How to Feed a Baby: Three Views
WHEN Jasper White prepares his much-celebrated dishes in the kitchen of his Boston restaurant, his confidence is seldom shaken. Back home, when Nancy White, his wife and co-owner of "Jasper's," fed their infant son - a finicky party of one - the same couldn't be said.d try 10 different things," she says, remembering those days now three years behind her. "If Jasper Paul didn't like one, I would quickly whip up another. Finally, he'd become full - and I'd be exhausted." Her description of those discouraging months is so down-to-earth that one could easily forget her ties to the world of haute cuisine. In fact, Nancy White's dilemma hits surprisingly close to home for many regular parents who, come mealtime, are fraught with questions: What should I feed my infant? Is she getting enough? Is his meal balanced? By relying on J.P.'s favorites - mostly pasta - Mrs. White muddled through her son's babyhood, but it wasn't until her husband submitted a baby food recipe for publication that she learned the value of a cookbook geared for kids. "Jenifer Lang's cookbook gave me the courage to expand my repertoire away from macaroni and cheese," she said.Skip to next paragraph
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Allaying new-parent jitters This new cookbook ("Jenifer Lang Cooks for Kids," Harmony Books, $22.50) and two others, "Baby Let's Eat!" (by Rena Coyle, Welcome Entertainment, Inc., 1987, $7.95) and "Mommy Made - and Daddy Too!" (by Martha and David Kimmel, with Suzanne Goldenson, Bantam Books, 1990, $13.95) are especially helpful for allaying anxieties of new parents. Written by parents and well-established "foodies," these books are closer to guidebooks than cookbooks. The authors, while subscribing to slightly different approaches, hold readers' hands through the feeding process - offering advice on scheduling, equipment, the introduction of new foods, and more before presenting their recipes. The practicality that Nancy White found in Jenifer Lang's book is precisely what Lang found lacking as a new mother. Lang, a professional chef and food writer, sought to fill this void by writing her own book. "My son Simon inspired the idea for my cookbook," she said in a telephone interview. "Feeding him ... making sure I was getting nutrients into his diet ... it was all very anxiety-producing. I wanted a book that was practical and down-to-earth, without knocking me over the head with whole-grained foods." Does "practical" include jarred foods? "I used a lot of Earth's Best foods when Simon was a baby," she says, referring to the Vermont-based company that in 1987 introduced baby food made from certified organically grown foods. She quickly adds that this shortcut wasn't taken merely for the sake of convenience. "Someone tipped me off before he was eating. She said if you spend a half hour cooking carrots and he spits it out all over his tray, you'll go nuts." Her book contains nearly 60 recipes geared to the period from first bite to around the first birthday, when baby shows an interest in table food. Many of the dishes are appropriate for Mom and Dad, too. This practice of making "one-dish meals" suitable for baby (by steaming and pureeing), toddler (by mashing with a fork), teenager, and parent, is one that Jenifer Lang advises with caution, however, because of conflicting nutritional needs.