When a baby transitions to solid food after being exclusively breast or formula fed, the change can seem overwhelming. What can my baby eat? How do I know if he has gotten enough? Will she be allergic to anything? In addition to these unknowns, you might be concerned about the added expense of feeding your baby each month. The cost of store-bought baby food can add up quickly, and it’s hard to know what your baby will like or dislike.
I have found that making baby food from home is the healthiest, most cost-effective way to give babies exactly what they need as they begin solid foods. Read on for some basic tips to get started.
Just as we prepare our food in a variety of ways, so also do you have a wide range of choices for how to make food for your little one. Here are the pros and cons of some of these cooking methods:
- Boiling. You can boil any number of vegetables or fruits to soften them up for your baby to eat, but unfortunately you will lose a great deal of nutritional content in the process. The one benefit of boiling is that you can make large quantities of food and save time in the long run.
- Steaming. Generally steaming is the ideal way to cook up food for your little one since steamed foods maintain the most nutrients. It can take longer than some other cooking methods, but it is worth the time for the health benefits.
- Baking. Baking is another great cooking option as it is healthy and efficient. You can bake delicious recipes for both fruits and vegetables and not lose too much nutritional value in the process.
Baby food can be pureed in a variety of ways, and what you use depends mostly on what materials you have available. Here are some options:
- Food processer. If you have access to a food processer or blender, this is the easiest, quickest, and healthiest way to make purees. You can throw in virtually any fruit or vegetable and have baby food ready in seconds.
- Fork. There is nothing wrong with simply mashing up soft foods with a fork for your little one. This is generally what I rely on when we’re out at a restaurant or someone’s house and don’t have pre-made baby food on hand.
- Portable grinder. You can buy a small food grinder to throw in your diaper bag for when you need baby food and you’re away from home. It requires more effort than the food processer, but it’s effective on a large number of fruits and veggies.
It’s a great timesaver to take an hour or two to make your baby food in bulk, but storing it safely and effectively can be a challenge. I have found that using ice cube trays for storage is the safest, most cost-effective storage method. Once you have baked or pureed some fruits and veggies for your baby, store the purees in individual ice cube trays. After the food has frozen, pop the cubes out, place them in airtight plastic bags, and label them with the date. You can then thaw them quickly before mealtimes.
What foods to cook.
While it’s always best to consult your pediatrician before introducing your baby to solid foods, many doctors recommend avocado, banana, applesauce, pears, rice cereal, or sweet potatoes as great first foods. All of these are soft and easily digestible, and they contain a number of nutrients that are important for your baby’s growth and development. As your baby gets used to these tastes and textures (as well as eating from a spoon), you can gradually introduce more fruits and vegetables into their diets.
While it is certainly convenient to buy a basketful of canned baby foods from the store, making your own from home really is not as time consuming as you might think. I generally spend about an hour each week preparing my daughter’s food, and I have the added satisfaction of knowing it is as wholesome and nutritious as it can possibly be. I also save money on the family grocery bill – which is important in sticking to a budget!
Do you make your own baby food or have tips to add? Share your feedback with us here!
Category: Saving Money
About the Author (Author Profile)
Kelsey Bohler is a young wife and mother who loves to write and strives to pursue simple, intentional living. She and her family are currently living abroad and are learning firsthand what it means to stick with a budget and live frugally. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling, writing music, playing the piano, and being a Mum to her precious daughter.