Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler

Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler

by Norah O'Donnell, Geoff Tracy

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429988681
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 11/09/2010
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 1,022,260
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

NORAH O'DONNELL is chief Washington correspondent and anchor for MSNBC, an Emmy Award--winning correspondent for NBC, and a contributing correspondent for NBC's Today Show. She has served as White House correspondent for NBC News, reporting for Nightly News, Today, and MSNBC.

GEOFF TRACY graduated first in his class from the Culinary Institute of America. He opened his first two restaurants before the age of thirty. He currently owns and operates five successful restaurants in the nation's capital. In 2008 Tracy was awarded the Albert Uster Chef of the Year Award. He is best known as Chef Geoff.
Both authors are graduates of Georgetown University. As a married couple, they live in Washington, D.C., with their three young children.

Norah O'Donnell is chief Washington correspondent and anchor for MSNBC, an Emmy Award-winning correspondent for NBC, and a contributing correspondent for NBC’s Today Show. She has served as White House correspondent for NBC News, reporting for Nightly News, Today, and MSNBC. A graduate of Georgetown University, she lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband Geoff Tracy and their three children.
Geoff Tracy graduated first in his class from the Culinary Institute of America. He opened his first two restaurants before the age of thirty. He owns and operates five successful restaurants in the nation’s capital. In 2008 Tracy was awarded the Albert Uster Chef of the Year Award. He is best known as Chef Geoff.

Read an Excerpt

Baby Love

Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for your Baby and Toodler

By Norah O'Donnell, Chef Geoff Tracy

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2010 Norah O'Donnell and Geoff Tracy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-8868-1


Introducing Baby Love

Getting Started

Babies are ready to begin eating solid foods at four to six months of age. At this time almost all babies can learn to eat from a spoon. Most start with rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula.

If all is going well, check with your pediatrician about beginning to feed your munchkin simple pureed fruits or vegetables. Some pediatricians recommend you start with vegetables first to avoid developing a sweet tooth. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that "there is no evidence that your baby will develop a dislike for vegetables if fruit is given first. Babies are born with a preference for sweets, and the order of introducing foods does not change this."

New foods should be introduced one at a time. Wait at least two to three days before starting another to make sure your child is not allergic. Watch for any allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting. Once, our son, Henry, broke out in a facial rash. We called the doctor, who suggested it might be the tomatoes in the Bolognese! Sometimes infants don't like the acidity in tomatoes. The lesson: stop the food and then check with your doctor about the reaction.

We also made the decision to introduce new foods at breakfast or lunchtime rather than at dinnertime. In case the twins got a tummyache or gas at least it was during the day. You don't want a gassy baby keeping you up all night!

Within a few months of starting purees, your baby should be enjoying all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and meats. You know the saying, "Variety is the spice of life!" There is no better time to introduce these healthy foods.

Your Baby's Stages

First Tastes: 6 Months and Up

Start Simple

Watching your baby grow up and change and experience new things is one of the great joys of parenting. It's so exciting when your infant is ready for one of the big milestones in life: starting solids. It's also a good time to get out the camera and take pictures, as they usually enjoy smearing the food all over their faces!

Pediatricians recommend you start simple. First up is the baby cereal. Rice cereal is often recommended because it is gluten-free and is not likely to cause an allergic reaction. Also, commercially produced rice cereal is iron-fortified, an important nutrient for your baby's physical and mental development.

You'll notice babies only like a couple of tiny spoonfuls of the baby rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. Slowly, they will begin to take more and more and will eat a small bowl. We learned that feeding the cereal to Henry and Grace before bedtime actually helped them sleep longer at night!

Next, we started mashing banana and mixing it in with the cereal. Bananas are truly one of the world's super foods: they are not only nutritious but can help babies with constipation and diarrhea. More on the health benefits of bananas later!

Signs your baby is ready for solid food:

• Head control: Baby can hold head upright

• Sitting up: Baby can sit in high chair

• Smacking lips: Baby moves mouth while watching others eat; expresses interest in eating food

• Tongue-thrust: Baby stops pushing food out of the mouth (sometimes called the tongue-thrusting reflex)

Finally, during this stage you can begin Baby Love's "Perfectly Basic" single-ingredient recipes of apple, pear, banana, avocado, pea, carrot, butternut squash, and sweet potato.

