Thursday, July 29, 2010

Free Uddercover...for all you breastfeeding mommies!

Found this deal online...Great deal if you are breastfeeding or know someone who is breastfeeding!  You get one Uddercover nursing cover (regular price $32) free. You just pay the shipping. The code is "Family2010".

Go to Uddercovers, click on "Shop Now", select the product you would like (they also have 3 piece gift sets available with this promotion) and you will automatically be directed to the center of the page where you can enter in the promo code! Type in "Family2010" and it will pull up the ones available. They are selling out fast. You can use the code more than once - you just have to open a new browser/window to do so. Good Luck!

I love free stuff!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sticky Fingers

This morning my 9 month old son did not eat his breakfast...he took a bath in it.  It's probably a sign of his budding independence, but it literally took me 20 minutes to clean up after him.  I guess it was worth it because it bought me 20 minutes of "free time" ("free time" meaning, time to suck down a cup of coffee and empty the dishwasher).  My poor husband would have had a stroke if he saw the state of the kitchen and the absolute mess that my son was able to make with his oatmeal and blueberries.

Well while I was cleaning up after Hurricane Dylan, I thought about all the benefits of letting him play in his food and smear it all over the tray, his body and his face.  Today while I was feeding him he was insistent on holding the bowl and spoon, which is how this episode started.  He held the bowl with one hand and squished the food through the other.  He then grabbed the spoon from me and began to bang it on the tray...splashing the food all over himself and the surrounding surfaces.  As he did this, I couldn't help but think about how all of my pediatric therapist friends would be so proud.  No tactile sensitivity here!  He definitely tolerates different textures...which is one nice thing about making your own baby food because you can play around with the consistency of the food.  I even started sticking his puffs in mashed bananas on his tray and making him pick them out.  Which I would assume helps him develop visual discrimination (Visual Discrimination lets us see differences between objects that are this case similar color between the puffs and the banana).

There is actually tons of learning going on during each meal.  Eating is such a social event.  I have started sitting Dylan in the highchair while we are eating dinner, even if he is already done eating, so that he becomes accustomed to sharing meal time with the family.  I notice that he becomes very vocal while my husband and I are talking, as if he wants to contribute to the conversation.  We use that time to engage him to reinforce that his voice is being heard.  We have also been working on basic signs such as "more", "milk", "thank you," "water", and "all done".   Meal time is such a great opportunity to practice these signs.  Crackers are a great reward for the sign "more" and meal time etiquette lends itself to chances to practice lots of  "thank yous" and "all dones."  He has also started to imitate clapping, waving, and "so big"...which can also get really messy when your child's hands are full of food! And he has taken a recent interest in sharing his sloppy mess with mommy, which is the beginning of some reciprocal play skills!

Aside from the social aspect of eating, its a great way to develop those fine motor skills and hand eye coordination when picking up bite sized pieces of bread, macaroni, avocado, cooked sweet potato, etc...The slimy, sticky stuff is a lot harder to pick up and get in the mouth.  Make sure you read your child's cues and never force them to put textures on their hands and face they are avoiding...especially when it comes to food!  If this is the case you may want to discuss this with your pediatrician.  Otherwise let them get messy!

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Non Toxic Babies...and Mommies

Canned sliced peachesImage via Wikipedia
I found this VERY alarming!  If this isn't a great reason to start making your own baby food...I don't know what is???  Some common things that you may have in your fridge or pantry may contain high levels of lead!  The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) is a non-profit organization based out of California.  They recently released this information regarding lead levels in apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears, peaches, BABY FOOD, and fruit cocktail.

