When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, there was really no question in my mind that I’d be making baby food. Ensuring a healthy diet and knowing that my son would be getting the necessary nutrients were my determining factors. I also wanted to be in charge of what was going into my son’s system and wanted to be able to offer him a wide palate of foods.
I knew this couldn’t be done if I bought food from a jar at the grocery store. How often do you see eggplant, collard greens, and zucchini purees at the grocery store? Unless it’s an organic gourmet baby food line such as Yummy Spoonfuls it’s highly unlikely you’ll find less common veggies and even fruit.
To be in control of my son’s first start with solids I knew I’d have to make his baby food from scratch. If making his own food meant being aware of the ingredients, then I was willing to take that plunge and go for it. I’d much rather know what was going into my son’s food then always worry and have to read each and every label. With all the preservatives, chemical, added sugar, salt and starch it made absolute sense to avoid those factors and just make it.
Some baby food companies are starting to turn a new leaf and offer a healthier version of baby food without all the extra additives and some are even organic. Ultimately, the baby food had to be fresh. For me it was the freshness, variety and packaging I wanted to avoid that made absolute sense. Making homemade baby food is easier than you think. The prep may take some thought and time but as soon as you realize your child’s enjoyment of your homemade goodness the satisfaction becomes part of the process.
There are a few different ways to prepare baby food and it really all depends on preference. You can try the unplugged approach and use a baby food mill. I’ve heard good reviews about the baby food mills but didn’t use one myself. Since all we had was a food processor, I figured I’d put it to use. After recently reading the post about blender and food processors possibly containing BPA and other toxins it made me realize I may want to reconsider using our Cuisnart and Kitchen Aid mixer which converts into a food processor.
As if, us mom’s didn’t have enough to worry about. Sheesh! I hate thinking I may of exposed my child to toxins, but it could possibly be true. Either route you choose, whether it be a BPA, PVC free food mill or food processor the task is simple. Steam up the veggies or fruit of your choice and send through the food processor. Viola’. You have homemade baby food. You can even bake/roast certain vegetables, like squash or potatoes, zuchinni and eggplant. They’ll blend up just as nicely and bring out a different flavor.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to the food mixture combinations. It’s all about using your imagination and getting creative. You have the option of refering to a book for recipes or keeping your own record of the veggies and fruits you mixed and matched! I did both. You can also include meat or fish into any of your variations when baby is ready for different textures and flavors.
Here is a favorite recipe:
Steam cubes of butternut squash & a few handfuls of spinach
Simmer up a batch of Quinoa
Blend all 3 together and serve!
It’s super simple and your baby will love it.
As far as storing the baby food look into the So Easy Baby Food Kit. The food trays which are ice cube trays with lids are considered safe for storage. They’re BPA and Phthalate free. Just as the kit implies, it’s so easy to store the homemade baby food and each cube equals a single serving size for baby.
Once you get the hang of making a few batches, it’ll then become part of your daily routine. I would often prepare steamed veggies and fruits and blend them up after my son had gone to bed for the evening. I’d then leave out a freshly made portion in a glass dish and refrigerate for the next day. I’d freeze the rest in the food trays. When I needed to defrost a portion I would get a cube’s worth or two out and defrost by setting it out first thing in the morning. This way I didn’t need to use any appliance to heat it up with and by lunch time it would be room temperature.
If the baby food needed warming, I placed the food cube(s) in our small glass pot and heated over the stove. I really enjoyed preparing my son’s first foods. I attribute his excellent eating skills from eating freshly made, local, and organic homemade baby food. I look forward to enjoying the experience again in the coming months! Making your own homemade baby food reduces waste, some energy (depending on the methods used), and harmful toxins. The entire process is very eco friendly.
Image: girlonthewire on Flickr, under Creative Commons
[This post was written by Leslie Quigley.]
Please be sure to visit wholesomebabyfood.com to stretch your dollars even further! No need to buy a recipe book when our site offers oodles of free recipes and solid food information. Enjoy!
