With solid food on the horizon for the little one, it's time to start thinking about just how you want to start your baby’s journey into nutritious eating. There are many pre-made options, which are perfectly healthy, manufacturers even have organic products available to health conscious parents, with minor differences in quality.
The homemade baby food option is for those parents who want to know precisely what’s in every morsel of food that goes in their child’s mouth. The process of making this healthy baby food option is not as hard as you would think.
It's not that there is anything fundamentally wrong with Gerber and Ella's Kitchen these are fantastic companies and make a well-respected product. Some parents are choosing a more complex path to soothing baby's rumbling tummy.
15 Processed Baby Foods Lacking Credibility
The effects of added preservatives and lack of nutrient value present in many pre-bottled baby foods should not to be overlooked. On average American babies consume 600 jars of baby food by the time they are a year old (Chasing Green 2011), and in the UK four out of five children rely on processed baby foods (Rees 2007).
However, the U.S government classifies the vast majority of processed baby foods as “not credible infant foods” in its WIC program (2011). Compared to the potential nutritional density that can be found in food made at home from fresh ingredients, prepackaged foods have a long way to go in meeting the same nutritional richness as well as convincing all consumers of the nutritional value as well as the financial value.
The concept of healthy eating should be introduced at a young age. The early stages of nutrition are key to an infant’s healthy development. The move towards solid food is the perfect opportunity to introduce healthy lifestyle choices to your young one.
14 Knowing What’s in Your Food
If you are concerned about feeding your baby additives that are far from nature’s holistic goodness, you will most likely take comfort in knowing that you have full control over what goes into your baby’s food.
Other than healthy spices and herbs, which add variety to meals and nutritional health, you do not have to worry about added sugars, salt, flavorings, thickeners, colorants and other synthetic ingredients that have no place in infant food. You will have food that is as close to the plant from which the food was derived, as is humanly possible.
13 Homemade Baby Food versus Regular Baby Food
The most outstanding problem with processed infant food is its shelf life in grocery stores, with an average shelf life of about 2 years. In order to make food keep "fresher" longer on the store shelves, food has to be preserved and sterilized. This is true of both organic as well as non-organic brands.
In the case where no additional preservatives are added, the food needs to be heated to maximum temperatures to ensure that it isn’t contaminated after months on the shelf. Along with this super heating process, all vitamins and nutrients are broken down as well.
Many non-organic foods also have multiple additives and preservatives added to enhance shelf life, and when the food’s natural flavoring has been killed off during the heating process, artificial flavorings are often added as well to enhance the taste. Unhealthy fats are added instead of natural oils, to further extend the shelf life, while exposure to plastic containers increases the risk of toxins such as BPA.
BPA is a chemical that has been used to harden plastics for more than 40 years. It's in medical devices, compact discs, dental sealants, water bottles, the lining of canned foods and drinks, and many other products. The FDA expressed "some concern" about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and young children.
12 Manufacturer Cost Cutting
In order to cut costs, manufactured baby food is often replaced with water or thickening agents/starches like refined rice, refined corn and refined wheat. These substances are devoid of the outer layers of the grain, with preservatives and bleach commonly added during processing. Not to mention the refining process of any grain reduces its vitamins, proteins, and roughage. Many brands of baby food are as far from natural as a can of diet soda, even if they are branded with an "organic" label.
When it comes to homemade baby food, however, all of the above can be avoided. During preparation, food is steamed, baked, cooked or blended raw, then frozen within a matter of hours. All of the natural nutrients found in fruit, vegetables and meats are kept intact, along with the tastes, color, texture, and aroma.
As many fruits and some veggies can be prepared without cooking, babies can benefit from completely raw foods as well, without losing any nutrients during preparation.
11 Advantages of Homemade Baby Food
When parents make their own baby foods, they know exactly what they’re feeding their infant. It’s much more cost-effective as compared to purchasing similar prepackaged foods. There are some food items that are cheaper if bought pre made, but those are in a handful of cases.
