Step By Step Guide to Making Homemade Baby Food
When it comes to feeding your baby their first solid foods, there's nothing better than making your own! When it is made from fresh whole foods and nothing else, homemade baby food is much more nutritious and tastier than the commercially processed variety. You can cook it in bulk and save lots of money, and best of all you have total control of the quality of the ingredients that goes into your baby's food; so, no nasty chemicals, additives or colourings - ever!
What's more is that studies have shown that children tend to form long-term likings for certain flavours and foods based on their earliest experiences. This means that feeding your baby homemade foods can help set you up for success in getting them to accept healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables later on.
The benefits of making your own baby food far outweigh the one thing that it will cost you: time. If you enjoy being in the kitchen and are ready to get your hands a little dirty, read on to find some really easy, tasty and nutritious recipes that will have you making your baby some scrumptious first foods in no time!
First of all though, how will you know when your baby is ready for solid foods? According to Australian parenting website "Raising Children Network", babies are ready for solid foods when they show the following signs:
- good head and neck control (can turn away to refuse food) and can sit upright when supported
- show an interest in food (e.g. looking at what's on your plate)
- opens their mouth when you offer them food
- reaches out for your food when they see you eating
Most babies start to show these signs from four to six months, but this varies from baby to baby, because they all grow at different rates! It’s not recommended to introduce solids before four months, but if your baby is nearly seven months of age and hasn't yet started eating solid food, it might be a good idea to talk to your GP or pediatrician.
Homemade baby food is really simple and all it really takes is some fresh ingredients and a food processor (or the low-tech alternative: a potato masher).
As your baby is slowly getting used to solids, focus on making basic fruit and vegetable purees with single ingredients. Mashed banana, steamed and pureed carrots, pureed apple, etc. As time goes on, you can start creating some interesting flavour combos, such as combining peas with carrots, or apples with pear.
- steam your chosen fruits or veggies (chop them into smaller pieces to make this easier)
- puree the steamed fruit or veg in a food processor or blender, or simply mash them up with a potato masher. You can add water to achieve a softer consistency and to make the food easier for your baby to eat.
- Put any leftovers into individual servings and keep in the fridge. If you have more than a few days worth of leftovers, you can keep these in the freezer for up to three months!
Babies have naturally very sensitive tastebuds, so they don't need sweeteners such as sugar added to their food. The natural sugars contained in foods such as fruits and sweet veggies (like carrots, pumpkin and sweet potato) are all that your baby needs, and they will surely love these sweet foods the most, especially early on!
Cooking Whole Grains:
- grind a ¼ cup of rice, oats or millet in a blender for 1 minute (to break it up a little and make it easier to cook to a porridge-like consistency)
- boil one cup of water in a saucepan
- reduce heat to a low simmer and add grain
- cover and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
- refrigerate any leftovers (grains will keep for around three days) or freeze for up to a month.
- grind cooked chicken, fish, pork or beef in a food processor or blender. You can get creative with this, or simply use leftovers from your Sunday roast!
- Serve the meat alone or mix it with pureed veggies or cooked grains
Keep in mind that babies should be at least 7-8 months old before introducing them to most poultry, meat and fish.
When your baby is used to eating solids, it can be really helpful and engaging to introduce them to finger food. The following foods make nutritious, hassle-free snacks:
- quartered hard-boiled eggs
- sliced banana
- sliced berries
- lightly mashed chickpeas or black beans
- cubes of baked tofu or cheese
- shredded roast chicken
- cooked ground beef
Homemade stock is chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals that your baby's growing body needs, and it also aids digestion and builds bones. An additional advantage is that it is really simple and easy to make, and older children who are used to drinking it can even sip it from their drink bottles! A quick Google search will provide hundreds of easy recipes that you can try, but you can make some quick vegetable stock for your bub simply by simmering some chopped up veggies for half an hour, then strain and use the liquid! You can even add the stock to your pureed or mashed veggies instead of water when you need to soften the consistency or cook your grains in the stock instead of in water.
All this may leave you wondering, is jarred baby food the worst thing in the world? Sometimes it's hard not to feel like the worst parent ever for not always finding the time or having the energy to make homemade foods for your baby. Because let's face it: being a parent can be totally exhausting, and the last thing we need is additional stress and reasons to feel guilty for not being able to do everything "perfectly".
Most if not all parents, at some point or another, will take the more convenient and time-saving route of feeding their little ones commercially prepared food - and there's nothing wrong with that! But like all packaged foods we buy at the supermarket, it's important to read the labels and make sure that there are no hidden "nasties" in the ingredients. When doing so, it's helpful to keep in mind that additives are important for the food to have an extended shelf life. So don't fret if you can't find any processed foods that contain nothing but whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats! The goal is not to be perfect, but simply to minimize your family's exposure to potentially harmful additives and unnecessary salt, sugar, and flavourings. Some homemade foods are definitely better than none, and when short on time and energy you can always turn to mashed fresh avocado or banana, which would make a perfect first food (with no cooking required).
❤️ Monika Hricko,
Inspire Baby Wear