Sometimes when we were in a pinch for time, we'd just use a fork to mash up some banana and avocado together. There's no cooking at all! The sweet taste of the banana really helps make the avocado palatable for your wee one. My friend and mother of three, Emily, recommends adding a couple drips of orange juice just to help smooth out the texture. Delicious! Remember, introduce each food one at a time and wait two to three days to check for any allergic reaction.

During this time, your baby may begin eating three small meals a day. That is approximately 4 ounces or two ice cubes each meal. And that's just a guideline. We learned from our twins that some days they are really hungry — and other days, not so much. Plus they go through these growth spurts and you will notice they seem like they just keep eating and never stop!

The American Academy of Pediatrics says because many adult foods contain added salt and preservatives, they should not be fed to babies.

Fun with Flavor: 8 Months and Up

Start Mixing It Up!

By now, your baby may be crawling around and starting to stick everything in her mouth. Our daughter Riley was already teething at this point and clearly seemed ready for the next stage early. She was developmentally ahead of the twins at this age. And that's perfectly normal. It's also why pediatricians recommend you follow your baby's cues. Some infants will be ready before others to advance to the next food stage. In this stage, it's about mixing ingredients and adding herbs and spices, perhaps some dairy or proteins.

Your baby will still eat many of the purees she started at six months. But now you can work in Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Raisin, a delicious recipe that makes your house smell like heaven after you've cooked it!

Our doctor also advised us that it was time to introduce proteins and foods with additional sources of iron that are absolutely crucial to healthy brain development. A baby is born with a store of iron that lasts about six months. So it's imperative, say nutritionists, to include iron-rich foods like meat, fish, and poultry.

Our nanny, Alba, came up with a perfect chicken soup recipe — a delicious combination of protein, vegetables, and rice. It's a real super-food recipe and truly our children's favorite meal. We have to admit each of our three kids ate it practically every day as babies because it was just packed with so many wholesome ingredients! Plus, Alba always left me a bowl of chicken soup to eat when I got home from work. What a treat!

Tots Love Texture: 10 Months and Up

Finger Foods!

At this stage, your baby is still enjoying purees and is ready to start slowly adding some foods with texture.

Your infant may be trying to walk. He may also have teeth and can use a pincer grasp to put finger foods in between his thumb and forefinger. So now is the time to introduce some soft combination foods along with the purees they still need. You can start the zucchini or butternut risottos, orzo with cheese (aka mac 'n' cheese), or small diced up whole grain pancakes.

You can also cut up small pieces of banana, avocado, mango, and other fruits.

Getting Big: 12 Months and Up

Happy birthday! The one-year birthday is a big milestone. Your infant is now likely to be walking and starting to say a few words.

The first big thing about the twelve-month mark is the transition to whole milk. Don't give your baby reduced-fat milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics is pretty clear about this. A baby needs the fat calories that whole milk offers for healthy development. Up until age two, fats should make up half of the daily intake of calories. In fact, you should not consider lower-fat milk an option until after your child's second birthday.

I recommend making the transition to whole milk gradually. For instance, Riley was drinking 8 ounces of formula per bottle. I started mixing 2 ounces of organic whole milk in with 6 ounces of the formula. You may notice some loose stools at first. A week later, I did 4 ounces milk mixed with 4 ounces formula. You get the idea.

Changes in poop! Don't freak out if you notice your baby's poop is starting to change color and stink even more after you introduce solid foods. Vegetables can produce an amazing variety of poop colors. It is not unusual to open the diaper and discover yellow, green, or even red bowel movements. As always, check with your pediatrician if you are concerned.

It's Nutritious

When we first decided to make our children homemade purees our main rationale was that it's healthy, easy, and delicious. It just seemed like the right thing to do. But the more and more I read and learn about nutrition, the more I am convinced that it is absolutely crucial to their lifelong health and happiness. Make no mistake: what you feed your baby now will affect the rest of their lives.

Did you know that children grow more rapidly in the first year than at any other time in their lifetime? Did you know that much of a human's brain growth occurs in the first few years of life? In fact, there is so much rapid growth and cell division in the body that scientists believe infancy and the toddler years are the best window of opportunity to influence adult health. It's called "metabolic programming," the idea that the foods eaten in childhood can have long-lasting — even permanent — effects on how the body grows and functions and wards off disease.

