This is going to sound somewhat judgmental… It may come across as me thumbing my nose at some of you and for that I apologize in advance. But, I ask this sincerely, why do people buy baby food in cute little jars when it’s so easy and 1/3 of the cost to make them yourself??? I get that it’s convenient, but not so much to your wallet, right?! In as little as 1 hour you can make an entire month’s worth of simple yet nutritiously healthy baby food without any additives or preservatives, so please tell me…WHY ARE YOU STILL FEEDING YOUR BABY OUT OF A JAR?
Around the 4 month mark, my son started showing interest in food. He would intently watch us while we ate. He was gaining more control of his neck and was sitting up for longer stretches. He was guzzling down an 8 oz. bottle of formula and some times hungry for more. When our pediatrician suggested that we start him on cereal, I had my concerns. I promptly took to the internet to research the do’s and don’ts of starting solids. What I found shocked me. Perhaps one of the biggest and most frightening crimes against young infants by pediatricians, food marketers, and parents everywhere is the recommendation that young infants should be eating rice cereals or other grains. I will let you read, research and come to your own conclusions about what’s best for your baby, but I was not going to feed my son that crap. On that note, can I just say… PLEASE DON’T TAKE YOUR PHYSICIAN’S WORD AS GOSPEL. There are many motivating factors why your pediatrician might suggest something, but you should absolutely feel empowered to ask questions, do your own research and initiate a dialogue with your kid’s doctor.
When you’re a new
mom parent, hey, dad’s should help!, making your own baby food sounds quite daunting. But trust me, it’s easy. With a little organization and planning, it can be a fun experience for both you and your baby. I’m not a nutritionist or a medical professional. I’m just a concerned mom wanting to do what’s best for my baby. Since my boy is still very young, I opted to start him with one or two natural, raw foods. Bananas and Avocados lend themselves nicely as first foods for baby.
Banana Puree: Slice a ripe organic banana and mash with a few drops of breast milk, formula or water until it forms a smooth puree. Make sure to mash well so there are no chunks that can cause a choking hazard. Mashed bananas can stay fresh in the fridge up to 3 days.
Bananas are the ultimate super food… Wonderfully sweet, fleshy and firm they contain a fair amount of fiber and antioxidants. Who doesn’t like bananas?
Actually, I know one person who hates bananas, but I digress… We fed our little one this puree for the first couple of days starting with 1/2 teaspoon and working our way to a full tablespoon and from the look on this face, you can see just how much he enjoyed wearing it!
Avocado Puree: Cut open a ripe avocado, remove the pit, scoop the flesh using a spoon into a bowl. Mash with a few drops of breast milk, formula or water until it forms a smooth puree. Voila!
Lelan was not a fan of this puree on its own… Just check out the look he’s giving me, pursed lips and all. But, he doesn’t mind it mixed with bananas or other sweet fruits.
On that note, pay close attention to your little one’s body language. Pursed lips, swatting the food away or turning the face are all signs of displeasure. We want our son to develop a healthy relationship with food, so if he didn’t like something we didn’t force it. Also, if he’s done… he’s done. We don’t force him to finish what’s in the bowl, or the bottle though this is never an issue with him. Lelan loves eating!
Seeing how my son handled these simple foods gave me the confidence to try others… Armed with a list, I went to my local Trader Joe’s to buy the following:
- 1 large sweet potato
- I bunch of carrots
- 1 bag of fresh green beans
- 2 medium size beets
- 3 large pears
- 3 large gala apples
- 1 bag of fresh peas
- 1 bunch of broccoli
- 5 juicy plums
Total cost at the checkout counter- $22.70 incl. tax
Next stop was at Bed Bath & Beyond for 4 lidded ice trays. Because, I wanted to freeze the food for easier access. Also, each cube is approximately 1 oz. of food, so you can calculate how much your kid’s eating. Childhood obesity is on the rise and we wanted to be sure that we weren’t overfeeding our growing boy. We store the baby food in Ziploc bags, which are paraben free, bpa free and oil free.
