MOTHER-of-three Kayla Ferguson has turned baby food frustrations in to a business, writes SARAH HUDSON
The sleepless nights, the inexplicable crying, teething, sickness - such are the joys of mothering a young baby.
Kyneton's Kayla Ferguson understands the scenario intimately.
It was during the first year of her middle child's life (daughter Chloe) that the mother of three hit these newborn hurdles.
"My first (Angus) was easy, but Chloe was very difficult. She spent the first five months of her life crying," the 27-year-old says.
"I don't know whether it was because I wasn't making enough milk, but she was underweight and getting sick all the time and I had trouble finding the time to make food for her, like I did with Angus."
Kayla was forced to resort to commercial baby food, and was exasperated with what she found.
"Everything in the supermarket had flaws," she says. "The products were full of thickeners and lacked texture, particularly the ones in nozzle-squish packs.
"Most of the food was made before the baby was even born and had a one-year shelf life. There were no fresh options and she just wouldn't eat it."
Out of adversity came opportunity and Kayla struck upon a business idea that only now - with Angus aged five, Chloe three, and her youngest, Madeline, just eight months - is coming to fruition.
Peter Piper Picked is baby food that uses the produce from Kayla's chemical-free Kyneton garden, as well as local produce, to create a healthy range of meal options for six-month-olds up to 12 months plus.
Sold frozen at markets around central Victoria, as well as a range of Victorian outlets, in 120g and 180g recyclable, BPA-free tubs, there are purees including pea, parsnip and broadbean, or carrot, apple and fennel, as well as pumpkin, beetroot and spinach.
For nine months and older, Kayla makes a beef casserole with celeriac mash, or sweet potato and cauliflower curry, as well as apple and ginger porridge .
And for 12 months and up, meatballs and pasta, "with hidden vegetables for the fussy eaters".
All are dairy and egg-free, with gluten-free options.
Kayla, who worked in restaurants in her late teens, roadtested her recipes on nephews and nieces (she's one of five children), as well as the children at her mother's group.
She knew early on she was on to a winner.
Juggling three young children with a new business means she often works past midnight, organising packaging and labelling.
Generally the cooking is done in big batches when there's seasonal fruit and vegetables in the garden, and Kayla spends about an hour each week in the garden.
- Peter Piper Picked, Kyneton Ph: 0432 215 163.