We all want happy, healthy children, and that begins with nutrition. Many of the baby food selections we see today in supermarkets are processes baby “goop” and parents are demanding better alternatives. While each parent will have their own idea of what they believe to be the best sustenance choices for their child, we are going to give you our ideas of the healthiest, tastiest food you can provide for your baby. If you want to make sure you know what your baby is eating, and would rather not buy a jar or container of processed baby food with unknown ingredients, here is an excellent option: why not make your own baby food? It can be done quickly, efficiently, and today, we are going to show you how.
Ready for Solids?
Before you start making your baby food, first make sure that you baby is ready for some solid or mushy-type food. Here are some signs that should confirm your baby is ready to move past relying solely on the bottle:
- They hold their head up on their own. Babies who are ready for solid food will be able to hold their head up high. They should be able to sit in their high chair on their own while maintaining form and not slouching over.
- They do not thrust their tongue. If a baby will accept a spoon, they are ready for more solid foods. However, if a baby still has the reflex of tongue-thrusting to keep foreign objects out of their mouth, then they are not yet ready to be spoon-fed just yet.
- They eye your food! If you notice a baby eye-ing solid foods or showing interest in them, then they may be ready to expand their palates! Pay attention to whether or not your baby tries to grab food or reach for your plate, as this could be a sign as well.
How to Make Your Own Baby Food
Now, let’s get into how you can make your own baby food and all the options that can be available to you while doing so.
Get Ingredients: Before you pick up the ingredients you will need, make sure you know what your baby can and cannot eat. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- For babies just transitioning from breast-milk (3-4 months): Puréed fruits and vegetables such as: bananas, squish, sweet potatoes, and apples.
- For babies who have had some solid foods (4-8 months): Pureed or strained vegetables, fruits, meats, legumes, and whole-grain cereal are good choices.
- Do not give a baby under 1 year of age these foods: dairy products, honey, expired canned food, home-canned food, or food from destructed or dented cans.
Always use fresh produce that is at its peak of ripeness. Choose foods that are brightly colored and rich looking without being bruised. Farmer’s markets are a great place to pick up fresh produce.
Preparation: Here are the steps you will need to take when preparing your baby’s food.
- Always wash your food thoroughly. If your vegetables or fruit have skin, feel it off first, as tough skins will be hard for a baby to eat and digest.
- Chop your produce into pieces that are about 1 inch. This will help the food steam easily and more effectively. If you are using bananas, remember that these will not have to be cooked or steamed, just mashed. If you are using more than one food, always wash and clean your cutting board in between the different foods.
- After you have washed and cleaned your food, it is time for steaming! Put your food into a steaming basket and add a few inches of water to a stove pot. Place the steamer over the pot on medium heat and steam for around 5 to 10 minutes.
- After the steaming is done, make sure the food is soft enough to puree. Do not add any spices, butter, or herbs to your food unless you are sure that your baby can digest these properly.
Puree: Once your food has been steamed, puree the food in a food processor until it is completely smooth. If you do not have a food processor, you can use a blender, grinder, or potatoes masher for the same pureed effect. Get a fork and make sure for yourself that there are no big chunks of food still left in the puree, as this could be dangerous for babies under 6 months.
For Meats: If you are cooking meat, chicken, or fish for your baby, use a meat thermometer to make sure that the food has been completely cooked internally. If you like, go ahead and puree your meat as well. You may add things like tomatoes or spinach to the mix.
Storage and Feeding: Once you are done making your food, go ahead and store it in jars with tight-sealing lids. This will ensure that your food stays fresh and does not get contaminated. Refrigerator your food for at least 2 days before you feed it to your baby.
As your baby’s eating habits are developing and expanding, it is important to remember to foster healthy and happy eating habits to begin instilling in them a positive relationship with food. If you baby does not like some new items that you are introducing to them, try to just stick with it – especially if the foods are healthy ones! Mix and match, or wait awhile, as it can take up to 15 exposures to get a baby used to new foods!
Expand Your Baby’s Palate
Once you try making one type of baby food on your own, you will become more and more comfortable over time with mixing together different types of food together to give you baby a wider variety of flavors. With all of the different foods you can puree for your baby, you will be able to introduce and implement delicious and healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins into your baby’s diet.