Thursday, June 5, 2014

Baby Food 101: Part 1


When it came time to start solids with my little one, I knew I was going to do the same thing I did with my first baby.  I was going to make his food and feed him homemade little meals just like the rest of the family eats.  Sure, it's easier to buy the store bought food in the little glass jars or the popular pouches, but something about those doesn't sit well with me.  I did buy a few of the jars of baby food to have on hand for emergencies (since they have a much longer shelf life than homemade food so they're excellent for emergency kits) but I only plan to use those if I have absolutely have to.  I did the same with my oldest (5 years ago) while working full time and then some so I know it's possible to do it again.  

For some, making baby food at home can be intimidating but, in reality, it's very simple. In the beginning, you start off with the basic veggies (i.e., carrots, squash, sweet potato, peas, green beans) and you build up from there.  Eventually you introduce proteins such as egg, chicken, red mean, etc and fruits as well.  With my daughter, I waited until she was almost a year old and had tried virtually every vegetable and protein before I introduced fruit.  Why you ask?  Because fruit is sweet and the taste is very appetizing when compared to carrots, peas or green beans. Many moms I've talked to have found that, after introducing fruits, their kids no longer like the veggies and refuse to eat them.  So, I waited on the fruits with my oldest and it worked out well. She LOVES fruit but LOVES her veggies just as much and will still eat them plain, steamed, raw and any other way I serve them at almost 6 years old.  

So, back to the topic of actually making your own baby food.  When starting solids, some start with rice or oatmeal cereal and others start with veggies. I started with the veggies because the rice and oatmeal cereal can be a little difficult for little bellies to digest and, depending on the baby, it can constipate them as well.  You can also add a little bit of the fortified oatmeal cereal (or rice cereal if you prefer) to your veggies to give them some extra nutrients and DHA.  My favorite oatmeal cereal and the only one I buy for my babies is the Happy Bellies.  It's organic and includes plenty of extras such as DHA, Choline and probiotics to promote a healthy digestive system. It's sold at Whole Foods and Target but you can also get it online at sites such as Diapers.com.  

When you decide to start veggies, go to the store and buy a few of each of the following:  carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, bag of frozen peas, bag of frozen green beans and avocados.  These are all easy vegetables to start with and easy ones to make at home with a basic blender as well.  Sure a Blendtech or Vitamix will make things MUCH easier but you can get by with a basic blender as well.  There are baby food making machines out there too (such as Baby Bullet and Beaba Babycook) but I am not a fan of those.  The jars they come with are small and you can't make a large quantity in them if you choose to plan ahead and freeze the food (which is fine & just as healthy).  The baby food making machines can also cost upwards of $150 so using a basic blender will save you some money too!  

For storing your homemade baby foods, you have plenty of options.  Below are some ways moms I know have stored their homemade baby food:

  • Small plastic Tupperware type containers
  • Ice cube trays
  • Baby food storage trays sold separately matching machines (from Baby Bullet & Beaba)
  • Baby food storage containers (OXO & Cuisinart make great ones)
  • Empty, washed & sterilized glass baby food jars
  • Small Gladware containers (disposable type of plastic storage containers)




 My favorite way to store my homemade baby food and the least expensive way is empty baby food jars. I bought 50 of them for $3.00 from a local mom that was getting rid of them and it is plenty for me to store the food I make and have enough to last me about a month. That is about how long I keep frozen baby food for but I have kept it up to 3 months in the past.  When I defrost it, I do so by leaving it in the refrigerator overnight and, by morning, it's ready to eat.  It's tastes just as good as it did when I prepared it and baby loves it the same :) If I make the baby food and end up having a lot more than expected left over, I either put it in ice cube trays or in larger containers.  I don't like the ice cube trays much because you can take the food with you as you can when it's pre-packaged in small, sealed containers but they are a good option if you stay home a lot and feed baby at home.  

So, if you have a little one that is almost ready for solids, give homemade baby food a shot!  It's not very difficult and the recipes are basic enough that anyone can make it. It's as simple as peeling a vegetable, boiling it, dicing it & putting it in the blender!  I'll be posting some of my baby food recipes on here shortly so follow the blog to get updates on when a new post is up!! Thanks for visiting!

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