How To Make Homemade Baby Food

As parents, we have to make millions of decisions for our children.  Some are mundane, like whether or not to get their hair cut; others are much more important.  What we feed our children is one of the most important; we want them to not only be strong and healthy now but to develop habits that will make them strong and healthy for life.  Making your own baby food for your baby or for food gifts is ideal because you know each and every ingredient that goes into it.  You know you are filling your child up with nutrients and not excess sugar or salt.  And you can save a lot of money!

To make your own baby food, you will need:

  • A blender, hand blender, baby food grinder, hand turned food mill, or food processor.  A fork can be a great, convenient substitute for any of these for mashing food for baby.
  • Small containers for the food.
  • Fresh vegetables, organic fruit, grains, and meats.

Homemade baby food is easy to make.  After thoroughly washing the food, such as carrots, you cook it by steaming or boiling it until it is very tender.  Save some of the water in which you boiled the carrots, and add it to the carrots to help you mash them.  Depending on your baby's age, you can make it very smooth or leave some texture. For younger babies, you can also add a bit of breast milk or prepared formula in place of the water.  As baby grows, you can use less liquid and start making the food have a firmer texture or more chunks.

Grains can be ground in a mill after cooking, and grains like brown rice and quinoa can be used as finger foods for older children.  To make meat dishes, remove fat and skin and cook thoroughly.  Once prepared, the meat can be pureed and mixed with a little liquid for younger babies or cut into very small pieces for older babies.

When serving homemade baby food, make sure it is no warmer than body temperature.  Make sure the foods are evenly cooked by mashing and mixing them thoroughly and testing the temperature first.  This is especially important if you are microwaving foods.

Image by stevendepolo on FlickrHere are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Prepare food from fresh produce and meat as soon after purchase (or picking) as possible. Freeze them in ice cube trays or specially made trays for this purpose.  After they have frozen, put the cubes into a plastic freezer bag.  Vegetables and fruit will keep for about six months, and meat and poultry will last from one to two months.  This will allow you to make a lot of food at once and then use it as needed.
  • Put a small amount of food into a dish for feeding.  Whatever you don't use must be thrown away because your baby's saliva has touched the food and can allow bacteria to grow, so it is good to not eat from the main container.  You can refrigerate leftovers and use within a few days.
  • Don't sweeten your homemade baby food with honey, sugar, or corn syrup.  Not only are these unnecessary, they are potentially hazardous for small babies. Honey, for instance, should be avoided until your child is at least one. Salt, too, is unnecessary but other seasonings are fine. Babies can tolerate different seasonings, so feel free to try them.

Start with one food, and as your child shows that he will eat it and that he tolerates it, you can add other foods.  It is a gradual process, but it is one that is giving your child a healthy start in life.

Making your own homemade baby food is great on several levels: not only is it healthier and less expensive, it also introduces your child to the concept of eating the same foods as the rest of the family.  You don't have to open a jar of strained peas for baby while your family eats chicken stir-fry, for instance. You can simply take a few more minutes and prepare healthy, real baby food.  Just skip the corn syrup-based sauces – for baby and for the rest of the family!