Learning how to make baby food offers benefits that extend far beyond the benefits to your bank account. Making your own baby food gives you control over exactly what your baby is eating which is obviously something that can’t be said when you purchase baby food from a store. You want your baby to have the best of everything and making your own food can be one of the best ways to make sure they get it.
Of course, the biggest benefit of making your own baby food is the amount of money you’ll save. Having a baby is incredibly expensive and making your own baby food can be an excellent way to cut back on costs. That’s important in this day and age when so many families are struggling to make ends meet. Even if you have enough money in your bank account to cover store bought baby food, why not save some of that money, put it aside for Baby’s future or focus that money on toys, clothes, medical expenses or perhaps just a little extra spending money for Mom.
A lot of new mothers don’t consider making baby food on their own because they feel it will be too time consuming. That’s simply not the case. Many homemade baby food recipes can be prepared and stored in advance and even preparing those meals in advance doesn’t require a huge time investment. Some mothers even begin preparing their homemade baby food during the final month of their pregnancy. Making baby food helps them mentally prepare for bringing Baby home and also offers something to focus on during what can be a stressful time for many mothers.
What Can You Use? What Should You Avoid?
You can make pretty much anything into baby food, to be honest although fresh fruit and vegetables are best as they’re healthy, tasty and give you more control over what goes into your baby’s food but canned or frozen fruit and vegetables can be used as well. You should avoid using:
- Butter or margarine
- Corn syrup
- Herbs and spices especially salt
Babies prefer plain tasting food so adding sweeteners and spices just isn’t necessary and can actually cause more harm than good. Honey, molasses, sugar and corn syrup can be especially problematic as they can contribute to or cause dental or weight issues later in Baby’s life. As far as spices go, you especially want to avoid salt as it can lead to your baby developing a taste for salty foods which can be difficult to break them of as they grow and mature but the bigger problem lies with the potential for issues with your growing baby’s kidneys. Salt puts unnecessary strain on your baby’s still developing kidneys and that’s certainly not something you want. Babies don’t need salt anyway. They’re just as happy with their food without it.
What Will You Need?
Making baby food really doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment. In fact, most homes will probably already have just about everything on the list already. If there’s something you feel you need but you don’t have, check discount stores, department stores, yard sales or online auctions. You don’t need anything top of the line – just something that will get the job done.
To make your own baby food, you’ll need:
- The fruit or vegetables you want to use
- A blender, food processor or food mill
- Plastic containers for storage (freezer bags work fine in a pinch)
- A steamer (you can use a basic stand alone steamer, a microwave steamer or a steamer basket)
- Ice cube trays
- Plastic wrap
- Labels and a permanent marker (Tupper Ware or freezer bags with labeling panels are ideal)
Labels are fairly important as any baby food you make should only be kept in the freezer for up to a month. You need to make sure you put the date on those storage containers so you can keep track of what you made and how long it’s good for.
How to Make Baby Food – Step by Step
As I mentioned above, you can make just about anything into baby food. It’s best to stick to introducing them to one type of food at a time just in case Baby reacts in a negative way to a certain type of food. If you try feeding your baby several different types of baby food in a short span of time and there is an allergic reaction, it can be difficult to narrow down what the reaction was to. You’re also going to want to start out easy. The easiest foods to use for making food are as follows:
- Butternut squash
- Green or yellow beans
So now that you have an idea of where to start, it’s time to learn how to make baby food. Let’s dive in.
Step One: Wash your food well. Make sure it’s food is free from any dirt or shipping grime. Babies are very delicate and food you buy in a supermarket comes into contact with all manner of things you wouldn’t want your baby to ingest.
Step Two: Peel the skin off the fruit or vegetable. This one’s optional but it’s a bit easier to peel the food in advance than it is to strain and remove peels after the food has been pureed.
Step Three: Boil your fruit or vegetables. If you have a steamer you can steam the food instead. Boiling or steaming makes the food mushier. If your little one has just started on solid foods, you’re going to want to make sure whatever you’re cooking is especially mushy. After a few months on solids, the food doesn’t have to be as mushy so just cook it until it’s soft enough to easily pierce with a toothpick.
Step Four: In your blender or food processor, puree the food until it’s the consistency you feel is right for your baby. Again, babies just starting on solid food are going to require something a little softer than babies that have been on solids for a few months.
Step Five: Empty the puree into your ice cube trays and cover the trays with plastic wrap. Put your trays of food in the freezer and allow your puree to freeze into cubes. This will take varying amounts of time depending on how thick your puree is and what is in the puree.
Step Six: Once frozen, empty the trays into your storage containers or a plastic bag. If you’ve made more than one kind of food, make sure you put the different kinds of food in different containers. Label the containers with their contents and the date then put them back in the freezer.
Step Seven: When you’re ready to feed Baby, take out the number of baby food cubes you feel you’ll need and either allow them to thaw or thaw them in the microwave. Make sure you don’t allow them to get to hot if you choose the microwave. That’s it! You’ve just made and served your own baby food.
Once you have an idea of what your baby likes and have discovered whether or not they have any allergies, you can start mixing more than one kind of food together. Just make sure you’ve already tried them out on the food first. This works especially well with foods like bananas and kiwis that don’t require cooking before they’re blending. Throw them both in the blender at the same time (peeled, of course) and follow the rest of the steps the exact same way and you have a special treat for your little one.