When it came time for me to feed Brayden solids, I was a bit torn. The ease of store bought foods was appealing to me, but I had heard so many stories about how the babies didn’t like “real” food after eating the store bought stuff for so long, not to mention it’s not as fresh as making your own. But making my own food scared me. I was already so overwhelmed with everything I had to do in one day with a baby, how could I add one more thing to my list? Thankfully my husband was super supportive and agreed that he would give me time on Sundays to work in the kitchen to make Brayden’s food.
As I got going, it really was not nearly as hard or time consuming as I thought it would be, and I felt good knowing I knew exactly what was going into my little person’s mouth! It definitely gave me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that I would never have gotten had I bought jarred food. And as a huge plus, the cost savings was quite significant. My husband estimated that we were spending approximately half the money we would have if we had purchased store bought baby food. If you’re nearing the 6 month mark and haven’t decided on what to do, I highly suggest you at least try making your own baby food. Give it a 2 week shot. If it’s not for you, throw in the towel and stick to Gerber.
If this is your baby’s first encounter with solids, start slow. Chances are, they won’t like the taste or texture, and will make some funny faces (be sure to have your camera handy!). If your baby is a porker like my son was, you’ll be scrambling to make bigger batches of the green mushies for them to devour! Once you have a good meal time set and your baby is accepting solids with glee, set aside 1 to 2 afternoons a month to make large batches of baby food. I usually picked 4-5 fruits and veggies to make for each cooking session, and it gave me over 2 weeks worth of food.
If you are thinking about becoming Chef Momma, there are really only two necessities: a blender/food processor, and good storage. I used the food processor that came with my blender, but I have friends who have used their regular blender, one of the smaller food processors and even the handheld milkshake blenders! Don’t feel pressured into purchasing a super duper do it all contraption. Those are great if you have the money to throw at it, but aren’t a necessity to get the job done. To store the food I just used ice cube trays and freezer bags. There are containers that are specific to baby food, but I went the old fashioned way, both to save space and money, and for simplicity‘s sake. Once you have those items, and your afternoon comes, here are the steps to a smooth baby food making factory success:
-Purchase fresh whenever possible. This is ideal, but obviously if you are starting solids in the middle of winter you are somewhat limited on fresh produce. If fresh is not available purchase frozen.
- Cook all foods until they are VERY tender. Steaming preserves most of the vitamins/minerals, but I never had a steamer so I just cooked it on the stove or in the microwave. I reserved the water from cooking to add to the blended food if it needed thinning. This puts back some of those vitamins that might have been lost in the cooking process. You could also substitute formula or breast milk for the water when you’re thinning out, which also adds valuable nutrients to the food, and also can add a bit of flavor that the baby is used to eating. Just be sure to let your husband know that you put the breast milk/formula in there though; I forgot to tell mine, and he took a heaping spoonful of sweet potatoes and exclaimed “These are SO creamy when you blend them!” Little did he know he just had a nice helping of sweet potatoes and breast milk…..
- Blend to your desired consistency. This one will require the most amount of work on your part, especially in the beginning. Every baby is different on what consistency they like. Some babies will want their food very runny, while others prefer more texture. Try what you think is best, and if you notice your baby preferring it differently, you can always thin it out or add more solids to make it more desireable for your wee one.
- Once it’s blended to your liking, pour it into the ice cube trays and freeze. Each cube is approximately equal to 1 oz.
- Once they are frozen pop all the cubes out of the trays and place them in freezer zip top baggies, dating the outside so you know when you made that batch. Most foods will store for about 3 months, and some will store even longer.
- I purchased small plastic containers to dethaw the food in… the take and toss worked the best, as the small take and toss containers are 4 oz, which is approximately the amount of food that is in a stage 2 store bought babyfood jar. Just a few seconds in the microwave would do it! If we were going out to eat, I would heat before we left, or if we were going to be out for a while, I’d just throw them in the container frozen and then ask the waiter if they could heat it in the kitchen. Always make sure you test the temperature before feeding your little one!
- Be creative! The best thing about making your own food is that you can mix and match veggies and fruits into literally hundreds of combinations! We started out with the things we eat the most as a family, knowing he’d need to get used to those, but I also offered other things like mango, butternut squash, acorn squash—things that we don’t eat on a day to day basis. The more you offer to your baby, the more their palette will be accustomed to, and hopefully it will stave off those picky eater toddler syndromes that most kids go through.
Finally, don’t kick yourself if you end up realizing that making your own baby food is not for you. Your baby needs you to be relaxed and at ease, otherwise he or she will reject the food you give regardless of it’s origins. I still fed store bought food occasionally, and Brayden is still reaching all his milestones like the rest of the organic feed, homemade baby food loving children his age. If you do chose to make your own baby food, I promise you, you won’t regret it!