When people ask me medical advice about kids, my standard answer begins with, “I don’t take care of kids, except my own.” I think it’s an important disclaimer, don’t you? The same applies with my nutrition advice for kids, though you can’t really go wrong with cooking at home, period. As for specific advice, I am writing this post on making your own baby food for my college housemate, E., who found herself blessed with a bouncing baby boy recently. E. was never sure she’d find herself in the Mommy role, but has thrown herself into being a devoted mom. Since Baby is now starting on solids, and E. delighted me by asking me how to make homemade baby food, how could I say no?
Why homemade? Have you seen jarred baby food? The color of puréed peas is not very appetizing, the yellowish pea green that comes from boiling the life out of any green vegetable. Babies love to spit out the stuff.
But freshly made baby food, that is different. There are expensive baby food making machines available now for a hefty sum, which are very sanitary looking, in the all-in-one manner popular these days, and French, to boot. These machines allow you to steam and process your ingredients into babyworthy pureés in one fell swoop.
But you need neither gadgets nor an excess of money to make your own baby food. I learned a great tip early in my motherhood, of cooking and puréeing (using a hand immersion/stick blender) any fruits, vegetables, or meats and then freezing them in ice cube trays. I did this not out of any sense of maternal superiority, but because it was quick and easy. It was convenient (I could cook the same ingredients I used for our adult meals, and didn’t have to keep going to the store to buy special baby food); inexpensive; and the best way I knew to control exactly what my baby ate. Each frozen cube of pureé forms a 1 oz. or 2 Tbsp.portion of baby food with truly nothing added, at a fraction of the price of processed baby food in jars, with the bonus of being able to mix and match. My kids enjoyed such combinations as chicken with yam and pear, spinach and potato, edamame, and of course, peas. Quickly cooked, puréed and then immediately frozen, these peas retained their spring greenness, unlike the stuff in jars.
My little eaters wouldn’t accept a spoonful of anything from a jar (which, I realized, created a bit of a problem when traveling abroad ), and I have fond memories of making combinations of protein + produce for them to eat. Just as I am not a fan of kids’ menus now, I felt the same back then. I didn’t salt or spice their food, but other than that, my babies basically ate what we ate, in a purer and puréed form. On that note, if I were to do it again, I’d probably introduce some spices, to liven things up and prepare their palates for all the delicious flavors out there!
Here’s my low-tech approach to making your own baby food. Can I get a hip, hip, purée?
You Will Need:
-2 or 3 qt pot with lid
-colander or slotted spoon
-ice cube trays
Basic Formula You could do this once or twice a week.
-place one type of protein or produce in pot (for fruits and vegetables that requiring peeling or pitting, do that first)
-add just enough water to cover
-bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until well cooked or mashable
-drain or remove cooked items from pot; make sure to reserve cooking liquid to loosen your purée if needed
-purée in pot or a mixing bowl using stick blender
-cool to room temperature and then freeze in ice cube trays (each cube is about 1 oz)
-once purée cubes are frozen, remove from trays and place into Ziplock Freezer Bags, label and date.
-defrost a cube or two (depending on baby’s appetite) of desired food at feeding time (can be done in microwave if you are careful to stir well to remove hot spots, and allow to cool before feeding– should be no warmer than room temp)
-it’s fun to mix and match protein + produce once baby gets hang of eating foods on their own
-follow your pediatrician’s advice on how soon to introduce certain allergenic foods (eggs, milk, wheat, soy, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish), and how often to introduce new foods (usually every 4 days)
|boneless, skinless chicken||peas|
|pumpkin or squash|
You get the idea.
So whatever ingredients you’re using to cook the grownups’ dinner, you can also use to make batches of baby food.