A friend asked me for some quick an easy recipes for a family of three, which includes an 8-month old baby. I realized that I could post every puree recipe on the face of the Earth,or I could simply share my views on feeding babies and children. 

In this country, babies and children are sometimes viewed as creatures from another world, when it comes to nutrition. They usually get “special” food. Almost any otherwise health-conscious restaurant has the worst crap on their menu, listed under “kids” section. So, you can enjoy some grilled sea bass with roasted root vegetables, while your kid is chewing on his chicken nuggets and drinking some purple soda, which doesn’t exist in nature. Why do we deprive our next generation of quality food, when they are the ones that are still  growing and needing more nutrients than we do?

“But  my kids won’t eat anything healthy,” – I must have heard this phrase a thousand times. If you leave your kids to make their own choices in life before they are ready to do so intelligently, not only they will have a chocolate bar for every meal, they will probably not study and do all kinds of other unhealthy things. We are responsible for our children’s choices and that includes the choice of what they put in their mouths. Yes, they do need some degree of freedom, but they also need boundaries. When it comes to food, healthy boundaries for children sound like: ” Would you like your carrots in a salad or would you prefer roasted carrots for dinner?” They do not include “carrots, like everyone else” or “chicken nuggets just for you.”

Back in the day,  meals used to be family time.  Everyone ate the same thing, lovingly prepared by a family member. Nobody made anything special for children, unless it was their birthday. Today, we have commercially prepared baby purees, frozen dinners, and teenagers, getting  take out and eating it in their room in front of their TV for dinner.

Food is nourishment, but it’s also a ritual of love and union. When my family gathers for a meal every night, it is very special: we share stories about our day’s happenings and we all eat the same food. I believe one of the first ways to teach your child healthy eating habits is to start with a similar ritual. Healthy food is food you share with others. Healthy food is food prepared at home with love.

And, back to the subject of what to feed your 8-month old baby, take some of that healthy food, prepared with love and mash it up with fork or in the food processor. There is always a vegetable or a grain you can feed your baby, if you eat grains and veggies yourselves. Trying to give your baby a kale puree can become the story you later tell your grandchildren ( I know, we do.) Leaving some squash for the baby before the squash goes into the dinner casserole makes your baby part of the family from his or her first bites of solid food a lot more than a jar of baby food ever would.

Oh, and do breastfeed. And eat a balanced diet while you do so. The baby will get introduced to all kinds of flavors through your breast milk, so these flavors better be of something other than Diet Coke and potato chips. This early introduction to family foods would prove very beneficial later at the family table, with Junior wearing a bib and proudly inhaling an avocado.