Photo by Martin Rittmeyer
We make our own baby food. At one to three dollars a jar where we live, it’s a no brainer decision. But even if it weren’t so expensive, I’d most likely make my son’s baby food anyway – it’s healthier, cheaper, and it’s very easy.
I thought it would be really difficult and time-consuming to make baby food, but that was before trying it with our firstborn. I was floored with how easy it was.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s a convenience to store-bought baby food. But if you take the time to spend about a few hours once a month in the kitchen, you’ll quickly store up a stockpile that will last you the time that you need pureed food (which isn’t long).
You should puree baby foods well, but I find that it’s okay if it’s not perfectly smooth. In fact, if your baby doesn’t grow accustomed to super-smooth food, they’ll most likely be more open to finger foods early on. We only pureed food for our daughter from around six to nine months – after that, it was almost exclusively finger foods.
All you need to make baby food are the following: a food processor or blender, appropriate knives (depending on the food), a spoon, ice cube trays, plastic wrap, ziploc-type baggies, and a permanent marker.
The Basic Method
When the food is blended, simply spoon the puree into ice cube trays. Each cube is approximately one ounce. Make sure and cover each tray with saran wrap before freezing. When they’re done, pop out the cubes and store in well-labeled freezer bags (I label them with the type of food and the date of puree).
Photo by Leesa & David McClelland
Homemade baby foods can stay in the fridge for up to 72 hours, or they can be frozen indefinitely.
Starting With Rice Cereal
Most health experts recommend introducing solids somewhere between four to six months of age. Our son will be six months this Sunday, and we started rice cereal this past week.
Recipe for Rice Cereal: Cook whole-grain (brown) rice without salt or seasoning and puree. You can also process the rice into a powder before cooking, and then cook 1/4 rice powder into 1 cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Add breast milk, formula, or other food if desired.
After a week or so of rice cereal, you can move on to other grains.
Recipe for Oatmeal Cereal: Process oats (not instant or quick cooking) into a powder. Cook 1/4 oat powder into 1 cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes, and add breast milk, formula, or other food if desired.
Recipe for Barley Cereal: Process barley into a powder. Cook 1/4 barley powder into 1 cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes, and add breast milk, formula, or other food if desired.
Buckwheat is also a good choice if you’re looking for gluten-free alternatives (like if your family has a history of food allergies or sensitivities).
Moving on to Fruits and Veggies
You can bake, steam, or boil with scant water almost any fruit or veggie. Then simply puree, spoon into ice cube trays, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze.
There are some really good resources on the internet for more information on which foods are best at what age, if it matters in which order you should introduce food, and creative ideas for presenting foods to your baby. Here are some that I’ve bookmarked and have found helpful:
- Solid food and the breastfed baby :: KellyMom
- When and how do I start solid foods? :: Dr. Greene
- Our homemade baby food, recipes, and solid baby food favorites :: Wholesome Baby Food
- Vegetable and fruit puree recipes :: Andres’ Homemade Baby Food Recipes
There’s also a little movement called Baby Led Weaning, which is essentially eliminating pureed foods all together and going straight to finger foods. The idea is that the baby will eat what he or she needs at the right time, freeing the parent of the stress that goes into “introducing” foods. I’m still not sure what we’ll do, but I’m open to this idea.
There’s something beautifully natural about providing the same food to your baby that you do the rest of your family. It may initially seem more complicated to make your own baby food, but in the long run, it’s just another ingredient for creating a simply-run home. It saves money, it’s wholly nutritious, and it increases the odds of having a kiddo willing to try new foods.
A good majority of Simple Mom readers have children under 5. How did you feed your babies? Do you find it easier or more time consuming to make your own food? If you haven’t yet tried homemade baby food, what’s keeping you from trying?