The moment the test confirmed your pregnancy, did you immediately create a mental checklist of everything you’ll need for your baby, from nursery decorations to what qualifies as the best stroller to committing to breastfeeding and making your own baby food? After all, you want the best for your newest family member, right?
It’s that last list item that has new parents really weighing their options these days. Because babies grow so much in their first year—oftentimes tripling their birth weight—nutrition is critical for proper development. For the first 6 months, your baby receives all the nutrients he’ll need from either breast milk or a pediatrician-approved formula. After reaching that milestone, however, babies are ready to taste test solid foods.
There are plenty of baby food options on supermarket shelves these days, but if you want assurance as to what is—and isn’t—in your child’s first foods, then you may want to make your own.
Before you stock up on organic produce, it’s important to be realistic. Millions of baby food jars are purchased every year because they provide busy parents convenience: They’re portioned out, ready to serve, and don’t require refrigeration until the seal is broken. Homemade baby food takes time to prepare, you have to divvy it up into appropriate serving sizes, and then store it in the refrigerator or freezer. The good news is that you don’t need any special equipment. A standard food processor, blender, or potato ricer should provide the desired texture and consistency.
Also, the process itself isn’t complicated, the following outlines how to turn fruits and vegetables into nutritious baby food. Tip: Fresh is always preferred, but according to a senior analyst at the Food and Drug Administration, you could use frozen or canned fruit (not in sugary syrups) and vegetables.
- Wash all equipment in hot, soapy water and rinse well.
- Wash hands before handling food.
- Wash all foods under running water even if you are going to peel it.
- In terms of cooking methods, food can be baked, steamed, roasted, or microwaved. Steaming and microwaving tend to retain the highest nutrient levels.
- Add a little liquid to thin out the puree. According to WebMD.com, you can use water, formula, or pumped breast milk. Be sure to check the mixture for big chunks.
- Whether you freeze future feedings or refrigerate for tomorrow’s lunch and dinner, store baby food in airtight containers. The food can safely stay in the fridge for two days and one month in the freezer.
When making your own baby food, it’s as important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do. The following are some critical DON’Ts for homemade baby food.
• Don’t use unpasteurized or raw milk or dairy products made from this milk.
• Don’t use honey.
• Don’t use home-canned vegetables.
• Don’t use canned vegetables that have expired or come from dented, leaking, or unlabeled cans.