I am indebted to Dr. Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., who coauthored the book Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health and is also the author of The Instinct Diet for parents. She really opened my eyes to the powerful effects of early choices. Dr. Roberts points out that during the early years, as all these cells throughout the body are growing, they are sensitive to the availability of nutrients. "The nutrients present at this crucial time of cell division and growth help determine which cell types become predominant with each tissue," she says. These tissues and organs become important in the essential body processes of hormone production and enzyme activity. So you can see why the programming of these cells begins so early.

Dr. Roberts notes that "metabolic programming gives your child's body directions for his future. We know that first foods can have permanent effects on growth, strength, the immune system, and intelligence — with long-term consequences for many other aspects of health and even personality. Through metabolic programming, our children's whole lives are influenced by what they eat in their early years."

Good early habits can help prevent obesity, avoid allergies, optimize bone strength and height, maybe boost intelligence, and prevent childhood and adult cancers.

The other important reason for making homemade purees is that good eating habits are learned early. Babies who eat fresh fruits and vegetables grow up to be children who eat nutritiously. It's a wonder to watch our daughter Riley eat steamed broccoli pieces like they are chocolate-covered strawberries. The nutrition experts say that from nine to eighteen months we are given this incredible opportunity to put just about anything healthy on our child's plate and train their taste buds to enjoy wholesome foods forever.

So, bottom line: healthy eating in infancy is quite simply the cornerstone of a longer, healthier, and happier life.

Foods to Avoid

Babies can enjoy a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, herbs, and spices. But there are some foods worth avoiding for health reasons, like allergies, risk of infection, or choking hazards.

Allergenic Foods

• Cow's milk

• Egg whites

• Soy

• Peanuts

• Tree nuts

• Wheat

• Tuna, mackerel, shark, swordfish

• Shellfish

First, if your family has a history with allergies check with your pediatrician about foods to avoid. When you do introduce solid foods to babies you should be aware that an overwhelming majority of the reactions are caused by milk, egg whites, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and shellfish.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend introducing cow's milk until after one year of age because a baby can have trouble digesting the proteins. Cow's milk also does not have the complete nutrients a baby needs for growth.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that because eggs are frequently associated with allergy, egg whites should not be introduced until after one year of age.

Fish like tuna, mackerel, shark, and swordfish have high mercury content and are not recommended. Your doctor probably already warned you against eating these types of fish during pregnancy.

Choking Hazards

• Grapes

• Cherry tomatoes

• Nuts

• Chips

• Popcorn

• Raisins

Anything not pureed should be cut up into pea-sized pieces to prevent choking or gagging. Vegetables should be cooked until soft and then cut into manageable pieces. Fruits like grapes or cherry tomatoes should be sliced into quarters.

Infection Risks

• Honey

• Soft cheeses

Honey is an absolute no-no. It can contain bacteria spores that cause botulism, an illness that can be fatal. A child's intestinal tract is not mature enough to fight these life-threatening toxins. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that honey not be given to infants younger than twelve months.

Soft or unpasteurized cheeses can contain listeria, which can cause food poisoning.

Simply not Good for Babies

• Salt

• Sugar

• Spicy foods

• Fruit juices

• Hot dogs

• Deli meats

Babies are delicate and that's why some things should just be avoided. Salt can strain an infant's immature kidneys. Deli meats should also be avoided; they are often full of sodium and sometimes preservatives. Sugar is just not necessary and can cause tooth decay. Spicy foods are probably not worth it. Grace, at eighteen months, developed an affinity for hot salsa with her father's encouragement. I think she just likes the chips. Hot dogs, ham, bacon, and sausages are full of nitrates. The body can convert nitrates into potent carcinogens, which increase DNA damage and can lead to cancer.

Finally, pediatricians generally recommend not introducing fruit juices as a beverage to children at all, as they are high in sugar and just fill them up before meal time. Water is best. I made the mistake of giving my twins juice, but then learned to only offer Riley water for refreshment from the get-go. The twins still demand juice, so I usually fill the glass with half water and half juice. If you decide to introduce juice, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests diluting it half and half with water and limit servings to no more than 4 ounces (1/2 cup). Only use 100 percent fruit juice, with no added sugars or other sweeteners.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also points out that fruit juices should not be introduced before six months of age. "Because of the non-absorbed carbohydrates in juices, large amounts of fruit juice can increase the frequency of stools and make them looser." This is also a reminder that if your little one is sick with diarrhea, you should avoid apple juice. Loose stools mean diaper rash, red bottoms, and very unhappy babies. Plus — they simply don't need the juice!

