I try not to give advice to expectant mothers: they’re usually getting it from enough other sources. If I am asked if I have any baby advice, I tell first-time moms they don’t need even half of the supplies that they’ll be led to believe are necessities. They don’t need a baby wipes-warmer, they don’t need a video baby monitor, they don’t need a special chair known as a glider, and they don’t need a stroller that costs more than $50. There’s something eye-opening about meeting your babies in the NICU for the first time and seeing them in onesies that are way too big, seeing nurses use cut-up paper towels instead of manufactured baby wipes to clean a baby’s bottom and watching a volunteer grandma rocking a baby back and forth with nothing but the rocking motion of her arms while sitting in an old hospital chair. It quickly makes one realize what’s necessary and what’s marketing.
The baby supplies I used and found irreplaceable were practical, usually inexpensive and not found on a list. I used a $15 umbrella stroller until the wheels didn’t move anymore. I used a couple of $40 basinets that were light and easy to set up in different places around the house. And, when I started feeding my babies solid food, I used the Annabel Karmel cookbook, “Top 100 Baby Purees”, until the pages were dog-eared and stuck together with at least three or four different varieties of those 100 baby purees.
It doesn’t work to feed three babies from tiny, glass jars of baby food. I also quickly learned that, while there were lots of interesting snack food varieties on the market for babies, a big box of Cheerios was less expensive and worked equally well to satisfy a fussy baby. While a few of the recipes in the book seemed obvious (Banana: Mash a small banana with a fork. . .), many were not (Chicken with sweet potato and apple). A number of the recipes can easily be adapted to feed adults and babies at the same time (Easy one-pot chicken, Cauliflower and broccoli in cheese sauce, or Salmon surprise).
The book starts with basic vegetable and fruit purees that are appropriate at six months, and then adds in meats and more complicated foods as babies enter new stages of eating. The author clearly describes how to introduce new foods, how to freeze and store food in large batches, gives lots of ideas for finger foods and generally sets a foundation for healthy eating to transition to later years of development.
My kids are far from needing baby food, and they are embarrassed that the book still has a place within my collection of cook books. I don’t simply keep it around for sentimental reasons, though. I’m still using some of the recipes. The basic vegetable and chicken stock recipes are great. Although they’re not called smoothies, the book has a wonderful collection of fruit smoothies, and I haven’t found a better or easier rice pudding recipe than the one in this baby food book.