Overall it is cheaper to make your own baby food. With the homemade option parents can choose their own fruits, vegetables, and other foods for purees as opposed to having no choice, but to depend on the flavors chosen by the manufacturers focus groups. It is highly unlikely for you to find honeydew melons or avocados in the baby food section of your average local grocery store. Home preparation gets the baby used to consuming the same foodstuffs as the rest of the family, simply in puree form.
Many mothers in America’s bustling urban city centers found that making their own baby food was easy and appealed to their common concern for their children’s nutrition. When baby food manufacturers, such as Heinz and Gerber produce their food products cooking it at extremely high temperatures, the process removes many of the food's vitamins and nutrients thereby blunting the taste. These are among the central reasons why many parents are turning to homemade food.
The recommended preparation for home production is to roast, steam or boil veggies or fruit, for no more than 3-5 minutes or until tender. Parents may use either a blender or food processor to puree. As a time-saving measure the parent can make three or four different fruits and veggies at a time, so they can have a month's worth of food on hand by the end of each cooking weekend.
Making your own baby foods will inevitably help you think more about what you're feeding your child. Those healthy eating lessons learned as an infant have a tendency to carry over into adolescence and even adulthood.
10 Greater Nutritional Value
The gift of fruit and vegetables are amazing in their ability to deliver concentrated nutrition. Brightly colored vegetables are antioxidant-rich and root vegetables and fruits are fantastic sources of fiber. The vitamins, protein and minerals found in each type of fruit, vegetable, seed, legume and nut are essential to your infant's development.
Children that have all of the nutrients they need learn faster grow stronger and have far less risk of common illnesses. Preparing simple but healthy meals in advance will ensure that your baby gets the goodness he or she deserves, without all the extras that are so often found inside pre-made foods from supermarkets.
9 Cost Effective Feedings
Purchasing processed food in addition to buying groceries for the rest of the family often costs quite a bit for even a small family. With food that is made from fresh ingredients, you only need to buy the food that the rest of the family will eat. Once you are used to the process you may choose to invest in some helpful tools to make preparation easier, but even a one-time purchase of a few tools that are needed will not cost as much as the endless bottles of processed food.
8 It Saves You Time
If done properly, your own baby food can end up saving you time as well. The time it takes to prepare can be intensive, but it assures safety for your baby and will ultimately be replacing shopping trips. Grocery shopping times will be reduced without the need to read labels, decide on flavors and compare products. Feeding times will get much easier because your infant will enjoy the food far more when it is made fresh with various tasty, wholesome ingredients. You can prepare a full week of meals in a single afternoon, store in your freezer and simply pop out a perfectly sized portion to warm up in no time at all. You will feel less stressed, your infant will feel less stressed and feeding time will become a streamlined enjoyable event.
7 Nature Brings Out the Flavor
A major benefit of making baby food at home is that it allows you to introduce flavors that are natural and delicious. You can specialize the food to your infant's budding tastes. Herbs and spices are seldom used in bottled food either, resulting in food that is less than exciting for your little one.
Keeping the "4-day rule" in mind and exploring with some gentle herbs and spices, will allow you to add flavors that expand your baby’s taste buds. The “4 Day Rule” is a really simple way to check for possible reactions to new foods such as food sensitivities or food allergies. In addition to possible allergic reactions, foods can also cause digestive troubles like stomach pains, painful gas or even constipation.
Introduce new foods, one food at a time and at a space of 4 days apart. Things like sweet spices to aromatic herbs, natural sweetness, and tasty combinations that blend fruit, vegetables, and other foods, your baby will discover a world of taste sensations as new foods and flavors are sampled.
6 Kitchen Tools that Make it Simple
There are all manner of tools that can make the process of making your own baby food less time consuming and less difficult. These can be simple items like freezer trays to more expensive items like food processors. These tools are meant to streamline your kitchen production of baby foods for your infant. Among the essentials are food thermometers, small individual glass containers, freezer bags and other helpful gadgets that make food preparation quick and easy.
The first kitchen item you’re going to need is a blender, food processor and or a food-blending wand. If you’re planning on heavy use, it may be reasonable to invest in a heavy use food processor to avoid damaging or completely destroying the motors on a smaller blending device.
The second item you’re going to need is a vegetable -steamer. You just need a basic steamer that has a tight lid on it to stop the steam from escaping so you can lock in the heat and cook the fruit and or plant matter properly, for easy digestion by your little one.