Which foods contain too much lead?
  • Beech Nut 100% Apple Juice
  • Del Monte 100% Juice Fruit Cocktail
  • Del Monte Freestone Peach Slices in 100 % Juice
  • Del Monte Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in 100 % Juice
  • Dole Mixed Fruit in Light Syrup
  • Earth’s Best Organics Apple Juice
  • Gerber 100% Juice – White Grape Juice
  • Gerber 100% Juice Apple Juice
  • Gerber 3rd Foods Peaches
  • Gerber 3rd Foods Pears
  • Hansen’s Natural Apple Juice
  • Langers Apple Juice 100% Juice
  • Minute Maid Juice Apple – 100% Apple Juice
  • Motts 100% Apple Juice
  • O Organics Organic Unfiltered Apple Juice Not From Concentrate
  • Old Orchard 100% Apple Juice
  • R.W. Knudsen Just Concord Grape Juice
  • S&W Natural Style Fruit Cocktail in Lightly Sweetened Juice
  • Safeway 100% Juice Apple Cider
  • Safeway Organic Grape Juice
  • Santa Cruz Organic Concord Grape Juice
  • Trader Joe’s Certified Organic Apple Juice, pasteurized
  • Trader Joe’s Pear Halves in white grape juice
  • Tree Top 100% Juice Apple Cider
  • Tree Top 100% Juice, Grape
  • Walgreens Apple Juice from concentrate 100% juice
  • Welch’s 100% Grape Juice (from Welch’s Concord Grapes)
  • Welch’s 100% Red Grape Juice from Concentrate
The above is just a sample!  There are about one hundred other products which contained lead exceeding the federal standard that are listed in the full report. For the full list of products involved click the link below.


Lead exposure in children can cause:
    • Damage to the brain and nervous system
    • Behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity
    • Slowed growth
    • Hearing problems
    • Headaches
 Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from:
    • Reproductive problems (in both men and women)
    • High blood pressure and hypertension
    • Nerve disorders
    • Memory and concentration problems
    • Muscle and joint pain
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Deep Freeze

Home Made Baby FoodImage by Wendy Copley via Flickr
I usually make Dylan's baby food in big batches and stick in the freezer.  I find that this works best for me because it means that I only have to pull the food processor out about every two weeks.  You can keep frozen baby food in the freezer for 3-6 months.  I don't recommend storing in the fridge.  It only keeps in the fridge for about 48 hours.

They sell lots of options for storage containers these days.  I use a variety of plastic containers.  I started out with Baby Cubes...they hold 2 ounces of puree and come with a convenient tray to hold the individual cubes.  They are also BPA free.  I also recommend using ice cube trays.  It's cost effective and limits the amount of food waste because you can just defrost as many cubes as you need (each cube is about 1 ounce).  If using the ice cube tray method, pour the puree into the trays, once the puree is frozen, pop out the cubes and store them in freezer bags.  Make sure to label and date the bags.  I have been having my friends who use store bought baby food, save the plastic containers for me.  They stack nicely in the freezer and they are free!  The Gladware Mini Rounds work great too but they are kind of pricey.

After pureeing your baby food, fill the containers leaving about a quarter of an inch of space from the top.  This will ensure that your lid will stay on because the puree will expand as it freezes.  If your puree is hot allow it to cool to room temperature before putting the lid on and putting in the freezer.  Do not store your baby food in the freezer door.  This will make sure that the temperature remains constant and prevent it from defrosting prematurely.  If you place puree in the refrigerator for short term storage (less then 48 hours) do not keep it in the door, put it in the back on the top shelf...this is the coldest part of the fridge.   

You may have a variety of results when freezing different types of foods.  Check out the freezing chart at the link below:

When you get ready to use your frozen baby food you have a few options for defrosting.  I do not recommend just leaving it out on the counter to much of an opportunity for bacteria to grow.  I will usually pull out what I am going to use the night before and let it defrost in the refrigerator.  If I need to use it right away, I will take it from the freezer and defrost in the microwave for 2 minutes on defrost (power level 2-3).  Add 30 seconds as needed.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Baby Phat

When I was pregnant my Obgyn put me on a prenatal vitamin and DHA supplement.  It seemed like I had never heard about DHA before that moment, but after that, I noticed DHA started popping up everywhere.  DHA stands for Docosahexaenoic acid (say that 5 times fast) is an omega 3 fatty acid, a "good fat" that is essential for fetal brain and eye development during pregnancy.  DHA is beneficial for adults too, by helping to lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease and cancer.  In order to get more omega 3 fatty acids in my diet during pregnancy I tried to eat foods rich in Omega-3's like salmon, avocados, almonds, walnuts, seeds, and eggs.  I thought that this "Fabulous Fats" video was REALLY informative you can watch it at the website below.

