DIY Baby Food
Mom Knows Best
Whether you have decided to prepare your own baby food or you're still on the fence, the benefits of doing so are clear. In today's economy everyone is looking to save money. Making your own baby food is significantly more cost efficient than buying prepackaged foods. Not only does it save you money but when you prepare your own baby food you can rest assured knowing exactly what goes into your baby's mouth. As a parent, we're concerned about nutrients, additives, chemicals, and hormones that our children may consume. What better way to ensure they're getting all natural, healthy foods than to prepare them yourself?
Once you've decided to take a diy approach to baby food, you may be unsure where to start. Don't worry, making your own baby food is very simple!
In order to puree your own baby food, you'll need the proper equipment. There are many options available to you, many of which you can purchase at your local department stores. There is no right or wrong decision, only a matter of preference. You may even consider trying all of these tools to determine which works best for you.
Fork - You may have overlooked this basic tool but don't underestimate it's ability to be useful in making your baby food. Depending on the type of food you've prepared, a fork can easily mash up the food making it easy for your baby to consume.
Blender - Whether you use the hand blender or a stand alone mixer, these tools are perfect for grinding up fruits and veggies. Which type of blender you choose is your preference, the only difference is food placement. With a stand alone blender, you place the produce directly inside whereas a hand mixer is placed into the food.
Food Grinder - The difference in a food grinder and a mixer is the texture of the food. A blender or mixer creates a smooth puree whereas the grinder leaves larger hunks of food. Again, this tool is just as effective as the other but it is a matter of preference.
In addition to tools necessary for preparing your baby's fresh foods, you need to consider storage solutions. Choose containers of appropriate portion sizes with air tight lids to keep foods fresh. Ice trays make great portion references and you can use them to freeze left over foods. Zipper freezer bags with a label section are also useful.
Fruits & Veggie Guide
Your baby is integrating into your family in a new way. Now he or she is able to participate in family meal time by not only sitting near the table but also by eating the same dinner the rest of the family is eating. Choosing which fruits and vegetables to serve your baby is not a difficult task especially when keeping the following things in mind.
- Try to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and use them within a day or two. If buying fresh isn't an option, opt for frozen instead.
- Always freeze unused portions immediately to reduce the risk of spoilage. Freezing foods also reduces the risk of exposing your child to high levels of nitrates which increase with storage time. Nitrates can cause anemia in children who ingest high levels of the chemical. Carrots, green beans, spinach, and beets typically have higher levels of nitrates so be sure to freeze these immediately.
- It is recommended that you begin with foods such as bananas, apples, pears, peaches, prunes, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, and green beans but don't feel limited to only these fruits and vegetables.
What is your preferred method of cooking vegetables?
Preparing Your Baby's Food
Preparing your baby's food isn't much different than preparing your own food. All fruits and vegetables should be washed prior to cooking. After cooking, your fruits and vegetables are ready to be pureed or ground. You can bake, boil, or steam your produce. Use whichever method you prefer, as long as the produce is soft enough to be pureed. Bear in mind that vegetables retain the most nutrients when they are steamed. Be sure to remove any pits, seeds, or skin prior to cooking.
As you puree your fruits and vegetables it may be necessary to add some liquid so that they puree is the desired consistency. If you need to add liquid you can use formula, breast milk, or water. If you steam or boil your produce, use the water left over from cooking. When adding liquid be sure to only add small amounts at a time to avoid making the food too runny. As your child grows more teeth and becomes more accustomed to eating solid foods, you can reduce the amount of liquid added. Feel free to add seasoning to your homemade baby food just be sure to do so in moderation. Do not add sugar, honey, or corn syrup to your baby's food as these can cause blood poisoning.
If you're serving your baby meats, be sure to remove the skin prior to grinding. Also remove any fats. Again, it may be necessary to add liquid to achieve the desired consistency and you may season the meat to taste. For older children, you may cut the meat into very small bites instead of creating a puree.
Keep in mind that it is acceptable for your baby to eat the same foods the rest of the family is eating. Don't feel the need to prepare something different for your baby. Trying new foods, textures, and tastes is an adventure for your baby. Just remember to mash or puree all foods thoroughly before feeding them to your baby.
Step by Step Instruction via YouTube
Will you make your own baby food?
Food Serving & Storage
After your produce has been cooked and pureed it needs to be stored appropriately. Always allow your cooked food to cool before portioning it out and freezing it. Remember than any pureed food that you're not immediately serving to your child must be refrigerated or frozen to retain freshness. Be sure the food you're serving your baby isn't too hot. Microwaved food can burn your baby's mouth so be sure the food is no warmer than body temperature. Be sure to stir any food that has been heated in the microwave to reduce hot spots.
When portioning your baby's food, only dish out what you anticipate your baby will eat within the sitting. Always discard uneaten food from your baby's serving dish. Remember you can add more to your baby's bowl if necessary but you cannot add partially eaten food back into storage as the saliva within the food can cause bacteria growth.
If you are preparing foods for future feedings, store them in air tight containers in the refrigerator. Refrigerated foods will keep for several days but if you feel that your child may not consume all that you prepare, freeze it just to be safe. Many people use ice trays to freeze the pureed food. Simply pour the puree into the tray and place the tray in the freezer. Once the food is completely frozen, remove the cubes from the tray and place them in zippered freezer bags. Frozen fruits and vegetables will keep for as long as 8 months and meats will last about 2 months. Be sure to label your freezer bags with the date you prepared the foods so that you accurately track when the foods should be disposed of if they have not been eaten. Never serve your baby any food that may have expired; when in doubt, throw it out!
Introduce new foods to your baby one at a time. Watch your baby for allergic reactions for several days before introducing a second new food. This way you are able to identify exactly which food caused the reaction so that you can avoid feeding it to your baby again in the future. It may be helpful to keep a food diary so that you can accurately track which foods your baby has eaten.
Creamy Apple & Oat Recipe
Interested in trying a baby recipe? Check out this creamy apple and oat puree by Annabel Karmel. This recipe is intended for babies 6 to 9 months of age.
- 3 Sweet Apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbs Water
- Pinch Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Agave nectar
- 1 Tbs Baby oats, per portion
- 2 Tbs Formula or breast milk, per portion
- Put the apples in a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and cook very gently until soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the cinnamon, if using, and puree in a blender, or mash until smooth. Sweeten with the agave nectar, if using. Cool the applesauce and keep refrigerated until needed, or freeze in individual portions and thaw as required.
- To serve, warm one portion (about 2 Tbs.) of the applesauce and stir in the oats and milk. Cool slightly and check the temperature before serving.