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Dec 29

Gadgets

One does not need a whole range of kitchen utensils to prepare baby food. However, two things will come in very handy, i.e. the slow-cooker and a hand-blender. These are multi-tasking kitchen gadgets which can be used for the whole family food preparation and cost less than RM100 each. One just needs to toss in the ingredients like rice or oats into the slow-cooker to make a porridge and add the rest of the ingredients. In the earlier stage, baby food needs to be blended into very smooth consistency and thus, the hand-blender will come in handy.

Time saving tips

* To save time on cooking rice or oats, I wash a batch of rice, dry them in the oven, blend the rice/oats to powdery, and keep them in airtight container. Cooking time is very much lessen.
* When Matthew was younger and only took small serving of food, I cook extra portions, freeze them in ice tray, store the frozen food cubes in plastic bag, and kept in airtight container. However, label with the date and avoid storing frozen cubes longer than 1 week. Fishes do not store well. To heat up the cubes, one just has to pop it in the microwave and reheat for 1 minute or steam it. (Caution: One ought to be careful when giving food heated in microwave because sometimes, there are ‘hot spots’ that can burn because of uneven heat distribution. Always stir the food well.)
* At times, I will cook for the family, dish out a small portion of food before I add in any salt or flavourings and blend the food for my baby.
* When I prepare soups made of vegetables and meat/bones stock, I will dish out some before adding salt and cook porridge with it.
* As baby food is not supposed to be flavoured with any salt or soy sauce, I use herbs and spices like garlic, onion, bayleaf, cinnamon powder, celery etc to enhance the flavour.
* One readily available ingredient is homemade ikan bilis powder. I will soak the ikan bilis for a long time until all the saltiness is removed, dry them in the oven till crispy and pound them into fine powder. A pinch added to porridge not only makes it tastier, it is full of calcium too.
* Babies love the taste of soft fruits like banana and papayas. All one need to do is just to scrape the fruit with a spoon and fed to the baby.

More discoveries

* Different babies react differently to the texture of foods. While other 9 months old babies are adapting to soft porridges with bits and pieces of vegetables and meats, Matthew dislike any lumps in his food.
* Some babies only like Malaysian/Chinese flavoured porridges while others like those with a more Westernised taste like corns, peas, cheese and pasta.
* Food for young babies must be in a runny consistency instead of thick gooey stuff which sticks to the palate.
* It takes patience and time to make the transition for my baby to get used to chewing his food. I offer him rice crackers, rice crispies and soft fruits to chew on. However, he still oftens gagged while eating rusks and other baby biscuits. Therefore, one has to be very careful and never leave a baby alone with any kind of food.

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Dec 27

Mymomsbest advocates breastmilk as the best food for baby and after 6 months of age, supplementing with home-cooked solid foods. Read what the doctors said about starting solid and also find out more regarding allergy.

COOKING FOR BABY

(a compilation of mymomsbest forum members’ suggestions and ideas – by Chan Lilian)

I cannot envision myself eating packets of cereals for breakfast, bottled lunch and canned dinner everyday. Neither can I endure getting my daily dose of vegetables or fruits processed and bottled months or even years. Why should I when we have plenty of fresh foods around due to our perfect tropical climate? With this same reasoning, I am one of those moms who relish being an innovative cook in the kitchen for the sake of my children and babies. I thought that I am one of the few women whom others deemed foolish to spent time labouring over some muck which baby is likely to splatter all over the floor, wall, hair, everywhere except into his little tummy.

Many of mymombest forum members are doing it and all of us enjoy sharing recipes even if the recipe involves only one or two ingredients and the method is nothing but cook and blend. A chat with a lady paediatrician revealed that she also makes sure that her children are fed home-cook porridges made with fresh ingredients when they were babies. According to her, it is so simple to prepare and very nutritious too.

One need not be a culinary expert to prepare babies food. However, mothers has to be aware of the foods to avoid for babies of certain age, remember to introduce new food one at a time, practice good hygiene, know the signs of food intolerance and allergies. This basic information can be obtained from your respective paediatricians, nurses in the district clinics, books and magazines.

Matthew was given rice flakes mixed with expressed breast milk starting from 4 months old. He was accessed by the paediatrician and found to be ready to start solids as he was showing signs of wanting to eat whenever he saw us eating and has good head control. However, the first month or two was just practice sessions rather than serious eating.

I began experimenting with all the various vegetables and fruits from 6 months onwards and it was fun creating my own recipes from locally available foods like papaya, banana, sweet potato, pumpkin, spinach etc. Through notes sharing with friends, I have modified and simplified some of the methods to make preparing baby foods really simple and easy.

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