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Food allergies in children seem to be on the rise, and many studies link the source of the adverse reactions to chemicals and other ingredients in processed food. A simple solution for healthier baby food is to make your own at home.
Homemade baby food is not only devoid of chemicals — it is also more cost effective if you follow some simple guidelines. You can also save even more if you use produce from your garden and stock up when fruits and vegetables are on sale at the store.
No special tools are required to make your baby’s food, and you’ll know exactly the source of all the ingredients. It does take a little extra time to prepare baby food from scratch. The reduced expense for medications and doctor’s visits plus the decreased worry associated with food allergies is reason alone to invest the time in home cooking.
Making your own baby food can also introduce your child to the foods they will be eating as a toddler. Getting them used to the tastes that the entire family enjoys may help eliminate fussy eating at a later stage.
You simply use a food mill or food processor to puree what you’ve already cooked. Are mashed potatoes a favorite of your brood? Just mix in some of your breast milk and voila! Easy baby food is born. Even meat and poultry can be ground or pureed after the skin is removed.
Here’s a path to getting started:
Where to Begin?
Choose the freshest fruits and veggies possible, preferably organic, then wash thoroughly. Cook the vegetables until soft. Steaming or microwaving maintains the highest concentration of nutrients, but you can also bake or boil them.
If puree is too thick, add some liquid. Water, formula, or breast milk works well.
Vegetables you might start out with include peas, sweet potatoes, asparagus tips, and avocado. However, you have to be a little careful with some vegetables for infants under three months old. Nitrates from the soil in which they are grown may be at a high concentration in beets, green beans, squash, and spinach. The American Academy of Pediatrics actually advises against using these until the child’s system is able to handle them more easily at four months. Note that commercial baby food is tested for nitrates.
A Note About Seasoning
The old notion that babies only like bland food is not true. Like adults, they can taste flavors and enjoy some variety. Gentle seasoning, especially with herbs, will prepare them even more for family menus.
It’s sugar that you don’t need to add to homemade baby food. Fruits that are naturally ripe will be sweet enough on their own and don’t need anything added. Never use honey or corn syrup as it can lead to death through a fatal type of botulism.
With a little bit of effort and by integrating your infant into your family’s mealtime routine, you’ll be able to create baby food that is healthier, plus you’ll save money in both the short and long term.
written by: Sarah Boisvert
Sarah Boisvert writes on a variety of topics including health, nutrition, and social media.