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Feeding Your Baby or Small Child
Consider feeding your baby or small child in the midst of tropical storms, flooding, and with threats from nuclear testing. As world events are painting an increasingly grim picture, my husband and I have felt the urgency to set aside some backup resources in case of a long-term emergency. My husband is the “must-have-a-plan-for-everything” kind of guy. Therefore, he has excitedly mapped out our emergency storage space, along with the details of its contents. He is an avid “outdoorsman”, so many of the items that we would need for long-term preparedness are either already in our arsenal or familiar to him in some capacity.
But, when we found out we were expecting a baby, it added a whole other level of things to consider. How do you feed a baby or toddler in a long-term emergency? What about diapers? Medicine? With my background of farming, gardening, and canning, suddenly, my areas of expertise became valuable for our emergency storage preparation. Below are a few of the things that I find essential to have on hand when preparing to sustainably care for a baby or toddler in a long-term emergency situation.
It is widely known that home-canned foods are some of the most nutritional options for long-term storage. Typically, with a shelf-life of 2-5 years, these should remain healthful long past the time required for feeding a baby or toddler. Before our baby girl was born, I took advantage of the abundant autumn produce at our local farmers market. I purchased a bounty of winter squash, organic carrots, and pears and took them home to put away for storage. Even though we are not in an emergency situation at this time, I am very grateful that I took the initiative to do this because those foods are a daily staple for us right now when she’s eight months old! Even though our daughter might move on to more normal food soon, I plan on replenishing my supply this fall to set aside enough resources for future children.
Balanced Diet and Essential Vitamins and Minerals
When planning for emergency storage, it’s important to include foods that allow a balanced diet and provide essential vitamins and minerals for your baby or toddler. It sounds gross to those of us with spoiled taste buds, but my eight month old daughter loves liver, and it provides the healthy amounts of iron that she needs to grow strong bones and teeth. It’s ideal to purchase grass-fed organic liver to feed your baby.
This is because the liver is a filtering organ, and you want to make sure that you aren’t feeding your child junk. Raw pack pressure canning is my chosen storage method because all of the nutrients are cooked together and not leached out by pre-boiling. This means that the “broth” left in the jar after the food is consumed is full of healthy vitamins and minerals. I often use this broth as a cooking liquid for quinoa or oatmeal for my baby and it is fun to know that I am giving her more vitamins than I would be providing with just plain water.
Not Puréed Food
Another thing you might notice is that I do not store puréed foods. The reason is that I think it is essential for babies to learn how to use their chewing mechanism as soon as possible. When you pressure can raw items, the long, high pressure cooking will make them soft enough that they will turn into mush if you pinch them between your fingers. You always want to double check this before feeding to your infant to make sure it isn’t a choking hazard. Personally, I prefer being able to pick up bite sized chunks of soft food with my fingers (and teach her how to do that herself) rather than feed my baby purée’s with a spoon. Any of these pressure canned items can easily be mashed into a rough purée, if you prefer!
Amounts and Options
When considering the amount to store, I plan on one pint jar of food per day while breastfeeding and two jars of food per day post-breastfeeding.
While these aren’t the only options, we keep the following items to feed our baby in our emergency storage space:
- Butternut squash and carrots contain lots of vitamin A, protein, calcium, vitamin C, carbohydrates and many other vitamins and minerals that are essential for a baby’s health.
- Bone broth is packed full of naturally occurring gelatin that is great for developing muscles, bones, joints and teeth. It is a great addition to a baby’s diet.
- Quinoa is a high protein, high fiber, iron and vitamin rich grain that is healthful and filling. It is also one of the most soft, allergy friendly and palatable grain options for babies and small children.
- Pears are high in fiber and vitamin C. These are a great treat for my baby girl, and they are easy to chew and sweet to the taste.
- Grass fed liver and red meats are a surprising suggestion for babies, but they are inarguably one of the best foods to give a child for iron and protein content. Just ensure that you give your baby small enough pieces for them to swallow, as liver tends to be a bit chewy after pressure canning.
As an additional resource, a very helpful dry-stored food item that we keep on hand is organic oatmeal. This can be cooked in the leftover juices from any of these canned items, and it makes a very healthy option to use to stretch your canned goods. Properly packaged, oatmeal will safely store for a long time.
Below, you can find my basic recipe that I use to can various baby foods! Please keep in mind that canning must be done in a clean, sterile environment, while ensuring that the inside of the jar and the lid remains sterile until sealed. If I do anything that causes me to doubt whether or not something has been compromised, I clean and sterilize them again!
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