Baby FoodAccording to Dr. Michel Cohen, author of 'The New Basics,' whether it is from the breast, to the bottle, or to the bowl, homemade nutrition and recipes are to be embraced by parents.

Here's a good way to gauge the appeal of prepared baby foods: Take the jar and look carefully at the expiration date. The substance inside has been designed to last for two years past the date of purchase.

By the time you've brought this squishy stuff home, it's been a while since this Earth's best selection was gathered from Mother Earth. How could it taste like anything other than paste? "I have seen countless parents of ten-month-old babies who complain about their infant's lack of interest in new foods, when in fact what they're really witnessing is their baby's determination to spit up an unctuous puree that looks the same before and after it's been in the child's mouth," says Dr. Cohen.

There is nothing wrong with giving babies prepared foods for the sake of convenience, but don't believe these preparations are a healthier option. The healthiest baby foods are the ones you make by mashing up whatever you're having for your own meal. The result will certainly be fresher and tastier than anything manufactured by a giant baby-food corporation.

Don't be afraid to feed Lucy food that's spicy or strange. Try steak, fish, pasta, vegetables, salty foods, peppery foods, garlicky foods; all you need is a fork or a food processor and a little bit of imagination.

You can also prepare a bunch of semisolid meals and freeze them in ice-cube trays for later. And don't worry that your system is less precise than the corporation's; their complex labeling system (stage one, stage two, etc.) might appear scientific, but it's really just a market gimmick.

Learn more parenting tips and tricks from 'The New Basics.'