Before my babies were born, I was certain that I was going to make my own baby food. Then the babies were actually born, and it never really took off. It was much easier to buy the pureed baby food at the grocery store than to do hours of research on recipes.
I quickly changed my mind again when I browsed the local farmer’s market with my family. My babies were 10 or 11 months old at the time and had eaten most of the produce on display. What was stopping me from serving it to them?
This is my experience in making my own baby food. Hopefully some other moms can benefit from what I’ve learned!
Making Your Own Baby Food
The most obvious benefit is that you know what is going inside! Sure, the baby food at the grocery store says what’s inside, but sometimes there are added preservatives. The food — in theory — could have been on the shelf for months. When you get the raw produce from the store or farmer’s market, you know it is fresh.
Making baby food is a tiny bit more complicated than just throwing a bunch of fruits and vegetables into the blender. Some foods will need to be prepared beforehand. For example, a baby just getting the hang of solid food will not be able to handle a raw sweet potato or raw carrot. Some foods will need to be boiled, steamed, or otherwise cooked before going into the blender.
As a practical matter, many things that go into the blender will need some sort of liquid to fully mix. The smaller the baby, the more liquid-like the food will need to be. When babies are younger, you can add formula or breastmilk to thin out the food. As my babies got older, I would even add just enough juice for it to mix in the blender.
Younger babies first exploring solid food will need to try single foods one at a time. This will help to determine if there is an allergy or intolerance. If the baby has an issue, then the particular food should be avoided.
As babies get older, foods can be combined once it is determined that they do not have an intolerance. The blend can also start being coarser and thicker as they continue to get used to solid food. If the food isn’t naturally thick, then there are ingredients that will help thicken the mixture. I have seen rice, oatmeal, and chia seeds used as natural thickeners.
Tips and Tricks
I am by no means saying that pre-made, store-bought food is bad and should be avoided. Everyone’s experience will be different. My babies probably have more store-bought food than anything, but I do try to make them some food when we are able to get something fresh. That said, I also use store-bought food as inspiration and influence for my baby food combinations.
If I see a baby food combination that is age-appropriate, then I try to replicate it if we have the materials.
As far as storage is concerned, my family uses the Kiinde system. We like it because it is very versatile and has different tops that can be used with bottle feeding and solid food. Plus, it is easy to transfer the blended food from the blender to bags. There are several different products out there — everyone’s mileage will vary!
When storing baby food, it is important to label food both with the type of food and the date it was packaged. This will help show when the food may go bad. I additionally put my babies’ names on the containers because I have twins, and this helps me keep up! If the food isn’t served immediately, it will have to go into the refrigerator or freezer.
Just about anything, as long as it is age-appropriate, can be blended into baby food. As long as you follow the proper guidelines, your baby can have the same fresh food as you. Making baby food from scratch does take some time, but it is worth it knowing you made it yourself!