Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Homemade baby food

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am the mother of an 8 month old baby girl.  I decided that I would make her baby food when it was time for her to eat solid food.  Part of the decision to do this is my mistrust of baby food manufacturers and partly that I am cheap thrifty.  Making baby food is not difficult to do, less expensive and produces far less waste since there is no packaging.  Essentially, you are making purees.  You control what goes into it and how fine or chunky it is.

Always check with your child's doctor first before starting solids.  My daughter, E. was exclusively breast fed until she was 5 months old.  First I gave her rice and oat cereals.  She tolerated those well and I tried single fruits and vegetables, one at a time.  Her first solid foods were store bought little pouches of sweet potato or pear.  These are still great for when you're traveling since you can squeeze out what you want and reseal them.  But for home meals I make her food.

To make homemade baby food you'll need a steam basket, cooking pot and blender, or a special appliance for steaming and processing the food.  I was given one of these special machines but I was planning on just using a steamer and blender originally.  Buy the best produce you can; organic is best.  Since you're going to the bother of making your baby's food, don't buy food that pesticides were used on. I buy organic at the market or use produce from our farm share that was grown without pesticides.  Wash the food, cut it into smallish chunks and steam it.  Steaming preserves vitamins better than boiling in water.  You can bake some fruits and vegetables.  Apples, pears and sweet potatoes are particularly good baked because they caramelize a bit and taste sweeter.  Once the food is cooked, it's time to puree it.  You can use a blender or a food processor.  You can also use a food mill if that's what you've got.  My little machine blends the food up as well as cooks it.  I reserve the cooking water from the machine's bowl and add it a little at a time until I get the consistency that I want.  If you're using the steamer basket method just add water. Think apple sauce, that's how loose it should be.

Let the puree cool and pour it into molds.  I use ice cube trays.  I like the size of the cubes of food it makes.  Store the food in the freezer until it's solid and then remove the cubes to freezer bags.

To feed my baby I just take out a couple of cubes of different vegetables or fruits and put them in a microwavable bowl.  I heat it for about 40-50 seconds and stir in some oat cereal and water.  At first you should try single foods to make sure the baby can tolerate them.  Once you're sure the baby isn't allergic to any foods you can then combine those foods together into more complex tasting meals.  That's it!  So far, E. has had sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, pear, apple, broccoli, spinach and legumes.  I've made lentils and rice on the stove top and pureed them with vegetables for lentil-rice-sweet potato and split mung bean with basil.  Herbs (organic) and some spices can enhance the foods.  I've added cinnamon to apples, pears, carrots and sweet potatoes.  Just don't add any sugar or salt to the food.  It's not healthy for the baby and I think it's wise to let the baby taste food in an unadulterated state first.

No comments:

Post a Comment