After Dylan was born I have continued taking my prenatal vitamin with DHA supplement to increase the amount of DHA he gets in breast milk.  Formulas and cereals are now fortified with DHA, and there has been some recent controversy over the side effects.  Feel free to read the report below.  (Please note that I am not a medical doctor and I do not support or reject the claims made in this report.) 

I know added fat in the diet has such a stigma, but it is important to remember that there are good fats out there (especially Omega-3's) that our bodies and our baby's bodies need to development and stay healthy.

Baby Friendly List of Food High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Kidney Beans
Navy Beans
Salmon (after 8 months)
Winter Squash
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Friday, July 16, 2010


When I started adding solid foods into Dylan's diet at 5 1/2 months, he started experiencing a lot of constipation.  From what I have read, this is not uncommon.  If you notice this change in your baby you may want to avoid or decrease the amount of rice cereal, applesauce and mashed bananas.  Try adding in food high in fiber such as pureed prunes, apricots, or pears.  Call your doctor immediately if constipation is prolonged or you notice blood in your baby’s stool.   

Dylan's constipation was usually accompanied by gas and bloating.  I know that they sell over the counter treatments for infant constipation, but I have tried a few natural remedies with some success.  

1.) Make sure your baby is drinking plenty of water, especially if you notice a decrease in urination. 

2.) A warm compress on the tummy may serve as a relief and comfort to gassy or constipated babies. 

3.) A warm bath mixed with baking soda. Allow the infants bottom to soak in it for ten minutes. It will help relax the muscles and ease elimination.

4.) Place baby on his/her back and lightly hold her legs in a half-bent position.  Gently begin to move baby's legs as if she is riding a bicycle.  This may also help relieve gas.

5.) Belly message will also help to get things moving.  To massage your baby’s tummy, place warmed hands on baby's tummy at or below the belly button. You really want to target the bowels. Using flat palms gently stroke downward, using hand over hand, in a paddling type motion. Next moving hands in a clockwise motion, (very important to move clockwise – if you go the wrong way, you’ll create more issues), stroke baby’s tummy in a circle (source:  Another stroke to help improve motility is the "I Love U" stroke.  See instructions below:

6.) A home remedy recommended by my mother-in-law that has worked for Dylan is a paste made out of asafoetida power (a.k.a Hing-used in Indian cooking to aide in digestion) and water and rubbing in a circular motion around the belly button.  I don't know whether it is the belly rubbing or the hing...but it produces results!

7.) For babies older then 6 months, try supplementing diet with high fiber foods like pureed prunes, apricots, peaches, plums, or pears.  When pureeing dried prunes, reconstitute them by mixing 4-5 in a bowl with boiling water.  Let sit for 7-10 minutes.  Make sure you are using pitted prunes and then puree in the food processor until smooth.

Good luck and remember...when in doubt, consult your pediatrician!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Under Pressure

A pressure cooker with a simple regulator and ...Image via Wikipedia
In addition to my veggie steamer and food processor, another handy tool for making baby food is a pressure cooker. I have a small one that holds about 4 cups and it works great. I use it for cooking various types of beans, peas, and lentils. All are a great source of protein for your baby.

When using a pressure cooker you need to be careful when removing the cooker from the stove. Once it has "whistled," remove it from the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes to cool. This way you know that the inside pressure has equalized and it is safe to open. Now, I always place the cooker in the sink, and run cold water over the lid before opening...this is just an extra precaution. At first I was kind of scared to use the pressure cooker, but to my surprise, it is really easy!

I try to plan ahead when cooking beans or peas in the pressure cooker so that in addition to food for Dylan, I can make a side dish or soup for me and my husband. One thing that I love to make is chickpeas (chana-Hindi word for chickpeas). Recipe below. I buy a big bag of dried chickpeas at the local Indian market (they only sell small, expensive bags at the grocery store) and I rinse them and soak them in water over night. In the morning they should be hydrated and resemble the chickpeas you find in the can...except they are not slimy or mushy. I drain them and pour them into the pressure cooker. I add just enough water to cover all the chickpeas. Secure the lid and cook on medium high heat until it "whistles." It generally takes about 10 minutes.  Retain the cooking liquid from the boiled chickpeas.

