September 4, 2007, 7:00 am

Frugal with Babies Part II: Make Your Own Baby Food Myth

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Frugal
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When we had our first child two years ago, we were already looking for ways to save money. My wife decided to breastfeed her baby as it was good for their health. In fact, it was not only good for them, bur for my wallet too! Unfortunately, milk is only good for so many months. At one point, William was starting to look after something more consistent. This is when we decided to make our own baby food. My wife and I then started to buy tons of carrots and other vegetables.


Thinking it was better for our baby’s health and also because we thought it was cheaper, we spent a lot of time concentrating on this baby food. Looking for special price on bundles, going after the groceries’ coupons and preparing the food before we can it was part of our weekly routine until that day. That day where William was finally sleeping for more than 2 hours and we could watch some TV.


It is funny as when you become a parent, you always think about your children. Even if you are dead tired and sick of hearing them crying, you take a few seconds for yourself to open the TV and watch baby oriented programs. In fact, that TV show was about how to manage money. But this time it was regarding baby food.


They made a comparison with some well-known such as Heinz and Nestle and also home made baby food. I spent the next half an hour realizing we were totally wasting our time. The result of this study was shocking.


In fact, they were able to demonstrate that you can find all the good vitamins and other nutriments in the manufactured baby food than the one you make at home. More than that, Heinz was sometimes making better than at home. They added up more vitamins to the baby food to make it even better. Then, I tried to reassure myself by telling me that at the very least, I was saving money.


Then again, this TV program blew my perception away! When you are calculating the time you spend looking for specials and making baby food, you are actually better of by buying manufactured baby food from Heinz or Nestle. Even worst, as you can buy them in bundles, chances are you will save more money (without counting energy and time!) buying these products.


In the end, we still made some of the baby food and we will surely do the same thing with our new kid. While we are saving a bit of money, time and energy by buying some manufactured baby food, there is nothing like giving your baby food that you prepared for him!


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Comments

I’d love to know what TV show you watched devoted to showing homemade baby food is “worse” than commercial – Nestle and Heinz….were they involved in the production of this show? Just curious because it boggles my mind how anyone might believe that the baby food that sits on the shelf – baby food that is OLDER than your 6 month old child – can possibly be more healthier?

Added vitamins? Not so if you read the ingredient labels…..or maybe the commercial baby food makers are not being truthful in what ingredients are in the jars. Just how do they get the green bean and pea skins to puree into such a fine smooth texture????:shock:

Maggie

Any numbers to back this up? Who sponsored the show? What was the title?

At our house we’ll be moving towards the stage 1 foods soon and from reading the labels for those at least, there’s pretty much 1 or two ingredients and no additional vitamins, just a higher price tag.

Also from what I’ve read about the later stages, it’s more about fillers than vitamins (see http://www.cspinet.org/reports/cheat1.html).

by: The Financial Blogger | September 4th, 2007 (1:21 pm)

Maggie, Sick of debt,
I must admit that I was quite surprised too when I watched that show. I live in this small place of North America where people speak French 😉 (Québec, Can). The show was not sponsored by any food company.

In fact, they were discussing about a research made by Protégez-vous magazine. It is a well-respected magazine that basically tests any kind of products and releases their review once a month. The article was published in their January 2006 issue. Unfortunately, I tried to get more information on their website but you need a subscription to access the full article. They were explaining that the manufactured baby food is as good as the homemade one in term of nutriments. Protégez-vous is an independent magazine and they often bash commercial products. This is why I trust their content and give them full credibility.

Maggie, you brought up a good point in the aliment’s texture. It is easier for your baby to get used to “normal food” if he/she eats homemade food. Manufactured food is too smooth to have your baby practices swallowing pieces of food.

I guess that the best thing to do is still to make most of the baby food at home but you don’t have to feel guilty if you buy a couple of heinz pots 😀

We have 4 kids.
Our youngest is 2 years old and her favorite foods are whatever is on her daddy’s plate (that’s me). We have a 3 year old son. And our oldest (twins) are 7 years old.
Each of them was raised on the baby jar food. Mind you, that was only for about 4-5 months, and then they wanted our table food. By this I mean that they wanted the vegetables off our plates. So we simply started putting a couple of pieces at a time onto their plate.
By the time they were 1 1/2 years old, they would literally eat corn on the cob without a problem.
The vegetables that they eat are almost unlimited. It is a rare occasion when we find a vegetable that they won’t eat (or at least try).
And don’t get me started with fresh fruit 😀 We also started them on Gerber fruit jars as well.
We live in the state of NJ and we live within 10 minutes of several fresh produce stands that we frequent during the season, but you can’t produce fruits all year long due to the weather conditions.

by: The Financial Blogger | September 6th, 2007 (1:24 pm)

Chris,
4 kids, 2 jobs, jeez! That’s a lot on your plate (and I’m not even counting vegetables!).

I think that the most important thing is to transmit good and healthy eating habits such as eating vegetables on a regular basis and fruits as desert (instead of highly chemical, but so tasty, caramel pudding).