Cheap Cheap ... and Green!

Baby Love recipes are less expensive than store-bought baby foods. If you compare them to mass-produced jar baby food, high-end organic jar food, and the new extraordinarily expensive frozen baby foods now appearing in markets, you'll be amazed at how much money you will save. Some of this new store-bought stuff is 45 cents an ounce! That's more than $7 per pound! Imagine paying $7 a pound for pureed carrots and filtered water!

Below are some price comparisons between homemade and store-bought foods at a national chain.

Baby Love is pretty green, too! It is amazing how much more garbage our family began producing once we had the twins. I had to order extra garbage and recycling bins from the city. Stinky diapers, wipes, formula containers, gifts, toys, cardboard ... it all fills up those bins so fast. If your baby eats the mass-produced mush at the rate of three jars of baby food per day, you'll be recycling 540 glass jars before he or she reaches his or her first birthday.

Baby Love Perfectly Basic Apple $.11 per ounce

Baby Love Perfectly Basic Carrot $.07 per ounce

Baby Love Perfectly Basic Pea $.08 per ounce

Baby Love Alba's Chicken Soup $.06 per ounce

Earth's Best Organic Baby Food (assorted) $.20 per ounce

Gerber 2nd Foods Fruits (assorted) $.18 per ounce

Gerber Meats (assorted) depending on pack size $.15–.38 per ounce

A diet of Baby Love Alba's Chicken Soup, and Perfectly Basic Carrot and Apple for six months would cost about $260. A similar diet of mass-produced baby food would cost about $650!

We want to stress that this is not a book about penny pinching ... but it doesn't hurt to have $390 extra in your pocket!


Words from Chef Geoff

My earliest memories are of food. Frozen crinkle cut French fries baking in the oven with their jagged cut and slightly burnt smell. Although I was only two years old, I can still recall the bag coming out of the green-colored freezer and the taste of hot puffy potato combined with very cold ketchup snatched from the refrigerator. The fries were always unevenly cooked.

As a young eater, I survived on cheese, crackers, raisins, peanuts, and raw carrot sticks. I was completely removed from the cooking and preparation of what I ate. And to a large extent so were my parents. Until I was ten, I thought vegetables came from a freezer. I had no idea they grew from soil and trees. Every green vegetable in our house was overcooked. One summer night, at a patio table behind our house, I declared brussels sprouts to be the worst vegetable in the world. I renamed them "killer vegetables."

When I was thirteen I started to experiment and enjoy food. I remember a farmer's market in New England where we bought fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and corn. That dusty sweet flavor of the tomato vine is still one of my favorite smells in the world. The corn was just picked and it was utterly delicious. My view of vegetables began to change and the world of food opened up to me. As an adult, I graduated first in my class from the Culinary Institute of America, the most prestigious culinary school in the world. Two years after graduating I opened my first restaurant at age twenty-seven. Nine years later, I was running five.


Excerpted from Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell, Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright © 2010 Norah O'Donnell and Geoff Tracy. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


The Way to a Baby's Heart,
1. Introducing Baby Love,
2. Words from Chef Geoff,
3. You can do it!,
4. Let's Cook,
Key Nutrients and Vitamins for Baby,
Shopping List,
About the Authors,

Customer Reviews

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Baby Love 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy to follow directions and makes large batches, easy for freezing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter is 17 months old and this book has been my guide since she started eating solids. It's simple and easy to follow. It has saved our family hundreds of dollars on store bought baby food.
avidreader1974 More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I'm not a cook, so when I bought it I was intimidated.  I found this book EASY to use.  Making baby food isn't rocket science.  But for this working mom, I needed step by step instructions of what to buy and do.  4 years later, I still find myself making some of the recipes.  My almost 4 year old eats anything now and I attribute most of it to this book.  It has also become my go to baby shower gift, paired with ice cube trays and food storage containers. Easy to use and encouraging, what more can a working mom want/need to for her baby.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too much how to and not enough recipies.
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