Making your own baby food – it’s healthy, cheap… and easy!
I’m not a particularly good cook. In fact, my husband does 99% of the cooking in our house. (I know – I’m lucky!) But since baby food is so expensive, I figured I could save some major bucks by making my own… with the added sense of accomplishment. Besides, how hard can steaming and mashing be?
BEFORE YOU START
*NOTE – The American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) recommends feeding baby nothing but breast milk or formula for the first six months, but many pediatricians give the “okay” to start solids at four months if the baby shows signs of readiness. Signs include being able to sit up with limited support, showing an interest in what mom or dad is eating and losing the tongue-thrust reflex (which enables them to swallow instead of spit everything back out!) Check with your pediatrician to get their blessing before you start solids.
Tip #1: Have a few materials on hand. This can be as expensive or cheap as you want it to be. I bought a few ice cube-type trays with covers specifically for making baby food, but I’m sure regular ice cube trays and aluminum foil would work just as well. You’ll also need a plastic freezer bag or baby food storage containers. It’s nice to have a food processor, but technically you could hand-mash a lot of foods pretty easily.
Tip #2: Do a little background research on what babies this age can eat. (I had no idea). Luckily for our son, I did an internet search for some ideas and he didn’t have to choke on filet mignon as his first meal. Four to six month old babies can generally try fruits like apples, avocados, bananas, mangos, peaches, pears, plums and prunes, and vegetables like squash, carrots, green beans, peas and sweet potatoes. As they get older, it’s fun to experiment with mixing foods to make different flavors and textures.
*NOTE – Pediatricians recommend waiting a few days between introducing new foods so if any allergies appear, you will know what caused them.
It really isn’t cooking as much as it is warming up foods to make them soft, and then pureeing them in a food processor or mashing them by hand to make them thin enough for baby to eat. Certain foods like avocado and banana can just be mashed with a fork and served right away.
For this post, I decided to make carrots. Carrots are nutritious – they’re packed with Vitamin A, but also contain fiber (great for keeping baby “regular”), as well as some iron, calcium and Vitamin C. Most babies enjoy the taste and texture of carrots. They are also easy to mix with fruits or grains to make a more robust meal for your little one.
DIRECTIONS (or at least – here’s how I did it)
1. Wash and peel carrots.
2. Chop into small pieces.
3. Add to pot of boiling water. Reduce heat and let the carrots cook until tender (usually around 10-15 minutes). If you’re cooking other vegetables or fruits to make baby food, it’s easy to find suggested cooking times on the internet.
4. Remove the carrots from the stove and place in a strainer or coriander. Rinse with cold water for a couple minutes to stop the cooking process.
5. Place the cooked carrots in a food processor and let it do its thing. If the carrots are tender enough, it doesn’t take long at all. You can puree to the consistency that your baby is able to eat. Older babies may be okay with small chunks, but for younger babies – you’ll want to try to get the food as smooth as possible.
6. Using spoons, scoop up the mixture into the ice cube slots.
7. When all of the baby food is in the tray, cover and put in the freezer. When the food is frozen, loosen the cubes from the tray and place them in a plastic storage freezer bag. Make sure you mark the date and the contents (sweet potatoes can look a lot like carrots in frozen baby food form).
8. Whenever you want to use one as part of your baby’s meal, simply take it out of the bag and put it in a bowl to thaw out in your refrigerator, or even easier – put it in the microwave until heated to baby’s liking. (Make sure you test the temperature to make sure it isn’t too hot before serving!)
9. Feed that sweet baby! Hopefully they enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor. If not, don’t give up! Many babies need to try a certain food multiple times before deciding they like it. If they have an issue with the texture, try mixing with a bit of breast milk or formula to thin it out. You can also add some baby cereal or fruit to add variety to the meal. The possibilities are endless!
*NOTE – My carrots yielded 23 – ¾ oz. servings of carrot (¾ oz. is the size of each cube slot in the trays I have) for a whopping total of $1.69. I’ve seen a pouch of organic baby food carrots (3 oz.) for $1.49. That means I made just under 6 “full” servings of carrots for $1.69 instead of around $9.00. Cha-ching!
Have you tried making your own baby food? What are your tips for new moms? Share your ideas in the comments below!