How to Make Baby Food: Making Nutritious Baby Food At Home
When your precious baby is born, it depends on you for their every need. As mammals, the body of human mothers naturally produces milk to feed their young. This milk is abundant in all the vitamins and minerals needed for the baby. Since the beginning, mothers who were not able to breastfeed their infants depended on milk from cows, goats, and sheep, as a replacement.
Mother’s Milk Provides Ample Nutrition
Modern scientists and nutritionists have worked to manufacture formulas to feed babies who cannot nurse or have allergies. However, most experts agree that mothers’ milk is best. If you breastfed from the start, you have little worry about your baby’s nutrition, since your milk provides everything their body required.
Perhaps your baby’s pediatrician recommended a replacement formula, and you had to bottle-feed. Infants have a natural sucking reflex meant for ingesting milk, which satisfies their hunger, thirst, and nutritional requirements. For the first four to six months of life, feeding your baby is an uncomplicated task.
When Should Babies Start on Soft Foods?
For generations, new mothers have debated over when a baby should be given soft foods. Many mothers feel confident in feeding their babies rice cereal with their milk as early as four months. Other mothers are strictly against giving their infants anything but milk for at least the first six months. Pediatric specialists generally agree with the second argument and recommend saving the cereal and pureed food until infants are six months of age.
Whatever age you choose to start your baby on soft food, it is best to do it gradually. Adding a little rice cereal to a bottle can get your baby’s digestive system ready. Experts say that at six months, infants’ tongues develop the skill to bring soft food into their throats to swallow. While some babies have a few teeth at this point, many are still toothless. You can begin to introduce your baby to the bright, tasty world of pureed fruits and vegetables. You may be inspired to make baby food from scratch.
Making Baby Food the Old-Fashioned Way
Before the multi-billion- dollar baby food industry was born, parents made baby food at home. They cooked fresh fruit like pears, peaches, and apples, which they mashed them into a soft puree. These purees made it easy for the baby to swallow. Nutritious vegetables like sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, and green beans, were also used to make food. Parents in those days would make baby food as needed right at the table. It was also common for mothers to chew a little bit of food to make it easier for baby to try.
Modern Convenience Launches Prepared Foods
After World War II, many women worked outside of the home and needed more convenient ways to prepare meals for their family. Store-bought baby food transformed the way American families fed their infants. At first, basic purees were sold in small jars. Today, whole grocery store sections are devoted to many flavor blends for infants and first-stage solid foods for toddlers. When you scan all the baby food varieties and check out some of their prices, you might realize that you can make food at home cheaper. Plus, you will be assured that your baby food has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Making Baby Food Is Easy
You will be pleasantly surprised to find out how quick and easy it’s to make baby food. The equipment you need are things that you probably already have in your kitchen like pots, utensils, and a quality food processor. You will also need several resealable containers for storing your creations. In one afternoon, you can make baby food that will last your little one for the whole week. To get started, talk to your pediatrician about your baby’s individual nutritional needs. Then, try these helpful hacks to make baby food:
- Learn Your Child’s Food Preferences
Just like adults, babies have individual food preferences. Can your baby taste food? Startling research found that unborn babies can perceive flavors of food that their mothers ingest. Did you ever wonder why your baby prefers some of the same foods that you do? Take note of the different fruits and vegetables that your baby enjoys and incorporate them into the plan when you make baby food. Talk to your pediatrician about any foods that could pose an allergy threat to your child and avoid them.
- Gather the Proper Equipment
Parents who make baby food from scratch usually find that a good food processor will do the trick. If you do not have a food processor, buy the best quality that fits in your budget. You will also need common food prep items like produce cleaning brushes, knives, utensils, and a dedicated cutting board. You already have pots and pans for cooking or baking the food before pureeing it. All your prep items used to make baby food should be sterilized in your dishwasher each time they are used.
- Choose the Right Ingredients
When you are buying produce to make baby food, choose the freshest items possible. Although you may pay a little more for certified organic produce, it’s worth the cost. Buy fresh, attractive fruits and vegetables that are in season. Nutritional experts recommend choosing colorful fruits and veggies because they are dense in vitamins and minerals.
Be aware that many corporate farms use heavy pesticides on certain products, which can still show up in trace amounts in the grocery store. If possible, buy organic produce that does not use toxic insecticides. Always wash your produce thoroughly before you prepare them for your family or use them to make baby food.
- Make A Sterile Environment
Make sure that all your cooking utensils are clean and sterile. Infants and young children are more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses, so safe food handling is key. Don’t pay high prices for produce cleaning solutions. Cold water and a half cup of white vinegar will do the trick. Use a veggie brush to wash all your produce, rinse well, and dry with paper towels. It is best to wash your fruits and vegetables right before you use them. Using fresh produce when you make baby food will keep your baby safe and healthy.
- Let the Magic Begin
When you make baby food from scratch, some veggies must be cooked or baked before processed. Berries, bananas, and other soft fruit can be processed as is. Feel free to be creative when you make baby food. Each portion does not have to be only one fruit or vegetables. Try some yummy combinations and see how your baby reacts. How about a classic blend of strawberries and bananas, or some tasty mashed potatoes and turnips? Keep your baby’s taste preferences in mind and make baby food that is delicious and nutritious.
After your chosen fruits and vegetables have been cooked or baked, let them cool a little before you put them in the processor. If the pureed mixture gets too thick, then add a little warm water to thin it. When you make baby food, it should be the consistency of mashed potatoes, not soup. Add a few more fruits or veggies if the mixture is too thin.
To Season or Not to Season
According to past conventional wisdom, baby food must be gummy and bland. While you would not reach for the curry powder when you make food for your baby, pediatricians now say that a little seasoning is good for your baby beginning at eight months. Introduce a little salt and subtle spices like basil, rosemary, sage, or parsley. Sweet spices like ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice are tasty in pureed pumpkin or apples.
Gradually introducing your baby to herbs and spices can expand their palate to enjoy a variety of foods later. Avoid hot and spicy herbs like garlic and peppers, which can irritate little stomachs. Pediatricians also advise that you shouldn’t use sugar or artificial sweeteners when you make food. To avoid a life-threatening situation, never feed an infant honey.
Storing Your Bounty
At first, your baby will probably eat no more than two ounces of baby food at a time. Older infants may eat up to four ounces. Make enough baby food for the week and seal it in individual containers. You can also freeze individual portions for up to three months. After you feed your baby a portion, throw away any left in the container. Baby’s saliva has bacteria that can spread in leftovers.
As your baby gets older and has more teeth, you can consider adding soft bites of meat, rice, and pasta. Before adding anything to your child’s diet, discuss it with your pediatrician. When you make food at home, you can be assured that your baby is getting a delicious and healthy meal.