5 How to Make Baby Food at Home in 6 Steps
The first step a parent should take is to wash and rinse your hands and equipment. Once you have a clean work site and tools, the second step is to scrub and peel the fruits and vegetables. Once they are scrubbed and peeled you may want to dice them into cubes or strips for ease of making the puree.
The third step is to bake, steam, roast, or microwave until tender. Cooking means that most nutrients are preserved by either microwaving or steaming your fruits and or vegetables. The fourth step is to puree the now cooked food item or items in a food processor with a benign fluid. The best fluids for mixing into your puree are water, breast milk or formula.
The preparer may want to mash the freshly steamed fruit or vegetable cubes if your baby can handle more texture density in his/her foods. The fifth step is to store homemade foods in the refrigerator or freezer, in airtight containers. Processed and pre-packaged baby foods can be stored in the cupboard until they’re opened, because they’re fresh, homemade baby foods can’t.
The sixth step in the process of shifting to homemade baby food items is storage. Rewarm when it’s time to eat and allow it to cool.
4 Mash It Up
With some kinds of foods, the food preparation can be cut down to one easy and reliable step. For instance, with pears, the parent or preparer can mash an overly ripe pear instead of cutting it up and the mashed pear can be served immediately to the infant, without any skin of course.
Mashing a banana or mashing an avocado also make great baby foods as well. This preparation is intended for immediate use and requires no intermediate step of cooking. When you make mashed potatoes for the family, you can set aside some that don’t have whole milk added. Depending on the preparer’s personal preference you can even add a little butter or mild spices. In all cases where you’re eating healthy, you can give your baby a customized version of what you’re eating.
3 Simple Storage
There are a great many storage containers sold specifically for refrigerating and freezing small serving-sized amounts of baby food. The person responsible for the baby's food preparation can also use an ice cube tray or trays, depending on the amount of food you're trying to make at one time. Besides using simple fruits and vegetables, you can puree foods such as cooked meats.
The meats must be prepared precisely, fully cooked, with no pink, and remove fat, skin and any connective tissue. You can also prepare dishes containing cooked beans, and cooked eggs. With theses items, you can blend foods as your infant might like. This helps the little one develop a sense of personal taste as he/she develops.
2 Additional Storage Tips
Other than a set of ice trays to cool and or freeze your mashed or pureed baby food items, you will also need some plastic wrap to tightly cover your ice trays. Each cube of the tray makes up a little less than a single one-ounce serving. You can purchase specialized containers for travel or refrigerator storage if you prefer, but the ice-cube tray allows for a fairly flexible method of long term storage of freshly prepared homemade baby food.
Lastly, you will need freezer bags or freezer safe containers. Once the food cubes are frozen, place the frozen cubes into labeled freezer bags. You should include the date and time the food was prepared and what the food is on the outside of the bag.
If you do not include the type of food on the outside you may not know if you have peaches or apricots. The majority of most baby foods can be stored for a month at a time safely. When it’s feeding time you can heat the necessary number of ounces in the microwave or stove, let cool and serve.
1 Disadvantages of Homemade Baby Food
The disadvantages to making baby food are few and only exist in cases where you are not used to the process of making food at first. Some parents who’ve tried and decided to give up on homemade baby food make a few valid points one should consider when making the transition to homemade baby food.
The first issue is simply not having the time to complete all the cooking. It takes a great deal of time to make and prepare lots of little servings of homemade baby food. It’s much faster to pick up prepackaged servings. Prepackaged baby foods come in measured amounts and ready to serve.
The process of properly preserving the perishable foods without any preservatives or other additives is tedious. Homemade baby foods may spoil more quickly and require refrigeration, which may take up room in your fridge or freezer if you make a lot of servings ahead of time. Prepackaged baby foods doesn’t need refrigerator storage until they’re opened.
The transition to solid food can be a wonderful experience and an introduction to the world of not just eating, but culinary artistry. Experimenting with the delicious foods powered by nature's bounty will turn feeding time into something that everyone will enjoy. And for this reason especially, there are few things that can match homemade baby food.