Baby food: It's mostly about the mashing

If you're thinking there is more to making your own baby food than mashing up a banana, you're right -- but not by much.

There are rules about how long to keep homemade baby food in the freezer, rules about nitrates and rules about when to feed what, but mostly it's all about the squishing and the squashing.

Books on baby food are good resources. They contain lists of when to feed what, recipes, pictures and the how-tos. But they can be expensive when you consider babies only eat "baby food" for about nine months to a year.

The ins and outs of making baby food were discussed last month at Western Nevada Community College's Family to Family New Baby Center. Instructor Jo Maier, manager of the center, used a microwave and a hand mill to make applesauce and sweet potatoes to show just how easy it can be.

The mill can be purchased at Baby's R Us for about $10. It is portable so can be taken to a restaurant or a visit to Grandma' s.

For 3-month-old Rosalind Taylor Macy, Grandma Jean Laird will mash up her food while Mom, Cheryl Macy, teaches senior English at Carson High School.

"I'm going to be babysitting," Laird said. "I wanted to learn how to make my own baby food. I planned to make it and bought a book."

Cheryl Macy said making baby food is more healthy and economical than buying jarred food.

Moms at the class said one of the most interesting bits of information was that carrots should not be used in homemade baby foods.

Carrots are grown in soils containing high levels of nitrates, Maier said.

"The nitrates cause anemia," she said. "It's best to by carrots in jars. The companies must buy from nitrate-free farms."

Jill Alley, whose 6 1/2-month-old son Austin seemed to enjoy the class, said she is making her own food because it is healthier and less expensive.

"I found it was real simple, and came here for more ideas," Alley said. "Bananas and peaches are his favorite so far."


What: Western Nevada Community College's Family to Family New Baby Center

Where: WNCC Campus, 2201 W. College Parkway, follow road around behind new library. Park at front door.

Call: 445-3286

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.


Baby food tips

-- Solid foods should be fluid and milky. It's good to start with rice cereal.

-- All new foods, except ripe bananas, should be cooked first. Cooking begins to breakdown the fibers that babies can't because they can't chew.

-- Use fresh fruit and vegetables; cooked the day of purchase is best.

-- Beets, turnips, collard greens, spinach and carrots should not be cooked at home.

-- Always wash fruits and vegetables, but peel them only when necessary. Unpeeled means more vitamins and minerals.

-- Don't use salt, sugar or honey.


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