How to Make Your Own Baby Food
So, your little darling has reached a new milestone in their life, congrats! Your baby can now eat solid food and that’s not a small matter. The time of eating solids will definitely give you a new set of tasks and things to consider when it comes to your little one’s diet, but that’s nothing to worry about. With the right information, you’ll be tailoring your baby’s healthy habits in no time!
Baby food, although it seems quite simple, can actually be very varied (and it’s better for it!). There are lots of options out there - organic baby food that you can purchase from the market or online, but also homemade baby food, which is a personal preference for some parents.
For the most part, baby food is really easy to prepare, which is why it’s also a good idea to make it at home, especially if you want to be extra careful about the ingredients that enter your baby’s organism. There are a couple of things, however, you need to consider before you start preparing it by yourself instead of getting it from the store. That’s why in this article we attempted to cover the basics of how to make your own baby food and why that’s a good idea.
If you want to know more about when your baby should start eating solid food, you can check out our special article which covers this very important topic. (not yet published)
Why You Should Make Your Own Baby Food
There are plenty of reasons why you’d want to make baby food for your little one in your own home (even though manufacturers’ compete for ever better production of baby food):
- You’ll know exactly what enters your baby’s mouth. Maybe your little one has an extra-sensitive stomach, or is often prone to allergies? Or maybe you’re simply freaked out by the possibility of preservatives and other artificial ingredients in the food your baby eats? Then you’d definitely want to be in on the whole meal-making process from scratch. That way you’ll let no bad ingredient slip away into your little one’s diet.
- You’ll save money. Overall, making baby food at home is a more economical option for feeding your little one solids for a lot of parents out there.
- You can choose the flavor you think your baby will like most. Instead of buying a bunch of pre-packaged baby food, you can stock up on fruits, veggies, and meat of your own choice. Think of all the varieties of healthy puree combinations that await in your kitchen!
- The baby will get the chance to eat the same food their family eats (in a slightly different form, though). You can always use the products you’ve got on hand, the ones that you’d usually also use for the meals of your own adult household. It’ll also help establish common eating habits in the long run, making your little one less picky in terms of homemade meals as they grow up.
Slight disadvantages (we’ve got to mention them, just to be fair) to make homemade baby food would be the following:
- Time-constraints.Although the process of making baby food is quite simple and straightforward (you basically just combine and puree stuff), still sometimes it so happens that you don’t have time even for throwing a bunch of ingredients in the blender! And it can sometimes be particularly consuming when you have to prepare all the little, numerous servings for multiple feedings of baby food. Sometimes it’s just quicker and more practical to go with pre-packaged meals.
- It can be less convenient. As we said, pre-packaged baby food is designed to be more practical and convenient in terms of serving - here we’re talking about the size and amount of food especially.
- Storing the food. It can be a bit problematic that baby food prepared at home is prone to spoil more quickly than a store-bought one. It may also take a significant amount of space in your fridge. Pre-packaged foods, for example, don’t need to be refrigerated until opened.
Nevertheless, there are still a lot of benefits of preparing baby food at home, and it all basically depends on the parents’ choices and lifestyle habits.
What Will You Need to Prepare Baby Food
Since baby solid food consists mostly of stuff that has been pureed, you’ll mostly need something to puree or grind your baby’s food with. This means that something of the likes of a blender, immersion blender or a food processor will be able to do the job perfectly, and plus they’re items that you probably already have in your home. If you want to get more specific and experimental with the baby food, there are some items which are specifically designed for it, such as:
- Baby food grinder;
- A hand-turned food mill (it often comes with several types of blades which affect the texture of the food differently);
- All-in-one electric baby food maker (this one usually steam-cooks and then purees the food; some models can even defrost and reheat previously prepared or stored food).
If you don’t have any of these gadgets and items at home, and you don’t really want to spend much on new ones, there’s still another trick in the book - you can always use the good, old fork. A fork works especially well for foods such as butternut squash, avocado, banana, and sweet potatoes.
What Kind of Food to Use for Your Baby’s Homemade Meals
When it comes to baby food, fresh is always the best option. Your baby’s health is not something to negotiate with and when choosing the ingredients that go in their food, you shouldn’t be too tight on the cash (unless you really have to, that is).
So, as we said, only the best and freshest ingredients will do: whether it’s fruit, veggies or meat, try to use whatever you’ve planned in the next couple of days.
Frozen food is also a good option when fresh is not readily available.
In our article about the basics of feeding your baby solids
you can see in more detail when to start feeding your little one solid food. Pediatricians usually recommend doing this after the baby grows older than 4 months, aka somewhere in between 4-6 months.
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatricians) recommends against feeding your little one vegetables that have a high nitrate content if they’re younger than 3 months - these are veggies such as carrots, beets, spinach, squash, and green beans. The reason for this is that nitrates are actually chemicals that can be found in the soil, water, and certain types of food like the ones mentioned above. The AAP warns against feeding these foods to infants because the concentration of nitrates in them can be toxic for very young babies (babies younger than 3 months as we noted above).
Babies’ digestive system matures after they get 4 or more months old (which is part of the reason why solids are recommended between 4 and 6 months) and is already able to digest the nitrates present in some veggies.
Serving and Storing Baby Food
Some important tips to consider when preparing, serving and storing baby food are the following:
- When you prepare the food make sure your hands are always clean, but also the surfaces and the utensils you’re working with. You don’t want any unwanted microorganisms ending up in your little one’s carefully prepared meals.
- Serve the food in a regular room temperature - this means that if you’re defrosting or reheating a meal in the microwave, you should be extra careful, since microwaves can sometimes heat food unevenly and create the ‘hot spots’, areas in the food which are much hotter than others - so while one part that you taste might seem fine, another is burning hot and may hurt your baby! That’s why it’s also a good idea to let food sit out for 5-10 minutes after getting it out of the microwave.
- It’s usually recommended to throw away the uneaten parts of the food you’ve been feeding your little one since the saliva on them might cause the growth of more bacteria on the food it has come into contact with.
- Avoid sweetening your baby’s food - babies definitely don’t need any more sugar than what’s already part of the natural composition of their meal. Also, don’t use honey on babies that are younger than one year old - it might cause botulism!
- Babies can, however, enjoy seasonings in their food, something which will make their food less bland and more desirable!
- When you want to refrigerate leftovers, do so in a container that’s airtight and make sure to use them in the next few days. Another idea is to freeze leftovers in ice cube trays or the like. When the cubes get completely frozen, you can store them in plastic freezer bags. Fruits and veggies which have been stored that way can last from six to eight months, while meat and fish will last for about one to two months.