There are plenty of moms who want to feed their babies kosher food and there are a number of kosher brands of baby food on the market.
Many Beech-Nut products (beechnut.com) are certified kosher, including applesauce, pears, bananas, apples, blueberries, blueberry yogurt, green beans, sweet potatoes and apples, and cinnamon raisin with pears and apples. But you have to look carefully at labels because their chicken soup and cinnamon raisin rice pudding are not kosher.
Earth's Best (earthsbest.com) claims to be the first completely kosher organic baby food line. Their certified products include cereals, juices, teething biscuits, canned fruits and vegetables.
Gerber (gerber.com) isn't quite so kosher-friendly. Only kosher apple juice drinks and rice cereal are available. Again, check labels.
Also, check out Holon Middle Eastern Food (chulon.com) for Israeli kosher baby foods such as oatmeal. You can order on the Internet and have it delivered or call the Brooklyn-based company at 718-336-7758.
Even with these options available, some moms think baby food is best when it's homemade.
Rebbetzin Karen Nightingale of Hollywood, Florida is no fan of canned or jarred baby food. "The smell is just horrible," she says.
So for all six of her children (the oldest is 13), she has prepared baby food at home. She's got a system. She cooks for the older ones and then purees the ingredients for the younger ones. The newest baby girl, Avital, 1, is no exception. She's being brought up on pureed fresh fruits, veggies and even reheated chicken soup.
"Adults love fresh food, and the best thing you can give your child is fresh food," she says.
Nessa Reich of Plantation, Florida is the mother of Shoshana, 5, and Rina, 3. In October she had a third girl: Hadassah Blima Reich.
When Shoshana was a baby, Reich had time on her hands. That's when she decided to make her own baby food.
"The advantage was the feeling that I was participating in the nutrition of my child," she says. "I don't feed myself out of jars, so why would I do that for my children?"
She was able to cook and puree all sorts of things: carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, peas, plums, peaches.
"Anything you find in a jar," she says.
If you are thinking of making your own kosher baby food, of course you have to start with kosher ingredients used correctly in meat and dairy menus. And you have to take into consideration your child's allergies and food sensitivites. Talk to your pediatrician before embarking on this project. Then take these tips from Karin Knight and Jeannie Lumley, authors of The Baby Cookbook (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.):
Clean hands, utensils and work surfaces are essential.
Vegetables (especially spinach) should be fresh and used within two days of purchase. Wash all fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry before preparing. Do not overcook vegetables or fruits. Cook just until tender.
Put leftovers in clean covered containers and refrigerate immediately to use within one or two days.
Bananas should be ripe, never cooked and mashed with a fork to serve.
To freeze baby food, pour portions into plastic ice cube trays. When frozen, pop food cubes out of containers into a plastic bag. Seal and store in freezer. To serve, remove a cube and melt over low heat in a small saucepan or defrost in a microwave (be careful of hot spots when feeding your child). Freezer temperature should be zero or lower. Use frozen baby food within two months.
Dependable Web sites are another good source of information. Idid.essortment.com/babyfoodmake_relk.htm makes these suggestions:
For vegetables, such as beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans and potatoes, peel and slice the vegetables small enough that they'll cook quickly. Steam them over boiling water or cook in the microwave with a small amount of water. When vegetables are tender, puree them in a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade. You may need to add water to get the food to the right consistency.
For fruit, such as apples, peaches, pears, plums and apricots, wash well and remove their skins. Steam them 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and remove their pits. Then, like the vegetables, puree the fruit, adding water if necessary.
The Dr. Sears Web page (www.askdrsears.com) also makes these sound suggestions for at-home food production:
Remove any part of the food that could cause choking, such as pits, peels, strings and seeds. Trim excess fat off poultry and meat.
If you use a microwave to thaw or warm baby food, be sure to stir the food well to avoid hot pockets.
Other Internet sites that offer tips on making your own baby food: