Those rows and rows of colorful baby food in that particular section of the grocery store are very temping to buy for baby. From the yellows of squash and bananas to the red of red beets and the green of peas and green beans, there seems to be a full menu available.
We can buy rice baby cereal for the very youngest of new solid-food eaters and we can buy entire meals for toddlers complete with baby’s favorite finger foods. And serving? Simple as pie, just pop open the lid.
So why would parents decide to take the time to grind, chop, or mince their own baby food?
There are many benefits to making your own baby food, not the least of which is being able to save some money. Maybe even more important to the parent is knowing that the sustenance they are giving to the little one is without preservatives and additives. If the parent takes control of the preparation, we know what is going into baby’s tummy.
The numerous reasons that parents decide to make baby’s food homemade include:
–Wanting to get baby used to the food the rest of the family is eating
–Not wishing to feed preservatives and additives to the baby
–Having control of ingredients
When can I start feeding the baby what the rest of the family is eating?
Nothing changes if you are going to be using homemade food vs. store bought as far as timing is concerned. This is something to discuss with the baby’s doctor to see when he or she recommends you should start solid foods. When you are asking the doctor when to start solid food, also ask in which order is preferred. Some doctors encourage starting with fruits and other doctors advise feeding vegetables first. Many will want you to start with a little bit of cereal before either fruits or vegetables.
In addition to consulting with the doctor, it wouldn’t hurt to do a little of your own research as well. Being fully informed on the issues that will involve your baby is always an excellent idea. It isn’t just which food to begin with that experts disagree about, but even when to start feeding solids at all. Some doctors want parents to start as early as 4 months or as late as 6 months, with recommendations spanning all the times between. Be informed and it will help you with decisions such as this.
What are some things I will need to remember if making homemade baby food?
– Sanitation is vital! If you do not remember the safety and hygiene rules for the kitchen that you probably learned in school, look them up. This includes thing such as
1. Keep your equipment cleaned with hot water
2. Make sure your hands are clean at all times. Try a bottle of hand sanitizer that is sold in many stores now.
3. Keep your cutting board clean, especially if you are using meats for a toddler or a baby that has graduated past fruits and vegetables.
– Learn storage times Some things need to be used within 24 hours. Those would include any food that contains meat, eggs, dairy products, etc. Fruits and vegetables that you have prepared for the baby will be fine for a couple of days in refrigeration.
– Freeze “Baby Food Cubes” If you wish to freeze some of the food you prepare, buy an ice cube tray with the compartments the size of a serving that baby will eat at one sitting. Freeze in the tray and then pop out to store in foil or plastic freezer containers.
– Watch for possible allergies When you are introducing new foods to the baby, make sure to do it slowly with a few days between new foods. Watch for any adverse reactions that may indicate an allergy.
– Research! Do some research in books or on the internet.
1. Find out how to prepare the different foods you will be serving the baby. Learn which preparation method works best for various foods.
2. Learn about foods that should not be fed to very young children so that you don’t inadvertently add them to something the baby is eating “with the family.” (This includes things such as honey, egg whites, high acid foods, citrus, spinach, spices, beets, corn, and a few other things).
3. Read about how to preserve the most nutrients while preparing foods.
What about when the baby is older?
This is another matter about which to consult with the baby’s doctor. When you are given the go-ahead, you will be able to mix some foods and puree some of the table foods that the rest of the family will be eating. This will probably happen when the baby is about 10 months old.
Do some reading about food combinations you may want to try. There are endless possibilities of mixing proteins with a little juice and cereal or vegetables to make some tasty junior foods that the baby should enjoy. Remember that babies have their own food preferences, however, just like everyone else. They should never be forced to eat something they are rejecting.
There are some fabulous resources available on the internet that will tell you everything you need to know about preparing your own baby food. It will be a good feeling knowing that you are not only offering the best possible options of food, but saving some money at the same time.