I puree half of the boiled chickpeas with breast milk (use whatever liquid is appropriate for your child).  I use the other half and make hummus or a traditional Indian snack food called Pani Puri.  When making the hummus I use the leftover cooking liquid and add it back to the chickpeas when pureeing.  It simply reduces the amount of olive oil that you need to get a smooth hummus. 

Use the same process with split peas and lentils.... or any dried bean of your choice.  I puree 1/2 of the peas and lentils for baby food and the other half for split pea and lentil soup.  I just add veggie soup stock and seasoning to the boiled split pea and lentil mixture.  Don't forget to "spice it up" with the seasoning ideas I gave in the last post.

Chickpea Mush
1 cup dried chickpeas (soak overnight)
Enough water to cover chickpeas in the pressure cooker
4-5 oz of breast milk or formula (whatever is age appropriate)
Pinch of seasoning (e.g. coriander or garlic powder)

Follow the directions stated above, add liquid and seasoning and puree until smooth.  Oh by the way...beans make babies gassy too:-)

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spice It Up!

Indian spiceImage via Wikipedia
My son comes from a culturally diverse background.  He is half Indian, one quarter Italian, and one quarter Swedish, so eating bland, tasteless food is just not an option!  I have been adding herbs and spices to Dylan's food since he was 7 months old.  The current recommendation from most pediatricians for introducing spices is 8 months.  Many people don't think about adding herbs and spices into their baby's food, but the reality of it is, breastfed babies have already been exposed to the taste of herbs and spices that you ate while you were breastfeeding!  If you decide to experiment with herbs and spices, make sure to use the 4 day rule, just as you would with introducing a new food.

The first spice that I used in Dylan's food was cinnamon.  I added just a pinch into his pureed apples and sweet potatoes.  Now I even mix a little bit into his morning oatmeal mixed with bananas.  It kind of smells like banana bread...yummy!  Another spice that I use frequently is ground coriander.  It is used frequently in Indian cooking and Dylan loves a combination of split peas and lentil pureed with a pinch of coriander.

One of my favorite herbs to cook with is cilantro.  I use it in a variety of recipes and love it's bright, fresh taste.  I add it to pureed soy beans (edamame) and pureed zucchini.  I remove the leaves from about 10 sprigs of fresh cilantro and throw them into the food processor with the veggies.

A surprising ingredient I use when making pureed carrots is fresh ginger.  I use about a 1/2 inch piece of ginger root and throw it into the steamer when steaming the carrots.  Now I remove most of it before I puree the carrots because it can be overpowering if you add too much.  The health benefits of ginger are many, including aiding in digestion and boosting the body's immunity.  Below is a list of spices you may want to consider when preparing your baby's next batch of baby food!

I would never recommend adding sugar or salt to your baby's food.  The following list may help you to increase your baby’s impressionable palate.

    • pepper
    • garlic powder
    • basil
    • rosemary
    • dill
    • oregano
    • ginger
    • cinnamon
    • mint
    • nutmeg
    • anise
    • curry powder (you may offer your older infant a pinch of curry powder in baby’s food.  Watch for rash when adding curry or chili powder)
    • vanilla *

*When using vanilla as a flavoring for your baby food, ensure that you are using either the vanilla bean or an essence of vanilla that is not labeled as "pure".  Pure vanilla and other liquid flavors/extracts, depending on the market/country where you may live, often contain a high amount of alcohol. The alcohol is used to extract and preserve the flavor of the spice.

