Baby Food 101

As a dietitian mama, I believe one of the best gifts you can give your children other than unconditional love, is a healthy relationship with food.  As parents, we play an important role in building their palates for the rest of their lives. One way to influence your babies eating habits is to make your own baby food. Not only is making your own baby food easy, its also fun and exciting watching the cute facial expressions when they try new flavors and textures for the first time.

 Why make your own Baby Food?

 1). More nutritious

When you prepare your own baby food you control the ingredients such as sugar and salt. Making home made food allows you to choose seasonal ingredients pick at their peak harvest, improving the nutritional value. You can also add breast milk or iron fortified formula to your baby’s food instead of water.  Even if you decide to buy package organic food ,its most likely been cooked at high temperatures  which affects the nutritional value of some vegetables and fruit.

2). Variety

Preparing your own food allows you to add more variety to your baby’s diet. For example, you don’t see avocado in baby jars. You can also get creative and add many different foods such as avocado and banana.

 3). Taste

Making your own baby food allows you to use seasonal ingredients that are picked at harvest and full of flavour. Furthermore, you can experiment with different herbs, spices, and aromatics. By exposing your little one to different flavours you will expand her palate and she will be more likely to try and accept new foods in her toddler years.

 4).Texture

You can alter the texture of her food based on her developmental skills. In the beginning you can puree her food with breast milk or formula so its smooth without any lumps.  Once your baby has graduated from a smooth pureed consistency you can add less fluid to make it thicker and chunkier.

 5). Economical

Making your own baby food is more economical. Jarred baby food can cost up to 10x more than making your own baby food.

 6).  Fresh ingredients

Making your baby food is fresher than store bought food, including organic brands, some canned foods maybe older than your baby. Furthermore, jarred baby food has been heat processed at high temperatures which may destroy many of the vitamins and minerals found in food.  You can store fresh unopened baby food in the fridge for 7 days and in the freezer for  3 months.

 7).  Better quality ingredients

Its reassuring knowing what goes into your baby’s tummy whether its organic, local, seasonal or all of the above.

 Kitchen Equipment:

You don’t need any fancy kitchen equipment, you’ll find you already have most of the items.

1).Steamer basket or insert

2). Medium size saucepan

3). Food processor , blender or immersion blender

4). Potato masher

5). Spatulas

6). Coffee grinder to grind rice, oats.

7). Storage containers

8). Ice cube trays

 Getting started:

1). Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Remove  seeds, and cores.

2). Boil, steam, or bake fruit and vegetables until soft. Boil or steam at a low/ medium heat to prevent the loss of vitamins and minerals.

3). Place  food into food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency.

4).  Cool and place in storage container or ice cube trays.

Recipes:

Apples, Pears, & Cinnamon:

 

apples and pears with connamon

This is a favorite in our house, even though we are past the pureed stage I still make this recipe and add it to the girls plain yogurt. I leave some of the peel on for extra nutrition and buy organic apples because they are at the top of EWG’s list for the most pesticide contaminated fruit.

 Ingredients:

3 Organic gala apples

2 Bartlett pears

1/2 cup of water

Cinnamon to taste

Instructions:

Wash, peel (if you like), core, and slice apples into small pieces

Fill bottom of steamer pan with 2 inches of water

Steam over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until soft

Place in a blender and blend into desired consistency.

Store in a glass container for up to 1 week in the fridge

Very Blueberry:

This is another favorite and we still make it and add to plain yogurt. Blueberries are full of antioxidants which are good for the whole family.

very blueberry

Ingredients:

1 cup of frozen blueberries

1/2 cup of water

 Instructions:

Fill bottom of steamer pan with water

Steam over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes

Place in a blender and blend into desired consistency

Store in a container for up to 1 week in the fridge

 Butternut squash, pears, and cinnamon

I like to think seasonal when making baby food, its a great way to introduce new flavors.

Butternut squash and cinnamon

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of butternut squash peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

2  Pears washed and sliced into cubes

Cinnamon to taste

1/2 cup of water

 Instructions:

Fill bottom of steamer pan with water

Steam over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes

Place in a blender and blend into desired consistency

Store in glass  container for up to 1 week in the fridge

Other favorites:

Avocado ( mash with a fork)

Kiwi and raisins ( steam and puree)

Carrots, apples, and broccoli (steam and puree)

Recommended blogs:

www.Simple bites.net

 www.Weelicious.com

Tips:

Wait 2-3 days before introducing new foods to make sure there is no allergic reaction.

Offer iron rich foods with all meals

Remember to follow your baby’s cues for fullness.

Always sit with your child while eating, for choking precautions.

 I hope you find this developmental stage fun and exciting. May your family have many happy meals together.

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