Common Questions about Introducing Baby Food:
Introducing your child to baby food can be an exciting milestone for you and your little one. I didn’t realize how much there was to know about baby food until I was in the thick of it. I had heard all types of advice from friends, relatives, and our pediatrician. When my first child’s pediatrician gave me advice about introducing baby food, I remember feeling more overwhelmed when I left the office than when I arrived. His advise though good, was a little vague, and left me with lots of questions. His general advice was this: (My thoughts in response to his advice are in the parenthesis below.)
- Baby can start eating baby food anywhere between 4-8 months. ( In the life of a baby, 4 months is such a long time! They develop so dramatically physically over the course of 4 months, how will I know when my baby is ready?) All kids are different. I decided to introduce baby food to both my children at 6 months respectively. While my daughter was eager, my son was not ready. I just gave it a break for a week or so until he demonstrated he was ready. Read more at “Is Your Baby Ready For Solid Foods?“
- Some foods should not be offered to baby in the first year including honey, peanuts, and cow’s milk. Other foods tend to give baby’s gas and should be avoided until their digestive tract is more developed and they can handle it better. (Is there a list of when certain foods should be introduced/foods to avoid?) See a list here of appropriate ages to introducing certain foods to your baby courtesy of Wholesomebabyfood.com.
- Only introduce baby to one new food at a time. Wait 4 days before introducing another new food to be certain baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction. (This makes sense, sounds good.)
- Introduce new foods to baby in the AM rather than the PM in case of adverse reaction. This way, in the case baby has a reaction, you can resolve a bloated/gassy stomach during wake time rather than in the middle of the night. If there is a severe reaction, care can be obtained easier during the day as well. (Ahh! Severe Allergic reactions? This sounds scary!)
- Generally people believe that baby should start off with rice cereal, however this doesn’t have to be baby’s first food. ( I am allergic to rice, and so is my brother. The pediatrician said that food allergies can be hereditary, so I think I won’t be using rice as my baby’s first food just in case he is allergic too.) Find out why “Rice cereal is a less than perfect choice...”
With all these questions/concerns bouncing around in my head, I set off to search the internet for answers. Thankfully I stumbled across a wonderful website called wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com. It has a plethora of information, including a section for common questions. I literally got lost for hours reading and gleaning information from this website. I was able to get the answers I was looking for and also received a lot of encouragement to make my own baby food. With my many questions answered, my anxiety changed to ambition. I wanted to make my own baby food!
Here I am at the grocery store with my son buying a sweet potato to make his first baby food. This is not the most flattering picture of me, but it really illustrates the excitement I felt about making my own baby food for him. Unfortunately my first run with making baby food didn’t go so well. Read about what I learned from my mistakes below.
Two Things to Keep in Mind Before You Start Making Your Own Baby Food:
- The right tool makes all the difference. I set out to make my own sweet potato baby food. Unfortunately, I didn’t use an immersion blender on my first attempt. I just used a normal blender, and it was so frustrating, I felt like I blended that sweet potato forever, and it was still lumpy. I tried feeding it to my son on the day he turned 6 months, but he was not too excited about it. The texture was nowhere near the smooth texture I had seen in store bought baby food. Suddenly baby food from the store started to sound really good. Because the store bought green vegetable baby food smelled so bad, I attempted to feed it to my son only once, and after both of us were grossed out, I didn’t try again. He is about 4 years old now, and still doesn’t like green veggies. May be it is because he didn’t get much exposure to green veggies when he was little, or maybe he wouldn’t have liked it any way. Who knows? Sorry bud! The first kid always seems to be the guinea pig.
When my second child started to get old enough to eat baby food, I decided I would try to make it myself again. This time I tried peas, and I used an immersion blender. I was blown away by how simple It was to make! Making my own baby food became a whole new experience! I wish I hadn’t given up so easily the first time around. Making the peas went so well that I tried it with carrots, green beans, corn, cauliflower, broccoli and I even attempted sweet potato again! The Immersion blender made all the difference!
Simplicity is the Key to Success: I recommend starting out with a vegetable that is easy to cook, preferably one you can steam right in the bag in the microwave. If you experience success early on, you will have the confidence later on to try making veggies that require a little more work. I didn’t realize that sweet potatoes were one of the more complicated baby foods to make since they take more work to cook/peal.
Homemade Baby Food Verses Store Bought:
Whether you choose to purchase baby food from the store, or make your own baby food at home, depends on what is important to you. Do you want convenience with a higher price tag? Do you want something cheaper and fresher but that will take a bit more time to prepare? What is important to you and your family? It may change according to certain circumstances. I have and use both homemade baby food as well as store bought baby food.
Homemade Baby Food:
Tends to be more fresh, and vibrant in color. In most cases, It is cheaper than store bought baby food. Two jars of store bought baby food will cost more than a whole bag of frozen veggies that can make several servings of baby food.
Store Bought Baby Food:
Store bought baby food is quick, easy, portable and convenient. It does however cost more than homemade baby food. I have store bought baby food packed in my daughter’s 72 hour Emergency kit. I do feed her store bought food at times, and it is comforting to know that she eats it just fine, and will have food she is familiar with in case of an emergency.
