By: Mila Sidman
So your baby is ready for solids! It’s always exciting when your baby reaches a new milestone, but when it comes to feeding babies it’s safe to say most parents are a little nervous. If you’re planning on making your own homemade baby food, here are a few simple tips.
First of all, relax… making baby food is simple. You don’t need many ingredients, special equipment (except a blender or food processor) or much time.
Apart from saving you money, making your own baby food provides fantastic nutrition for your little one and gives you peace of mind. After all you know exactly what’s gone into your baby’s food, how it was prepared and the quality of ingredients used.
Most pediatricians advice babies should be be between 4 and 6 months before starting solids. Rice cereal is usually the first food of choice as it doesn’t contain wheat (which can be harder for babies to digest) and most babies can easily tolerate it.
If you’re not sure if your baby is ready for solids always ask your pediatrician first.
It’s always best to introduce one new food at a time just in case your baby has an allergic reaction to a certain food. This will make it easier to pinpoint which foods caused it.
Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to making baby food.
There’s no need to sterilize feeding equipment as you would baby bottles and teats, but you should wash everything you’ll be using in hot soapy water before starting. It’s also smart to wipe down the counter top and work area before starting.
As with regular cooking, it’s important to use a separate chopping board for meat to avoid cross contamination. And do not let raw food come into contact with cooked food.
Always thaw frozen baby food in the refrigerator. Thawing the food at room temperature may breed bacteria which can cause illness.
A food processor, blender or hand-held blender is ideal for a very smooth consistency. Once your baby is used to solids you can simply mash the food with a fork.
Preferably your baby should sit in a high chair or other upright child safety seat. Baby should be upright at all times to help food digestion and avoid choking.
To feed baby a few simple plastic bowls and spoons without rough edges will do. And don’t forget to get a few packs of baby bibs and have plenty of cleaning cloths handy!
Scrub and peel fruits and vegetables well.
Remove all fat, skin, and bones from fresh meat. Always check to make sure the meat is fresh. If you have any doubts as to the freshness of the meat, it’s best not to use it as it’s just not worth your baby getting sick.
Use only a small amount of water when cooking to avoid loosing valuable nutrients. Many vegetables can be steamed to preserve nutrients.
Never add any seasonings, salt, sugar, or other sweeteners. This will make the food too strong for your baby’s taste buds and can actually make him ill.
Transfer cooked food to a food processor and process until smooth (adding a little of the cooking water if necessary) or use a hand-held blender.
For a thicker consistency, simply mash the food using a fork. You can always add a little breast milk or formula to make it smoother.
* Medical literature advices egg whites, strawberries, honey and peanut products should be avoided until 12 months of age as they have been known to cause allergies in young children.
As baby’s only eat a small amount of food, freezing is ideal for baby food. There are several ways you can do this.
One of the easiest ways is to fill up an ice cube tray with any unused baby food (do not save any leftover food from your baby’s bowl or that has been contaminated by your baby’s saliva). Once the food is frozen immediately transfer to individual plastic bags. Depending on how much your baby eats, place a few cubes of baby food in each bag. Don’t forget to label and date it.
Advice varies on how long you should freeze baby food for. Most experts agree frozen baby food should not be kept longer than 3 months. Ideally, try not to keep the food longer than one month as it may loose some of its nutritional content as time passes. Remember your baby doesn’t eat very much at first so make smaller batches.
You can also place small amounts of food in individual plastic containers with lids, and stick labelling tape to the top of the lid.
Easily reheat frozen food by placing it in a heat-proof bowl. Place the bowl in or over a pan of simmering water. Gently reheat while stirring occasionally.
You can also reheat the food in the microwave. This will save you time, but be extra careful as the food will be hotter in some places more than others. Always stir the food and taste it before serving to make sure it’s not too hot. Always, let the food sit for a minute or two before serving to baby. Stir again just before serving.
Always thaw frozen baby food in the refrigerator. Do not thaw baby food at room temperate as it can breed bacteria.
That’s it… a few simple steps to making your own baby food. Homemade baby food will save you money but best of all you’ll be giving your baby the most nutritious foods possible.
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