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Making Your Own Baby Foods

August 8, 2012

Due to the fact that my child was exclusively breastfed, it really helped me realize how much of an influence healthy and nutritional foods are in relation to a life long positive association with food.  Breastfeeding has made me very aware of what I eat because I know I’m passing on all the nutrients from my diet to my sons body.  So I set out on a mission to research how to make my own baby food when D was about five months old.  I knew from the moment he was a wee one that I wanted to make his baby food but I didn’t know much else beyond that.  I first had read from my friends’ blog, Whole Parenting Family,   how much success she had making her own baby food following the book by Ruth Yaron called “Super Baby Food.”  So I ordered it and started reading it and jotting down notes!  The book has a plethora of information starting from the very beginning of prepping your kitchen, safety measures to take to making baby food and delves further into other ideas as your little one gets older and your family expands.  So it’s a book that I have been and will be referencing for many years to come!

I started by finding a good food processor/emulsifier that I could use for making baby food, as well as everyday food processing as well.  I followed her suggestions as to which foods to introduce first and each month following, as she has a table of foods suggested per month/age bracket as they grow.  I loved having the book for quick reference throughout our baby food making adventure.  She also has some great tips with regards to storing food, making batches to preserve for future dishes, ways to freeze foods, and much more.  I don’t think I would have had as great of success with making my own baby food without Ruth Yaron’s help!  So check her book out!  (I have not been paid for mentioning or suggesting her book!)

Another great resource that I referenced lots as well online is: http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/.  This site has a bunch of information about foods and when to introduce each food, recipes, tips and much more.  Since making your own baby food is becoming more and more popular, there are a lot more resources and websites available which is great!  There’s nothing better than giving your child a head start with good nutrition and associations with food than to feed them the real, fresh food instead of pre-packaged, processed food.  Just think of the difference in flavor – have you ever tried jarred baby food?  It doesn’t taste or look anything like its fresh counterpart.

1.  With regards to which kind of food grinder/processor to purchase – keep in mind that if you get one specifically made for making baby food (ie. Baby Bullet or Bebea ) their going to be a lot more pricier and you won’t find yourself using it for more than a few months tops anyways).  Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing bad or wrong with such products – I am just a very frugal person whom makes sure that what I buy will be used lots.  Also, when you’re shopping around make sure to read the reviews – their your best friend when deciding on anything your purchasing.  🙂

2.  The second most important item you’ll need when making your own baby food is a steamer pot.  You’ll be steaming food constantly and will use it when you’re done with the baby food stage as well (ie. steaming carrots, broccoli, potatoes, etc.).  After shopping around I found a steamer insert for a regular size pot at IKEA for under $10 and it works perfectly for what I needed it for.  It isn’t one that lies deep in the pot; it hangs about 1/4 the way inside but works just fine for me.  When I was comparing prices for a steamer pot, it ranged from $30 – $50+, which really surprised me so I just went with the IKEA steamer tray instead.

3.  The third and just as crucial item you’ll need are ice cube trays to freeze the baby food in!  The regular, good ‘ol ice cube trays work just fine, however, if you’re one that’s vigilant about steering clear of BPA, there are some great trays out there on the market made just for homemade baby food.  Bebea has their own line of freezer trays, which are great since their silicone and easy to pop the cubes right out.  My personal favorite is made by Green Sprouts and is totally worth the extra few dollars, in my personal opinion!  Fresh ‘n Freeze also makes some great 2oz. reusable food storage containers that stack on top of each other to save room in your fridge or freezer.  I loved these little containers to store small portions of finger foods as D progressed beyond mashed baby food and their also great for travel too!

4.  You’ll also need some freezer storage bags to store each type of food.  I ended up washing and re-using the bags once or twice too to conserve more.  Most of the foods will last about two months in the freezer, which is the perfect amount of time since the baby food stage is short lived anyways.

5.  Some great ways to save even more money by making your own baby food – buy fruits and veggies when their on sale and in season, buy in bulk (Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.), find a local food co-op, start your own garden, or see if there’s a near by Bountiful Baskets pickup.  I LOVE to get my basket each week from bountiful baskets – if you’ve never heard about it, it’s a food co-op where you order your basket and choose where/when you’d like to pick it up.  It’s 50/50 fruits and veggies of whichever is in season at the time.  You get a lot of fresh produce for $15!

6.  In our family, we wanted to eat better and healthier while not spending too much more on our groceries.  So when it comes to buying fresh produce, I’ll only buy the organic version if it’s on the “dirty dozen” list.  If you haven’t heard of this list, it includes: apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, and potatoes.  These twelve items are known to be the most pesticide and chemical ridden of all produce, so if you are able to, purchase the organic version.  For the “clean 15” list, check it out here.

When it comes to which kind of produce to purchase when making baby food – always go organic.  Since your little one is so young, it’s best to try and avoid feeding them produce which is known to have high amounts of pesticides and other chemicals.

There’s an entire market now that is solely dedicated to homemade baby food products – from glass containers, to freezer trays, to baby food makers, and more – they’ve thought of it all.  So just make sure to do your research online, read the product reviews, ask other parents, and compare prices to ensure that the bottom line cost outweighs purchasing pre-made baby food.  Even though in the end, making your babies food is SO much better for them no matter what the price.  However, with the ever increasing costs of raising a child, saving some money while making your own baby food has numerous benefits – financially and physically.  In the end, you may find out that you’ll break even in terms of the costs but long term benefits are ten fold in comparison to serving pre-packaged baby food anyways!  And the joy you’ll endure by serving freshly prepared food to your child’s developing pallet is priceless, rewarding, and SO worth the extra effort at the end of the day.  🙂

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