picky about texture.

Janell said...

Thank you for this post! It somehow just didn't occur to me to make rice cereal myself despite the fact we eat rice frequently in my home.

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