Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Making your own baby food

Is your sweet little one reaching the age to start solids?  Have you tossed around the idea of making your own food for  your little one?  You don't have to buy the special "baby food making blenders", all you need is a blender/food processor, and something to store/freeze the food in.  

Because I have lived the chemist's life I know what kind of leaching is possible in plastic, and generally avoid it whenever I can, especially when heating.  I knew I wanted to store the food I made in glass jars, but not all glass jars are safe to freeze (if you're planning on freezing).  

These are the jars I chose: 
Ball 4oz quilted glass jars with lids.

Look for these locally, after I ordered them online I found them at the local grocery store 3 miles from my house.  

My tips: 
Start simple.   

I told my pediatrician that we were making our own baby food, he told me not to make my own carrots because the nitrates in the soil are too high.  Maybe mention this to your doctor to see what they say...

If you're able, shop organic.  Start with the simple one ingredient foods, like these from wholesome baby food:

Avocado - a great first food for baby, avocados burst with essential fats and nutrients that a growing baby needs. Smooth and creamy, avocados are easily digested and well tolerated by most babies!
Vitamins:  A, C, Niacin, Folate
Minerals: Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium

1. Peel and take out the pit of a ripe avocado - do not cook
2. Cut “meat” out and mash with a fork
3. There should be no need to use a machine as just like bananas, avocados have a very soft consistency and texture. Avocados do not need to be cooked
4. Add formula/breast milk or water to thin or add cereal (if desired) to thicken up. 

Bananas - bananas are another great first food for your baby. Research indicates that bananas and their mucosal properties actually help coat the tummy and help aid in digestion. Bananas are sweet, which may help baby more readily accept the first food experience. Learn more about bananas and if it's true that sweet fruits and veggies should not be introduced first.
Vitamins:  A, C, Folate
Minerals: Potassium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Magnesium, Calcium

1. Peel a ripe banana - do not cook
2. Place banana in a food processor/food mill or blender and puree
3. You can also mash the banana in a bowl using a regular fork – heat in microwave for 25 seconds prior to mashing for extra softness
4. Add formula/breast milk or water to thin or add cereal (if desired) to thicken up.

Organic Brown Rice Cereal - Did you know that baby's first food does not have to be a commercial infant rice cereal? Many pediatric resources are acknowledging the fact that avocado, banana and sweet potato make great first foods for baby.
If you decide to make homemade baby cereal, make it with brown rice (organic if preferred). Whole grains are more healthy and nutritious for your baby (and for the whole family). Learn more about whole grains. You may also be interested in reading our Cereal FAQ explaining what types of grains to use, how long they may be stored and more.
1/4 c. rice powder (organic brown rice ground in blender or food processor)
1 cup water
1. Bring liquid to boil in saucepan. Add the rice powder while stirring constantly.
3. Simmer for 10 minutes, whisking constantly, mix in formula or breast milk and fruits if desired
Serve warm.

Vitamins: A, C, Folate
Minerals: Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium

1. Peel and cut into chunks so as to avoid the little seed portion.
2. Steam gently until tender;
3. Place in a blender/food processor and puree until smooth. You may be able to just use a fork too.
4. Use the leftover cooking water if needed but Pears tend to be very runny and watery without adding liquid - Add some baby cereal to thicken if needed. 

Acorn or Butternut Squash (winter)

1. Cut acorn, hubbard, or butternut squash in half, scoop out seeds
2. Place an inch of water in a baking pan, then place squash halves "face" down in the pan. Check on water level while baking
3. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the “shell/skin” puckers and halves feel soft then scoop squash “meat” out of the shell
4. Place squash "meat" into your choice of appliance for pureeing and begin pureeing.
5. Add water as necessary to achieve a smooth, thin consistency.
6. You can also peel the squash, scoop out the seeds and then cut into chunks and boil/steam until tender (like when boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes)
7. Follow steps 4 and 5 

Yams/Sweet Potato

Vitamins: A (24,877 mg ), C, Folate
Minerals: Potassium, Sodium, Selenium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Calcium

1. Wash and poke holes in sweet potato with fork then wrap sweet potatoes in tin foil - do not peel for baking/microwaving. (you can also do this in the microwave - only use plastic wrap and cook for 8 minutes on high or until tender)
2. Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes or until soft.

3. OR
4. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into small chunks
5. Place chunks into a pan with just enough water to slightly cover potato
6. "Steam" boil until tender, be sure to check on the water level.
7. Reserve any left over water to use for thinning out the sweet potatoes
8. If you have baked your sweet potato, remove skins and use liquid from your preferred source
9. Place sweet potato into your choice of appliance for pureeing and begin pureeing.
10. Add the reserved water or other liquid as necessary to achieve a smooth, thin consistency minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.

More First Foods & Homemade Baby Food Recipes

Mango (6-8 months - sometimes over 8 months - learn more about Mango)

Vitamins:  A (1262 IU in one cup.), C, E, K, Folate
Minerals:  Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium

1 Ripe Mango
Peel, Deseed and mash Mango until smooth

Add formula/breast milk or water to thin or add cereal (if desired) to thicken up.

Apples (Applesauce)
Vitamins: A, C, Folate
Minerals: Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium

This recipe is written so that you may use any amount of apples you wish.
1. Peel, core and cut apple into slices/chunks
2. Place slices or chunks into a pan with just enough water to slightly cover apples
3. Boil/steam until tender; be sure to check on the water level and stir. 4. Apples may be mashed with a potato masher to achieve a smooth applesauce consistency. If your masher will not achieve a puree type of consistency, then follow steps 5 – 7
5. Reserve any left over water to use for thinning out the apples
6. Place into your choice of appliance for pureeing and begin pureeing.
7. Add the reserved water as necessary to achieve a smooth, thin puree
8. Add cereal (if desired) to thicken up the
9. Ask your pediatrician about adding some cinnamon for new tastes.

HINT.  You may also buy an "Adult" jar of Natural applesauce from your local grocers.  Make sure you buy Natural Applesauce however. Read the labels if you are unsure.  The only ingredients should be apples and water or just apples.  A few companies may add ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or citric acid to their Natural Applesauce; this is fine.

Salt and sugar are not needed when making baby food. Omit these items, preferably at ALL times, in your baby's meals. Other spices such as cinnamon, garlic powder, pepper etc. may be introduced as early as 7 months with your pediatricians consult.  Never feed raw honey to a baby until they are over a year of age because of the risk of botulism.  

Remember, always consult with your pediatrician regarding introducing solid foods to your baby and specifically discuss any foods that may pose allergy risks for your baby.

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  1. I have made all my babies food...love the Ball jar idea...I'm always trying to figure out appropriately sized glass containers for babies foor. My doctor told me the same thing regarding carrots and nitrates..so, we just avoided them. Like you I started with avocados...still a fav. of my kids. I actually found it fun to try new foods out on my babies. When mine got old enough for finger foods a great tip that I got was to crush up cheerios...I used a lower sodium organic version...and roll the slippery food chunks (like avocados or peaches) the the dust to make it easier for baby to pick up.....great post!

  2. I make all of my own baby food and freeze in a silicone ice cube tray. After frozen, I remove and place in freezer bags. Freezing in jars would be nice also...especially when the child eats larger portions. You can always mix your foods after each ingredient has been introduced separately.
    Thanks for sharing! Very helpful,

  3. Thanks for sharing. My wife and I make our own food as well. I noticed eggs weren't on the list so I wanted to share her recent post on them. Let us know what you think if you get a chance. http://www.ordinaryparent.com/advice/making-your-own-baby-food-eggs/

  4. Thanks for your good thoughts! And I look forward to catching up with everyone!