Tips and Tricks for Making Healthy Baby Food at Home
Staying healthy during and after your pregnancy is extremely important. If you prefer natural and organic ways of nurshing your body, you’ll likely want the same for your infant. This usually begins with breastfeeding. But what about when it comes time to introduce more solid foods to your baby? One of the healthiest ways to provide your child with fruits and vegetables is through homemade baby food. More and more mothers are choosing to make their own baby food at home. Not only is it a healthy option, but it’s also cost effective. This article will detail how it’s done, reasons to consider it, and what makes it so beneficial for your baby.
Why Homemade is Healthier
The main reason why homemade baby food is healthier than the store bought variety is due to how it’s made. Did you ever notice that store bought baby food lasts for months on the shelves or in your pantry? That’s because baby food is made through a process known as sterilization, where the fruits and veggies are cooked at very high temperatures. Unfortunately, this eliminates most of the produce’s vitamins and nutrients. It also affects the foods’ taste, aroma, and natural color. The whole point of feeding your baby fruits and vegetables is for them to get the nutritional benefits, but most jarred baby foods are missing this crucial component.
When you make homemade baby food, those nutrients are kept intact. How? Well, first off, you don’t cook pounds and pounds of food in advance, which means it’s fresher when it reaches your baby’s mouth. Also, when cooking vegetables for serving, be sure to steam them instead of boiling them. This step will offer the most nutritional value. The best thing about making homemade baby food with fruit is that most fruits are pureed without ever being cooked or tainted. You can also make a few containers in advance and freeze them. This helps save time, which is something any busy mom can appreciate!
Another reason why many of the baby foods found in jars or pouches at the local grocery store lack the nutritional benefits your baby needs is because of what manufacturers put in them. Let’s be honest, the baby food manufacturers bottom line is cost. So, what’s one way that they can save on cost? By adding some unwanted ingredients into the baby food that create more quantity but ultimately taint quality. One of the main ingredients added is water! On top of that, they might throw in some thickening agents and starches. These are all ingredients that your baby doesn’t need. The best thing about homemade baby food is that you are in complete control of what goes in it. This means choosing organic produce, if you prefer, and avoiding any potential pesticides or GMOs.
It’s never too early to start healthy habits and that’s exactly what homemade baby food does for your child. By introducing them to wholesome, rich tasting fruits and vegetables at a very young age, they’ll gain an appreciation for those foods that offer the best health benefits. This means they’ll have an early appreciation for the tastes, smells, and colors of fresh foods. It will also prolong, or even eliminate, the introduction of processed foods to your palette. If they never had it, they can’t miss it! This will help them to crave and recognize the taste of real, fresh flavors. And when it comes time to transition your little one from processed foods to table food, the transition should be rather seamless. Because your baby has already been exposed to natural, fresh flavors, they’ll be more apt to try and experiment with new and different foods. This makes for less-picky eaters, which is every mother’s dream!
Did you know that homemade baby food is actually good for the environment? If you’re passionate about going green or enjoy pairing your natural food habits with natural ways of doing most everything, than making your own baby food is a perfect addition! That’s because the plastic containers and pouches that most baby food comes in are not environmentally friendly. When making your own baby food you can invest in quality containers for storage. Making homemade baby food is also cost effective. You’ll spend much less on fresh fruits and veggies and the initial purchase of containers versus weekly stops in the baby food aisle.
How It’s Done
Now that you know why making your own baby food is a nutritious and beneficial option, let’s discuss how it’s done. It’s really quite simple. You’ll need to invest in a quality baby food maker that steams the food items, locking in those essential ingredients. You’ll also want some sturdy, well-sealed containers for storing. This is especially true if you plan on freezing extra baby food. You can even use a label maker to mark each container with its contents. Most baby food makers double as blenders, but a small kitchen blender is perfect for processing fruits that don’t require steaming.
When it comes time to mix, experiment with different combinations of food and textures. You can create thinner foods like applesauce by adding a tiny bit of water or milk. If you want a thicker texture, blend the food for a shorter amount of time but always be sure to mash any larger pieces of food that may cause a choking hazard. If you want to get really creative, you can even add spices and different natural flavors to your baby’s food like cinnamon, rosemary, sea salt, or olive oil. One thing to remember any time you introduce a new food to your baby is to always serve it alone. This helps you to determine if your child has any type of allergic reaction to a specific ingredient. If you make a puree of strawberries and bananas and your little one has never eaten either of these fruits and proceeds to have an allergic reaction, you won’t know which food caused the issue. Once you’ve determined your child can safely consume a certain ingredient, feel free to mix things up and get creative with your recipes.
Homemade Baby Food for the Win
If you’re worried that making your own baby food will be too time consuming, don’t be! Many of the baby food makers available make quick work of steaming and blending a variety of ingredients. It may actually save you time and money when you use the same fruits and vegetables for your baby as you do for the rest of the family. Not only that, but you’re starting your little one off on the right, nutritional foot in terms of eating. Homemade baby food allows babies to experiment with a variety of natural, nutritious, and delicious flavors that will prepare their palette for table food.
I am a 32-year-old mother and wife of a police officer living in NJ. I have my MFA in creative nonfiction and 10 years writing experience. When I'm not writing I enjoy hot yoga, cardio kickboxing, running, and camping.
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