Cost: $19.96 plus tax
Later that night, after my son went to bed, my partner and I proceeded to make our first batch of baby purees. We didn’t follow any specific recipes… just our own steam, boil, mash technique until we felt the consistency was acceptable. I would cook it and he would mash it… and we both had a blast making them!
Here are a few of the recipes that are kid tested and parent approved!
Apple Puree: Peel the apples, remove the core and cut them into cubes. Put them into a small pot, covering them with water and let it boil until the apples are tender. This took approximately 5-6 mins. Then, throw all of it including the water in a blender or food processor and blend until no chunks are left. Pour into ice trays and freeze overnight.
Our son loved the homemade applesauce. We feed it to him mostly for breakfast and it’s instantly become his favorite. After a couple of weeks of eating this puree, I decided to add a dash of cinnamon to see his reaction… and this look says it all.
Who says baby food has to be bland and if you’re breastfeeding, your baby is already tasting everything you’re eating anyway, so go ahead and be adventurous. Just stay away from salt, sugar or anything really spicy.
Carrot Puree: This was another easy recipe. Boil carrots in a little bit of water until they are tender where a fork can slice through. If you have a steamer, even better.
We don’t own one yet. Throw into a blender or food processor and puree until silky smooth.Pour into ice trays and freeze overnight.
Lelan couldn’t get enough of this puree. From the bright orange color to the natural sweetness, this was a definite treat for the senses. After a couple of weeks of eating this puree, I added a dash of nutmeg and this kid loved it even more.
Sweet Potato Puree: When I was at Trader Joe’s I noticed they carried roasted sweet potatoes in a bag. When I look at the ingredients, it simply said, ‘sweet potatoes’. I was sold. If you can’t find them precooked, you could easily roast a sweet potato in the oven.
Preheat oven to 375, wash the sweet potatoes well, prick with a fork, wrap in tin foil, and roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size. Check at 30 minutes by squeezing one of the potatoes in a oven mitt protected hand and inserting a sharp knife or fork into the center. It should feel quite tender and the knife should glide all the way easily. Let it cool, remove skin and puree in a food processor. You may need to add water as you go until you reach the desired consistency. Pour into ice trays and freeze overnight.
Sweet potatoes are Lelan’s absolute favorite! He can’t get enough of them and thankfully we were able to make a huge batch from the bag I bought from Trader Joe’s. He will eat anything as long as it’s mixed with sweet potatoes.
Beets: I have to admit, beets are an acquired taste. They are earthy and fibrous, yet rich in immune-boosting vitamin C and essential minerals like potassium and manganese.
For a simple puree, we cooked the beets in the oven the same way as sweet potatoes and mashed them in the food processor. Or look for precooked beets at your local Trader Joe’s to save time. Pour into ice trays and freeze overnight.
Lelan loved this at first but after a few bites, he started to turn his face. So, we mixed in a teaspoon of yogurt to cut the earthiness and that seemed to do the trick. He devours it every time and I know that we’re also introducing healthy Probiotics into his gut. Another suggestion is to mix it with chick peas and a little butter, which I plan to try when he’s a bit older. Beware of beets as they tend to stain EVERYTHING. Also, don’t be alarmed if your baby’s poo is red. It’s all part of the journey.
So far, Lelan has done beautifully with everything we’ve introduced him to. His reaction to the tastes, the textures, the smells, is PRICELESS. It never gets old whether it’s the first time or the 10th time and these are some of the memories I will cherish forever. They say, children form food preferences by the age of two, so introducing them to a variety of flavors from the start is a great way to set them on the path of healthy eating.
We filled all 4 ice trays with these purees in less than an hour and they’ve lasted us for over 3 weeks now. We’ve since made pears, green beans, plums and blueberries, which I will share in part 2 of this post.
If you try any of these recipes, please feel free to leave a comment. 🙂