The Benefits Of Homemade Baby Food
Many parents look forward to the day that there precious baby will begin eating solid foods. Most babies begin eating solid foods between 4 and 6-months-old, and usually it’s recommended that babies start with fortified rice cereal. This is one type of baby food that it isn’t really possible to make at home. Grains can be milled into cereal, but the cereal won’t have the extra vitamins that fortify the cereal.
However, between 6 and 8-months-old, a baby can begin eating fruits and vegetables, and this type of baby food is easy to make at home. Here, parents can obtain all the information they need to make their baby’s food themselves.
Benefits Of Making It Yourself
Perhaps the biggest benefit of making baby food at home is quality control. Often, commercially manufactured baby foods contain large amounts of water, starches and sometimes sugar, all of which is of little nutritional value to the baby.
Making baby food at home can be more environmentally friendly, as well. By making baby food at home, parents are eliminating the excess packaging that goes into landfills from baby food containers. Food scraps can be turned into beneficial garden compost to further benefit the environment.
Another benefit of making your own baby food is that it is often more economical. In fact, in an article from Reuters, 25 percent of mothers in a recent survey indicated that they preferred making their baby’s food due to the cost. The same survey indicated that about 70 percent of mothers who have had babies in the last three years have made their baby’s food, a 20 percent increase from past years. Given the difficult financial times that many people have encountered in the last several years, it’s easy to understand why more mothers are choosing to save money on their baby’s food and give them better nutrition.
One disadvantage to making baby food at home is that it can be a bit labor intensive. Foods must be cooked, pureed and stored, and because there are no preservatives used, they must be consumed within a relatively short time period. However, with some of the new baby food machines that are available, making baby food at home is becoming much easier. These machines can be expensive, often more than 100 dollars, but they do take much of the work out of making baby food.
Time constraints pose another disadvantage. Modern-day parents are busier than ever before, so spending an afternoon making baby food, especially with an infant in the house, may not be the most appealing idea. However, new baby food machines are available that are easy to use and do most of the work automatically can help with this. But again, they can be expensive, prohibitively so for some families.
Availability is another disadvantage. Depending upon where someone lives, they may not be able to get a good selection of fresh fruits and vegetables at certain times of the year, or if produce is available it may be quite expensive. This often occurs in the winter time in more extreme climates.
Selecting foods for your baby is easy. Babies should all be started on easy-to-digest fortified rice cereal, usually around 4-months-old, but this should be discussed with the baby’s doctor. Parents can make their baby’s cereal at home by milling down rice, but they should talk to their child’s pediatrician about a vitamin supplement to be sure that a baby is getting everything he or she needs. Babies should be kept to rice cereal or other grains until they are 6 to 8-months-old. After this parents can add fruits and vegetables.
Parents should offer their children a variety of fruits and vegetables, although the most common fruits and vegetables that parents start with are sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, butternut squash and carrots. However, any fruits and vegetables or combination of fruits and vegetables are fine, such as carrots and apples.
Meats, eggs, cheese and yogurt can be made into baby food, as well, after a baby turns 8 to 10-months-old. Anytime parents want to add a new type of food to their child’s diet, they should discuss it with the baby’s doctor to be sure that it’s safe.
Remember parents can begin to feed baby the following foods at the following ages:
- 4-6 months old- Rice (or other grain) cereal
- 6-8 months old- Fruits and Vegetables
- 8-10 months old- meats, eggs, cheese and yogurt
Also, feeding recommendations have begun to change recently. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)has recently published findings that there is little evidence that starting babies on rice cereal first poses little nutritional benefit, however a baby’s diet should always be discussed with the child’s doctor to be sure that the baby’s individual nutritional needs are being met.
How To Make Your Own Baby Food
Except for rice cereal, making baby food is relatively simple. Rice or other grain cereal can be milled into powder and then cooked, or they can be cooked and then milled. What makes cereal more complicated is that it’s something that can’t really be cooked and then frozen for extended storage because the consistency is affected. So the grains must be cooked and used within 72 hours.
- Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly, peeled if need be, and then cooked and pureed.
- Fruits and vegetables can be frozen for extended storage and the consistency is typically not affected by freezing.
- Foods should be pureed extra smooth until the baby has mastered swallowing the food; parents can then gradually add texture to the food by not processing as finely.
Making baby food at home isn’t really complicated, but it does require time and dedication because it can be a lot of work. However, as the baby grows healthy and strong, enjoying a variety of foods that came at a lower cost, parents will see that all that hard work was well worth it.