Make Healthy and Delicious Baby Foods

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Eng, Lynn

Most mothers know that homemade baby food is healthier and more delicious that the readymade stuff marketed in stores and supermarkets. However, many mothers resort to buying baby food because they think it will be too much trouble to make small batches of pureed foods for their little one, and some end up picking baby food from grocery shelves because they are unsure of how to make homemade baby food. Studies show that many babies in the U.S. consume about 500 jars of baby food by the time they are 12 months old, and 80 percent of British babies eat mostly foods from jars or tins.

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This trend persists even though government agencies and families know that homemade baby food is healthier and more nutritious than store bought food. When you make your baby's meals, you have the added advantage of being able to control all the ingredients that go into each spoonful you feed him. For example, most bottled fruits and vegetables contain thickeners that babies don't really need. Some commercial baby foods also contain sugars, wheat, rice, fillers, and other modified starches.

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Homemade baby food will give you a head start on identifying possible allergies. Because you don't put additives into baby foods, when a baby shows allergic reactions, you know exactly what the reason is. To illustrate, you can give a baby broccoli for a few days and watch for reactions, and then proceed to carrots, then beets or whatever else you like. In a month's time you will be able to test at least five food items - something you won't be able to do when extra things are in the jar you fed him from.

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Foods in jars and tins have a peculiar bland flavor not commonly found in regular adult food. Babies can get used to this and have trouble adjusting to ordinary food. When you make baby food in your kitchen, it becomes a lot easier to begin introducing the flavors and seasonings of the food everyone in the house eats. It is also easier for babies to transition to regular food if you feed them homemade food. This means you can gradually orient your little one into eating what you will be feeding him later, and it will help prevent him from becoming a finicky eater later.

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Making homemade baby food means one less item to concern yourself about when you go to the grocery, and it also means considerable savings for you. Remember that every time you buy a jar of baby food you pay mainly for the processing, packaging, storage, freight, and handling of the item.

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Making your own baby food need not be extremely difficult or inconvenient. Read on for a practical guide to making food for your baby.

Getting Started

If you are serious about making baby food, there are some simple preparations you need to make and some tools you need to gather. Don't worry; you probably have some, if not all, of these tools right in your kitchen.

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  1. 1
    A tool to grind or puree food.
    An old-fashioned manual food grinder, a food processor, or an ordinary blender will do. One of those small blenders with multiple cups would be excellent because you can process small quantities of several types of food, one after the other, without needing to stop and rinse the equipment.
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  2. 2
    Cutting boards.
    It is best that you use separate chopping boards for fresh fruit, vegetables and for meats.
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  3. 3
    Storage containers.
    You will need small containers for the foods you will be storing. Small glass jars you can label would be ideal. Some like to use ice cube trays, and these are good too, because they allow you to store in small quantities.
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  4. 4
    Get the best ingredients.
    Go for what's in season and bring home top quality, fresh ingredients. Remember you don't need a lot, so buying the best won't hurt your budget. If you have a total of four pounds of vegetables, that will last you a week or even longer.
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  5. 5
    Begin with a few items.
    For your first week, an apple, a banana, a head of broccoli, a carrot, and a cup of rice will be plenty. For the baby's needs you will only need a very small portion and you will only be giving him or her 2 teaspoons or so - just to get the little one started.
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Foods to Prepare

Here is a list of fruits and vegetables you can process for your baby:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash

Preparing the Food

Follow these simple steps and you will have healthy homemade food for your baby.

  1. 1
    Wash your hands and equipment before preparing baby food.
    Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly; peel and dice before cooking if necessary.
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  2. 2
    After you have washed the fruits or vegetables, cook them until they are soft enough to mash, puree or grind. You can choose to steam, bake, or boil them. Boiling is the usual method used for softening fruits and vegetables, but make sure you use as little liquid as possible. If you need liquid when you mash or puree the fruits or vegetables, use whatever liquid is left in the pot.
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  3. 3
    Some fruits and vegetables don't need any liquid before they can be mashed or pureed.
    Just go ahead and mash or puree them if this is the case. If you are thinking of giving your baby some banana, for example, you won't even need to boil it. Just mash finely and add a little milk if you like.
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  4. 4
    To prepare meat, remove all skin and trim off all fat. For younger babies, boil the meat until it's very soft, cut it up into small pieces and puree with some of the liquid left in the pot. For bigger babies, you can remove all the skin, trim off all fat, grind or cut into small pieces, and boil until very soft.
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  5. 5
    Serve food no warmer than body temperature, and if you use a microwave to heat it up, give it a stir to make sure it has no hot spots.
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  6. 6
    Once the food is completely cool, store in small, separate containers, refrigerate, and use vegetables within two days, and meat and poultry in one day.
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  7. 7
    If you freeze the food, either do so in small separate jars with lids, or put them in ice trays and place ice trays in a large Ziploc bag.
    This is especially important if you are storing your baby food in a freezer with other foods. You can put the entire ice tray in a gallon-sized freezer bag to make sure it is insulated from contaminants. Once the food is frozen in cubes, you can remove the cubes from the ice tray and store them in a plastic freezer bags. In fully sealed containers, fruits and vegetables can last for four to six months, and meats for two months.
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  8. 8
    Never use raw eggs, unpasteurized milk, or ingredients from dented or unlabeled cans.
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  9. 9
    Cook meat, poultry, and fish thoroughly until you get an internal temperature of 165 for meat and 150 for fish.
    Reheat food to the same specific temperatures. To defrost, do not leave outside the refrigerator or immerse container in a bowl of hot water. Simply reheat the food directly.
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  10. 10
    Throw away uneaten food. The presence of saliva in leftover food means harmful bacteria can develop.
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  11. 11
    On a hot day, discard food that has been left standing for an hour. On colder days, throw away baby food that has been left standing for two hours or longer.
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  12. 12
    Label your stored food and indicate the date it was cooked. Don't use glass jars unless the manufacturer guarantees they are freezer safe. Otherwise, during the freezing process, microscopic shards could be embedded in the food.
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be started on "solid" foods no sooner than four to six months of age.
  • Consult with your pediatrician regarding food quantities and feeding frequency.
  • Spoon out only as much food as you think your baby will eat, and discard any leftovers.
  • Do not use honey, corn syrup or sugar in baby food. They don't need it and if the honey is contaminated, they could get botulism.
  • Gradually introduce your child to the foods you and your family eat by pureeing or blending what the rest of the family is eating, as long as it is not too fatty or spicy.
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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Categories : Noindexed pages | Parenting | Baby & Toddler

Recent edits by: Eng, Nerissa Avisado

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