Homemade Baby Food: A Simple Guide
We all know that little kids hate their greens, isn't that right? No matter how many peas and little tufts of broccoli or fluffy piles of spinach you put on their plate, chances are most of it will end up on the floor instead of in their mouths, and not by accident either!
Okay, okay, but hear me out. Research actually says that children are not naturally averse to veggies, but rather that they tend to form long-term preferences for certain foods based on what they were fed in their earliest years. It also appears that babies are very open-minded to new and different kinds of food, but their little minds start to close to variety as soon as they reach their toddler years! And as we all know, those early cuisine opinions are very strong! So it is in everyone's best interest to start feeding your baby a wide variety of healthy, fresh foods as soon as you are able.
When can I start introducing new foods to my baby?
All the child experts say that babies need to consume only breastmilk for their first six months. That is because breast milk is not just sustenance for babies, it also provides them with many immunity-boosting components they can't get anywhere else.
After the six month mark, it becomes a personal decision when to start weaning. However, considering that infancy is the best time to lay down a healthy eating foundation, introducing other foods alongside breast milk after six months is not unreasonable.
Why homemade baby food?
Baby food made by hand with whole, healthy foods tends to be more nutritious than the commercially processed stuff. Plus, you know exactly what your baby is consuming.
Yes, making baby food by hand takes more time, and this is definitely a downside when being a mom is already so hectic. If it's too much to make it all by hand, introduce both homemade and store-bought food. You don't have to go crazy with it either. Mashed avocado or bananas are perfect first foods. And if you make it in bulk you can freeze it in ice trays and defrost later.
The kind of food you make for your baby should reflect their age and ability to consume solids. Initial foods should be thinner to make it easier for your baby to become accustomed to the new solid cuisine. But this can be achieved easily by adding water to the puree.
4 staples for homemade baby food
Vegetables and fruits
Before processing, chop and steam vegetables. Any food processor or blender makes short work of steamed veggies. Add water as desired to create a thinner consistency for infants. Easy peas-y, you have some quality veggie baby food!
Brown rice, millet, or oatmeal are all outstanding candidates for a whole grain meal for baby. Just ¼ cup will do the trick. Put any of these three grains in a blender or food processor before boiling so that the consistency is as smooth as possible. Grains can last in the refrigerator for two to three days, or up to a month in the freezer.
Grind cooked chicken, fish or meat in a food processor or blender. Serve it alone or mix with pureed veggies and grains. Keep in mind that babies should be 7-8 months before eating most poultry, meat and fish.
Homemade stock is full of vitamins and minerals. It aids digestion and builds bones. Stock can be consumed from the bottle after the age of 9 months, or it can be added to your baby's other homemade foods for additional nutrition.
Any way you slice it, homemade baby food is a winner. It's more nutritious for your baby, and it helps introduce all kinds of flavors and vitamins during an age when their little minds are still open to these sorts of things (and more importantly, before they decide that vegetables and other healthy things are yucky). Bon appetit!