Homemade Baby Food: Is It Right for You?
A step-by-step guide to making and storing food for your baby.
When you begin feeding your baby solid foods, it’s time to think about what foods you’re going to be feeding him. There are many healthy premade options, including organic baby food. But homemade baby food is a popular option for parents who want to know exactly what goes into their baby’s mouth -- and making it may be easier than you think.
Homemade Baby Food: Advantages of Making It Yourself
Parents who prefer homemade baby food have many reasons for their choice.
- They know exactly what they’re feeding their baby.
- It’s more economical than buying pre-packaged foods (although some parents note that this is not always the case).
- They can choose their own fruits, vegetables, and other foods for purees, instead of relying on the flavors chosen by manufacturers. You’re not going to find melons or avocados in the baby food section of the supermarket.
- It gets the baby used to eating the same food as the rest of the family -- just in puree form.
Myra Bartalos, the mother of a 20-month-old daughter in Brooklyn, N.Y, found that making her own baby food was easy and appealed to her concern for her daughter’s nutrition.
“What sealed the deal for me was finding out that jarred food is cooked at extremely high temperatures to kill bacteria for longer storage, at the same time taking out many of the food's vitamins and nutrients and taste,” says Bartalos. “I would roast, steam, or boil veggies or fruit on the weekends and puree in a mini food processor. I'd make three or four different fruits and veggies at a time, so I had a month's worth of food with each cooking weekend.”
“Making your own baby food does help you think more about what you're feeding your child,” says Erika Radtke, the mother of a 4-year-old boy and newborn daughter in Carlsbad, Calif. “And it seems to pave the way for making healthier meals, even as he or she gets older.”
Making Baby Food: Disadvantages of the Homemade Approach
Some parents who’ve tried and given up on homemade baby food point out these disadvantages to making it:
Time. It takes time to make and prepare lots of little servings of homemade baby food. It’s much faster to pick up prepackaged servings.
Convenience. Prepackaged baby foods come in measured amounts and ready to serve.
Storage. Homemade baby foods may spoil more quickly and require refrigeration, which may take up room in your fridge or freezer if you make a lot of servings ahead of time. Prepackaged baby foods don’t need refrigerator storage until they’re opened.
Although Radtke made some of her son’s baby food, she admits, “It was a pain. I used to take a whole weekend to cook the foods, portion it out into ice cube trays, freeze them and store them. I didn't have a problem using Gerber's or Earth's Best when I ran out, though.”