by Bridget Mwape
Making your own homemade baby food will ensure that what your child is eating is fresh, nutritious and free of additives. By making your own baby food, you’ll be saving money. Also, you will have total control over what is put into your baby’s food. You can therefore take the extra steps to ensure that only high quality foods are selected and used. You will be able to feed your baby according to his or her needs because you will know what foods are best suited for your baby from experience.
Making your own baby food also ensures that your baby is exposed to a greater variety of tastes and textures. This will help your baby when making the transition to table foods and also help him or her develop healthy eating habits.
Baby Food Preparation Tips
1. As babies are susceptible to digestive upsets, always work with clean hands and use clean cooking utensils, preparation surfaces, pots and pans etc., when making home made baby food. Prepare foods immediately upon removing them from the refrigerator and freeze immediately after cooking any foods you want to store.
2. Steaming vegetables is the best method of preparation. This softens them, makes them easier to chew, and preserves more of the vitamins and minerals than boiling. A steamer basket is cheap and by cooking fruits and vegetables in it, you’ll be sure of keeping the nutrients in the food, instead of in the cooking water.
3. To puree your foods, you can use a fork, a food mill or blender. A blender quickly purees almost anything into the finest consistency. When your baby first starts on solids, you’ll be pureeing things to a very fine consistency and, as baby gets a little older, you will make foods a little coarser. You may wish to buy a food mill which comes in large and small sizes. It is very handy and inexpensive. The food mill strains most cooked foods to a very smooth consistency, although meats can be a problem as they will have a coarser texture. Remember all the tools you need to make baby food are probably already in your kitchen.
4. You can prepare large amounts of foods at once and freeze them.
Take your prepared foods and plop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Freeze the plops right away and then take them off the sheet when they are frozen and put them into plastic bags. You can also freeze the food in plastic “pop out” ice cube trays. Small tupperware jars with lids serve the same purpose and stack easily. Special Baby Food Cubes are also available. Label and date the packages rotate them putting the most recently frozen foods behind the previously frozen ones. Frozen baby foods can be stored for up to two months.
5. When you take frozen foods out for baby, warm the food in a cup placed in a saucepan of boiling water with a lid on. If you use a microwave to thaw or warm baby food, be sure to stir the food well to avoid hot pockets.
6. Cereals are typically the first foods given to a baby because they contain lots of iron. You can prepare your own, by running oatmeal through your blender. Fruits are generally given next. Except for raw, mashed banana, you will need to cook all other fruits till they are soft.
7. Try making your own apple sauce and pear sauce; don’t add any sugar, as these fruits are sweet enough on their own. You can also peel peaches, plums and apricots and boil or steam them.
8. Buy and use organic fruits and vegetables. Use fresh and organic vegetables whenever possible in order to provide the best nutrition and flavor for your baby. Your baby deserves pesticide-free foods. Frozen vegetables are better to use than canned.
9. Yogurt, mashed cottage cheese, mashed pumpkin, baked potato, avocado and tofu (oriental soy bean curd) are all popular with babies. One good idea is to blend together cottage cheese, banana and fresh orange juice – delicious!
10. Meats should be added slowly. They can be boiled or broiled, then put in the blender with a little milk and perhaps banana or cream of rice to get the right consistency. Chicken is generally the first meat baby is introduced to and usually goes down fairly well.
11. There is no rush to start your baby on solid foods. Milk is his most important food. Your doctor’s recommendations and your own intuition will help you to know when to begin introducing solids to your baby’s diet. Introducing solids prepares the baby for the transition to adult food and offers further vitamins and minerals as the baby grows. Always remember to be patient with your baby and allow at least a few days between newly added foods to make sure the baby doesn’t suffer any reactions.
Copyright © 2005, Bridget Mwape writes for the Baby Shop UK: http://www.baby-shop.org.uk/ which features baby information including articles and discounts on baby products, gifts and advice from other parents.