Hmmm that is interesting. We have four children too. I rarely made baby food in batches, mostly just pureed what we were having for dinner before I added any fat or spice. It worked well for us and was almost no hassle.

My parents raised four children without ever buying baby food or making baby food in batches, canning, etc. My mother breast fed each of us for 12 – 24 months, and when we got teeth, she started giving us solid food in addition to breast milk. She had a food grinder clamped on the side of the kitchen table, and she would grind up whatever the rest of the family was having and give it to the baby. All four of us are very healthy, and I cannot think of a single vegetable (or any other food for that matter) that any of us doesn’t like.

by: The Financial Blogger | September 10th, 2007 (12:04 am)

Frugalbabe,
That is a very interesting point. I think that we are so “brainwashed” by our new methods that we tend to forget what our parents use to do. I can easily remember a ton of things that my parents used to do for me that are not part of what is advertised by doctors these days. Thx for bringing this point up!

However, I don’t think that every mother can breastfeed until the age of 24 months. My son for example didn’t want my wife’s breast at the age of 6 month. He totally refused it. Therefore, we needed to make up before he eat regular food.

I think one key to homemade baby food being less expensive is to actually be eating lots of vegetables and fruits yourself that you can “smoosh” for baby to eat.

Although there is a certain convenience to vegetables and fruits in a jar, as the baby grow he or she is dependent on the family diet.. If you are not already eating lots of child nourishing foods, the “grind it up” stage is a great time to start. The habit of having a variety of healthy foods is already in place when the child moves on to mature foods.

It is not more expensive to feed an infant or young child food that you are already making and eating for yourself. You just need to remove a small prtion before seasoning. (Or not. My children preferred seasoned food to plain)

FWIW, it’s rare for a baby to refuse to breast totally at six months and not return to nursing. Not a evolutionarily sound idea for survival. 🙂 If you have any other children, your wife should speak with a lactation consultant or a La Leche League leader to help her over a tough spot like that. The AAP recommends that all children be breastfed for at least the first year of life, and for as long afterwards as mutually desired.

by: The Financial Blogger | September 11th, 2007 (10:23 pm)

MotherS,
my first son was an unusual kid on many levels. He didn’t sleep in the stroller nor in the car (until I reach the driving speed of 60 miles/hr). He was climbing the stairs before he could sit down and he jumped off his crib at the age of 8 months (and the crib was at its lowest level). He was constantly screaming and could never sleep for more than 1/2hr in a row (sorry for new parents-to-be, they are not all the same!).

So I simply consider my first one as an exception and I am not expecting my newborn little girl to refuse breastfeeding that shortly! I agree with you that babies do not refuse breastfeeding that fast!

This is an interesting concept. However, given Nestlé’s penchant for unethical marketing, I don’t believe it for a second.

I do know that carrots, if you purée, should be storebought due to the possibly toxic level of nitrates. Other than that? My opinion is: why bother?

My son never ate more than two or three spoonfuls of baby food. Not for lack of trying! After a month of him not eating anything, I gave up and just kept breastfeeding. Then, at about 8 months, he started showing interest in the food I would eat. So, I started feeding it to him. Little bits of fruit were easy for him to eat, as well as soft, pre-cooked vegetables. Even lettuce, as long as I chewed it a bit for him first. (Sounds gross, but it’s really no big deal)

Now, the kid will eat just about anything, and it saves us loads on buying baby food–or taking the time to make baby food. I’m just saying that you don’t necessarily have to purée food in order to feed it to a baby.

[…] Frugal with Babies Part II: Make Your Own Baby Food Myth at The Financial Blogger, talking about commercial baby food being cheaper and healthier than homemade. Well – sorry, but… nope. I’ve been there done that twice now and done numerous calculations on cost and waste and usage and every time, my homemade food wins hands down. And it is tastier too :). I picked this article to highlight because it is like the power of propaganda times a whole bunch. Added vitamins after the fact do not make something better (and often baby’s system can’t even absorb the added vitamin versions) and as for cheaper, I guess it matters what you buy and how much you waste in each version. And you will never ever find the variety of baby food you can make yourself. My daughter’s favorite food is avocado and I never would have known it if all she ate was jarred foods. The Financial Blogger decided to strike a balance and use both homemade and commercially prepared foods, yay for still using some homemade :). Okay I went on and on about that one lol. […]

I was just writing a few days ago about how easy, cheap and healthy homemade baby food is!

I think that part of the difference in pricing may be because of difference in countries. I just bought regular grocery store produce and didn’t chase around after sales or anything-I know that a single sweet potato or yam would make a bunch of baby food, and that if you look at the cost per ounce against canned you are saving money-but maybe produce is more expensive in Quebec.

Also, I’d just throw stuff in my electric steamer-where it would cook while I did other things, then puree in a food processor (with the juice from the steamer) and plunk in icecube trays-so for me the time invoved was minimal. I was also known to “cheat” and use inexpensive canned salt free veggies and just puree them.