I first tried making homemade baby food when our second daughter was born. Here’s the story, originally shared on May 11, 2007.
Did you realize that “parents who use processed baby food spend an average of $300 or more on baby food during their baby’s first year of life?” Whew, that’s a lot of money!
“Making baby food at home is extremely cost-effective. On average, baby food prepared at home can cost as little as $55 in the first year!!” (Source, the Pregnancy Store)
In other words, if you are the mother of a small baby, you can’t afford NOT to make baby food!
Our youngest daughter, Miss E, will soon celebrate her first birthday, and she has been enjoying homemade baby food since she first started solids at five months old. In fact, in the rare event that she’s given store-bought baby food, I can hardly get her to eat it! Making Miss E’s food has been highly rewarding for me because not only am I certain that she’s getting a healthy diet, it’s VERY cost efficient and easy to do!
Here are some simple tips to get you going, or, if you’re already making your baby’s food, to encourage you to keep on playing chef!
1-Cook or steam some of your little one’s favorite veggies and fruit. Yummy choices include sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, bananas, etc. The older your baby gets, the more you can vary his/her diet. I give Miss E oatmeal, rice, left-over casseroles, stews, etc. Just stay away from spicy items, of course, or food items that can be “gassy” (broccoli, beans, etc).
2-Puree prepared foods in a food processor; the younger your baby is the longer you’ll want to process it so there are no lumps. To thin veggies or fruits, I use unsweetened applesauce or 100% fruit juice (not fruit punch) or sometimes just plan old filtered water. If you’re breastfeeding, you can also use breast milk. I steer clear of yogurt and cow’s milk since lactose-intolerance runs on both sides of our families, but you can use milk products if your baby’s tummy can handle them.
3-If you’re going to serve the baby food right away, place it in an air tight bowl and store in the fridge. Otherwise, spoon food into ice cube trays and freeze for a few hours. Once your baby food is solid, remove from trays and store in freezer-safe containers or freezer bags. Baby food will keep for about three months in the freezer, but chances are you’ll use it up long before then!
A Few Tips
A single “cube” in an ice cube tray is approximately one ounce.
You can purchase baby food trays online or at some department stores.
I used plain old ice cube trays for a while, then recently purchased a set of Fresh Baby trays. The only perk about the trays vs. ice cube trays is that Baby Fresh trays have lids.
Baby Meal Ideas
You can make some yummy “baby meals” by combining your baby’s favorite foods together in the blender. For instance, I started feeding Miss E pureed oatmeal for breakfast to help her have good bowel movements when she was little; since bananas are great for cloth diapered babies (helps keep their bowels fibrous and easy to clean off the diapers), I pureed oatmeal and bananas together with apple juice for a delicious morning meal!
I’ve also added fruits like pears or peaches with oatmeal.
Other tasty combos are mixed veggies (carrots & peas, for instance), rice & veggies, or mixed fruit.
Making baby food is also a great way to use up left-overs… vegetable soups, chowders, and casseroles are especially easy to make into baby food. Just pop them in the blender then freeze!
A Few Updates from Kristy
The “baby” I referred to in this post is now 7 1/2 years old, so I’ve learned a thing or two about first foods since then!
Most whole foods resources I’ve read recommend not giving babies grains or dairy products until at least one year of age (some recommend waiting until two years of age).
My favorite foods to give my babies in the first year of life now include avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, buckwheat, and unsweetened applesauce.