Allie, babies have their preferences for food tastes and textures just as adults do. Your baby seems to prefer the taste and texture of your home-cooked food, which might be a sign of good taste! There’s no harm in continuing to try giving him the jarred foods once in a while, since he might change his mind. But you don’t need to force him to eat jarred baby food as long as he’ll eat table food you prepare for him.
Jarred baby foods are merely a convenience. They’re no more nutritious than table foods. It involves a little extra work to puree your own baby food by hand or with a food mill or electric blender. But there are advantages to giving your baby table food instead of jarred baby food. You can ensure that the food he eats is fresh and nutritious with no added salt, sugar or preservatives. Your son gets used to your food from the start and doesn’t have to make any transitions from jarred food to table food. Plus, you save money. Safety measures for homemade baby food:
- Select high quality, fresh food. Consider buying organic to reduce your baby’s exposure to pesticides and other chemicals.
- Don’t feed babies less than 6 months of age homemade beets, carrots, turnips or collard greens. They can have high levels of nitrates, which can rarely cause anemia in babies. (Jarred baby food is tested to ensure low levels of nitrates.)
- Wash fruits and vegetables well before preparing them.
- Cook meat, poultry, fish and eggs thoroughly before serving to help prevent food poisoning.
In addition to crackers and cooked carrots and potatoes, give your son baby cereal and a wide variety of pureed fruits, vegetables and meats. Try each new food for a few days at a time to make sure your baby isn’t allergic to it. Try sweet potatoes, squash, peas, beans, bananas, pears, peaches, plums, applesauce, pureed chicken and beef, and yogurt. Soon your son will be able to eat table food with more texture, such as scrambled egg yolks – wait until after 12 months to give egg whites, which can cause allergies – well-cooked pasta, mushy rice, tofu, cooked beans and small chunks of cheese and meat.
Over the next six months, your son should be eating more and more solid food and drinking less milk. Aim for no more than 24 to 32 oz. of milk a day. If he continues to drink 40 oz. of milk a day, he won’t have an appetite for solid foods. Try feeding your son the solid foods first, when he’s most hungry, and then give him milk.You can also start teaching him to drink his milk from a cup so he’ll be good at drinking from the cup by 12 to 18 months and better able to give up the bottle.
For more information, see the U.S. Department of Agriculture manual “Home-prepared baby food” at http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Resources/feedinginfants-ch12.pdf
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.