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Making homemade baby food; is it really easier than you think? After learning I was pregnant with my first baby, a food processor quickly topped my birthday and Christmas lists. Having frequented my fair share of baby showers, I was no stranger to the “guess the baby food” game. Yuck! When it came time for my boy to start solids my motto was: if I wouldn’t eat it I can’t expect my baby to eat it. Admittedly there are some fine baby food options at the grocery store. Still I found the easiest (and most cost effective) way to feed my babies healthy first foods and staying true to my motto was by making homemade baby food.
Giving your baby homemade baby food is NOT difficult.
Yes it takes some planning and time, however, anyone can feed his or her baby healthy and delicious homemade purees and finger foods. Here are some tips and resources to help you prepare tasty purees and finger foods for your little ones.
Think It Through
When thinking about letting your little one dabble in the wonderful world of solid food you’ll need to decide your approach to introducing solids. First, have you discussed introducing solids with your child’s pediatrician? Are you worried about food allergies? Will you start baby on basic purees or skip purees and take the “Baby Led Weaning” approach? These questions will help you decide what food to first introduce. With both my kiddos I started with purees. With my first I started him on rice cereal and with my second her first taste was sweet potato.
Preparing in bulk is key to making homemade baby food easy and convenient, but remember babies should be exposed to a variety of healthy foods. You don’t want to simply make a giant batch of pureed sweet potatoes and call it good for the week.
I suggest making three to four freezable batches of first foods and have plenty of fresh produce on hand so you can give your baby a healthy variety from the start.
It can take tasting a new food up to ten times before a baby can truly distinguish his or her preference, which makes variety important.
There are several options for baby’s first taste. Below are some ideas to get you started. I included spoon food and finger food because some babies take to spoon-fed purees while others prefer finger foods from the start. Case in point, my son loved purees while my daughter didn’t really dig solids until she literally got her hands on it.
Another reason why I prefer homemade baby food over store-bought is that I can easily tailor the food to my baby, adjusting the food’s taste and texture. My preferred method of preparing purees in my glorious food processor for large batches and in the Magic Bullet for smaller batches. For foods that need to be cooked before pureeing, like sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli, I like steaming because you can use the excess water to adjust the purees’ thickness without watering down the puree’s taste or nutrition. You can also use expressed breastmilk or formula to make purees thinner. And if I need to make a puree thicker I simply added some baby oatmeal cereal at meal time.
Once the puree is prepared I use a 1/4 cup to transfer the puree into ice cube trays or mini muffin tins. When the puree is frozen, I remove the baby food using a butter knife to pop the food cubes out of the tray. Then I store the food cubes in freezer bags labeled with the date and contents. You can also purchase glass containers.
I find it so gratifying to stock my freezer with a variety of tasty baby foods. At meal time I usually microwave one or two cubes of food for 30 seconds, stir, check the food’s temperature, texture, and flavor, possibly add some seasoning, and serve to baby. My sister used to get out a small sauce pan and thaw her frozen food that way. Any purees that baby does not eat before transitioning to finger foods full time can be added to sauces, smoothies, meatballs, etc.
For baby food and finger food recipes, I found the website Wholesome Baby Food is a great resource. Once my babies had their first tastes I started playing around with adding various seasonings. Roasting veggies for purees or finger food is a wonderful way to add more flavors to your baby’s palette. I also start giving my babies tastes from my plate shortly after first introducing solids.
Like I said before, my daughter was not crazy about purees so she quickly transitioned to finger foods. I am amazed by how much a baby can eat with little to no teeth. Still there are some foods that are easier for babies to gum than others, like steak, that are impossible for babies to gum.
Many a chef will tell you that food is so much more than nutrition, it is one of life’s simple pleasures. Introducing your baby to the wonderful world of food is an exciting time! It’s also a time that we often make more complicated and intimidating than it needs to be. I hope these tips help you get excited about cooking for your baby.
There are many reasons to give your little one homemade baby food: health, ease of customization, cost savings, freshness, etc but perhaps the most important aspect of homemade baby food is an ingredient you can never buy at a store: love.