When it’s time to start your baby on food, it is much simpler and healthier (not to mention cheaper) to make your own baby food than running to the store to stock up on jars. The benefits of making your own baby food include:
- You know exactly what your baby is eating. None of the dreaded “fillers” commonly found in commercial baby food.
- You know that the ingredients are fresh and healthy.
- You can tailor your baby’s food to best suit his/her preferences and needs.
- You’ll save money. Homemade baby food costs a fraction of ready-made foods.
You don’t need any fancy baby-food making machines. Just a simple food mill, blender, food processor or even a potato masher will work just fine.
The easiest way to start baby off is with single-ingredient foods, such as apples, pears, squash, peas, carrots, etc. These are so simple to make yourself. Wash and peel your fruits and veggies (organic or home-grown if possible). Steam veggies gently just until soft; fruits don’t need to be cooked. Drain away excess water. Use a blender or food processor to blend the fruit or veggies until they’re creamy. As baby gets older, you can blend them chunkier to prepare for solids. Pour the fruit or veggie into small containers (or use an ice-cube tray for single-serving sizes), cool in the fridge, and then freeze for up to 3 months.
For younger babies, do just one fruit or veggie per batch. As baby gets older, you can combine two or three flavors to make combo meals, like carrot and zucchini, or apples and pears, or apples and squash, etc. Mushed bananas can be added to almost anything as well.
More great first foods include finely ground old-fashioned oatmeal and brown rice. Mix with a little breast milk or formula to make a cereal.
Only introduce a new food every 3-4 days so that if there’s an allergic reaction, you’ll know which food caused it. Avoid adding sugar, butter or salt to your recipes. Babies under 1 should not have honey or corn syrup. Avoid strawberries, nuts and corn in the first year to avoid early allergies. Very young babies should not have cow’s milk products — only formula or breast milk.
Mixing pureed fruits or berries to oatmeal makes a tasty breakfast, and a little rice or potato with pureed veggies is a great lunch. Scrambled eggs make a fast meal too.
For dinner, try blending up a bit of sauteed chicken, turkey or beef. Use homemade or organic stock to moisten the mixture until it’s creamy. Add rice or couscous, or even a little plain mashed potato, plus a veggie or two, and baby is ready to eat with the family.
As baby gets older, you can cook your own dinner, and puree a portion for baby to eat. Just make sure to watch those spices!
A few “adult foods” are perfectly fine for baby without any additional preparation, such as unsweetened applesauce and plain unsweetened whole milk yogurt.
Organic Teething Biscuits
1 cup organic whole-wheat flour
1 cup organic baby rice cereal
3 tbsp. virgin coconut oil
Preheat oven to 425F. Mix the flour and cereal in a bowl, then add the coconut oil. Add just enough cold water to make a dough. Roll the dough out with a little flour to keep it from sticking, then slice into sticks or use a cookie cutter for fun shapes. Bake on greased baking sheet for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.
Need more ideas for baby-friendly healthy foods? Try one of the fabulous cooking classes at Central Market, 320 Coit Road, or Whole Foods, 2201 Preston Road. Does baby have a big sibling? Take a trip to the Young Chefs Academy, 4021 Preston Road, and let Big Bro or Big Sis get involved in creating healthy foods the whole family will love.
To receive Sandy’s articles by email, click + SUBSCRIBE under the article title. It’s free, and your email will never be shared with anyone.