Starting Off Your Little One on Fresh, Homemade Baby Food

Today we’re lucky to have Kate Storey, Michigan Mama author, guest blogging for us!

I only consider myself to be “moderately crunchy.”

Sure, I’ll look for more natural ways of living, but I’m not completely ready to live off
the land and give up every modern convenience. I do what’s doable and try not to beat
myself up about the rest.

But my crunchy side kicked into high gear once I became pregnant with my daughter
three years ago. I read natural pregnancy books, exercised to a prenatal Pilates DVD in
which the instructor announces at the end that her unborn daughter’s name is Sienna
Chile, purchased an organic crib mattress and made a commitment to myself and my
unborn child that I would breastfeed for at least a year. Hey, if you’re going to pick any
time in your life to live as healthily as possible, why not while you’re pregnant?

And once our daughter arrived, I knew I wanted to make her baby food. My husband and
I shared this view with our parents and friends – and mostly got confused looks.

“Uh, really? When are you going to find the time to do that?” was the primary response
we received. That, or, “WHY would you want to do that?” After all, we were both full-time working parents now, and the jarred foods are just so darn convenient and easy.
But I had read in multiple news sources how much sodium, sugar and other unnecessary
ingredients were part of store-bought baby food, and the thought of starting our daughter
off in life on the taste of processed foods had started to creep us out. We tried to eat
healthy foods; why shouldn’t we offer the same for our infant?

I started researching different baby food-making kits and websites, and it sounded like it
was simple enough…so why not have her first taste of “real food” be, well, real food? I
had read that sweet potatoes were often a good starting point for solids – the jury’s out on
whether starting your child on fruits will predispose them to wanting only sweet foods,
but just to be on the safe side, I figured a palate-pleasing starch was an okay place to
start.

I scrubbed a whole sweet potato, pricked it all over with a fork and popped it into the
microwave, just like I make for me and my husband. When it had cooled down a bit, I
sliced it in half, scooped out the flesh into a baby bowl – and then stared at it in disbelief.
Seriously? This was all it takes to make your own baby food? I was sold.

Our five-month-old daughter was even more enthusiastic. All of the baby books had warned us to just offer a few bites to start, to not push her to eat…but after a few
spoonfuls, she actually grabbed the spoon out of our hands and tried to feed herself!

From there, it was all homemade baby food, all the time – and it really couldn’t have been easier. Each Sunday night, I would make a batch of different types of fresh and
frozen vegetables and fruits by steaming them in the microwave in a glass container,
blending them right in the container with an immersion blender, and then doling them out into ice-cube trays to pop into the freezer. The next day, I would label a plastic freezer
bag with the vegetable’s name and cook date, add the frozen food cubes – and I had fresh
food ready to go for my little girl every night when I got home. (And breakfast was even
easier – all I had to do was peel half of a banana and mash it up with a fork!)

Our daughter remained an enthusiastic eater throughout her entire infancy, and I
fully believe it had to do with the delicious taste of the freshly prepared food she was
consuming. There’s a reason why babies make those adorable grossed-out faces when
they’re eating jarred baby food – how would you like to eat shelf-stable pureed turkey?
Blech!

Now, we’re expecting our second daughter this summer – and even though I realize our
lives are about to get twice as hectic, I fully intend to make all of her baby food as well.

There are really only two things I plan to do a bit differently: buy more local food
through our Lunasa membership and from our local farmers market (neither of which
were around when our first daughter was born), and to be a bit more adventurous with her
food selection. I was a typical first-time mom who was terrified of her child developing
allergies to certain foods, so I rigidly followed a specific (though very helpful) guide I’d
found online to show which foods should be introduced when; but a friend of mine who’d
seen us make our baby food and decided to do the same was much more laid-back than
me. After introducing the basic veggies and fruits, she started pureeing whatever she had
made for dinner – lasagna, chicken casserole, you get the idea! – and her daughter has
never given them any trouble devouring her food at mealtime.

If you’re a new parent or grandparent, expecting or simply know that kids are in your
future someday, I would absolutely encourage you to try making your own baby food,
too! It really couldn’t be any easier or faster, and the health benefits for your child are
beyond compare. Happy eating!

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3 Responses to Starting Off Your Little One on Fresh, Homemade Baby Food

  1. What a great article promoting home made baby food. Another worthwhile, inexpensive tool is the hand crank baby food mill. You can take anything you are having for dinner, place it in the mill, and have instant baby-ready food.

    http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=1182&cmSource=Search

  2. Gina says:

    Another alternative is to dispense with “baby food” altogether and simply offer whatever the family is eating as finger-foods. Neither of our sons particularly liked pureed food – our second son absolutely refused to eat anything unless he could do it himself so the traditional spoon fed baby food was not an option for us. In general we simply cut up bite/finger sized pieces of our food and put them in front of the baby to let him experiment with what he liked. It worked out well for us and was very convenient not to have to make any “baby food” as the busy parent of two.

    • Kate Storey says:

      How cool! How old was your son when you started doing this? Did you do anything different with the food for him (cooking it longer to make it softer, etc.)? What foods did you start him out with on this method? I’m always petrified that my daughter will choke on food, so I tend to go a little overboard on caution in this area :-) but I’m intrigued.

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