February 9, 2012

Guide to Making Your Own Baby Food.

Hello lovely readers! I thought I would put together a little post about making your own baby food since so many of you are new mothers. Don't have kids? Well you could be like Jessica Seinfeld and use purees to make your own meals even healthier.

I get a lot of questions from people about what making your own baby food entails. It seems most people think it sounds like a lot of work and so mystifying that they don't give it a second thought. I'm here to hopefully take a little bit of the mystery out of it and tell you how EASY it is. Not only easy but I actually think it's FUN! This is coming from a fast food junkie who never used to like to cook and HATED chopping.

I, like other mothers, want better for my child. I would like to guide him to better, healthier eating (and as a bonus I have even started eating some healthy home-made meals). I know there are organic, healthy baby foods out there. Lots. But that gets expensive! I chose to make our own because 1. it saves money 2. I know exactly what is in his food 3. I can make my own flavor combinations 4. it is easy to guide him into eating the same foods as us 5. I think store baby foods smell and look gross. If I wouldn't eat it, I don't expect him to.

By the way, I get not everyone has the time, or care, to go this route, so seriously please don't take any of this as a judgement if you buy your food. It's hard to find time to shower as a mom let alone cook (yes, I just admitted that I don't shower publicly). One of the biggest things I've learned becoming a mom is to not judge any one else's parenting. We all are doing our best to get by and do what works best for us. Just wanted to make sure that was said. 

You only need a few things to get started.
-a food processor
We use one made for making baby food but that's not necessary
-a good baby food book 
I use Top 100 Baby Purees (ugly cover, gorgeous pictures). I also hear great things about Super Baby Food as well. This will help be a guide to what can be frozen, what age they can have certain foods, and of course how to prepare them.
-a good knife
So helpful with all of the chopping you do.
-pots & a steamer/microwave-safe dish to steam
-ice cube tray & ziploc freezer bags /storage containers
Above is a peek at a few of the things we have in the freezer as an example of what you could puree. We also have mango, pear, strawberries, sweet potato, tilapia, & chicken.

There are also lots of foods that you can make that you don't even have to puree. You can mash up some banana or avocado. Or give them rice cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt. As they get older you will be able to dice some fruits into tiny pieces they can feed themselves or even give it to them whole as they get better at eating. Giving them something like a big piece of carrot to gnaw on is great for teething (note: I wouldn't recommend leaving them unattended with something like that though).
You'll obviously need to start with some good produce. You don't need to get all the different foods at once. We started out giving him one new food a week and started adding more slowly. As I notice something is running low I will just pick more up at the store that week and prepare it while cooking our dinner. I wouldn't recommend making a ton of one food at once though as purees are typically only good up to 6 weeks.
With most foods all you have to do is peel, chop and either boil or steam them until they are tender and then puree. You can add a few things to certain purees before you process them. For instance when they are starting out it's nice to mix in some breast-milk/formula for a familiar taste and a thinner consistency that's easier to eat. If it's breast-milk you can't re-freeze it or microwave it though, so keep that in mind. You can also add a little unsalted butter to things like carrots (cooking carrots with fat makes the beta-carotene absorb more readily) or sweet potato. Or a dash of cinnamon to apple or pear.
After cooking your food and processing it to a smooth puree pour it into ice cube trays and put them in the freezer. If you choose to use storage containers just put them pre-portioned into those and store. Keep in mind when portioning their food that you can not save anything that they don't eat once their spoon hits it. It's better to give them less and add if they seem hungry still than to waste a bunch of food.
If you choose to go the ice cube tray route you can just pop those little guys out once they are frozen and put them in a labeled Ziploc bag. It can be helpful to add the date you cooked it to ensure that you don't use food that is past the 6 week expiration date. Yes mine say things like "winner, winner, chicken dinner" and "show us your bleubs". I also add silly drawings if I'm feeling artsy. I'm a child with a child.
Even though the books give all of these recipes to make things together, I cook everything separately. The great thing about storing his food this way is that I can then create my own combinations later on so that he isn't eating the same things all of the time. With the exception of apples & pears (his favorite) he rarely eats the same meal twice in a week. I swear sometimes his food is better than mine. I have a hard time not eating it and it makes me frown at my own cold dinner. One unexpected combination (from my book) that I found delicious is chicken, apple and sweet potato. Zachary loves it!

A few other "helpful" tips:
-Feed them after they have nursed/had their bottle. Food at this time is just for practice and they still need to have at least 18 to 20 oz. of milk a day. So, it's good to feed them that first to make sure that they aren't too full of food to have their milk.
- It's best to wait at least three days in between trying new foods to see if they are allergic.
-Microwave the frozen purees until they are piping hot and let cool. This will help kill bacteria.

Again, I am in no way an expert on this situation. I am just sharing what we do in case someone out there is interested. Feel free to ask any questions you have or share your thoughts or own tips on the subject. 


Tina said...

I did this for my boys. It's a lot easier then everyone thinks.

Whenever I tried new foods, I'd do gerber. That way if my boys were allergic, I didn't waste a batch of puree. I'd save those Gerber plastic containers and used them to store my own homemade baby purees. I never used them more then once.

Deana said...

Looks like you are doing a great job feeding Zachary!

I make chicken soup for mine either with rice or potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and whatever other veggies I have. Its great because we can all eat it and homemade soup is so nourishing.

Holly said...

Wait shower? Can someone remind me what that is?
Love the post. Can't wait (and most definitely can wait because that would mean she's growing up) to try this later this year. I'm getting excited about all the farm fresh produce that will be ripening right at the time I'll be needing it.

Richard C. Lambert said...

Clearly, Sweet Baby Jesus! is the winner in this competition. Lay off the coffee, Saint Pete! playard by thebabyguides

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