Or, What Would Baby Carrie Eat?
It seems that these days we have two options for feeding babies--either we can spend a fortune on matching little jars (admittedly useful for all those VBS projects) or we can spend a fortune in time laboriously creating gourmet meals at home. Some sites dedicated to making baby food make it sound like a meal I wouldn't expect to get unless someone gave me a very large gift certificate.
Neither of these options appeal to me. I have always made my own baby food, in a fairly simple manner (cook up extra of whatever plain meat/vegetable is around, puree in blender, freeze in ice cube trays). Nonetheless, with twins life becomes even more complicated and I don't always have the perfect balance of meat, starch, green vegetable, yellow vegetable, and fruit that I carefully fed to the older two.
Then one day the older children were playing Laura and Mary as usual and I asked myself: "What did Ma feed Baby Carrie?" She didn't have little jars and she didn't have a blender or freezer or even a baby food grinder. I bet she didn't even follow the four-days-before-introducing-a-new-food rule. Yet somehow Baby Carrie survived.
The obvious answer finally dawned on me: breastmilk (or good-quality formula) is complete nutrition for babies. It's not enough to keep older babies happy, especially when they see everybody else eating that interesting food, but as long as they're continuing to nurse, they're getting a well-rounded supply of nutrients, and pretty much any food will work to give them practice swallowing and digesting. No doubt Ma simply fed Baby Carrie the mushier parts of whatever meal she was already cooking: hasty pudding; boiled squash, mashed potatoes, pease porridge cooled off.
Eventually babies have more complicated nutritional needs, but by that time they also have more complicated mouths that can chew softish food and have practiced enough on the really mushy stuff to swallow more complicated textures without gagging.
And the four-day rule? For common allergens or if you have serious reasons for concern, this makes sense. (I found out that D3 had an egg sensitivity that way, although I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that she'll outgrow it.) But it occurred to me one day when I was cooking pea soup for everyone else and worrying over the fact that I had yet to introduce the babies to onions, celery, parsley or marjoram, that I had never heard of anyone of normal health and constitution being allergic to any of the above. Babies don't need to eat all their food in bland, limited-ingredient mixes.
I haven't entirely given up on my blender and freezer, because I don't always cook that much mushy food (especially in the summer) and because the babies go to bed before the rest of us eat supper, but I have stopped worrying if I run out of this or that.
(Now there's one difficult question: What about meat? I happen to think meat is a pretty important part of the diet even early on, because of the need for iron--I don't do special baby cereals--and we all seem to have high protein requirements. I slow-cook and then use the blender. I have heard, however, of mothers who simply pre-chew the baby's meat. It's not really that gross--I mean, consider how else you feed them. It just seems like an awful lot of chewing for twins. So I've never actually tried it.)