It’s hard to be a parent today and find healthy choices for baby. The reality of making your own food is simply too hard to even entertain – right? Wrong!
There is very little you have to do in order to make your own purees for baby. I bought the big book of recipes and cooking tips, but even through the reading I learned that basically everything is the same. The only differences in the recipe books are suggestions for herbs and various combinations. But you don’t have to be super creative – blend what you like when you get there.
Here are the basics you need to know in order to start making your own food for your baby. I recommend starting a couple weeks before baby is really ready to eat foods – and remember a good rule-of-thumb is when baby starts eyeballing your food and/or opening their little mouths hoping you stick something edible in there they are probably ready for food.
- Get the materials you need together: I highly recommend the following in order to get through the process efficiently – a blender (I bought a new one because I didn’t own one, regular blender will do), a steamer pot, ice cube trays (I bought the fancy honeycomb shaped ones), freezer bags – gallon size is convenient, and the preparation utensils – bowls, knife, cutting board, spatula.
- Prepare the foods: I suggest 5 per day, it helps keep the work to a minimum and therefore within a timeframe that works for baby’s nap. I would say it also works nicely for the set of ice trays I bought and space in my freezer – which is at a premium given the milk that is frozen in there.
- Cooking: All foods (except soft ones like bananas avocados, cereals) will be steamed. The books recommend 10 minutes for almost all. I have found that if I’m using already frozen fruits or vegetables then 5 minutes is fine, and tougher varieties like grouds and potatoes like 15 minutes to soften. Use the steam as per normal directions – inch or so of water in the base that is brought to a boil. Set the timer. While that ‘cooks’ prepare the next choice of food. When the timer sounds, pour the ready material into the blender, add the next food to the steamer.
- Blending: Most foods will blend on the low setting. Some, anything without a high water content, most vegetables, will need a little extra moisture. I add on average 1/2 cup of water (but you could add breastmilk or formula). Blend until everything is broken into small pieces, or reaches your desired consistency – you might have to stop and scrape the sides once.
- Preparing for the freezer: Pour blended material directly into the ice trays spreading with the spatula as you go. Extra product can be added to additional storage containers or into plastic containers for the fridge (pending immediate use). Rinse the blender parts and prepare for the next food.
- Freezing: Everything can be frozen. And your window of use is 6 months. I find that at least 24 hours, if not 48, works well for freezing material in the trays. Once frozen, they are easily transferred into freezer bags which are marked with the food label and the preparation date (cross out and add new for additional batches as needed).
In order to make a variety of food options it might take a week, but it is a week of hours here and there rather than a constructed block of time.
The food choices are also wide-ranging. I began with the basic fruits and vegetables. After sampling all of them, we added frozen cereals for convenience and then pureed meats.
In the beginning, when feeding the baby, we can select a couple of cubes of a single variety. As the baby matures and desires greater variety, mixtures of different foods can be made – if I’ve learned one thing here is to make sure there is moisture in the mixture… Green beans and beef is too tough for the baby to swallow, add in some squash and suddenly everything is going down nicely.
With these time and procedural tips I hope you find your own way to ensure baby is trying all kinds of foods and is enjoying healthy ‘fresh’ produce.