There are many reasons more and more parents have started making their own baby food, as we discussed in this article but wanting to make your own baby food and knowing how to make your own baby food are not necessarily one in the same. We’re not going to talk about why this is an appealing option today. Instead we’re going to focus on how to make your own baby food. We’re going to talk about what you need and walk you through buying the right ingredients to make sure your baby is healthy.
What Do I Need to Make My Own Baby Food?
Before we talk about the process, we need to make sure you have the right tools for the job. Don’t worry though. You probably aren’t going to have to go out and buy a bunch of new products you’ll only use a few times. Most of the tools you need to make your own baby food can be found in the average kitchen although there are specialized tools you can opt to buy instead. This is a good option for families that have multiple young children, care for multiple young children or who plan to have more children in the future but buying these products isn’t actually necessary. You can use something you already have in most cases. Okay, let’s start talking tools.
First and foremost, you’re going to need a tool for pureeing your food. Soft foods like sweet potatoes and bananas can easily be pureed with a fork but for other foods, you’re going to need something to grind up your food with. A blender or food processor is a great option here and is what many parents will opt for. Using a food processor or blender allows you to make larger quantities at one time which makes this the ideal option if you’re planning to make food and store it. For smaller quantities though, the blender or processor might be a little too much.
Hand blenders can be a great option for parents as long as you have or buy a good one. Sometimes hand blenders have a hard time contending with solid foods but they can be great for softer foods or used in combination with other tools. Hand blenders are great for small tasks as well as larger ones so they might be the ideal option if you’ve gone with a blender or food processor for bigger jobs because you can then use the hand blender for smaller jobs. The main difference between a hand blender and a regular blender is the fact that hand blenders are put into the food instead of having the food put in them.
Another great option that is popular among a lot of parents who make their own baby food is the hand turned food mill. These handy little tools often come with various blades that you can choose from to get different textures for your baby’s food and because they don’t require electricity, you can take them pretty near anywhere in the house. This is a great option if you have multiple children and can’t necessarily stay confined to an area with an outlet while you’re making your baby food.
Now, let’s talk about the specialty tools you can buy that are designed with making baby food in mind. A baby food grinder is similar to the hand turned food mill in that it is portable and doesn’t require electricity but it is different in one key way. There are no different blades with baby food grinders so you’re not able to adjust the texture of the food you make. This can be a pretty significant drawback as most parents are going to want to change the texture of the food as their baby grows and starts moving towards eating solids.
One of the best options out there is the all-in-one baby food maker. You really won’t need anything else if you buy one of these. Some all-in-one baby food makers will even defrost and reheat food you’ve already made and stored but that isn’t necessarily the case with all of them. So what do these tools do? Well, they start by steaming the food you want to make your baby food out of and once that is done, it purees the food for you, eliminating the need for food grinders entirely. They tend to be a bit on the expensive side and don’t do anything you can’t do yourself but they will make the whole process much easier and less time consuming for baby food making parents.
Aside from something to prepare the food in, you really won’t need any other tools although it is a good idea to have spare containers around in case there are leftovers. If you’re preparing food to store, you’re going to want to have sometime to store the food in. Tupperware containers and ice cube trays work well for storage. Make sure you date and label everything you store though. If you want to go that extra mile, prepare your food with a calendar close by and store your good in daily portions with the “made” date and the “use” date both marked on the container. This helps you stay organized and lets you know when it’s time to make more food.
What Should I Put in the Baby Food I Make?
Now that you know your options for tools, it’s time to talk recipes. Before we start, I want to point out that it’s always best to choose fresh fruits and vegetables for your baby’s food. They taste better, can be easier to work with and don’t have the chemical content canned or frozen vegetables often have. If fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t available, choose frozen. If your baby is under three months old, you should always opt for frozen carrots, green beans, beets, spinach and squash if you decide to use these ingredients in your baby food because frozen will have a lower nitrate content than fresh. You can opt for organic foods as well. While organic fruits and vegetables can be more expensive, we’re dedicating an upcoming article on how to buy organic food for less so you can definitely buy organic while still saving money.
As we mentioned a moment ago, nitrates can be a concern when you’re making your own baby food. Companies that make baby food test for nitrates but there are a few ways you can limit your baby’s exposure to nitrates even when you opt to make baby food yourself. You should avoid making baby good that contains green beans, beets, carrots, spinach or squash until your baby is older than three months old. It’s also a good idea to have your well water tested for nitrates. Your well water would be considered safe for babies if the nitrate content in the water is less than 10ppm. Fresh fruits and vegetables often have little in the way of nitrates but as they age, the content level rises. Make your baby food as soon as possible and freeze it. Freeze any extra servings right away as well to limit your baby’s nitrate exposure.
One of the most common questions parents have when making their own baby food is whether or not they should use salt to add a little flavor to their food. The answer to this one is simple. No! First, it just isn’t necessary. While you may like salt on your food, your baby doesn’t yet know that certain foods taste better with a little sprinkle of salt for flavor. Not only is it not necessary to add salt to your baby’s food, it could also be dangerous. There are many health concerns related to salt, high blood pressure and kidney failure being just two of those concerns, so giving salt to your baby just isn’t a good idea. In addition, if you start giving salt to your baby at such a young age, they could develop a dependency on it which makes it much more difficult to give them proper nutrition later on.
There are a lot of foods out there that have salt in them and should therefore not be added to any kind of food you make for your baby. These foods include:
- Marinated tofu or miso (really any type of food that uses soy as a protein)
- Buttermilk and other milk based drinks
- Many cold cereals (check the ingredients list. If the sodium content is greater than 200 milligrams it should be avoided)
- Various processed cheeses (American cheese, blue cheese, Roquefort cheese, Parmesan cheese, Feta cheese and cottage cheeses to name a few)
- Salad dressings
- Canned soups, chili and paste
- Canned vegetables
- Deli meats
- Instant cereals
- Frozen dinners
- Certain pancake mixes
- Butter or margarine with salt added
- Instant noodles, instant rice or instant potatoes
There are many other foods out there that contain salt. Your best bet is to check the ingredient list on any prepackaged food you want to give your baby. There may be a “no salt” version of whatever product you’re considering. Opt for that product over the product that contains salt.
Any food you have canned yourself is off limits for your baby. Fresh made food that you’ve frozen in containers is fine but canned food is not. This is an important distinction to make. Home canned foods may contain bacteria that could make your baby very ill so it should always be avoided. You also want to avoid giving your baby food that has been made with unpasteurized milk. Honey is also off limits as it may expose your baby to botulism which could harm or even kill your baby. If you opt to feed your baby food from a can or use ingredients in your baby food that has come from a can, make sure the can is not dented, bulging or defective in any way. Also make sure you check for expiration dates. It may be a bit over cautious but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
That’s it for today. Make sure you come back for a few great recipes for making your own baby food that will tell you exactly how to use all of the tools and ingredients we’ve talked about today.