Making your own baby food is easy and affordable. Unlike commercially prepared baby foods, home preparation allows you to control the ingredients so that your baby is fed only wholesome foods without any unnecessary fillers or additives.
When preparing fruits and vegetables, start with fresh produce that is fully ripe. Cut away any bruised areas and remove all skins and seeds.
The most affordable produce will vary by season, but no matter the time of year, there is certain to be a nice selection available.
Baby food preparation is a simple procedure. All that you will really need is a pot for boiling, a steaming basket, a blender or food processor, and a fine strainer.
If you plan to prepare more food than can be consumed in just a day or two, you’ll need to freeze the extra. In this case, you will also need ice cube trays and some plastic freezer bags.
Be sure that all equipment is spotlessly clean — baby’s digestive systems are very sensitive, so you do not want to introduce any bacteria.
The best way to prepare vegetables is to steam them. Clean vegetables thoroughly, remove skins, and then cut them into chunks.
Place vegetable pieces into a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and steam until they are nice and soft.
Place cooked veggies into your blender or food processor and puree until they reach the desired consistency.
For young babies, be sure that the puree is smooth, for older babies, it is permissible to leave the food a bit chunky.
Once you have the puree all ready, store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to two days. If you have prepared extra for later use, simply fill the sections of the ice cube trays with the pureed foods, cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper, and freeze.
Once frozen, you can pop the cubes into freezer bags for storage of up to one month.
Be sure to thaw the cubes safely when you are ready to use them — thaw in the fridge or microwave, never set them out at room temperature to defrost.
When preparing fruits, wash, peel, remove all seeds, and place into a pot. Cover with just a small bit of water and boil until tender, usually about 10-15 minutes, depending on the type of fruit chosen and the size of the chunks.
Once the fruit is fully cooked, puree and store in the same manner as vegetables. Do not add any sugar or sweeteners — babies are quite satisfied with the natural sweetness of fruit. It is a good idea to label freezer bags with not only the contents, but also the preparation date so that you use up the oldest batches first.
Meats can be poached, pureed, and frozen, too. Be sure that you do not add seasonings, however, since babies tummies are a bit more temperamental than those of adults. Additionally, there is no need to expose your baby to salt at this age.
Some studies indicate that adding salt to a child’s diet increases the chances that they will suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) as adults. Keep your baby’s foods as simple and pure as possible.
Soybeans, lentils, brown rice, and other legumes and grains are good choices, too. Be sure that all items are fully cooked and frozen in a safe manner.
At first, you will be feeding your baby single foods, but as they grow, babies enjoy a little variety in their diets. Some foods go very well together, producing a tasty meal. Some popular food combinations are:
- pears and plums
- sweet potatoes and apples
- bananas and apples
- apples and pumpkin
- apples and blueberries
- banana and avocado
- beef and green beans
- ham and apples
When to Start
Consult your baby’s health visitor or doctor for advice on when to introduce solid foods.
Typically, babies are fed exclusively breast milk or infant formula for the first six months of life, but your doctor will have specific recommendations based on your baby’s size and development.
When you do begin feeding pureed foods, it is a good idea to introduce them one at a time, watching to be sure that your baby doesn’t have an adverse reaction.
Words of Caution
Never give honey to a child under 12 months of age. Honey sometimes contains botulism, which can be deadly to babies.
Also, there are a few foods that should be fed in limited quantities. Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, collard greens, lettuce, spinach, and turnips contain nitrates, which can cause illness in babies. Feed these foods sparingly, only a few spoonfuls at a meal.