Can my baby eat macaroni and cheese?
People the world over enjoy foods that are considered comfort food. One of the most comforting foods is macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and cheese tend to be considered unhealthy and fattening. Let’s refrain from that myth. In reality, all food could be fattening.
What makes a difference is how much a person eats the food. We all realize that good food is hard to put down once you start eating. You have the opportunity to teach your child about healthy eating from day one.
Breastfeeding is the best for baby, but the time comes when you need to start giving your baby girl or boy some real food, finger foods, substantial food that will give them nutrition, strength, and flavor. You are probably thinking, “I thought you were talking about macaroni and cheese?” We are, and you will see why it could be one of the best foods to give your little one as finger food.
Macaroni and cheese have health benefits.
Yes, you read that correctly. Health benefits in one of the world’s favorite foods, imagine that! By giving your baby macaroni and cheese as finger food, you are developing healthy eating. Inside each serving of this food is nine grams of protein. You also receive copper, which is needed to help your body absorb iron. You also have manganese and selenium.
Okay, it is not perfect.
The store-bought macaroni and cheese is not the healthiest food. However, you can change this in a couple of different ways. Start by making a batch of homemade macaroni with cheese. Not only will you know every ingredient in the food, but there will also be no preservatives in yours.
When you make it homemade, you can use whole wheat macaroni as the base. You may also choose to use low-fat milk instead of whole milk.
Real versus powder
Using a block of cheddar cheese and any flavor you like will be a healthier alternative to the powdered cheese mix. Powdered cheese contains salt and an additive to prevent clumping. Therefore, no unnecessary salt going into you or your baby. Not to mention putting additives in when you are unsure exactly what that additive is.
Oh, yes, flavoring. Anything to avoid the bland? Seriously, homemade macaroni and cheese are nowhere near bland. It screams flavor just by using the real cheese. However, we can add more flavor that your little one will enjoy. Start with some soft cooked vegetables, whether that is broccoli, carrots, spinach, or kale, to name a few. Stir any one or more of these vegetables into the macaroni and cheese, and you have added nutrients and vitamins.
Get rid of the pasta.
Again, what am I thinking? Surprise, instead of using pasta in your macaroni and cheese, substitute cooked cauliflower. This turns the food into a low carb meal and even healthier.
Small is best
Even if you cook the pasta or cauliflower until it is super soft, you want to be sure to mash it with a fork to ensure there are no pieces that are too big for the little guy or gal to eat. Chunky food is great for the baby, textures, and so forth, but it still needs to be small enough to prevent choking.
What a mess!
One of the joys of your little one starting to feed himself is watching them feed themselves. Plan and cover the floor. Don’t worry about the rest. It is all washable. When a baby or toddler begins to eat finger food, they are developing hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and a sense of satisfaction of doing it themself.
No chewing allowed
Your baby likely does not have more than a few teeth by this stage. Therefore, the foods you give to him as finger food should not need to be chewed.
Yogurt or breast milk
As an alternative to using milk in the macaroni and cheese, or cauliflower and cheese, you can substitute yogurt or breast milk.
Prepared for baby
Of course, there are already prepared foods for your little one. All you need to do is heat the food up. This makes it all the easier when your baby begins finger foods.
Bacon it with a little tomato.
For more added flavor for your little one, make your soft bacon bits and stir those in. Another bit of flavor would be to peel a tomato and mash the meat of the tomato into smaller chunks.
Finger foods are essentially the first step your baby takes into the grown-up world. Starting now is the time to teach about healthy eating. This is when your little one begins to notice the foods. Your job is to teach serving sizes, flavors, and how to get that food to their mouth.
You can virtually add any other foods that your little one already enjoys eating. Anything is possible. Finger foods only need to be healthy, soft, and small enough so that your little one does not choke. Take the necessary precautions and cook the pasta or vegetables so that it is very soft, mash into small enough pieces and add a little extra vitamin or nutrition to the macaroni and cheese. Just like we adults, little ones enjoy the comforting feeling of certain foods too.
So mix it up, add some different combinations, kind of experiment. Take a serving of pureed vegetables and stir that into the sauce. You can use anything, including sweet potatoes, carrots, whichever your little bundle of happiness enjoys. Teach them right from the beginning, serving size, how to add flavor, substituting healthy for preservatives and additives.
This could be a turning point in your child’s life. Keep in mind you have the choice for your child. Loaded with chemicals or made with the true flavors of foods they enjoy and benefit from.