Thursday, September 23, 2010

Guest Blogger - Homemade Baby Food

After reconnecting on Facebook, I realized a friend of mine from high school has the same philosophies about childhood nutrition that I do. Since she is still knee-deep in making baby food, I asked Kate if she would be willing to write a guest blog on the topic. Thank you Kate for your contribution! 

The foods you serve your child now lay the foundation for his eating habits for the rest of his life.  Homemade baby food allows you to establish healthy eating habits early as well as an openness to flavors and new tastes.
Now, in order to explain my decision to make all my children's baby food I feel I have to give a little background- a slight ranting, but I promise I will make it concise.  I am a mother of two wonderfully-made children.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I was approached many times with the question of whether or not I planned to breastfeed.  I felt a little taken aback by such directness because I didn't even know what I was in for baby wise much less how I planned to feed him, and did I really want to talk about it to strangers?!  So, I decided to research- as most new moms-to-be do.  I read and decided to take a class that taught the ins and outs of breastfeeding.  I was enlightened but still felt firm in my decision that I would try it and if it didn't work out that was ok, too.  Then, the big day came- EARLY!  My son was premature. His system was so very delicate- he was so very delicate!  I instantly became uber protective, as any mom does.  The moment I saw him I knew it was up to me- I had to do what was best for him.  They are born so simplistic and pure.  Why would I put anything man made and synthetic into his perfect little system?  That's where it all began.  I nursed my son for 15 months, through 13 months of colic and severe reflux.  I eliminated EVERYTHING from my diet to keep his very sensitive digestive system happy.  So why when faced with solid foods would I choose anything different than what I had been doing? I could not fathom, after months of only breast milk, putting preservatives in his belly.  That is how I came to my decision to make my own baby food.  

Now that this has been said and you get my deep passion for the health and well being of my children, let's get on tho the big question.  Why make baby food when there are so many commercial brands available?  That's simple- PERKS!

  • For one, it is cheaper!  I buy organic fruits and vegetables in bulk from my local farmers market (giving back!), supermarket and box stores- like Costco.  For what you pay for a few jars of pre-made food you can make food for a month or more.
  • It produces less waste.  After I prepare my foods I freeze them in ice cube trays and store them in bulk in quart size zip-lock bags- no glass jars to dispose of. 
  • It contains no chemicals or additives and it is fresher.  It gives you an opportunity to sample with flavors and combinations that they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. 
  • It's SIMPLE
  1. Steam any peeled fruit or vegetable until it is soft enough to me mashed with a fork.  OR, bake unpeeled until skins/peels pucker  (After your child is about 8 months old many fruits can be blended without prior steaming or baking depending on the sensitivity of his tummy). 
  2. Blend- add water to achieve desired consistency.  Breast milk can also be used but it does not store for as long as food thinned with water.  For blending I use a regular old blender and it works just fine!  No need to splurge on a fancy baby food blender.  Also, the Magic Bullet rocks for smaller portions.
  3. Pour/spoon into ice cube trays, cover with parchment paper (works best with no sticking) and freeze.
  4. Once frozen, put cubes into labeled freezer storage bags.  I personally prefer to use one quart size bag per ice cube tray to save room in my freezer.
*I must state that homemade baby food will not be the same perfectly smooth consistency as commercial baby food- don't stress!
*If fresh produce is not readily available go frozen- often frozen fruits and vegetables have more nutritional value than ones in the produce section because they are frozen shortly after picking thus retaining more of their vitamins and nutrients.

It must be said that there are rules about what foods need to be steamed or baked- some foods are harder to digest and can cause gas and tummy upset.  Still, there are others that need no preparation at all!  There are also guidelines that I suggest be followed about the age at which foods are appropriate to be introduced- food allergies are a big deal!  One website I continually find helpful for guidelines and simple preparations is It is my go-to-guide for all questions and concerns and a great website for those just beginning their voyage into homemade baby food.  Now, for those who feel confident or a little daring or just have a tot with refined tastes I recommend This site is written by a chef who now has a baby and wanted to create culinary greatness for him!  It is full of fun recipes that my children go gaga over.

My voyage began with apples, then pears.  My first batches were simplistic- nothing added.  As my babies grew and I felt they could take on a little more digestively, I spiced things up a bit- made apples with lemon peel (they must be removed) and cinnamon and pears with balsamic vinegar and vanilla- a HUGE hit.  From there I did combinations.  Since I freeze my food into ice cubes I could do blends.  For example, two apple cubes and one blueberry cube for breakfast, a carrot cube, an apple cube and a pear cube for lunch, etc.  Also, the cube form makes it easy to adjust amounts as you baby grows.  For different textures, thickening and to make sure my breastfed babies are getting their iron I also add cereal or rice to the blends. 

I make everything from sweet potatoes to papaya.  Our favorites include: Squash (butternut or winter is the most tasty), sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas, plums (but I use them sparingly- they are a laxative!), peaches, apples, avocado (which do not need to be cooked and are great paired with banana for a nice banacado breakfast!), mango, papaya, and nectarines.  When your baby begins finger foods you can dice the fruits and veggies, give them a gentle steaming and flash freeze for storage in zip-lock freezer bags as well. 

One more wonderful advantage of homemade baby food is the ease of travel.  Surprising fact for some, I am sure.  It truly is easy- all you need is a few reusable travel containers (Munchkin and Sassy make good containers that are easy to find at local retailers).  Before I leave for an outing I place some yummy ice cube combos and some rice or cereal if desired into my travel containers, grab a spoon and I am off.  By the time meal time rolls around the food is defrosted and ready to be devoured.  If I am headed straight to lunch I might microwave it for a second before I go. Ta-da- travel made easy!

Homemade baby food truly is a simple way to do a very healthy thing for your baby.  I enjoy the process and feel good knowing I am providing the first step on the path to healthy choices and a healthy lifestyle.

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