Not quite baby led weaning... or real people food your baby can eat!

So you may not be feeling up to making your own baby food. That's cool! But just because you'll be visiting the baby food aisle at the grocery store, doesn't mean all the food that's smeared on those chubby cheeks needs to come from there.  A fun and less expensive way to feed your baby is to find foods that are geared towards the general public that your little one can enjoy too.  So without further ado here are some ideas of foods that fall into that category.

  1. 1. Applesauce (and its friends).  These days you can find applesauce mixed with strawberries, peaches, pears, and probably other fruits.  That can be a great way to introduce your those items into the rotation with minimal effort and a smaller price tag.  Just make sure you select applesauce that has no sugar added.

  2. 2. Canned pumpkin. Sometimes this can be a seasonal item (especially at stores like Trader Joe's), only appearing in the fall. However, frequently you can find single ingredient pumpkin in the baking aisle year round. (Note: do not confuse with pumpkin pie filling.)

  3. 3. Naturally soft fruits like bananas, avocados, and watermelon can be mashed with a fork or cut into cubes and handed straight to a slightly older baby with minimal effort.

  4. 4. Jam that's not really jam.  A mainstream version of this is something like Polaner all Fruit.  These are, in essence, fruit compotes and the like that often don't contain any added sugar. They look like jam but are less sweet.  These can be a fun way to introduce your baby to more "exotic" fruits like mango, if you're going the bought baby food route, or fruits that are out of season if you're going the home made baby food route.

  5. 5. Yogurt. I'm sure you've thought of this one yourself already but there are lots of fun varieties out there if you're willing to be adventurous, including goat and sheep milk yogurt.  No need to stick to baby versions (ex. yobaby).  Just pickup any plain, "no sugar" added version.  You can dress it up with applesauce, soft fresh fruit, all fruit "jam", or baby food.

  6. 6. Grains (cook slightly longer).  It's super convenient to buy a box or two of "baby cereal" such as oatmeal or rice.  A Ziploc bag of these can be stored in case of emergency in your diaper bag/at day care, used to thicken purees that got too thin, or fed directly to your child. However, if your family consumes a wide variety of grains on a regular basis such us quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, etc. there is no reason to buy a "baby cereal" version of each of these.  Just cook the grain in question slightly longer with a bit more water (set aside a portion of what you were making anyway on a given night). Once you've done that you can even mix it up with a more traditional puree for a smoother flavor.
And remember, if your child is eating "adult" foods, that means you can all start eating as a family.  Why not serve everyone yogurt and "jam" for breakfast or oatmeal and banana for lunch or feed your baby some avocado for dinner while the rest of the family enjoys taco night with guacamole?
Note: If you've never heard of "baby led weaning" here is a helpful link.  To me this all sounds delightful on paper (metaphorically) but I don't have the patience to watch a baby attempt to aim a piece of food at his mouth for days on end.  I also don't have the stomach to clean up the food disaster I imagine will grace my floor as a result of such an experiment.  Yes I am a control freak.  Hopefully my children will forgive me.
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