You may use pure vanilla for adding to foods that are cooking or baking as the alcohol will cook off. Never add any sort of flavoring to your baby's bottle of formula or bottle of breast milk.  (Source:

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hot 'n Steamy

About a month ago I stumbled upon the best time and energy saving invention ever...pre-cut, pre-washed, pre-packaged in steaming bag...veggies.  I have been able to find them at Trader Joe's and Fresh & Easy, and would assume that they sell them at regular grocery stores, but I can't tell you for sure.  Now, I have to tell you that I was reluctant to use steamer bags to make my baby food, but I did a little online research and found the following link talking about the safety of cooking in steamer bags made by Glad.  I would assume that the steamer bags used for packaging by the grocery stores would use the same guidelines, but again I am not sure.  See link below:

We have all heard the horror stories about microwaving in plastic and using plastic containers for food storage, but according to Glad's Website, they do not use Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or Bispheonal A (BPA) in the production of their food storage items.  But even if you decide not to use the microsteamer bags, the pre-cut butternut squash and the pre-cut sweet potatoes are real time savers!  If you have ever tried to peel and cut a butternut squash, you know exactly what I mean.  I takes about 10 minutes to peel through the tough  outer skin, and if you have all of your fingers after you finish cutting it in half, it takes another 5 minutes to clean and cube it.  I have found the sweet potatoes pre-cut in "sticks."  I puree half the bag for the baby and turn the other half into sweet potato fries. 

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Veggie Tales

My son started eating pureed veggies at 6 months which is the current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  I knew he was ready for solid foods because he was constantly eying whatever was on our plates.  If he was sitting on my lap while I was eating he would open his mouth as I brought the food to my mouth...very cute until he started grabbing for the plate, fork, spoon or anything within reach.  The first puree he had was peas.  The pediatrician gave me a list of least allergic foods to start with and they consisted of peas, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, pears, applesauce, and peaches.  Luckily we don't have any real allergies in our family except my husband gets this weird rash on his forehead when he eats tomato sauce and I get tingly lips when I eat pineapple...but other then that, we are allergy free.  So I was pretty confident that Dylan would be o.k. when it came to introducing new foods.  I always observed the 4 day rule when starting a new food, and always gave the new food in the morning because I figured if he had an allergic reaction, I didn't want it happening in the middle of the night.

Once I knew Dylan could tolerate all single ingredient purees, I started mixing things up...literally.  He went through a stage where he only wanted bananas, so in order to get him to eat his veggies I mixed in bananas.  Sounds gross I know, but if that's what it took to get him to eat spinach, then that's what I did.  He really loved avocados and banana.  You wouldn't think that would taste good, but surprisingly it isn't that bad.  The nice thing about this combination is that you don't need to pull out the food processor...both ingredients are soft enough to mush with a fork and you can just mix in breast milk or formula to thin it out.  See recipe below.

The other veggie that my son loves is sweet potatoes.  They are high in beta carotene and contain vitamin B- 6, which helps the body use carbohydrates, protein, and fat needed for healthy skin, nerves, and circulation. I serve it to him pureed, but now that he is 8 and 1/2 months I just steam it and give him small chunks mushed with a fork.  He really likes picking it up with his fingers and feeding himself.

Avocado Banana Mush
1/2 Ripe Avocado
1/2 Ripe Banana
~2-3 oz. Breastmilk or formula
1 Tsp. Gerber Baby Oatmeal, Barley or Rice Cereal (optional)
Mash with fork and mix in liquid until you reach the desired consistency.
**You can prepare your own grains or rice cereal, but they need to be pulverized and then mixed with boiling water before use.  I like the Gerber brand grains because they mix instantly with warm or cold liquid.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Got Milk?

Many of my homemade baby food recipes contain breast milk, but certainly it can be substituted for some other liquid (e.g. formula, water, soy milk, vegetable stock). Just make sure to check with your pediatrician if using something other then breast milk or formula to make sure that it is age appropriate for your child.

Long before my son was slurping down pureed butternut squash and zucchini, he was an exclusively breastfeed baby. I made the decision to breastfeed before Dylan was born. However I, like most moms, had plan B in the back of my mind "just in case breastfeeding didn't work for me." My husband and I took the breastfeeding class offered through our hospital, and as a new mom I thought it was really informative, but so this little person was going to be solely dependent on me for every meal and every ounce of nutrition he consumed. That's a lot of pressure! I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to do it. And you know, at the class, for whatever reason, they failed to stress that your milk doesn't come in for 3-5 days after delivery. Which in high insight, that's probably the most important information they could give you. So, during our class the instructor (who was a very knowledgeable lactation consultant) told us that if we were really committed to breastfeeding we would not let any bottles be given while in the hospital...for fear of nipple confusion. In theory this sounded great, but in reality this set the stage for one huge melt down.