I am not extremely opposed to store bought baby food, in fact I have used it for both of my kids. I currently prefer using homemade baby food on a day to day use when we are at home. When we are out and about, or traveling, I love the convenience of store bought baby food. I do not personally purchase the premade baby food with green veggies or meats, they just look unnatural and smell weird to me. Have you ever smelled them? I think they are gross! I have often wondered why the peas have a dull color in the jar when they are so vibrantly green when fresh? Something just doesn’t seem quite right about those green veggies. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of feeding my child something that made me gag just by looking at it.
I am not saying they are bad, and I do not think you are a bad mom if you use them for your kids. I just don’t personally love them, and I would be lying if I said I did. I do however love the store bought fruit/veggie baby food pouches! Because these are so expensive, I only use them for convenience when we are out an about. If we are gone for an extended amount of time, but will have a kitchen available, I like to pack the plastic baby food jars and transfer them into my own reusable pouches to save a little money. I use the reusable pouches at home with my homemade baby food as well.
If you plan to use either reusable or disposable pouches, I highly recommend getting a couple of these pouch toppers. They are soft so baby doesn’t hurt their sensitive teething gums on the hard plastic spouts that typically come on pouches. These keep eating clean as baby has to actively suck in order to make the food come out. I love that I can give my baby a food pouch with this special topper, and she can feed herself independently while I eat my own food. Sometimes it is nice to eat your own food uninterrupted.
I once accidentally took a bite of my baby’s food because I was distracted while feeding her from a spoon, and feeding myself soup from a spoon. Yuck! Lets face it, when you are feeding a toddler, and a baby and yourself at the same time, things can get a little crazy, so sometimes it is nice to let the baby feed themselves with a pouch. She really loves the independence too! Another handy thing we like to use is the Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder. Just toss a piece of apple, pear, banana etc inside of the mesh net and let baby go for it. With the mesh net, you don’t have to chop the food into so many tiny pieces. It is so convenient, but allows you to still use fresh food.
How to Make Your Own Baby Food:
- Start with some steamed Vegetables. I like to use the frozen vegetable packages that you can steam in the bag in the microwave. Smiths sells a variety of Kroger brand frozen vegetables for $1.00 each.
- Pour Vegetables in a small but deep bowl.
- Pour Breast milk, formula or water over vegetables, starting with about 2 oz, adding more depending on the desired consistency. Keep in mind that different vegetables will require various amounts of liquid. Corn, peas and cauliflower tend to be naturally more moist than carrots or sweet potatoes, and will not require as much additional liquid.
- Blend liquid and steamed vegetables using an immersion blender. You can purchase a hand blender like this one with a bonus measuring cup that would be perfect for blending your baby food on Amazon.
- Once it is smooth, I like to use a cookie scoop to easily dish the baby food into an ice cube tray.
- Cover the ice cube tray with plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing.
- Once frozen, twist the Ice cube tray to pop the baby food out and store in zip locked baggies in the freezer. Side Note: I have also tried using mini muffin tins in place of ice cube trays. This didn’t work as well as you can not easily release the frozen baby food from the muffin tin like you can by twisting the ice cube trays. In order to release them I had to thaw the frozen baby food a little by placing the muffin tin in a cookie sheet filled with warm water. This allows them to melt a little so they can be released. Because they are semi thawed, they tend to stick together once they are frozen again. It works okay in a pinch but is definitely the ideal option.
- You can easily thaw one or two at a time in the microwave
for about 30 seconds when you are ready to serve. Always test the temperature of the baby food on your own skin before feeding to baby in order to avoid burning your baby’s mouth.
I hope you find success in making your own baby food. If you have any questions, or need encouragement, write a comment below.
- Steamed/Cooked Vegetables
- Breast milk/ Formula/ Water
- Steam Vegetables.
- Pour Vegetables in a small but deep bowl.
- Pour Breast milk, formula or water over vegetables, starting with about 2 oz, adding more depending on the desired consistency. (Keep in mind that different vegetables will require various amounts of liquid. Corn, peas and cauliflower tend to be naturally moister than carrots or sweet potatoes, and will not require as much additional liquid.)
- Blend liquid and steamed vegetables using an immersion blender.
- Once smooth, use a cookie scoop to dish baby food into an ice cube tray.
- Cover the ice cube tray with plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing.
- Once frozen, twist the Ice cube try to pop the baby food out and store in zip locked baggies in the freezer. Side Note: I have also tried using mini muffin tins in place of ice cube trays. This didn't work as well as you cannot easily release the frozen baby food from the muffin tin like you can by twisting the ice cube trays. In order to release them I had to thaw the frozen baby food a little by placing the muffin tin in a cookie sheet filled with warm water. This allows them to melt a little so they can be released. Because they are semi thawed, they tend to stick together once they are frozen again.
- You can easily thaw one or two at a time in the microwave for about 30 seconds when you are ready to serve. Always test the temperature of the baby food on your own skin before feeding to baby in order to avoid burning your baby's mouth.
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