Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Let's Hear it for Baby Food!

When I was a little girl of four, my baby brother was born. I remember being fascinated by all the baby paraphernalia, my early maternal instinct showing itself well intact. I loved the smell of the powder, the baby shampoo, and even the diaper rash ointment. I loved the smell of my baby brother when my mom let me hold him, all wrapped snug in his light blue blanket. I loved watching my brother when he slept, feeding him a bottle, and I especially loved all the gifts that friends and family brought to him. But my favorite part of the whole baby scene was the baby food. I was fascinated that the baby food tasted and smelled just like regular food, but that it was completely strained so that my little brother could eat it even before his tiny teeth grew in. I loved all the different flavors of fruit, and especially the desserts. It seemed that baby desserts were just as good, if not better, than the ones my mom served to the rest of the family.

Well, I grew up and ultimately had children of my own. When my firstborn, my son, was old enough to begin eating baby food, I didn't give it a lot of thought, until one day I opened one of the desserts, and I was transported back in time to the days when my mom gave me little tastes of my brother's baby food. It was a delightful scent, and once again, I tasted the delectable flavors. I think my son's (and my) favorite was called Dutch Apple Dessert. This was a strained version of a very sweet apple pie. He also liked the one with peaches and cream.

Introducing baby food into a baby's diet can be a tricky thing. Not only does a baby have to learn how to put his mouth around a spoon, there are other considerations such as bad behavior and allergies. Babies must be taught to try every type of food and must be disciplined not to spit, throw, or cry when they do not get their way. In addition, new parents must be careful to introduce only one new food at a time, so that if an allergic reaction occurs, it will be clear which food caused the reaction. I can't say that I was the best disciplinarian or the most organized when introducing new foods. I was excited to show my son how fun food could be and how great everything tasted, so I let him try just about every type of baby food. Of course, like me, he loved the desserts best, but he also liked the other foods.

Several years later when my daughters were born, I knew friends who were beginning to strain their own foods because they didn't want their babies to eat processed baby food. I can understand this sentiment, but for many of us, we simply don't have the time or inclination to strain our own baby food. For many of us, the baby food in the little jars on the supermarket shelf will just have to suffice. And for many of us, we're glad, because we want to continue sneaking a taste!

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