I can’t tell you how excited I was to be able to make my own baby food. I’m not opposed to store-bought (I do have some organic jars on hand) but the idea of preparing my daughter’s food myself just had a certain appeal to it.
There are various methods of introducing solid foods to your baby. My approach is personal preference and like anything new, make sure to consult your pediatrician prior to introducing foods. Also, I can’t stress enough the importance of reading up on different methods to find which one is right for you. As in our case, we don’t approach it via one single method but a combination of spoon fed as well as baby-led weaning (these and other great info for introducing solid foods can be found here). I’ll get a little more into our method below.
Once you’ve been given the okay by your consulting pediatrician, feel you have a comfortable approach and more importantly see the signs your baby is ready to begin trying solids you’re good to go! The thing to remember at the early stages is babies don’t require these foods for nourishment. Introducing single fruits, veggies, dairy, nuts, etc. at certain stages (see chart below for age recommendations) are solely for the purpose of testing for allergies, adjusting baby’s palette to new tastes and textures as well as eventually teaching them how to feed themselves. No matter which method you choose your baby is only suggested to have about two tablespoons of food(s) per day in between a regular feeding. At this point your baby still requires the dense calories and nutrients from either breast milk or formula.
So this is where (and why) introducing solid food is so fun!
Since baby is just testing the waters discovering new flavors and new textures you can really set yourselves up for some laughs as baby tries things like apples and green beans for the first time. I highly suggest having the camera ready for the puckered lips and squinty eyes that may occur. Note: Make sure to use a chair that has an adjustable back and proper feeding bib as they’ll likely end up with most of the food on them rather than in their mouth. Since initially you’ll just be introducing a single food at a time (we follow a three day rule before to moving onto the next) making them yourself requires just a few simple items. I LOVE and can’t recommend enough our Béaba Babycook. This all-in-one steamer and food processor cooks the food on an automatic timer, strains it and then blends it to the perfect texture. Their freezer-safe clickable storage containers make preparing extra so easy! Not to mention clean up is a cinch. This great gadget also comes on some pretty color choices that are an adorable addition for any kitchen!
I feel pretty lucky that my daughter likes food (no surprise there) so introducing organic purées like pumpkin, pears and beans have been fun to make. It also works well for me since I make smoothies almost daily so I will even reserve a little extra mashed beets or sweet potatoes to add into my smoothie. As I mentioned our approach is our own so not only do I purée a lot of the foods myself I’ve also used the Béaba to just rough chop things like avocado and banana (think softer fruits and veggies) which I will then set out in front of her so she can attempt to feed herself. As in baby-led weaning, soft foods are given so they can suck/mash on their own. Our approach is an in between as I do chop it up a bit prior to giving. She likes the varying texture but hasn’t quite mastered the concept of it being edible just yet. It’s a messy but fun process to be able to sit with her, either spoon feeding her banana or letting her slide the chunks around on the Bumbo tray while I sip my banana protein smoothie.
It’s a lot of trial and error, this parenting thing, but the important thing is finding what works for you as a family. Working together to create a happy, healthy lifestyle for your little one is what is most important. As I mentioned above, there are many ways to teach your baby new things and thus, creating a method that is most efficient for your family is key. Our approach works within our lifestyle and I hope that what I’ve shared is helpful and may inspire you when reaching that new milestone with your baby.
Tips when making baby food that I’ve found helpful:
- Use fresh, organic foods (not frozen).
- Portion out your servings and store the leftovers the fridge or freezer (I freeze anything I won’t be using within 48 hours. Frozen will last up to three months).
- Once you have tried several foods and had no allergic reaction you can try mixing. Note: do not mix foods if you haven’t tried them on their own yet. I like mixing apples/sweet potatoes, pumpkin/banana, green beans/brown rice, pear/banana, carrots/beets, apples/oatmeal.
- Defrost frozen purées by setting in the fridge overnight to thaw. This will avoid the potential for any bacteria growth when being left at room temperature.
- In the beginning you may find you need to process the food quite a bit to get it smooth. Adding a teaspoon of the reserved cooking water works well to get the smooth stage 1 texture.
- Some foods are harder to process (i.e. green beans, blueberries, grapes) so purchasing those pre-made isn’t a bad idea. I like to keep a few jars of Earth’s Best Organic or Plum Oranics on hand for these purposes and/or in a pinch.
Chart courtesy of Momtastic