Parents want the best for their children, and this includes the food that goes into their bodies. Sometimes finding a well-balanced diet for your baby can seem daunting – and messy – as babies tend to be picky eaters and they’re still learning how to eat. Most of their diet ends up all over their highchair, on the floor, or in the garbage.
With this in mind, store bought baby food is often viewed as a waste of money or only partially nutritious. Is it easier and healthier to make your own baby food right at home? There are dozens of benefits to this method, and many parents are surprised to learn that all they need is a food processor and some storage jars!
No need to whip out the food pyramid or the measuring cups, studies have shown that offering babies a variety of foods and flavors at an early age fosters an acceptance of many foods later in life (especially yucky vegetables!) While there is some predisposition or bias to flavors or textures, it is not necessary to go out and buy dozens of little jars of commercial baby food just to see which ones please your baby’s palette. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can meal plan using baby food recipes and dole out a week’s worth of meals, but it may be a relief for parents to know they can just keep their blender or food processor next to them on the counter while making their own dinner, and portion out a few ounces of each entree and side for baby to sample.
Babies are ready to try solid foods around five or six-months old, or when they can sit up and hold their head up on their own, and if they do not reflexively push food back out of their mouths with their tongue if a tiny bit is placed in their mouths, can open wide, and imitate or successfully make a chewing motion. You may also notice your baby taking an interest in the foods you are eating by reaching for it or leaning towards your plate.
When preparing any food to give to your baby, make sure your workspace is clean, and foods have been properly prepared. Fruits and vegetables should be washed and rinsed in warm water, your hands should be washed thoroughly in between handling meats or poultry, and fresh utensils and dishes should be used.
When preparing any new food, one ingredient should be introduced at a time, not just to gauge your baby’s reaction, but to also monitor for signs of allergic reaction, which include flushed face, hives or rash, gagging, coughing, swelling of lips, face, or tongue, or vomiting/diarrhea. Most symptoms of a reaction will appear within minutes of feeding the food, and some up to two hours later. Quick onset, severe rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing should warrant a trip to the emergency room right away. These reactions are definitely possible why your baby is adjusting to new foods, so it is recommended to stick to one or two new foods every three to five days before switching to another.
Fruits and vegetables are the easiest and most common solid foods. Harder veggies and fruits like carrots or apples should be steamed or boiled to create a softer texture. Mushy foods like avocado, banana or peas (sometimes) are a big hit. Cook vegetables properly or steal a few cooked vegetables from your own plate, strain if stringy, and puree, adding a bit of water or breast milk to get a smooth texture.
Fruits and veggies can be stored in our 7.4 oz. Anchor Mini Hermes clamp jar, for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator, or up the 3 months if frozen.
Grains and cereals are the next food babies take well, and are often enriched with iron and have low potential for allergic reaction. Oatmeals can be ground or blended, otherwise barley and brown rice are popular alternatives. Grains can store for 3-4 days in the fridge, or up to 4 months in the freezer.
We recommend our 4 oz. squat jelly jar for storing thicker, creamy cereals, as the wider mouth makes it easier to remove from the jar.
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Finally, meats and poultry can be introduced to your baby. Because of their strong smells and flavors, these tend to be the hardest to offer, but after properly cooked can be pureed and snuck in alongside vegetables for a more well-rounded meal. Chicken, lamb, and turkey are more bland and can be easier for babies to manage.
Meats should only be stored for around 24 hours, as they have a higher tendency for foodborne pathogens.
Our 3 oz. Tureen jar is the perfect size to cut down on waste.
Finally, because your baby is still developing and learning to adapt to new foods, adding spices or salt is not necessary. All foods are new foods at first, and the individual flavor profiles will all be exciting and flavorful to little taste buds!