Homemade Baby Food: Is It Right for You?
A step-by-step guide to making and storing food for your baby.
Making Baby Food: Disadvantages of the Homemade Approach continued...
If you’re daunted by the idea of making your own baby food, don’t feel that you’re neglecting your baby. “Foods intended for babies are so pure to begin with,” says Jennifer Shu, MD, a pediatrician in Atlanta and co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality and Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and a Bottle of Ketchup.
“If you’re really concerned about what your baby’s eating and don’t have the time to make your own baby food, focus your attention on what they’re eating once they begin table foods,” Shu tells WebMD. “It’s really a very short window of time when they are eating purees.”
Making Baby Food: What You’ll Need
If you decide to make your own baby food, says Shu, it’s not that difficult: “All you need is a food grinder and a way to steam the food.” (If you’re taking the time to make your own baby food, steaming is the best way to cook ingredients because it preserves the most nutrients.)
There are plenty of baby food makers on the market, from a French product that combines steaming, blending, warming, and defrosting, to simple baby food processors, mills, and grinders. But you don’t need to buy any of these products; your own food processor will work just as well for making baby food. And if you don’t have one, just use a potato masher or blender, to make sure the food is soft and does not have chunks.
Many popular books offer hundreds of recipes for baby food purees, including Blender Baby Food, Top 100 Baby Purees, and the Petit Appetit Cookbook. These books can help you come up with new ideas to try with your baby and remind you of important nutrients to include, but as with baby food makers, they’re not a requirement for making your own baby food.
Healthy Homemade: How to Make Baby Food in 6 Easy Steps
- Wash and rinse your hands and equipment.
- Scrub and peel fruits and vegetables.
- Bake, steam, roast, or microwave until tender (steaming and microwaving preserve the most nutrients).
- Puree in a food processor with a little liquid (water, breast milk, or formula), or mash if your baby can handle more texture.
- Store in the refrigerator or freezer, in airtight containers. (Packaged baby foods can be stored in the cupboard until they’re opened; because they’re fresh, homemade baby foods can’t.)
- Rewarm when it’s time to eat and allow to cool.
There are a number of storage containers sold specifically for refrigerating and freezing small serving-sized amounts of baby food; you can also just use an ice cube tray.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, you can puree foods such as cooked meats (fully cooked, with no pink, and remove fat, skin, and connective tissue), beans, and cooked eggs.