A Word About Nitrates

We’ve having a mellow Saturday morning. We just got back from a fabulous five-day trip to Turks and Caicos —  Mason chilled with grandma Mimi in New York while we were gone — and the three of us are enjoying being back together again, at home. (It was so hard for me to leave the babe but Chris and I got some much-needed couple time and Mason finally got to really know his out-of-town grandma.) Mason is playing after polishing off four ounces of oatmeal mixed with Peach-Pear Puree, as well as two ounces of YoBaby banana yogurt — all this after ten ounces of formula when he woke up this morning. (The little guy is on the skinny side but he eats like a Sumo wrestler.) We’re drinking coffee, laughing at the babe’s antics.

Yep, we’re slowly getting into the swing of things.  (Bye-bye rum drinks on the beach. See you later oceanfront dinners. It was nice knowing you, room service.) On top of my to-do list is to whip up something new and yummy for the babe. What will we try next? I could go with a new green puree but that’s always a tough sell…asparagus and peas perhaps?  Maybe I’ll try butternut squash and corn, or perhaps chicken and apple…

First, let’s talk nitrates. A lot of the moms in my ‘hood have been asking me what the deal is, so here’s the scoop. According to our pediatrician’s online guide to introducing solids, some foods shouldn’t be prepared at home to avoid excess nitrates: carrots, turnips, spinach, collard greens, and beets. I call it the N List. Why are nitrates so bad? The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that excessive nitrates from certain foods or well water can cause methemoglobinemia, a rare but dangerous type of blood condition that limits oxygen in the blood, particularly in babies younger than three months old. Methemoglobinemia is very rare — and some say it’s bunk that commercial baby foods contain fewer nitrates than homemade baby food. (See Maggie’s post in the comments section below for more detail about the report.) I can see both sides of the argument,  but I’m going to trust my pediatrician on this one. We go with Earth’s Best for these eats. What do you think? Is it best to go with commercial foods when it comes to the N List? If so, what brands of food does your babe like?