The idea for O Baby Bar – the latest in an increasingly busy market of organic food businesses in Mill Valley – was born out of a predicament facing every first-time mom: how to get your young kids to eat healthy food, and to maintain those habits as they get older.

But unlike many new moms, Ilyse Wassermann-Petter, a New York native who moved to Mill Valley with her husband four years ago, had 15 years of experience as a practicing nutritionist from which to draw, years that had shown her how difficult it is for adults to change longstanding, non-healthy food consumption habits.

“When I had my kids, I said to myself, ‘Let’s start off with the good stuff – vegetables, fruits – and see how their taste buds evolve as they grow,” she says. “As they’ve gotten older and have easier access to junk food, they just don’t have the taste for it.”

Wassermann-Petter, whose children are now nearly 5 and 7 years old, says the results have been profound, with zero ear infections, allergies or lingering illnesses to show for it.

“It’s really become clear to me that diet plays a huge role in children’s health and if we could just make it easier when they’re young that they’ll then be able to make healthy choices on their own as they get older,” she adds.

Hence the birth of O Baby Bar, which launches officially in Mill Valley on September 2 as an online ordering and food delivery service for a host of organic, healthy food and drinks.

The menu, which Wassermann-Petter says will evolve, includes a variety of organic, local, seasonal fruit and vegetable purees for babies. The kids menu contains fresh, organic choices aimed to please kids’ discerning tastes, with a variety of school lunches, homemade desserts, organic juice and smoothies as well as juices, elixirs, and cleanses for adults.

O Baby Bar has a pair of holistic chefs cooking out of a commercial kitchen in San Rafael, including Wassermann-Petter’s brother Miles as well as Megan DeWitt.

“The food has the benefit of being healthy at a different level,” Wassermann-Petter says. “We personalize and specialize the food toward the clients’ needs.”

Wassermann-Petter says she eventually hopes to have a brick-and-mortar location in Mill Valley, complete with educational workshops on nutritional topics in the evening that makes the space a hub for “healthy, delicious food in our community.”

But while she’s searching for the right space in Mill Valley, she also didn’t want to wait any longer to bring her concept into fruition. She says she’s gotten great feedback from other parents community about the concept, particularly at the 2014 Wine, Beer & Gourmet Food Tasting event on June 22, where she had a booth and served up treats that included an organic medjool date stuffed with an herbed cashew cream and organic strawberries dipped into a carob coconut dip.

“This is such an educated, progressive healthy population of families here,” Wassermann-Petter says. “These are the parents that would take to this concept – they ultimately believe in it but they don’ realize how influential they can be on their kids’ palates.”

As she’s refined the concept, Wasserman-Petter has seen the marketplace for similar ideas grow immensely, including locally at Urban Remedy, which opened in downtown Mill Valley one year ago, Juice Girl, which opened next to Starbucks in the Safeway shopping center in June, and the soon-to-open Nekter in Strawberry Village, as well beyond the 94941 with Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz’s Evolution juice bars.

“It was just a matter of time,” Wassermann-Petter says of the trend. “It was almost more odd and strange to me that these places didn’t exist in Mill Valley – the community really lends itself to have a lot of choice for these kinds of businesses. And I like some healthy competition – it shows me that this is where the trends are going and this is what the community is asking for now.”

The 411: O Baby Bar has its menu and ordering system on its website. Stay tuned for the evolution of its menu.

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