How to Make Your Own Baby Food
If you have a little one on the way or your child is already a few months old, you might be thinking about making your own baby food. Not only is making your own baby food cost-effective and beneficial for your baby's health, it's also easy when you know how! We've put together this guide to making your own baby food so that you can decide whether or not it's right for your family and prepare accordingly.
The Benefits of Making Your Own Baby Food
- Making your own baby food puts you in full control of your child’s nutrition. You know exactly what they're eating, with no hidden additives to worry about.
- It helps to develop their palette. You don’t want your child to grow up and become a picky eater. Fresh, homemade baby food tastes much more like real food and allows them to get used to different flavours and textures.
- Cost-effective. Shop-bought baby food is expensive, while making your own is much cheaper, especially if you do it in bulk.
- Better for the environment. Buying baby food often involves a lot of single-use plastic, whereas there is far less waste involved when you cook it yourself.
Is Making Baby Food Right for You?
Despite the benefits of making your own baby food, shop bought food is by no means bad! In fact, you can find plenty of tasty and nutritious options on the shelves. The best approach is whatever feels most comfortable and convenient for you.
Most parents tend to opt for a balance. Whilst making your own baby food is cost-effective, there’s no denying the convenience of ready-made purees. You might want to primarily make your own food, but keep a few jars in the fridge for when life becomes chaotic - which, with a young child at home, it inevitably will!
When to Introduce Baby Food
Usually, babies are ready to start eating solids from four to six months old. However, this can vary depending on your child and you should always follow their lead. If they're not ready, then don't force it - they'll let you know when they're hungry for something more substantial than milk.
Your baby's eating journey can be categorised into four stages, which are as follows:
Stage One: 4-6 Months
This is when your baby starts to develop the ability to sit up unaided and has good head control. At this stage, you can start introducing pureed fruit and vegetables as well as small amounts of mashed food.
Stage Two: 7-8 Months
At this stage, your baby will be able to chew and swallow more easily. You can start giving them soft lumps of food to gnaw on as well as increasing the variety of textures in their purees.
Stage Three: 9-12 Months
As your baby starts to teethe, they will be able to handle larger chunks of food. You can start giving them finger foods as well as continuing to introduce new textures.
Stage Four: 12 Months +
Your baby is now a fully-fledged toddler and can eat many of the foods that you eat - just be sure to cut them into smaller pieces! They might still prefer softer foods, but they will be able to try new things and experiment with different flavours.
One great thing about making your own baby food is that it doesn’t require a lot of specialist kitchen equipment. In fact, the chances are that you already have most of what you need!
The essentials are:
- A blender or food processor
- Baking trays
- Pots and pans
- Tupperware containers
- Resealable freezer bags
- Ice cube trays
How to Make Baby Food
- Start by washing your chosen fruit or vegetables
- Cook them however you see fit - except for bananas or avocados, which simply need to be mashed. Steaming and microwaving tend to preserve the most nutrients, but baking, boiling or roasting work perfectly well too, especially if you’re already cooking that way for the rest of the family.
- Place your cooked fruit or veg in a food processor or blender and pulverise at a high speed.
- Check the consistency and add liquid in small amounts if it’s too thick. Water, breast milk or formula all work well. Add around 50ml at a time, or 2-3 tablespoons.
- Add a small amount of herbs or spices if you wish, as this helps to develop your baby's palette. Cinnamon, cloves, garlic or mild curry powder are good options - don’t opt for anything too hot!
Baby food can be kept in the fridge for 1-3 days, or for a month in the freezer. Make sure to place the puree in the fridge within an hour of cooking. It’s also best to date the food so that you know when it was made.
You can freeze baby food in ice cube trays, which is perfect for portion control. Once they’re frozen, simply pop them out and store them in a freezer bag. Alternatively, you can freeze entire portions in silicone pouches or Tupperware containers.
Thawing and Reheating
Never thaw baby food at room temperature as this can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. Instead, do it overnight in the fridge and serve at room temperature.
Alternatively, you can defrost baby food in the microwave or on the stop. Stir it thoroughly and make sure that it is piping hot all the way through, then allow it to cool before serving it to your child.
Do not refreeze thawed baby food as this can be dangerous for your little one.
Making your own baby food is a great way to ensure that they're getting the best possible nutrition, and it's also very affordable. It's easy, doesn't require any specialist equipment, and you can even use leftovers from your own meals. All it takes is a little organisation and some time in the kitchen, and you'll have a healthy supply of baby food that will last you for weeks. Give it a try, but also remember that there's nothing wrong with feeding your child shop-bought food, especially when you're short on time.
Here at Unique Baby Store, we're here to support you on your journey to parenthood and we have everything you need to feed and care for your child. Check out our range of high quality bibs, high chairs and baby bowls to make mealtimes with your little one as easy and enjoyable as possible.