All mothers of small children are busy people. They have many household chores to do, as well as looking after and feeding the baby. This leaves them with very little time for leisure, so that they naturally tend to look for some means of saving labor.
When such things as canned, cooked baby foods are widely advertised, these mothers are inclined to use them too often. Especially when solid foods are first introduced into the baby’s diet, mincing and pureeing can take up much time. While at this stage an occasional item of canned food can be used to save time, or for variety, this should not be done exclusively.
The contents of tins have to be sterilized for good keeping equality. This requires much higher than ordinary cooking temperatures. Heating to such temperatures partly destroys even the normally heat resisting group of B vitamins.
Vitamin C, the one which prevents Scurvy, is destroyed by heat. If air is excluded some of the C Vitamin can be preserved. That is why modern canneries seal their tins under vacuum.
A certain amount of loss of all the essential vitamins is unavoidable. To the cost of food comes the cost of processing and packaging, so that less food value is obtained for more money.
Freshly and properly cooked vegetables and fruit will always be superior to the canned variety. So will the juice of a freshly squeezed orange be cheaper and richer in Vitamin C than any commercial product can be, though modern processing has diminished the losses greatly.
Vegetables should be bought as fresh as possible. They should then be cooked in little water until tender, but not overcooked. The cooking water should not be discarded, but used to make white sauce or gravy, which preserves any minerals dissolved in it.
Reheated meat becomes tougher and less easily digestible than when freshly prepared.
So, while canned baby foods can be used occasionally, they should not form a baby’s staple diet. Every cook flavors food individually. A child may as well become accustomed to his mother’s cooking, which it will, after all, eat through most of his youth. Babies’ taste buds are very sensitive, so try his food and don’t give him anything you would hate to have to eat yourself.
Likes and dislikes and food habits are acquired astonishing early, and can persist for a long time.
If a child gets to like a particular variety of canned food, it is often given for too long. Good chewing habits are delayed if mushy food is taken exclusively. As soon as the baby has teeth some firm foods, such as apple, carrot sticks, and rusks should be given.
The apple and carrot should at first be grated, or chopped and baby watched while eating them. Nuts, bread crumbs, and small hard lollipops must never be given, as children have been known to choke on them, or breathe them in, so that they lodge in the lung.
Most housewives will go to a lot of trouble to prepare party foods. If they know that their children will benefit, they will not mind the little extra time it takes to cook for them.