How to Make Your Own Baby Food and Save a Fortune!
by: Meredith Edwards-Cornwall
Baby in a highchair, mom in front with a small spoon and a jar of baby
food. It looks like something right out of a parenting magazine, and itís
a scene that is played out several times a day in the majority of homes
with small babies. Unfortunately, itís also a powerful marketing image
that can cost a family a great deal of money in the long run.
The Convenience Factor
Most parents would say the main reason for using commercial jarred baby
food is the convenience aspect. After all, with the busy lifestyle many
of us have today, no one has time to specially prepare a meal for each
member of the family. It doesnít have to be a special event to create your
own baby food, however. Baby can usually eat what the rest of the family
is eating with very little special preparation.
Everyone worries about proper nutrition for growing babies. Iron, calcium,
and vitamin D Ė all of these things are legitimate concerns in childrenís
nutrition. However, fortified and processed foods arenít necessarily better
than whole foods. Homemade baby food, created from fresh ingredients, offers
your child superior nutrition as well as encourages a taste for simple,
unprocessed foods Ė a taste that will possibly prevent obesity-related
problems later in life. Itís not necessary to offer commercial baby foods
in order to have a healthy child.
Why pay more for an inferior product? Beginning baby food often runs
between forty and seventy cents for two ounces. Itís entirely possible
to purchase half a pound of produce for the same amount, and baby will
reap the benefits of eating fresh, nutritious food. Buying produce in bulk
can result in even more savings, and even frozen produce is preferable
to what you find in the jars.
Itís important to know when baby is actually ready for solids. Introducing
solids too early can lead to an increased likelihood of food intolerances
and food allergies. Most medical associations agree that starting solids
around six months of age is ideal, and many people find delaying solids
for allergy-prone babies is even better. Signs of readiness for solids
Increased nursing for more than a few days, which is unrelated to illness
or teething, or, if baby is fed artificial baby milk, consuming more than
32 ounces daily.
Ability to sit up unsupported.
Absence of the tongue-thrust reflex. This life-saving reflex causes
babies to push foreign objects (in this case, solid foods) out of their
mouths to avoid choking.
Ability to pick foods up and place in mouth independently (or development
of the pincer grasp).
What About Allergies?
Experts recommend introducing new foods between three days and a week
apart. This helps parents and caregivers identify signs of a food allergy
or intolerance. Common signs of food allergy/intolerance are:
Increased bloating and gassiness, painful discomfort.
Sandpaper-like raised rash on face, often where the offending food
made contact with skin.
Runny nose and watery eyes.
Diarrhea or mucous in the stools. Blood in the stool can also be an
indicator of a food allergy, usually dairy or soy.
Red rash around anus, or an unusual diaper rash.
Vomiting or increased spit up with discomfort.
Ideally, it is best to introduce foods that are less likely to produce
an allergic reaction in baby. Avoiding foods such as egg whites, certain
nuts such as peanuts, cowís milk, corn, wheat, and some berries such as
strawberries is recommended, as they are more likely to cause reactions.
Instead, start with foods that are easier on babyís system. Some good ideas
Tools of the Trade
Fancy equipment isnít necessary to make healthy food for your baby.
Things that might be helpful include a blender, a food mill, a steamer
basket and ice cube trays if you want to freeze small portions. Most people
have blenders already in their kitchens, and a food mill (or baby grinder)
isnít necessary if you have a good blender or food processor. Steamer baskets
can be found in most grocery stores for only a few dollars, and fit easily
into saucepans. Many beginner foods require nothing more than a small pan
and a fork.
Many doctors recommend starting your baby on rice cereal first. Many
parents find, however, that fruits go over better for beginning eaters.
It is a myth that babies will prefer sweet things if they are given fruits
first Ė natureís first food, breast milk, is naturally sweet, and that
is what baby is accustomed to. Banana is a wonderful first food, as its
creamy consistency is similar to motherís milk. After introducing banana,
try another fruit or vegetable. Continue adding fruits and vegetables until
baby has a wide variety of tastes. Then consider adding whole grains in
the form of cereal. Many whole grains have naturally occurring iron, so
there is no need to supplement babyís iron unless there is a medical indication
for doing so. Brown rice, oats, and barley are all good choices. Next,
introduce a meat or poultry such as beef or chicken. If you are a vegetarian,
introduce another protein source such as tofu or lentils. As time goes
on, introduce a combination of tastes, such as cereal mixed with applesauce
or peas and carrots. This is also a great time to introduce finger foods,
especially if baby has teeth. As baby learns to self-feed, you can move
away from making purees and offer small baby-sized portions of the family
Bananas make an ideal food for a baby starting solids. To serve, let
bananas ripen well (the more ripe, the better Ė brown spots are desirable),
cut into small chunks and mash with a fork. Pears are an excellent source
of fiber and can be cooked like apples: peel and cut into chunks. Place
in small saucepan and just cover with water. Cook until tender. These can
then be mashed with a fork, run through a food mill, processed in a blender
or food processor. They can also be offered as finger food if they are
cut into small enough chunks. Carrots, another popular first food, should
be scraped with a vegetable peeler, sliced and steamed or boiled until
soft. Process in blender or food mill. Carrots can be a choking hazard
for children, so do use caution if offering as a finger food.
Sweet potatoes are extremely easy to make, and one potato can last a
long time if frozen after cooking. Place sweet potato in a microwave for
about eight minutes, remove and let cool. Open up and serve right out of
the peel Ė the potato is very soft and needs no further processing. Sweet
potatoes are an excellent source of B6.
Winter squash such as acorn or butternut makes an excellent first food.
Cut squash in half and clean. Place in one half inch of water in a baking
pan and bake at three hundred and fifty degrees for half an hour. Use a
spoon to scoop out squash and feed directly to baby.
Avocadoes are an extremely nutrient dense food and offers important
vitamins and minerals such as iron and potassium. Cut avocado in half around
the pit, grab each half and give it a twist. Scoop out meat and mash or
Making cereal for baby is very easy. Take a cup of the whole grain if
your choice such as brown rice, oats, or barley and process in the blender
until the desired consistency is reached, usually about two minutes for
very young babies. Store in an airtight container. To cook, mix with liquid
of your choice and heat over medium heat on stove until thick.
Enjoy this fun stage in babyís development, and rest assured that baby
is getting superior nutrition and developing good eating habits which will
last a lifetime!
About The Author
Meredith Edwards-Cornwall owns and operates Attached Mamas at http://www.attachedmamas.com,
which caters to families looking to achieve health naturally. Remedies
for colic, morning sickness, infertility and more. She is also a designer
for the web and print and owns Beach Designs Studio at http://www.beachdesigns.net.
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