Making your own baby food sounds like an undertaking that is difficult but with the right equipment and just a little time, it is not very difficult! It is also a healthy way for baby to eat and learn to like fresh foods.
Many people will ask, “why should we make baby food when there are so many choices in the little jars in the supermarket?” There are several good reasons for making your own baby food. First of all, foods you make at home are simply more nutritious than foods processed and put into the little jars. After reading the labels, I have found that the baby food companies add all sorts of things to the baby food and they use fruits “from concentrate” rather than whole fresh fruits.
Second of all, the foods in the little jars are not nearly as tasty as foods you can make yourself. Yes, I have tasted both types. Maybe it’s just me, but some of the jarred foods were really very unappealing even though they were foods I normally liked. When I tried making my own of the same food, I found it to be very tasty.
And, third, you can save money by making your own. By buying fresh fruits and vegetables in season and/or in bulk quantities can really add to your savings. For example, I purchased 10 pounds of sweet potatoes for $2.00 at a local produce stand. These 10 pounds of potatoes yielded 64 ounces of pureed sweet potatoes. Thus, I got the equivalent of 16 jars of baby food for $2.00. At my local store, 16 jars of baby food would cost $8.48 (16 jars x $0.53 each). And, this is just one example!
So, how does one go about making baby food. It seems like it would be difficult but it is not. Most foods require cooking before you can puree them. The only notable exception is bananas which can simply be pureed fresh.
So, the first thing to do is to gather all necessary equipment. Make sure everything is very clean before use. You will need a cutting board, knife and perhaps a peeler. I like to use an apple corer for apples as well. You will also need a bowl, spoon, rubber spatula. To puree foods, you will use either a blender or a food processor and to store foods, you will need a plastic container with lid or ice cube trays and zipper bags.
Take any food you wish to use. The best first foods for babies include bananas, apples, pears, bananas, peaches, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, and green beans. My doctor suggested starting with vegetables so baby doesn’t get used to the sweeter taste of fruits first but she also said it is not absolutely essential.
If necessary, peel fruit or vegetable then cut it into small pieces. Early on, you will want to peel most things but later on, you can leave peels on such things as peaches and apples. You can then steam the food in a pot on the stove or microwave it until soft. Allow the foods to cool and then place into a food processor or blender. Process the food, adding water, formula, or breast milk to achieve the proper consistency.
For first foods, you will want the consistency of the food to be smooth. You may have to process foods for up to 15 minutes to achieve this consistency. Later foods can have some texture in them, especially if you have left the skin on a fruit or vegetable. In addition, you will want to blend early foods separately so baby can try one new food at a time to aid in determining any possible food allergies. You will want to wait 4-7 days to introduce new foods to make sure that there is no allergy or food intolerance. (True food allergies tend to show up quickly in the form of a rash or other illnesses but food intolerances may take several days to determine and may result in stomach discomfort or changes in stool).
Again, later foods can be mixed and matched. Try different combinations. I personally still blend single foods and then mix combinations together. This works well when baby decides he doesn’t care for something as much as other things. For example, my baby decided he didn’t want to eat peas (after he had eaten and tolerated them well in the past). So, I mixed a frozen cube of peas with a frozen cube of apples and microwaved them. Once mixed together, my baby would eat the combination very happily. And, he will now eat peas plain again too! Even things that seem strange to adults may be tasty to baby as he has not yet “learned” what foods go together. Some favorite combinations include green beans and apples, “fruit cocktail” made of bananas, peaches, apples, and pears, or sweet potatoes and peaches. There are countless combinations!
After pureeing the foods, you have two choices. If you have prepared a small amount that can be eaten in just a few days, you can put it in a plastic container with a sealing lid and store in the refrigerator. However, if you choose to prepare large amounts of food at once, you can easily store this in portions in the freezer. The best way to do this is to pour the pureed food into ice cube trays and freeze. Once solid, in about 3-4 hours, you can pop the food cubes out and store in zipper bags in the freezer for up to 6 months. I use the freezer zipper bags because they are thicker and prevent most freezer burn. Also do remember to label the bags since a bag of frozen peaches can look exactly like a bag of frozen sweet potatoes. Baby won’t mind the difference but if you are wanting him to have something specific, it will assure that this happens!
When you are ready to feed to baby, simply take out the cubes you want and microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Sometimes it will take longer but only microwave for short periods since it can get very hot very fast. Always stir the food completely and test for temperature since microwaving can leave hot pockets of food if not mixed. You can also mix foods after they are warmed to create new foods from single foods you have pureed.
So, now you know how simple and economical it can be to make your own baby food. You can give your baby the right start with healthy foods so he can develop healthy eating habits as he grows!