By Deanna Lynn Sletten
Homemade Baby Food – Healthier and Less Costly
Eating solid foods is an important step in your baby’s development. When starting your baby on new foods, you will want to make sure baby gets all the nutrients he needs without unnecessary sugars, salt and additives. While many processed baby foods are good, making your own baby food can be an even healthier alternative. It is also more cost-efficient, considering you can make baby food out of the same foods you or your other children are already eating.
Babies who eat nutritious foods early in life are more likely to grow up stronger and be better-adjusted eaters than those who eat a poor diet. By making your own food for baby, you have the benefits of increasing nutritional value, eliminating unnecessary additives, ensuring freshness, offering variety and eliminating high costs.
Babies need vitamins and nutrients to grow up healthy. Processed foods add water, sugars and starchy fillers that dilute the nutritional value of the food your baby is eating. Companies cook foods at high temperatures to kill bacteria to store in jars at room temperature, but this process can also eliminate important vitamins and nutrients. These are then added back artificially. By making your own food for baby, you cook and serve immediately, (or freeze for later), saving the important nutrients and vitamins for baby to eat.
Eliminating Unnecessary Additives
Processed foods add ingredients such as sugars, butter and salt to flavor their foods. These additives are neither necessary nor good for your baby’s health. Healthcare professionals actually recommend that you avoid these additives in babies’ food to reduce the chance of obesity in later years. Making your own foods from fresh ingredients assures you that your baby will have only the ingredients that baby needs.
When you cook and mash peas for your baby; that is all your baby is getting – fresh, cooked peas. The peas actually look and taste like peas, unlike the peas you find in baby food jars that smell and taste different. Serving your baby fresh foods now will help baby be more open to new tastes later in life.
Most processed baby foods come in varieties that are only popular to the consumer. This limits the types of foods you can serve to your baby. By making your own baby food, your baby can actually eat almost everything you do, except in a more cooked and mashed form. Serving variety at a young age can increase your babies’ desire to eat more variety when she is older.
People who make their own baby food save between $250 and $500 a year. What could be easier than making your baby food from foods you are already buying to feed the rest of the family? No added purchases and no annoying jars or cans stacked in the cupboard. Baby can simply eat cooked and mashed versions of what you are already serving.
Making Your Own Baby Food
With all these benefits, you might want to try to make your own baby food. But, where do you start? Making your own baby food is actually simple. You can either make it out of the foods you are serving your family or prepare the food ahead of time and freeze for later. Here are some basic tips:
Fruits and Vegetables
Purchase only fresh fruits and vegetables; organic is even better to eliminate chemicals. If fresh are not available, frozen or canned will do but make sure to purchase the “no salt” variety. Wash food thoroughly. Peal foods with skin, such as potatoes, apples, pears, etc. Steam or boil until food is soft and mushy. Puree in a blender or food processor until creamy. For older babies who chew, you can leave more texture to the food. For sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, mix with a little formula or breast milk. Bananas are easy – just mash and serve. Your food is now ready to serve.
Older babies can begin eating meats that have been cooked thoroughly and pureed. Suggested meats are chicken and ham.
Freeze for Later
You can make foods ahead of time and freeze them for convenience. Make as directed then pour food into ice-cube trays to freeze. When frozen, place food cubes in freezer bags to store until needed. To cook: select the cubes you want and defrost at room temperature before cooking or defrost in microwave. For meat it is safer to thaw in the refrigerator to prevent E-coli bacteria from forming, then heat. Frozen food will stay fresh for about two months.
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