Today's parents have seemingly endless options when it comes to feeding their baby solids. As a mother of twins who struggled with breastfeeding I was determined to supply my babies with the healthiest solid food possible and I chose to make my own. Here are some of the reasons to make your own baby food:
Â· It's cheaper - a 2.5 ounce jar of baby food typically costs 59 Â¢ (organic is usually 69 Â¢). Making your own costs a fraction of this price.
Â· Homemade baby food tastes better - after eating only homemade food, both my babies refused multiple types of jarred food during a road-trip. Just looking at the brown color of jarred peas compared to the bright green of homemade peas indicates how healthy homemade food is.
Â· You know what's in it - whether you choose to use organic or not, you know exactly what is going into your baby's body.
Â· It's more convenient - making baby food is not a time consuming process, especially when you make big batches and freeze it. This means you don't need to make a last minute dash to the store because you just used your last jar of baby food.
Â· Your baby's meal is prepared with love- making my babies own food meant that I was putting care into everything my babies ate.
Â· You can expose your baby to a wide variety of tastes - The types of jarred baby food available is limited, by making your own you can offer many types of food and help develop healthy eating habits. At 13 months, both my kids eat a wide range of foods include some of my daughters favorites - cauliflower, beets, asparagus, and mushrooms.
When you are starting your baby on solids, whether homemade or store bought, it is important to choose age appropriate foods. As you introduce new foods, offer one new food at a time for a minimum of 3 days to determine whether your baby is allergic to the new food. Once a new food has been safely introduced, you can mix it with already introduced foods for some variety. You can also mix in breast milk or formula to early food to help your baby transition to the taste and consistency. A baby's taste buds are very sensitive and they may refuse a new food. Don't give up, some new foods must be offered many times before a baby accepts it. The first time I few my babies broccoli, they looked at me like I was crazy. After offering it a few more times, it is now one of their favorite foods.
Mashing raw foods
Some foods, such as bananas and avocados, can be eaten raw from the start and only require a bit of mashing with a fork. Simply put the food in a bowl and mash it with a fork until it is soft. As your baby gets older you can leave more lumps in the food, until you simply cut the food in small parts and offer it as finger foods. Both bananas and avocados make perfect early finger foods.
Cooking food for baby
Food can be cooked for baby in many ways, the easiest ways are to boil it, steam it, or bake it. When cooking food on the stovetop, steaming is preferred since boiling allows nutrients to leak into the water. For most foods and vegetables, simple cook the food until it is soft, than either transfer the food to a food processor and puree it to a desired texture or put it in a bowl and mash it with a fork. This method can be used with most fruits and veggies including sweet potato, apples, pears, peas, zucchini, squash, etc. Be creative and mix foods, especially if your baby is having trouble getting used to a new food.
Storing baby food
The easiest way to make baby food is to make large batches and freeze part of the batch for later. Most foods can be stored for a few days in the fridge and a few months in the freezer. The easiest way to freeze the food is to fill an ice cube tray with the pureed food. When the food is frozen, simply pop out the cubes and store them in a plastic bag in the freezer. This makes it easy, since each cube is about 1 ounce. The day before you are ready to use the food, put the cube in the fridge and it will be thawed in time for baby's meal. Babies do not need their baby food cooked hot the same way we do and as such you should avoid using a microwave since it can create hot spots and burn your baby's mouth.