Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Homemade Baby Food


The baby books tell you how to breast feed, how to bottle feed and all of those other intricate details of feeding your baby from the beginning. But they don't really cover starting your baby on solid foods. 

When I was getting ready to start the process of introducing solid foods to Walker, I was completely lost. Thankfully, Pinterest is around so that I could peruse the site to figure out what in the world I should start him on, when and how often. 

It's important to note that I didn't begin any of this until we had a thorough evaluation and discussion with Walker's pediatrician at his four-month appointment. It's also important to note that Walker was exclusively breastfed until he was four months old, and my supply dropped dramatically when I went back to work - eventually just drying up completely by the time he was five months old. He began formula around four and a half months old, and personally we have been pleased with Similac Sensitive after much trial-and-error. 

After his four-month appointment, the doctor gave me the okay to start him on rice cereal and oatmeal. We did, and Walker loved them! We honestly had no problems with him eating the food, and for that we were very thankful. In fact, the child wanted more! Which is when we decided that instead of filling him with starches {rice cereal}, we would venture out to starting solid foods. I know many pediatricians aren't recommending that babies start solid foods until they're six months, but our doctor gave us the okay after conducting a developmental test on Walker and this is what works best for us and our family. 

I did a ton of research and I came across this helpful reference chart {below} on Pinterest. I made a few notes on it, highlighted what he could have now, and it's hanging on our refrigerator. I also found this article was very helpful, as was this one


After my research, I felt very confident that I would make Walker's baby food. Not that I have anything against canned baby food in the least or those who give it to their babies; I was given it when I was a baby and I turned out just fine {or so I think!}. But for me personally, I really want to know what's going in my child's little belly, and making it at home allows me to do that. Also, I didn't like the long laundry list of ingredients I couldn't even pronounce on a jar of baby food at the grocery store, not to mention the amounts of sodium that are in them to preserve them on the shelf that long. And have you smelled some of that stuff? Yuck! I wouldn't eat that, so why should Walker have to? This article really put it into perspective for me.

I got a couple of tips from my cousin, whose daughter is exactly one year and one day older than Walker. And this past Sunday, I began my homemade baby food-making journey! 

My doctor advised us to start with vegetables, since obviously they're not as sweet as fruits and babies tend to like fruits better. She also said to start with one vegetable and do that for five days before introducing another to rule out any food allergies. We started with green beans {and I let Walker have a taste of banana out of my own sheer curiosity}, but I went ahead and made and froze: green beans, avocados, bananas and pears. 

Here's how I did it: 

1. Purchase fruits and vegetables from your local grocery store or farmer's market. I purchased all of ours from the organic produce section of Kroger


2. Wash and dry thoroughly. I always fill up our sink with warm water and splash a little bit of regular vinegar in the water to help the produce "keep" a little longer. 

3. For the green beans, I steamed them on the stove for 10-15 minutes. You can also use a baby food maker, such as the Baby Bullet, Cuisinart or Beaba, but I went ahead and just did what I do for our food and steamed them. {Place the green beans in a pot, fill with just enough water to cover them, place a lid on the pot and simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.} When they were done steaming, I used a slotted spoon and put them in the bowl of my food processor. I turned it on for a few seconds, and then poured a little bit of the water I used to steam the green beans in into the bowl and hit "pulse" for a minute. You will know the food is finished when the consistency looks just like that jarred baby food you see at the grocery store! {I'll follow this same step for green peas, asparagus, broccoli, carrotscauliflower, zucchini, etc.} 

4. Once the green beans were finished, I used one of Walker's tiny baby spoons and scooped them into these freezer trays, labeled them and let them freeze overnight. {You could also use a regular ice cube tray, as well, but just make sure to cover it with saran wrap or something similar!} 


Once they had frozen overnight, I took took the freezer tray out, ran the back under hot water and popped each portion out individually. Then, I put each portion in a labeled Ziploc bag and put it back in the freezer. This makes it so easy to pull one out when it's time to eat. 


5. When it's time to feed Walker, I just take one of the portions out of the Ziploc bag, put it in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 20-30 seconds. {Time will depend on your microwave; ours is older!} I test the temperature by doing a little taste myself {one of the many benefits of making your own baby food!} and then feed him. 

Green beans before warming 


Green beans after warming - ready to eat!


He's not too keen on the green beans, but we'll keep trying! 


6. Bananas and avocados {and any other "mushy" food like that one - for example, a sweet potato after it's been baked in the oven} are much easier, obviously, since you can just scoop, mash and enjoy! These things can easily be mashed and eaten right off the bat if you have them on hand, but I wanted to go ahead and make-and-freeze for convenience. 

For the bananas, I just peeled one banana at a time, broke it into sections, placed it in a bowl and mashed it up with a fork. {Be sure you mash well, because bananas can leave little chunks if you're not careful! Note that the color will look a little darker once it has been frozen, but it tastes exactly the same and is perfectly safe for baby to eat.} Since I was making-and-freezing, I did the same as above in step four and fed him using the same as above in step five. 

Bananas before warming 


Bananas after warming - ready to eat!



For the avocados, I just halved each avocado, removed the seed and scooped out the avocado into a bowl. It was just like making guacamole…but with only avocado! Ha! I just mashed it very well, added a tiny squirt of lemon juice to help it keep its green color and followed the same as above in steps four and five. 

7. Fruits are a little bit different, especially juicy fruits like plums, pears, nectarines, etc. For the pears, I peeled them, sliced them into chunks and simmered {sans water} over the stovetop for about 10 minutes. For the less-juicy fruits {e.g. apples}, I'll add a little water and simmer with water as opposed to without.


Then, I just followed the same steps as above: four and five! I put the sautéed chunks into my food processor and turned on for probably about 30 seconds. The pears took a lot shorter time to puree than the green beans. 


Here's what the pears looked like when they were finished: kind of like applesauce! 


Then I just scooped the puree into the freezer trays, labeled and placed in the freezer. I just repeated by putting them into a labeled Ziploc bag once they were frozen overnight.


With all this, I saved a great deal of money. I made about four weeks' worth of Walker's baby food for $14.88! And, I had a great time doing it and knowing what's going in his little belly: yummy, healthy organic vegetables and nothing like "chemically modified tapioca." {Ick.}

Good luck on your baby food-making journey! Please let me know if you have any questions; I'm happy to help!

2 comments:

  1. Such fun!! This is definitely something I will want to do when I have kiddos someday!

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  2. Love this! Thanks for all the thorough explanations and the links to learn more!! I will definitely be referencing this when the time comes. It sounds so much better than putting a bunch of chemicals in their bodies!

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