Now I have an almost-seven month old with two brand new teeth!
One of my favorite parts of watching Sam grow up is watching him explore new foods and being able to make most of his food.
There are so many ways to do it and gazillions of recipes out there, but I wanted to share my process for making baby food. I love it and hope you will consider it (it's super easy!).
I relied heavily on two cookbooks at the beginning. They helped me understand the basic process and what first food to experiment with. And although there are certain foods that make better first foods, pretty much any fruits and veggies can be made into baby food (make sure to do your research/talk to your doctor about various foods and ages to make sure you're feeding your baby only what they're tiny tummy can handle)
With all new things, I was a bit timid at first, but really, making baby food basically consists of the same few steps:
- prepare food and cook
1. Prep and cook.
Make sure you scrub the food super clean and peel when necessary. If steaming, cut up into small pieces (small bites help them to cook faster).
Most of the fruits and veggies you would use require steaming. I started out using a steamer basket on the stove, but I've found steaming in the microwave is just as effective and way easier. I cook for a few minutes and then add on more time until the produce is tender.
A few items need to be roasted in the oven -- sweet potatoes and squash are two things that I've roasted. Generally I roast them for about an hour or more until they're tender.
(I've read the only two things you don't need to cook are avocados and bananas -- cooking helps make the produce easier for babies to digest).
You can use a variety of machines to puree your fruits and veggies -- food processor or blender work perfectly. I have a baby bullet that I love. It's totally not necessary, but my food processor is huge and my blender is hard to clean so for me, the baby bullet is perfect.
Scoop your cooked item into your processor and add cooking liquid (or water) and blend until it's the consistency perfect for your baby.
A few tips and tricks:
- I always add the liquid first so that the food doesn't get stuck in the processor (mind sometimes does that).
- I add just a little liquid at a time. I've read you can also use breast milk or formula but I've always just used water or the cooking liquid.
- I don't worry about the consistency too much since I mix the pureed food with oatmeal or cereal at each meal (I use a bit more water to get it to the consistency Sam prefers).
I always puree right after cooking, so my purees are usually super hot when they're finished. I let them cool to room temperature on the counter and then put them in the fridge to cool for a few hours before freezing.
The general rule that I've read is that homemade baby food will last up to three days in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer.
If I need it, I will spoon it out into bowls for the fridge for the next few meals, but I freeze the rest.
There are lots of ways to freeze baby food. There are fancy freezer containers you can buy. I've also heard of freezing it on cookie sheets. I use plain old ice cube trays. Each cube hold two tablespoons, or one ounce, of food.
I freeze for about 24 hours and then pop them out into a freezer bag. Mark it with the contents and the date and stash it away.
In a perfect world, I would remember to take out cubes for meals for the following days. I use the small pyrex bowls because they can go right from the fridge to the microwave and they are big enough where I can mix the cereal right in.
Normally though I forget. I usually pull the cubes right from the freezer and pop them in the microwave. It only takes about 30 seconds or less to prepare the food. I don't serve it real warm, I just try to heat it so it's not freezing. Make sure to stir the food and test before serving!
Things I love about making baby food --
- I really love cooking and spending time in the kitchen. This is just one more way I can use my hands and skills to nourish my family.
- I like being able to make lots of fruits and veggies into baby food, not just the ones Gerber thinks my baby should eat. Jar food has such limited options.
- I like being able to know my baby and the texture that he prefers and is able to handle. I don't think I ever fed Sam "stage 1" food, he just didn't like it.
- It's so fun seeing produce in my fridge and then the next day seeing Sam eating it. I feel so much more a part of the process.
- I haven't run the numbers totally, but for the most part (and for most items) making your own baby food is more cost effective than buying it. I stick to things that are in season or on special. I'm also able to just add an extra bag of apples or a few more zucchinis to my grocery cart instead of having to figure in a whole new category to my grocery budget.
- There is so much less waste with making your own food. No jars to get rid of (or hopefully recycle), and since we compost, all of the waste from preparing the food goes into the compost pile.
Things to keep in mind --
- If you choose to make baby food, you absolutely do not have to make it all. I've been buying peaches because, until recently, peaches have been too expensive.
- I am a huge fan of the squeezy baby food pouches. They are so convenient for our family when we're on the go. They make refillable pouches that you could put your own food in. I've considered those, but I like the shelf stable-ness of the ones you buy so that we can be more flexible.
I'd love to know: do you make your own baby food? What are some resources you've found useful? Any other tips or suggestions?