I never pureed any of my 1st child’s food, just cooked and mashed with a fork or minced if needed. My next baby is almost ready to eat and I am considering babyled weaning. No blenders needed and minimal storage for days that you aren’t eating baby friendly foods.
Heather Dunham says
I’m with you Cindy. I did the whole cereals and purees thing (made my own 90% of the time) with my first son, he’s now (at age 10) your stereotypical fussy eater kid, just like macaroni and hot dogs, nothing spicy or “real food”.
With my daughter we followed Gill Rapley’s suggestions on baby-led weaning (really baby-led solids, it’s not ‘weaning’ in the North American usage of the term). She always had real food, whole food, solid food, nothing bland or mushed to death. She fed herself from the beginning, she was in control, sometimes she just wanted to experiment and check it out rather than “eat” and that’s all part of it.
She’s now 2 and eats EVERYTHING, she’s always loved spicy Indian curries for instance. She likes “kid food” too of course, but she doesn’t snub her nose at “grownup food” either. She’s also perfectly competent with her own knife and fork, and has been since before age 1, because she was never dependent on being spoon-fed.
What we’ve forgotten as a society is that the rationale for “first foods” being purees and cereals is a throwback to when babies were started on solids at, like, 3 weeks old. Foods HAD to be turned into liquid because babies that age are not physiologically developmentally ready to eat, so they had to be ‘tricked’ into downing this liquid stuff.
We now know to wait to start until they’re around 6mo, at which point they’re able to actually eat real food (for example, if they HAD started at 3 weeks, they’d have graduated to ‘finger foods’ by about this time). And yet we still follow the very same schedule, with NO modifications, as was first prescribed for early-start solids.
There’s actually even more to the story, but I’ll save it for now.
Anyway, if you ARE going to do purees, certainly homemade and organic is best, and isn’t as hard as people think. I know that BLW is still seen as a bit of a “radical” idea in our society, so until more parents are willing to accept it, they should indeed be encouraged their own healthy baby food. But 99% of the time it’s not necessary… And BLW requires just about NO extra prep, so it’s even easier still! 🙂
It’s so interesting to me how many people fear making their own baby food. It really is not that hard and soo much cheaper!
I am not sure it correlates to any healthier choices, or being less picky, later on in life. At least I haven’t seen that in my own experience.
Thank you for this informative post. I really received lots of great info. adiaha
There seems to be virtually no attention paid to exactly what kinds of foods a baby can actually digest and when. BREAST MILK is the only food that a baby really needs – they need more of it than anything else and there is no replacement. If you think about it there may be very good reasons for not rushing the food thing. Humans develop teeth at the perfect age when a child can digest food well. We are in a huge hurry to fill our children with adult foods including sugar, salt and spices. Doctors don’t usually have much knowledge about infant nutrition as they recommend solid food much too early and they tend to favor cereals as a good food for babies. Humans cannot digest grains until 24 to 48 months of age, they don’t have the right enzymes before that. It is well known that problems like ear infections are caused by introducing dairy too early in a child’s diet. Folks, thinking logically – don’t you realize that we are naturally designed to eat food when we are able to chew and digest it? It may be important to note that when a baby is ready for food they will demand it and actively choose to eat with gusto. If you need to spoon the food into a child’s mouth, they spit some out and are basically a bystander in the the experience – you need to understand that you are feeding them to fulfill your own need for control (“To be in control of my son’s first start with solids I knew I’d have to make his baby food from scratch.”). Perhaps you might consider allowing your child to be an active part of this process instead. Believe me a baby lets you know when they really want food. Sooner or later, while observing others eating, kids get curious then they eventually they will become insistent upon eating food. When a child begins to aggressively grab the food and actually eat it themselves – they are telling you that they are ready for simple foods. Before that point you are likely feeding them out of insecurity, convenience or because you were told to do it by a Doctor who has not studied this issue and is repeating what everyone else does. Ever wonder why so many children end up with food allergies and digestive trouble? Here’s an answer. Do some research yourselves and find out the real truth about human nutrition instead of just following the crowd.
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