Kate Booze is a self-described "fan of nutrition and fresh, wholesome food." An occupational therapist, wife, and mother, Booze applied her interest in healthful, natural eating to making baby food when her daughter, Anna Katherine, was born 3-1/2 years ago.
Like a growing number of parents, Booze of Marion, Pa., chose to make all of her daughter's baby food.
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"I wanted to give (Anna Katherine) the best start. We talk a lot about eating the different colors of the rainbow," she said, as opposed to eating one type of food or only a small variety.
Booze says that making baby food is "pretty simple, and less expensive (than commercial products), and "I know what's in it."
As a reference, Booze used "The Complete Guide to Preparing Baby Foods at Home," by Sue Castle, (Garden City, New York Doubleday & Company Inc.).
The book detailed when to introduce different types of foods, for babies, from purees for the youngest infants to finger foods for older babies, Booze said.
Booze said she found the process helpful in that many of the purees could be spooned into ice cube trays and frozen for later use. While fixing dinner for herself and her husband, Charlie, she said she could set out the cubes a half-hour to an hour before dinner so they could be thawed and heated for her daughter.
"When I was preparing dinner for me and my husband, it was easy to just transition that into purees for her.
"(Anna Katherine) loved the food," Booze said.
In the meat category, Booze included pureed chicken, turkey and even liver, which she said her daughter liked at the time, but she no longer cares for.
She also included staple foods in her daughter's diet, such as carrots and apples, which could be blended together to make into a puree.
Booze received a regular box of produce from an organic farm share, so she incorporated the produce they acquired from the farm. "(I used) simple things like beans or peas. And some things you wouldn't expect, like pureed spinach. Anna Katherine really liked that," Booze said. Anna Katherine continues to eat healthfully, according to her mother.
As for her healthful, natural approach to food, Booze credits her mother as her role model. Her mother also emphasized the basic food groups in her cooking, and made many healthful meals, seasoned with spices.
Booze herself says she doesn't used a lot of spices in her cooking, preferring to stick with fresh, all-natural ingredients. "The flavor (of fresh food) is just amazing," she said.
For Jessica Flory, a stay-at-home mother of two from McConnellsburg, Pa., the decision to make homemade baby food was fueled mostly by economics, as she compared the cost of a jar of pureed bananas to a bunch of fresh additive-free bananas. She also said she prefers to know what's in the food she and her family eat.
"I don't go crazy about what we eat but I'd rather start with something fresh," she said.
When she started her son, Ben, now 19 months, on solid foods, she said she used some recipes, but found that for the most part, she could make foods based on food she had on hand.
As a guide, though, Flory followed information found at WholesomeBabyfood.Momtastic.com, where recipes are found and information on when and how to introduce certain foods into a baby's diet are included.
Flory said she used a food mill to start making purees for Ben, and then graduated to using a small chopper for preparing baby food. She liked using these apparatuses because "you could control the texture. Sometimes jarred baby food is too smooth." Babies should be exposed to foods with different textures as they develop their palates, she explained.