So after a day and a half in the hospital with a new born baby who wasn't able to latch on, and a nurse who continuously repeated "did he eat, did he eat," we finally conceded to give him a 2 ounce bottle. Surprisingly, after he was able to eat, he was a lot calmer and was able to try to latch on instead of being so hysterical because he was so hungry. So we continued trying to latch because he needed the practice and the colostrum, but as for getting actual didn't happen for 3-5 days. I also started to pump at that point because it helped to get things working. So the moral of this story is not to give up, because its easy to get frustrated early on. For me, it has been an awesome bonding experience, not to mention all of the health benefits for baby.

The other factor for me, that gave me the confidence and the guidance to continue breastfeeding, was a breastfeeding support group offered by my hospital. I started going when Dylan was less then a week old. It was wonderful to get out of the house, and it was great to be surrounded by women that were going through the same experiences as I was. So even through this post doesn't contain a recipe for baby food, it hopefully is a recipe for successful breastfeeding!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chop, Chop, Mush, Mush.

Thanks to everyone who read my first blog post yesterday, and thanks for all of the great feedback on my Facebook page. It is nice to know that I am not the only one making baby food from scratch!

So when my son was 5 1/2 months old I started mixing pumped breast milk and rice cereal and feeding it to him with a spoon. That was the simplest form of baby food, but he loved it all the same. To my surprise the most common advise that I was getting at that time was the one that was most disputed online and by my pediatrician. Everyone and their brother (and grandmother) was telling me to mix rice cereal into his bottle at night because that would ensure him sleeping through the night. Well after a little research I found out that this "tried and true" fix for sleepless nights was not going to make my baby sleep longer, and was also a choking hazard. However, I can tell you that out of desperation I have tried it on a few occasions, but after 8 1/2 months my son still does not sleep through the night!

So at six months Dylan graduated from baby rice cereal to mushed bananas and from there pureed peas. At the time when I was experimenting with single ingredient foods my husband and I looked into buying the Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker It seemed like it got good reviews online and I loved the concept of steaming and pureeing all in one...but alas it was so stinkin expensive and it only made a few servings at a time. Luckily my dad bought me a 6 cup food processor on ebay for like 35 bucks and I have been pureeing ever since. As for a steamer I just use a Black and Decker Handy Veggie Steamer. It works great and it also holds up to 6 cups.

Making large batches of baby food works best for me. I will put about two weeks worth of food in the freezer. It also helps with the clean up because I am only pulling out the steamer and food processor every two weeks.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Welcome to Mush Blog

Hello and welcome to my blog about homemade baby food.  The purpose of this blog is to help other moms (and dads) realize all the benefits of making baby food at home.  It is really easy and doesn't take that much extra time, and it's a great way to give your baby the vitamins and nutrients that he deserves.  The nutritional benefits are HUGE!.  Although most baby food sold in the stores are free of fillers, extra sugar and salt, they still are packaged and somehow preserved to extend shelf my opinion that has to do something to the nutritional value.  Also if you are breast feeding or pumping, it is a great way to incorporate extra breast milk into your baby's diet.  The other biggie is cost.  Now I know that store bought baby food is pretty cheap but it really adds up especially once your baby is eating 3 containers per day!  My baby (Dylan) is 8 months and he eats all the veggies that we eat and it really doesn't add anything to the weekly grocery budget.

Anyway I hope that this blog will morph into a platform to share recipes and ideas related to making baby food at home.  I hope that it will inspire parents to try steaming and pureeing their own fruits and veggies for their babies.  I also hope that it creates a discussion board for products and ideas that will make all of our lives a little easier when it comes to giving our babies a healthy and nutritious start...before they start crying for french fries and hamburgers!