How To Make Your Own Baby Food
Weaning your baby is an exciting milestone, and one which you are likely to start when your baby is around six months old. Weaning means your baby can begin to join in with mealtimes with the rest of the family, and you can watch them develop their taste and see which foods they really enjoy.
Making your own baby food is something you might be considering, and why not? Making your own need not be laborious or time consuming, it means your baby can eat the same foods you do, and you can create your own flavors. Making your own baby food is also good if your baby has any allergies, as you will know the exact ingredients that have gone into the meal.
Step 1: Know the Baby Food Stages
If you are going to wean your baby with homemade purees, then you should roughly look to introduce food in the following stages. You are likely to see these stages referenced on jarred or canned baby foods or baby food pouches.
Stage 1 Baby Food
These are the first foods that are introduced, normally at around six months. This food normally has a very thin consistency, and is completely smooth with no lumps. Many parents choose baby rice as their baby’s first food, but newer guidelines suggest that any food can be introduced as a first food. During this stage you may want to offer just one flavor during a meal, like carrots alone. You can thin your baby’s first foods with either boiled water, formula or breast milk.
Stage 2 Baby Food
Your baby will be in this stage when they’re roughly 7 or 8 months old, and when they’ve mastered the textures and consistencies of foods in stage 1. Stage 2 baby food is thicker in its consistency, and the food may have some small lumps in it. During this stage you may choose to start blending multiple flavors. Many parents blend combinations of fruits and vegetables, as babies typically enjoy sweeter tastes.
Stage 3 Baby Food
Your baby is likely to be around 9 to 12 months old when they're ready for this stage. The food is thicker again, with more lumps. During this stage you may also like to offer your baby some finger foods with their meals. These finger foods should still be soft / chewable / gummable by your baby; fingers of avocado or banana can be good to start with.
Step 2: Know How to Make Baby Food Safely
When it comes to making your baby’s food, it's especially important to practice good hygiene and food safety. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Ensure your hands and utensils are all clean. This is especially important if you are handling raw meat.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before cooking and pureeing.
- Make sure all fish and meats are cooked thoroughly. Meat should be well done before being pureed and given to your baby.
- Do not freeze any leftover baby food that you've tried serving to your baby.
Step 3: Gather Useful Equipment for Making Your Own Baby Food
Although making your own baby food can be done without specific equipment, having gear purely designed for the job of making baby food will make life easier. Here is some of the most useful equipment you could use when making your baby’s foods:
- Baby food makers: These make the job of creating homemade baby food super easy. The Beeba Babycook Solo Baby Food Maker is a best-selling homemade baby food machine. It steams, blends, warms and defrosts all foods (fruits, vegetables and meats) all in one, which saves on using multiple pans and blenders! Not only this, but the one-handed operation means you can hold your baby in one hand and make their lunch using the other. The Baby Cook is good for baby food stages 1, 2 and 3, as you can adjust the settings to achieve the baby food consistency you need.
- Specialist food mashers: Baby food mashers, like the Oxo Tot Food Masher, are specially designed with babies and parents in mind. They are not just your regular food masher, and are good to have in your baby food making repertoire. They may not offer all of the functionality seen in Babycook Baby Food Maker, but they still make light work of mashing your baby’s food. This device could be used if you are cooking a family meal and want to portion some off for your baby, you could simply use the masher to mash their portion. The Oxo Tot’s clever design, including high sides so the food doesn't spill out during mashing, and masher ridges that fit the bowl perfectly for smoother textures, makes it a super useful bit of gear if you're looking to make your own baby food.
- Baby food storage and containers: If you make your own baby food you are going to want to be able to store it safely and conveniently. Small containers like the OXO Tot Blocks are perfect. They are clear, so you can see what's inside, and come with handy trays that make storing them in the fridge or freezer easy. They are also spill and leak proof– this is ideal when you’re taking baby food out.
- Equipment you’ve already got in the house: As we said, you don’t need specialist gear (even though it’s super useful) to make your own baby food. A fork or potato masher will mash food. Ice cube trays can be used to freeze baby sized portions of the baby food you’ve prepared, and stick blenders, food processors or food grinders can be used to get the right consistency for your baby’s food.
Now you’re all set and ready to get making your own baby food, you simply need to choose what food you’re going to make, and go for it.
Quick Tips on How to Make Your Own Baby Food
- Steaming fruits and vegetables will retain the most nutrients, so where possible do this.
- Do not add salt to your baby’s food. Your baby’s kidneys cannot handle sodium so this should be avoided, particularly until your baby is one, but even after this, toddlers only need a small amount of sodium in their diet. Beware of hidden sources of sodium too, such as crackers and bread. Starchy carbs like pasta, rice and quinoa have much lower sodium levels.
- Feed your baby the food you eat to make life easier. If you’re having a pot roast you could simply puree or mash cooked meat and vegetables before any salt or seasoning is added.
- Freeze your homemade baby food in ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen they can be popped out of the tray into a Ziploc bag which you can label and date, and you’ve got food ready to go in the freezer!
- Don’t stress! Some babies take a while to enjoy food, and this is normal. Keep offering your baby solids and they should soon get the hang of it and start enjoying mealtimes. If you're worried at all, give your doctor a call.
- You can make your own baby food using canned or frozen fruits or vegetables (just make sure there is no added salt, and that any canned fruit comes in juice rather than syrup).
- No time to make your own baby food? Don’t be hard on yourself! Store bought baby food is nutritious and convenient. Your baby simply wants to be fed, and a happy, relaxed mom is more important than a homemade puree.
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