Embracing the Simple Chef: Making Your Own Baby Food

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksLinkedinPinterest

making baby foodOne of the most rewarding aspects of being a parent is the opportunity to introduce the world to your little one.  Once you're ready to start introducing solid foods, a brand new world of tastes and textures awaits your baby.  Making your own baby food is a simple process that will create an amazing experience for your baby.

 

Choosing first foods to introduce to baby may be the most difficult part of making your baby's food. Many infant experts recommend introducing foods in their pure form, meaning you shouldn't add spices—especially salt to foods.  This tends to be a cultural recommendation however, as many Asian cultures do add spice with no issue.  Although traditional first foods have included rice cereals and fruits such as banana, several experts are embracing meat and egg as first food choices.  Breast milk is naturally high in carbohydrates, and because it contains amylase, an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates, some experts recommend protein-based foods for breast fed infants. Ultimately, you're the chef, and the menu is up to you!

Several baby food systems are on the market, such as the Baby Bullet or the Beaba Babycook.  They can be pricey, and honestly, are not necessary to make healthy, nutritious baby food.  For the simplest foods, such as banana and avocado, all you need is a fork! But for other foods that require peeling, cooking, and blending, you probably already have the tools you need in your kitchen.  Here are a few things to consider before you embrace your simple chef.

Tools

If you have a peeler, a sharp knife, a steamer, an oven, and a blender, you're ready to make your baby's food!  And not all foods require all these tools.  Homemade baby food is mostly common sense: remove peels and seeds, cook food until soft, mash until it's easy to swallow and viola! You've made baby's meals!

Preparation Methods

Different foods can be prepared different ways.  Foods may be served raw if they have a creamy texture such as avocadoes.  Other foods such as apples and carrots should be peeled, steamed, and then mashed to an appropriate consistency.  Root veggies such as sweet potatoes and fall veggies such as butternut squash should be roasted then mashed, as this cooking method enhances their flavor; however, they can be chunked and steamed as well. A blender can help you achieve the appropriate consistency for your child; the younger you introduce foods, the thinner it should be.  You can thin the food with breast milk or with water left over from steaming, if you prepared food this way. 

Storage

Homemade baby food may be stored in airtight refrigerator containers for three days or frozen for up to two to three months.  Many companies now make freezer-safe baby food containers that vary in size to accommodate different portions; however, a great portion-controlled device is a traditional ice cube tray.  Blend your baby food, let it cool, then spoon it into the tray and let it freeze.  Once frozen, remove, place into an air-tight bag, date it, and defrost as necessary.

Tips and Tricks

Nutritional experts recommend waiting three days before introducing a new food.  This time allows you to identify any negative reactions due to allergies.  Know the signs of allergic reactions, and know what to do if this happens to you.  As baby grows, you can stop creating separate meals and simply feed him or her whatever you're eating, just blended! Having spaghetti  for dinner?  Once it's ready, place some in a blender and blend to a consistency appropriate for your little one to enjoy.  In his book Hungry Monkey, food critic Matthew Amster-Burton shares his parenting philosophy as it relates to food: they should eat what you eat; whether it's spicy Thai or Irish stew, let your kids enjoy food as it should be enjoyed.

Two hours a week is all you really need to prepare a week's worth of meals for your baby.  Shop ahead of time and set aside those two hours to peel, chop, steam, roast, and blend your homemade meals. Have fun, and introduce interesting foods such as purple potatoes, rainbow Swiss chard, and mango, as well as great combinations such as pomegranate cherry or rosemary beef when your baby is ready.

For more information regarding making your own baby food and introducing foods, try these websites:

La Leche League
Hungry Monkey Book
Wholesome Baby Food