Our Journey with Homemade Baby Food:
In this week’s blog we will detail the safety concerns, nutritional value, costs and how-to’s of making your own baby food.
As we reached our little one’s 5 month mark, we knew we were going to have to switch to baby foods to get her ready for solids. She’s been on cereal for a while now and started to give us signs that she was getting bored with that, so we thought it was time. This is a big and exciting step for you and your baby so we thought we’d share our journey if you were interested in the pros and cons of making your own baby food.
First of all my husband and I did not come to the decision to make our own food lightly, we thought long and hard about it, weighing every aspect. After all, there are a lot of factors that go into it! I didn’t even realize how many until I had been reading for about 4 hours straight and ready to pull my hair out. Ultimately it’s about what works best for you and your baby. If she’s happy and healthy, don’t sweat just using prepackaged. Many are very conscious about what they put into their food. For example, while I was shopping I found that Earth’s Best Organic 1st Peas has even less sugars than the frozen peas I had picked out to make for my daughter, and more vitamins and minerals! So if this is something you are worried about, just do your research and find what you think is going to work best for you and your little one! Healthy babies are what it’s all about. Below are some of the things that went into our decision:
When my husband and I went through the costs of baby food, we couldn’t believe how much it can add up! Not to mention our daughter is breastfed so aside from pumping supplies and some rice cereal her food cost until now had been negligible. So we thought about it and found that aside from some start-up supplies (among other things, which I will get to) we would be better served to make our own. I did my research and found that the safest way to store homemade baby food is to freeze it. More on that later, but I found an ice tray that was from a brand I trusted and decided to give it a try. We went with Nuk freezer trays.
So far these have worked wonderfully. I bought two, which should be plenty to get a week’s worth of meals ready. The best thing about it, they were only $8 per tray. I also bought a flat of 12-4oz mason jars for less than $8. So far, I’ve totaled less than a month’s worth of regularly-priced baby food. That being said adding in the fruits and veggies to make the food is the only cost I will have for the duration of her baby food stage and for any potential siblings. Score! Added bonus – jars can be used later for snacks on the go!!
Making your own baby food is anything but convenient, but the good news is one bag of peas or one butternut squash can make food for a week depending on how much your baby eats. From one 14oz bag of peas I was able to make just under 18oz of food! One butternut squash totaled just over 7oz of food and one (small!) sweet potato made over 6oz! So the convenience factor is give-and-take. Meh. I personally find it to be not that bad. I just made sure I could plan it well. Sweet potatoes and squash go in the oven at the same temperature, and I can have the peas going on the stove. Three birds, one stone. And for recipes: Start small, and get more complex as you go (combining flavors, spices, etc.). This is good for you and especially your baby. My first recipes were no more than the foods listed above pureed with some water to make a smoother consistency. This is better for her to get used to if there are as few new tastes as possible at first, and also better to determine food allergies.
Another possible downside of making your own baby food is safety and that was something I kept in the back of my mind when making this decision. In my research I found that freezing is without a doubt the best way to store homemade baby food. NEVER can your own!! I had thought about this and figured it was okay when I stumbled across a note on a canner’s blog that I follow. Canning your own food whether it be for your consumption or your baby’s will always carry a risk of botulism. This can kill an adult, let alone a baby. It’s better safe than sorry in this case, just don’t do it!! I use the trays to freeze, and then separate by food type and date in freezer bags. After that: the mason jars to thaw, warm and serve. (Another wonderful cost and saver-this eliminates the need for baby bowls for a while!)
A few other safety notes when making your own: The frozen baby food is considered safe in the freezer for up to 6 months, but is optimal for 3months. Be sure to mark your bags! And once the food has been thawed it can only be warmed once. Just like our food, it’s never recommended to warm twice.
This was a big deal to me. I hear horror stories all the time about what people find in their baby food, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. Sure, mistakes happen, but these are our children and we want to protect them as much as we can for as long as we can. Another big thing for me was sugar content. The average adult consumes up to 150lbs of sugar PER YEAR! That’s insane and has definitely made me take a better look at my diet, and what I can do to prevent this from being a regular thing in my daughter’s. Studies have shown that too much sugar (natural sugars included, but not nearly as much of a problem as added sugars) can affect the growth of a child’s brain and lead to obesity and other health problems later in life. Recent studies even show it can be linked to Alzheimer’s, ADD and even Autism when ingested in-utero and after. Keep in mind these studies have yet to be proven, but the general thought it it’s just not good for you and should be a once in a while treat, not a part of everyday diet. The point is to start children early on the right track so they can grow to be healthy productive adults. So keeping this in mind I decided to start her out on vegetables. This was also suggested by our pediatrician, the thought being to keep her from rejecting veggies entirely after tasting fruits. Trust me, I really wanted to give her pears or something, but breastmilk is sweet as it is, so I figured it was better to get it out of the way now rather than battle with her later when she can talk back…or throw. So peas did not go over well, but she is slowly adapting and getting used to it. Another helpful thought – formula fed babies may have a better time accepting veggies as ormula tends to be slightly bitter with a lovely overtone of vitamin.
So my journey with homemade baby food has thus far been a good experience, and I plan to keep doing it. Hopefully this can help parents who are unsure or who have decided on the DIY to get through it easier. Best of luck and happy eating!! Keep an eye out for other tips, recipes and suggestions in future blogs, and as always, thank you for visiting Here Comes Baby Boutique!
-Stephanie & Michael Kroske, Owners of