By Sandy Harper
Honestly, when I realized how easy it is to make my own baby food, I couldn’t fathom spending so much every month on jarred or pouched baby food. Making one’s own baby food has started becoming a popular habit. Companies, like Beech-Nut, are picking up on parent’s desire for purer food and are trying to make their products as natural as possible. Other companies are making products that help moms make their own baby food, with items like Baby Bullet. Making baby food can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. I want to share with you how to do it as simply as possible.
One Ingredient Purees
When initially introducing your baby to food it is best to introduce no more than two foods per week, with at least three days in between foods, so that you can determine if there are any allergic reactions to these new foods. It is your choice on where to start; I do think starting with a vegetable is best. For most veggies they need to be softened before pureed. For example, bake a sweet potato (do not add anything, like butter) until a fork can pierce it. Scoop the potato away from the skin and place into your regular blender. Puree until smooth. If you are going to use it right away (within a week) than it is fine to store in airtight containers in the fridge. If you are preparing enough for a longer period of time, I suggest freezing it. I poured the puree into ice cube trays to freeze. The size of an ice cube or two is the perfect portion size for a baby. After they froze I placed them into Ziploc bags and stored in the freezer for up to a month. When I knew I was going to be serving it I sat it out a few hours early to let it naturally thaw. You can use this same method with fruits (though you don’t have to cook them first). If you are in a time crunch there are certain foods you can mash up with a fork for a quick meal, such as, bananas, avocado and even a baked sweet potato.
Multi-ingredients and added spices/herbs
This is where it gets a little more fun but don’t let it get complicated. Think simple, as in adding cinnamon to apples or basil and garlic to carrots. Most cultures introduce their babies to spices and herbs at a young age. I did this with my little guy, which is most likely why he prefers many different flavors over bland foods. For more ideas on what food and spice/herb blends to try click here.
When I introduced meats, I did so without any added ingredients. After they do fine with their first try of a specific meat, I would start adding herbs and spices. Most of us do not prefer bland meat and I can guarantee your little one probably doesn’t either. I started by adding herbs/spices that I like, for example basil, rosemary or garlic. For chicken, try boiling skinless boneless chicken until cooked through. You can add the herbs/spices to the boiling water or add them into the blender when you puree the meat.
Pouches are a newer food containing method that has grown in popularity. They are easy to use (for child and parent) plus they are easily portable. Apple Go-Gos are one of the most popular food pouches currently on the market but many of the baby food makers have joined this trend and have made baby food in pouch form. Luckily for moms and dads that have decided to make their own baby food, reusable and disposable (yet recyclable) pouches are available for purchase. They are designed for you to add your own food to them. That way you can still have the convenience of the pouch and still be serving homemade food to your baby. You can even invest in spoons that attach to pouches so it is easier to feed younger babies that can’t quite manage a pouch on their own yet.
When I felt I was in a food making rut and needed new ideas on foods to try or herbs/spices to mix, I turned to Pinterest and found a treasure-trove of ideas and recipes. The key is to remember to keep things simple. You don’t need expensive equipment to make your own baby food. Also, before doing anything new it is always advised to speak to your child’s pediatrician first.