Homemade Baby Food: How & Why You Should Make It
At around six months, your baby will be just about ready to transition from breast milk or formula to eating simple, pureed foods. They grow up so fast! Though it might seem easier to pick up a couple of jars of baby food from the grocery store when you’re in a pinch, take caution. A new investigation from healthybabyfood.org concluded that “95% of baby foods tested contain toxic chemicals that lower babies’ IQ, including arsenic and led.” If that stat sends you into a panic, you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve created a guide to the basics of making your own baby food. Preparing food for your little one can actually be more cost-efficient, and you’ll know exactly what you’re feeding them. Let’s dive into the basics of making and storing healthy, delicious food for your baby. Whether your eager or hesitant to make your own baby food, this information is for you!
Stock up on supplies.
Think a variety of fruits and vegetables, essential blending tools and BPA free storage containers. If you really want to cut down on time, you can use an all-in-one baby food maker to steam, cook and puree the food for you. Once you have everything you need to start cooking, the rest is simple. Start by making a list of everything you'll need to start cooking.
Cook your baby food in large batches.
Do you meal prep for yourself? If so, you probably realize the added benefit of saving time throughout the week. In just a couple of hours, you can make a variety of different recipes that run the gamut. The key steps in preparing homemade baby food are cook, puree, and store. Steaming, baking and roasting are the most popular methods of cooking foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, to puree for your child. You can add water or breast milk to think out the puree if it feels too thick.
"95% of baby foods tested contain toxic chemicals that lower babies’ IQ, including arsenic and led."
Introduce variety to expand your baby’s palate.
Traditional store-bought baby food is processed in factories. The food is far less nutrient-dense and has less variety. At home, you can try out some popular combos like carrots & squash, blueberry, avocado & pears, and spinach and banana. You can even tailor your recipes to exactly what your baby enjoys and slowly add in new foods that they might be hesitant to try. This makes for happy, healthy babies. If you make your own baby food, you have total control over flavors and varieties for your little one to enjoy.
Know which foods to avoid.
As tempting as it might be to introduce variety into your baby’s diet early on, do so with caution. Certain foods pose a high risk for babies. Some of these foods include honey, cow’s milk, fruit juice, smoked and cured meats, and anything unpasteurized. As always, check with your pediatrician to make sure your baby is getting the nutrients they need for optimal health and growth. A significant concern around homemade baby food is nitrates. Nitrates are chemicals that are found in water and soils that much of our food grows in. After 6 months, babies are at less risk of developing nitrate poisoning as they begin to produce the stomach acids crucial to the processing and breakdown of nitrates.
When you cook for yourself, you want the best ingredients. When you cook homemade baby food, you know exactly what nutrients your little one is getting. No surprises! For more information on making your own baby food, check out this guide. You can also find an abundance of recipes here. You might even find yourself having a little bit of fun while doing it!
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Pro tip: If you’re low on time, here are some of the top-rated store-bought baby food brands that you can trust.