Canned baby food is a huge industry, with thousands of cans sold every day. While some premade baby foods are perfectly fine and healthy, the fact is, there is really no good reason to feed your baby processed baby food; there are many benefits to making your own! It’s also probably a lot easier than you think!
You might think about making your own baby food for reasons such as:
- It can be far cheaper compared to prepackaged food
- Knowing exactly what’s going into your baby’s food
- You can choose your own fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. Plus, you can use things you won’t find in processed baby foods, such as melons
- Getting your baby used to eating the same foods as the rest of the family
I’m a huge advocate of making your own baby food, and I’d recommend it to all parents for the reasons above.
Ok, so what do I need to make my own baby food?
Making your own baby food is pretty simple. In order to get started, all you really need is a way to process and steam food. The simplest way is to get an all-in one baby food maker to do most of the work for you. However, this can be a more expensive solution. If you have a food processor, it will probably work well enough.
You’ll also need some small airtight containers to hold baby-sized servings of food. You can purchase some, or simply use an ice cube tray inside of a ziploc bag.
The most important part is going to be the actual fruits and veggies you use to make the food. You’re going to want the freshest, highest-quality stuff you can find.
Before you make the food…
You should make sure that your hands and the area you’re going to use to prepare the food are very clean. Wash both your hands and any utensils or tools you’re going to be using in hot, soapy water, rinse them in hot water and let them air dry.
What are the best ingredients for making baby food?
Most fruits and vegetables are going to be great for making your little guy or girl food. You might want to consider using:
- fruits like peaches, apples, strawberries, cherries, apples, bananas, pears, plums, blueberries
- vegetables like asparagus tips, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes, squash, peas
If you can afford it, you should aim for truly organic fruits and vegetables; the trace amounts of pesticides found on fruits and veggies will affect babies a lot more than adults. Also, since babies eat so little, it’s not going to cost a whole lot to feed them organic produce. I’d definitely recommend it if you can afford it.
At the very least, you’re going to want to buy organic versions of the most pesticide-ridden fruits and vegetables: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes, and kale.
How to make your own baby food: beginner ideas
Here are some ideas for simple baby foods you can make.
Bananas are one of the best, cheapest and simplest things you can feed your baby. Not only that, but they’re super chock-full of potassium and vitamins. It really makes no sense to buy prepackaged banana baby food, especially since it’s packaged and processed. Bananas are super easy to prepare for your baby: all you need to do is mash it up with a spoon! You can also add formula or breast milk, if necessary.
Rice cereal is a common first food, and it’s simple to make as well as cheap.
- Pour 1/2 cup of rice into a blender and grind it to a powder
- Pour the rice powder into a pot of filtered water; enough to make a thin paste should be enough
- Cook until it has a creamy consistency, stirring constantly and on low heat. If it’s getting too thick, just add some more water. When it’s done, it will look sort of like oatmeal.
- To serve, simply mix a few teaspoons of the cereal into a bowl with either formula or breast milk; this will also make it so the food isn’t totally new to your baby.
If your baby doesn’t take to the rice cereal at first, don’t give up. Just add more formula or breast milk and try again.
Pureeing fruits and vegetables is really easy, too. For fruits like apples, you don’t even have to steam them. Simply peel them and offer them to your baby. When it comes to vegetables like carrots and greens, just cut them into small pieces, steam them for a short time, then throw them in the blender with some of the cooking water and puree them. You can also blend these greens with other foods, like squash.
Vegetable baby food: the easy way
- Get fresh vegetables to start with. Don’t use any canned vegetables for food, as these contain added salt. Stick to the fresh stuff. Also, go for organic vegetables if you can.
- Good choices to start your baby out on include: peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green & yellow beans, pumpkin, parsnips, zucchini and asparagus.
- I’d recommend waiting until your baby is older to introduce high-nitrate vegetables such as: spinach, cabbage, squash, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. Babies can have a hard time eliminating nitrates. However, you can lower the amount of nitrates in the prepared food by using freshly-picked vegetables and pureeing them with fresh water as opposed to the cooking water.
- Wash vegetables thoroughly before peeling and preparing them.
- Ideally, you’ll want to steam the vegetables, which preserves the most nutrients. You can also boil or microwave cook them; if you’re going to do this, try to leave them whole or cut them into large pieces.
- When the vegetables are cooked, puree them right away, before they get cold.
- Use the water you cooked the vegetables with when pureeing; this gives the food a smooth consistency.
Fruit baby food: it’s also easy to make
- Go for fresh fruits; organic stuff is the best if you can afford it. You can also use canned fruit in water, but fresh is best.
- Good choices include: pears, peaches, apricots, prunes, mangoes, papayas, plums and bananas.
- Wash the fruit thoroughly, then peel it.
- Fruits like mangoes, papayas, avocados and bananas can simply be mashed up with a fork, and thinned with water if necessary.
- When cooking fruit, try to leave it whole or cut it into large pieces. Steaming is the ideal way to do it, but you can also use the microwave.
- Puree the fruit as soon as it’s done, using water or unsweetened fruit juices to thin it and give it a smoother consistency.
What not to add to baby food
There are a few things you’re going to want to avoid when making baby food:
- salt: it’s hard on your tiny baby’s kidneys
- herbs & spices: babies don’t really like them
- margarine & butter: just unncessary
- sugar, honey or other sweeteners: can lead to dental or weight problems
Okay, I made baby food! Now where do I store it?
You should either serve or store your baby food as soon as you prepare it. Since this is all fresh stuff, not processed like prepacked food, it’s going to spoil quickly if not stored properly. Don’t leave it at room temperature, and get it in the fridge as soon as possible.
You’re going to want to use air-tight containers. Make sure they’re properly cleaned and dried before using them, and wash your hands and the area thoroughly. Food in the refrigerator is going to last two days at the most, so be sure to use it up.
If you want to freeze your baby food for later, there is a simple method
Freezing baby food: the ice-cube tray method:
- Get an ice-cube tray and properly wash/sterilize it.
- Pour a small amount of pureed food into each of the ice-cube tray cubes.
- Put the tray in a freezer bag. To preserve as much of the nutrients as possible, suck out as much air out of the bag with a straw as you can.
- Label the bag.
To serve the frozen food, you just prepare it the same way you would with any frozen food. You can put it in the microwave, or in a cup in hot water. Remember to check the temperature before serving, and never refreeze food if it’s been thawed once already.
Welcome to the world of making your own baby food!
I firmly believe that once you start making your own baby food, you’re never going to go back to buying prepacked food again. There are just so many benefits to making homemade food that there’s really no reason to buy it.
Did you try making baby food at home? Leave us a comment or question below!
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