Keep your baby healthy and safe at every age and stage with simple at-home strategies, says Debra Smiley Holtzman, author of The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety (Sentient, 2005). “Try to start thinking about what you’re going to need at the next stage before you need it because it comes on so quickly,” she says. “You don’t have to have the baby gate up when your infant comes home, but you want to have everything handy so you’re ready for the next milestone.”
For busy, sleep-deprived moms, making baby food from scratch may seem like a recipe for insanity. But going the homemade route is actually quite simple, plus it saves money and the food can be more nutritious and tastier than store-bought varieties, says Lisa Barnes, the San Francisco-based author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook (Penguin, 2005). Offer your 6-month-old puréed foods one at a time (to watch for allergic reactions), and eventually work up to chunkier, more varied meals by his first birthday. Here's how to make your own meals:
If you don't mind paying a little more for baby food made from ingredients produced without the use of pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics, here are four new organic brands to try:
Homemade Baby Employing a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, this Los Angeles-based company offers kiddie dishes like Baby Tex Mex (brown rice, kidney beans and vegetables) and Piwi (pears and kiwi). Ships nationwide, $1.59-$1.99 per 4-ounce container (plus shipping costs); homemadebaby.com.
A lot of tools aren't necessary for making your own baby food, but you will need a steamer (steaming preserves nutrients better than boiling); a food processor or blender to puree the food; extra ice cube trays for freezing individual portions; freezer bags to store the food cubes in; and recipes. Here are some products that can help:
You don't have to be Julia Child to make your own baby food—all it takes are the right tools, a little time and a bit of imagination. Virtually any fresh food you can think of can be safely prepared for your baby. Bananas and other soft fruit, such as mango, papaya, avocado, peaches and kiwi, are ideal because they don't need to be cooked and can be mashed with nothing more than a fork. Firm fruit, such as apples and pears, may need to be cooked and then mashed.
Whether you wean your baby at 6 or 16 months, the key is to do it gradually. If you stop breastfeeding suddenly, your breasts will likely become painfully engorged and you risk developing blocked or infected milk ducts, according to Richard Schanler, M.D., a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics' section on breastfeeding and chief of neonatal-perinatal medicine at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. "There is no exact science when it comes to weaning," he says. But there are some things you can do to make the transition go smoothly for both of you: