Learn to Make Baby Food at Home-Purees
Making Baby Food at Home-Practical and Safe
Many parents anxiously await the day when they can feed their precious, bald-headed, two-toothed offspring their first bite of solid food. The chair is set up like a stage, the camera is set to roll and the star is all dolled up with a fresh new bib. What happens next often involves a scrunched up face, spit and splatter, and if you're really lucky (as I was) a fair chunk of spit up after the first meal. Fortunately these kinks all get worked out in relatively quick fashion and soon baby is enjoying real people food like a pro. However, many parents, for a variety of reasons, want to make baby's food at home rather than buying pre-made, jarred purees from the store. Making your own baby food at home is a safe and economical option, and it really doesn't take much time or any special gadgets to do so!
What You'll Need to Make Your Own Baby Food
There are a couple of items that come in handy when making your own baby food, including:
1. Vegetable Steamer
2. Immersion Blender
3. Ice Cube Tray
4. Sharp Knife
Really, it's that simple! I suppose if you want one of those special baby food mills or any of the other gadgets you are more than welcome to try them and let me know how they work, but I get by just fine with these simple tools.
Making Fruit Purees for Baby
Making fruit purees for your baby is much easier than making vegetable purees, mostly because fruits are generally soft enough to puree without cooking, with some exceptions like apples and pears. Ready to puree fruits include: banana, mango, blueberries, apricots and peaches. Make sure all fruit is fully ripe before pureeing as green fruit is harder and is more likely to leave chunks. First, peel the skin off of the fruit if necessary, as it is with bananas, mangoes and peaches. I find that apricot skin blends very well, while I prefer to skin the fuzzier peaches. You can do this by simply dropping the peach in boiling water for about 10 seconds and then placing it in ice water. The skin will then peel easily off. Sticky, but kind of fun too! after removing the skin from the fruit use a sharp knife to chop the fruit up into small pieces. After you have chopped the fruit up dump it into a large mixing bowl, and go to town with the immersion blender. I tend to use an up-down kind of motion with the immersion blender, smooshing the fruit underneath it. I find this ensures the smoothest puree with the fewest chunks. I have tried used a blender but it just doesn't work as well at all.
After the fruit is pureed to your satisfaction (completely smooth puree for the new eater or slightly chunky for the more advanced eater) line up several ice cube trays and lightly spray them with non-stick cooking spray. This helps to ensure that the frozen puree won't stick to the tray. Next, spoon the puree into the prepared ice cube trays and place them in the freezer. When the puree is completely frozen place the frozen cubes into a sealed and labeled storage bag. Then, when baby is hungry simply take out the desired number of cubes, microwave for about thirty seconds and feed that starving nugget! Frozen cubes are also wonderful because you can mix and blend new combos when your baby is ready to move on from his first foods.
Making Vegetable Purees
Making vegetable purees for baby is only slightly more difficult than making fruit purees. Most vegetables need to be cooked in order to become soft enough to puree. The best way to cook vegetables for pureeing is to steam them, this ensures that they are nice and soft, and is one of the best ways to cook veggies and retain their nutritional value. Using a vegetable steamer like the one above is most convenient, but even if you don't have one you can just place the veggies in a sauce pan in a small amount of water and steam them that way.
Steam time varies from vegetable to vegetable. Turn the burner on to a medium to medium-high heat and let your veggies steam until they are soft when you prick them with a fork. When you are done steaming cup the veggies up into smaller, more manageable chunks before pureeing, and then go to town with the immersion blender! Simply follow the same steps as you would for fruit with the ice cube trays and you'll have delicious, nutritious baby veggies.
Some of my favorite veggies for babies include: Squash (acorn and butternut particularly), broccoli, cauliflower, avocado (ok I know it's technically a fruit, but still), green beans and sweet potatoes. I'm pretty lucky in that I have a baby with a very forgiving palate.
Making baby food at home rarely takes me more than a half of an hour from start to finish, and this is often accomplished while doing other chores. As a working mom I have very little time at home and I do feed my son canned food occasionally, sometimes for convenience and sometimes out of exhaustion. But I enjoy making my son's food and knowing what's in it and the conditions it was made under. So why not give pureeing a try, you might enjoy it more than you think!
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