Meet Sam. She is someone who is very knowledgeable on homemade baby food. Sam spent most of her childhood in the family kitchen, watching her mother and father prepare traditional Greek dishes. By the time she was 8 she could make spanakopita with her eyes closed. She blogs over at The Kitchen Professor. When she’s not prepping meals for her kids, she loves to try out new recipes, cookware and kitchen utensils.
We tend to overthink cooking healthy meals for grown ups and older kids. But when it comes to babies and toddlers, we’re often perfectly content to serve up commercial brand, packaged food.
Many folks don’t realize that the early years are an ideal time to introduce healthy, homemade meals. Not only are dishes from scratch more nutritious, but also they introduce your littlest one to flavors that are as natural as they are delicious.
You may balk at the thought of creating one more meal from scratch. But listen up: homemade baby food is actually quick and easy to make and store whether you’re a seasoned chef or a rookie in the kitchen.
You Should Make Baby Food Because…
• You have control of the ingredients
• You know what your baby is eating
• You save money
• You save time
• You can plan meals in advance
• You can store meals
• You expose baby to various flavors
• Baby can eat the same meals as the rest of the family (but in a different form)
Basic How To
• Wash hands and equipment
• Wash fruit and veggies
• Cook and cool ingredients (steam, microwave or bake)
• Use blender or food processor to mix ingredients (adding water if necessary)
• Store in air-tight containers in fridge or freezer
Just like with older kids, good nutrition is key to baby’s development. When you make your own baby food you know there’s a proper balance of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. When you’re the one cooking, you don’t worry about questionable preservatives, additives like food coloring, or excessive sugar or salt. You even control the size of the portions.
Spice Things Up
Homemade food is tasty because of the fresh ingredients and blend of flavors; when you’re cooking in the kitchen you have all sorts of fixings at your disposal. Experts say that by 8 months old, babies are receptive to complex flavors, both sweet and spicy. Your own food will also vary in texture, which prepares baby for different types of dishes down the road. Baby’s taste buds will expand and be primed for family meals.
For starters, instead of a bland jar of applesauce, try these recipes:
Apple, Banana & Cinnamon Sauce (6-8 months)
1 ripe banana
Pinch of cinnamon
Wash, peel, core, and cut apple. Place in saucepan and cover with water. Boil until soft. Drain, cool and puree in a blender (or food processor). Peel banana and mash in a bowl. Add to apple mixture and stir (puree again if necessary). Add a pinch of cinnamon.
Yogurt Berry Swirl
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
Pinch of cinnamon
Puree fruit in blender or food processor. Pour into saucepan and simmer over medium heat (5 minutes). When puree thickens, pour into bowl and cool. Swirl puree into plain yogurt and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Save Money & Time
For the price of one jar of organic pureed carrots (good for only one meal) you could buy a bunch of actual carrots and make meals for days! One of best reasons to make baby food at home is that you can whip up a big batch and freeze servings for future meals. And just like that you’ve saved yourself loads of prep time! Another bonus is that the family can eat versions of the same meal. Make baked potatoes for the grown ups and mashed for the kids. Serve up chicken cutlets alongside pureed chicken and veggies. All that’s required is a blender or food processor, a one-time minor investment that you’ll use for years to come. Bonus: You won’t have to store and recycle baby food jars.
Chicken, Rice & Sweet Potato Blend (8-10 months)
½ cup cooked, chopped chicken (boneless)
¼ cup cooked brown rice
1 peach (pitted, peeled and steamed)
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon water or fruit juice
In a bowl mix everything together and pour into blender. Puree to desired texture.
Made With Love
There’s no question that cooking for your family is a commitment, but the payoffs are huge. You get to run the show by choosing healthy, and delicious ingredients and even opting to prep for future meals. From the get go, your youngest is experiencing dishes made with love and devotion – and certainly, there’s no beating that!
Thank you for reading. Have you made your own baby food before? If so, what have you made? Feel free to let us know the recipes in the comments 🙂