Saturday, March 24, 2012

Homemade Baby Food 101

I am a huge fan of both Dr. Sears and Dr. Greene.  I read a lot of Dr. Sears' books and especially relate to his attachment parenting philosophy.

I read both of Dr. Greene's books, Raising Baby Green and Feeding Baby Green, and would highly recommend these to anyone wanting to raise their baby, well...  green!

After reading Feeding Baby Green, I decided I definitely wanted to make my own baby food.  I could choose the food - organic, fresh - and control the additives - in my case, none!  No salt, sugar, preservatives - just the good ole' food itself.  As baby got older, I experimented with seasonings, herbs, oils, etc., but felt good knowing exactly what was in every bit of food I fed her.

Beware - just because a food is labeled "organic" does not mean it is good. Pick up a package of Gerber organic baby food - the list of ingredients and additives is quite staggering.  And all of those organic baby snacks?  Make sure you pay attention to the amount of sodium, which is often astronomically high, and make sure there is not a lot of extra sugar.  Shoot for no more than 1 gram per 25 calories.  And check out my post on MSG - it's amazing how many of these things are often listed in organic baby food snacks.

So, for me, making my own baby food was a no-brainer.  AND a huge money saver.  Those tiny jars of baby food can be anywhere from .60 to $1 or more!  I could make jars and jars and jars of baby food for way less than I could buy them.  However, there were occasions I did purchase baby food - for a little variety, because we were on the road and I needed something quick and easy, etc. - and I found I really liked Earth's Best and some of the store brands (like Albertson's Wild Organic line).  Just make sure you read the ingredient list before buying.  Oh!  And, keep those jars!  I filled and refilled and am still filling those little guys with purees, diced fruit, whatever I need to throw in the diaper bag and take with me!

So - where to begin?  Well, the food processor my husband and I registered for for our wedding (and never used - one of those "Hun, don't you think we should have one of these?" decisions) got new life.  I read that manual, fired it up, and ran it nearly continually from the time my daughter was six months until around ten months.  You can buy fancy baby food making systems, but I found my Black and Decker food processor worked like a dream.  Anyway - you'll need something to puree foods, and my blender just wouldn't have cut it.

Secondly, you'll need a way to store the food you make.  I bought two of these baby food trays, and have used the heck out of them.  You can use regular ice cube trays, but I wanted something BPA free and the lids are very nice.  Suggestion - do not wash in dishwasher, as lids may become warped.  Also, in hindsight I would have purchased at least 4 trays, as I always had more puree than tray space, and had to wait for 2 trays to freeze and emtpy before I could pour in the rest of the puree.  Having only 2 trays was definitely my limiting factor.  Otherwise I could have made up the food much more quickly.

Third, you'll need some containers to store the food in.  I used zip-top freezer bags and just wrote on them with a sharpie what was inside.  I made the same foods again and again, so I rinsed out and kept the bags as I emptied them.  You could use tupperware if you prefer.  But, once the food is frozen solid in the tray, you just dump it into your chosen storage container, pop it in the freezer, and voila - homemade baby food, at your fingertips.

Now, all you need is a selection of fresh food, and let the pureeing begin!  You'll need to thin the food.  I intended on using breastmilk, but quickly learned this was not feasible, so instead purchased formula (which I also used for mixing up baby cereal).  You could use water, but I thought the formula made it much more nutritious.

I also purchased (although neither are necessary) the book The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet, which is really pretty basic but I still liked having as a guide

and a manual food mill, which I used much less than I expected or intended too (though it was nice for the occasional meal at the table that I wanted to share with her).

No comments:

Post a Comment