This is NOT a paid endorsement. This is my unsolicited review of a product I liked.
This is an idea that’s been around a while (both my mother and Daniel’s say they had something like this when we were babies in the early 1970s) but I hardly ever see today’s parents doing it or talking about it.
Instead of buying baby food in those little glass jars or the horrible plastic packets that have come on the market recently, instead of spending time cooking and pureeing and freezing and storing foods especially for your baby, just feed your baby some of the foods you’re eating! If the food requires biting or chewing that your baby can’t do yet due to lack of teeth, use a convenient hand-powered grinder to turn it into baby food! It’s very easy and allows you to make baby food anywhere, on short notice, in exactly the amount you want, without using any electricity.
Our son Nicholas did not get any teeth until he was nearly a year old and didn’t have molars for months after that, so he needed mushy foods for a long time. We had a busy schedule–Daniel was working full-time outside the home, and I was working part-time and was a Girl Scout leader–so making healthy meals for ourselves was a bit of a struggle already, yet we needed to provide some kind of tasty nutritious mush for the babysitter to serve Nicholas at lunchtime every weekday beginning at six months old. Luckily, we had found a KidCo food mill, very clean and in the original package, for $1 at a yard sale before he was born.
This handy gadget turns almost any food into a soft paste–but with a little bit of texture–in about one minute. It’s really wonderful!
- Although you do all the work by hand, it turns very easily, even if you need to keep your elbow tucked in (like in a crowded restaurant).
- Because you don’t have to plug it in, you can use it in a restaurant, on a picnic, etc.
- It makes almost no noise. It’s nothing like the grinding shriek of a blender or food processor, which can upset babies (and everyone else within earshot!).
- It is small and lightweight, easy to carry with you in case you need it. It’s a lot easier than carrying containers of food that need to be kept cold!
- Although the blade is nice and sharp, it’s arranged such that it’s practically impossible to hurt yourself on it.
- The finished food comes up into the top of the device, which you can then use as a bowl; you don’t need a dish for baby.
- It’s easy to clean. We typically would rinse it thoroughly after use (in restaurants, we could rinse it in the restroom sink after we finished eating) and use it repeatedly until I was washing dishes, at which point I’d wash it just like anything else. It’s also dishwasher safe.
- It enables you to feed baby some of your meal instead of having to prepare (or order) separate food. Not only is this convenient, but it gets your baby accustomed to the flavors you like, whereas packaged baby foods tend to be very bland. Baby Nicholas yummed down things like Zucchini Tofu loaded with garlic and ginger! He got more particular when he was about three years old, but even so, he eats a much wider variety of foods than many kids–we are not one of those families that has to make chicken nuggets and mac&cheez every day because the kid won’t eat anything else!
- It reduces waste because you can make a small amount, then make more if your baby likes it. It’s not like a blender or food processor, where you have to have a large amount (by baby standards) in it to get the blades to process it properly.
I see that KidCo is now selling a new improved model, made from safer materials (uh-oh, was the one we had unsafe?) and with a snap-on lid and more grippy surfaces. It looks great!
Of course, you can’t just launch into feeding a six-month-old baby everything you eat yourself. Introduce one new food per day so that, if your child shows symptoms of allergy, you can figure out which food triggered it. Follow your doctor’s advice about withholding certain foods until after one year old. The grinder will not handle really hard or tough foods; take that as a sign that these foods should wait until baby has molars.
To pack Nicholas’s lunch for childcare, Daniel simply ground up some of our leftovers and filled reused baby food jars. (We did buy a few jarred baby foods when the organic ones went on sale.) If we were short on leftovers and didn’t have any jars ready to go, our back-up baby food was 3 parts black beans to 1 part marinara sauce, put through the food mill together–tasty and high in iron!
As baby gets teeth, he or she will become able to eat more foods that can be served in small chunks for picking up with fingers. That really makes life easier! But for the toothless baby, a hand-powered food mill is a great thing to have.