Things have been pretty busy around my house lately. I have been working on this post FOREVER and today I FINALLY finished…..shew.
Making homemade baby food was one of my favorite things that I did for my son when he was a wee tot. Now that my daughter is a full six months old (wahh!) my baby food making is in full gear!
Introduction of solids is such a fun an exciting milestone for both the parent and the baby. There are so many things to consider: when to introduce, what to introduce first, what brand etc.
Some people buy baby food, some people do Baby Led Weaning, (which I do a bit of myself) and some people make their own foods.
Certainly I see the convenience of store bought baby food, but because it is WAY cheaper to make your own, because I think jarred baby food is too watery and because I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, making my own baby food was a no brainer.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of making your own. Even if you are not that great in the kitchen, it really is super simple. All you really do is bake or boil, and puree.
One of the best baby food guides is Wholesome Baby. They have a nice list of what foods to introduce by age/stage and have recipes as well. I use the word “recipe” lightly because the ingredients are so minimal the techniques are so simple.
Lot’s of people start with rice cereal as a first food. It is low allergy, easy to prepare and mild in flavor. I tend to prepare mine a bit thicker than the box recommends, but that’s just my way. 🙂 You certainly don’t have to start with cereal, as it can be constipating, but you should start with something that is low allergy risk like avocados.
Speaking of avocados, they don’t have to be cooked prior to serving; neither do bananas. Just put the amount you want in a bowl and mush away. Avocados don’t have the best flavor or texture after being frozen for “grown-up” consumption, but I do freeze pieces of avocados (and bananas) in bags for baby food.
What should be cooked?
- All vegetables, besides avocados, should be boiled or roasted prior to pureeing or mashing.
- Fruits do not need to be “cooked” but are much easier to work with if they are a softer consistency.
- Meats obviously need to be cooked until well done.
How do you cook baby food?
- I boil vegetables until they are cooked through. They don’t have to be cooked until they are mush. They just need to be done. As baby gets older, you can roast vegetables like butternut squash and sweet potato in the oven with a little olive oil. This will bring out the sweetness.
- With fruits, including pears and stone fruits (plums, peaches, nectarines etc), I boil them enough to allow the skin to loosen,which aids in easier peeling; you don’t want to serve the skin/peeling.
After boiling, I drain and shake the fruit/veggie well in the colander to remove excess water
- I roast all meats. I coat the meat in olive oil and roast at 375 until done. Cooking time will depend on the amount of meat you are preparing. Once your baby is old enough to start eating these proteins, and if you want to go the puree route, I would recommend using chicken thighs instead of breasts. They have more fat, have a richer flavor and puree better. If you choose to add red meat, I would recommend a rump roast. Still fatty enough, but they typically do not have large sections of fat like a chuck roast would. With the rump roast, I always cut it up into large chunks to help it cook faster and to make it easier when I go to puree it.
- Once cooled enough to handle, puree using a blender or food processor. I have both, and use both. When I was preparing food for my son three years ago, I only had a blender and it worked great. My food processor has been fabulous too and really is a great small appliance to have for other things like pestos, chopping nuts, making sauces etc. I do not have a baby bullet or any other baby food maker. If you have one, that is great. I just don’t need to crowd my kitchen with any other contraptions, especially when a regular blender or fruit processor does the trick.
How do you store baby food?
- Once the food has been pureed to the desired consistency, I just pour evenly in ice cube trays and freeze.
- When good and frozen, I pop them out, put them in a labeled storage bag and store them in the freezer until ready to use.
- I just nuke them when it’s meal time. Easy peasy!
- Your baby does not have to fall in love with a specific food before you move on to the next. Though, I wouldn’t write it off either if your baby makes a facial grimace the first few times they try something whether it is sweet, bland or just plain different.
- Your baby going to get messy. They are going to make faces. Let them….it is a new experience foor them and for you too.
- Try not to go crazy with wiping their face. This typically signals that a meal is over with. Certainly if your little one has sweet potato in their eye or peas up their nose, that is a different story. Though if it’s not bothering them, I might even leave it. At the end of the meal you wipe up anyway.
- They are learning to use their tongue in a way they have never had to before. If it seems that they are pushing the food out with their tongue, they probably are. This is due to their tongue thrusting reflex. As they mature and become more experienced eaters, this will resolve. Soon they will look like a little bird with their mouth wide and ready for the next bite. (In therapy world we call this “anticipatory mouth opening.”)
- When presenting food, try to put the spoon straight in their mouth and pull it out the same way. Try not to do like your grandmother taught you and “lift” the spoon up when you are removing it. This is uncomfortable for a baby and isn’t teaching them how to properly eat from a spoon. (Try it for yourself: the next time you are eating with a spoon, pull the spoon up while lifting/removing it from your mouth…totally uncomfortable, right?!)
All-in-all, baby food is a super easy, cheap and healthy way to introduce your little one to solid foods. Don’t be afraid to try different foods….and if it ends up on the floor, leave it. Your dog will thank you! 🙂