Making your own baby food is economical, it saves money and it can put a parent at ease knowing what they are feeding their little one.
What You Will Need to Make Your Own Baby Food:
- A blender/food purer/baby food maker – after you boil your food, you will need something to mash it up with. If you don’t have a blender or anything like that, you can just mash it yourself with a fork or spoon.
- Storage containers – you can buy specially made baby food storage containers at your local stores and specialty baby stores like Baby’s R Us or you can buy them online. I use mini glass measuring bowls that work perfectly for putting baby food in. If I know I’m going to use the food the day or the next, I cover it with Saran wrap and store it in the refrigerator. Anything more food left over I freeze for future use.
- Ice Cube trays – if you don’t buy the special storage containers, ice-cube trays work wonderfully. One ice-cube equals about 1 ounce of food. Pour your homemade baby food into each cube and freeze. Once frozen, take them out and store them in a freezer bag.
- Fruits, vegetables, grains and lean meat – get creative. The advantage of doing it yourself is that you know exactly what your baby is eating so have a little fun with it. If your family is having sweet potatoes and corn for dinner, your baby can have that too (only mashed up). Add some spices to your fruits and veggies too if you like (cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, basil, etc.). Just nothing with salt or pepper in it.
- Cooking materials – if you have pots or pans, you’re good to go. Some foods need to be soften before you puree them (apples, pears, sweet potatoes, etc) and some are ready to puree without having to steam or boil (bananas, berries).
How to Make Your Own Baby Food:
- Rinse, peel, pit and chop the necessary foods.
- Boil/Steam any foods that need to be softened (apples, pears, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, etc). Add spices for a little flavor (optional, babies are used to bland foods). Boil until fruits/veggies/meats are tender and soft (about 5-10 minutes). Let the food cool.
- Once the food cools, puree in a blender (or whatever you have) with formula/breast milk/water until smooth and there are no chunks. I like to mix the food with the some of the boiled water me of the water to give the mixture an extra kick of flavor. Add in some baby oats or some grains like quinoa in the mixture too if you like!
- Using already frozen fruits and veggies is another convenient option. It keeps fresher longer and you can re-freeze it after you’ve prepared and purred the food. If you use fresh fruit, it is best to prepare it within 1-2 days after buying. This can ensure your baby doesn’t eat any bad foods. Canned fruits and veggies are not recommended because of additives and salt.
- Don’t be afraid to mix veggies with fruit! For example, mix together sweet potatoes and apples or butternut squash and bananas. Some go really well together and your baby can get nutrients from the vegetables and fruit at the same time.
How to Store your Baby Food:
- Fill ice trays with your purred baby food and cover with Saran wrap. You can also buy ice-cube trays with lids on them if you like.
- Once baby food is frozen, transfer to a freezer bag.
- Mark the date and the kind of baby food on the bag. Baby food can last from 3-6 months in the freezer, but it is ideal to use it within 1 month to insure nutrients don’t evaporate. The longer the food is frozen, the more water crystals form on the food causing nutrients to evaporate while thawing. So try to use your baby food as soon as possible, if you can.
- Prepared baby food can last in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours (72 hours max). Leaving it in there any longer than that can cause it to pick up “the fridge” smell or bacteria.
- After feeding your baby, throw out any unused portion because of the baby slobber that can get mixed in with the food.
Benefits of Making Your Own Baby Food:
- You know exactly what your baby is eating.
- You can get creative and make up fun concoctions for your baby to eat. This may expand their interest in different foods later in life.
- You save money. Buying prepackaged baby food is convenient but can add up.
- Your baby can get used to eating what the rest of the family is eating.
The Down-side of Making Your Own Baby Food:
- It can be time-consuming. It may seem easier to just grab some baby food at the grocery rather than going through the cooking or mixing process yourself.
- Can be a pain to try to separate the correct portion sizes to make sure your baby is getting enough food or not getting too much. So measuring out baby’s food can be frustrating.
When it comes down to it, benefits out-weigh the bad. It’s about finding the time to prepare food for your little one. If you pick a day out of the week to make a couple different meals for your baby, it won’t seem that bad. After you prepare all the foods and store them, you will be good to go for a couple of weeks or so depending on how much food you make.
Get creative and have fun with it. Think of it this way – by the time you run to the store and pick up baby food, you could have just mixed something up yourself and fed your baby. You will save money in the long run and you will know exactly what your baby is eating and where it is coming from. If you are unsure if certain foods are good for your baby, ask your pediatrician. Some foods such as berries can be a risk when your baby is at a certain age because of allergenic reasons. Also, some foods are better than others during the earlier stages of baby-hood such as squash, apples, bananas and sweet potatoes.