So you’re considering making your own baby food? Well you’re in good company! Making your baby’s food is not just for the health-conscious - many moms are choosing it for a variety of reasons, and the first among them is that you know exactly what your baby is eating, and can control the ingredients and quality. Your baby can also begin enjoying the foods you typically eat as a family - just in baby-sized portions and textures. And of course, it can also be friendlier to your wallet than purchasing expensive jars or pouches.
Most homemade baby food is in the form of purees, but you may also want to try solid finger foods, or a combination of both at the same time. Purees are blended vegetables and fruits, similar to jarred baby food at the grocery store. Even though there are dozens of fancy baby food makers on the market, you definitely don’t need any special equipment. Simply cook the ingredients until they’re soft, and blend them in a food processor or blender with breastmilk or formula to thin out the puree and add extra nutrition. At first, you should prepare only one food at a time to make sure your baby does not have any adverse reactions. Later on, it’s easy to customize blends by mixing and matching different foods according to your baby’s tastes.
Baby-led weaning allows your child to feed herself soft, finger-sized foods as her first foods. If your baby can sit up with good head control, and lift her hands to her face, she can try baby-led weaning. For instance, instead of pureeing sweet potato to spoon feed, you simply give your baby a small piece of soft cooked sweet potato to chew on her own. With baby-led weaning, you don’t have to prepare any special “baby” foods - your baby enjoys eating whatever you’re eating! This makes preparing meals for her super easy, and saves time and energy. Another advantage to baby-led weaning is that it gives your child the chance to practice chewing, and exposes her to a variety of food textures early on.
Many parents do a combination of purees and baby-led weaning alongside breast or bottle feeding as they are trying out new foods with their infants. There is no rule about what foods you need to offer first. You may want to think about what you are eating and if it can be pureed or cooked soft enough to be easily chewed by your baby. Common first foods include avocado, banana, sweet potato, carrots, pears, apples, melons, eggs, and high-iron foods like meats, poultry, and fish. Just be careful not to offer your baby any foods that are a choking hazard or may make her sick, like unpasteurized dairy, honey, or food that is outdated or improperly canned.
There are many creative ways to store homemade baby foods. You can freeze purees in ice cube trays, which are the perfect portion size for baby. You can also store portions in muffin trays, ice pop molds or small freezer-safe containers. Make sure to practice basic food safety with your homemade baby food. Never defrost frozen purees at room temperature or leave out longer than two hours. Prepared baby food can be kept in the refrigerator for a maximum of 24 hours for meats, poultry, fish and eggs, and 48 hours for vegetables and fruits. This is a perfect reason to practice the old adage: “when in doubt, throw it out!”
As your baby tries her first foods, most of it might end up on her face and hands. Don’t worry - it’s not wasted! your baby is learning how to eat and is exploring new tastes. It can take anywhere from 10 to 15 or more trials over time to learn to like a new food! Allowing your baby to decide how much she eats and whether she eats can help foster a healthy relationship with food. So enjoy the food journey with your baby, and don’t forget to bring your camera to capture their expressions!
About the author:
Jennifer is a dietitian passionate about connecting good nutrition with tasty food. She runs a private practice, Nourish for Life, where she works with new moms and parents of young children to help them eat well and have a healthy relationship with food. She is a mom of one tiny human and two fur-babies, and loves creating yummy new recipes in her free time.