Affordable Healthy Baby Food

grace.jpgIt’s never too early to begin a baby’s journey to healthy eating. By introducing and then continually offering your baby whole foods, you’ll steer clear of many of the common pitfalls often made by parents. In addition, when the Baby Bite steps with multi-sensory learning are incorporated from the beginning of your baby’s eating experience, picky eating will never become a problem.

It all starts with baby’s first solid food. Many moms purchase their baby’s first solid foods ready-made. The baby food jars are certainly cute, but this is usually NOT a healthy choice and definitely NOT the most economical.

Many baby foods have added sugars and thickeners, such as modified food starches, and flours. Organic baby foods will be your best source for nutrition in the store bought variety. Of course, no pesticides are used in the growing process of organic foods, although the cost will be higher.

Grace finds it hard to believe that baby food is sooo easy to make.
Photo taken by Mary Beth Graff Photography: http://www.mbgpics.com/

In a Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI ) report about baby food they say, “Baby foods are very high priced compared to similar regular foods… parents often pay more than double for baby food fruit juices and applesauce…Makers of baby food encourage a mystique about their products. They want parents to think that commercial baby foods have special properties that make them particularly appropriate, if not essential, for infants.”

CSPI recommends making your own baby food and always avoid baby food desserts. I agree! What makes baby food applesauce any different from applesauce for big people? NOTHING…both should be sugar-free! I’d like to know who came up with the idea of baby dessert, anyway. Since when do we need to teach our children to eat sweets? Babies shouldn’t eat any sugar, at least during the first year, after that only sparingly, if at all.

Most babies are ready to begin solid food at about 6 months. Making your baby’s food gives you total control over what goes into your baby’s tiny tummy. You’ll know it’s free of additives and you’ll have the option of preparing organic foods for your baby. If your family is prone to food allergies, homemade baby food will ensure your baby will not ingest hidden allergenic ingredients!

It’s not difficult to make your own baby food
Before you begin, you should make sure you have clean hands and clean utensils. Homemade baby food will store for three days in your refrigerator or you can freeze it in baby-size portions in an ice cube tray. Once the food is frozen, remove the individual portions and defrost when needed in the refrigerator. After feeding your baby, throw out any uneaten portion, because bacteria will quickly grow.

The first grains to introduce should be oatmeal, barley, and brown rice. You can make your own baby cereal by grinding up the grains in a food blender (or even a clean coffee grinder). To make a powder of the grain, place a cup or two of brown rice, barley, or oatmeal in your blender. Turn on to high and process until it’s the consistency of a powder. Store your powdered grains in an air tight container, in a cool dry place. When you’re ready to make the cereal, Put ¾ of a cup of water into a saucepan. Once the water is boiling, add one ½ cup of the grain powder. Use a whisk to mix it together. Simmer for about 10 minutes and continue to whisk the entire time. Add liquid (breast milk or formula) to the desired thickness. Baby cereal stores nicely in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Of course you can also freeze cereal in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, place the cubes into a plastic bag and store them for up to 3 months.

When your baby is ready to add more food items, it’s a good idea to know which foods to avoid. Foods to stay away from the first year of baby’s life are chocolate, citrus fruit, egg, fish, honey, milk, peanut, shellfish, soy, sugar, tree nut (walnut, cashew, etc.), and wheat.

Introduce new foods at the rate of one per week, so you can pinpoint any allergies or sensitivities. Make sure your child has accepted grains, vegetables, and fruits before adding any meats. Steam vegetables to retain as much vitamins and minerals as possible, as opposed to boiling.

First foods to consider after brown rice, barley, and oats are applesauce, apricots, avocados, bananas, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, mangoes, peas, peaches, pears, pumpkins, squash, and yams. Add meats (turkey, chicken, lamb, and beef) after your baby is used to eating grains, veggies, and fruits.

I think it’s best to wait until a baby is able to pick up small pieces of food him/herself, before introducing most food. Just make sure the food is soft and coarsely mashed or chopped into very tiny pieces. Another easy method is to grate food items for a toddler: carrots, apples, pears, etc. Know that a baby may eat only a tablespoon or so of food at a time. Don’t force your baby to eat any food.

If you want to puree the food, then steam it and puree it in a blender or mash it with a potato masher or fork. Add liquid as you are pureeing or blending to the desired consistency. The secret to how much food you put in the kitchen appliance you use to puree is that the container basket should never be more than half-full. No appliance will do a good job if it’s overstuffed! Fill the container less than half way and add a scant amount of liquid to begin.

It’s not usually until the second year, that babies tend to become picky. If your baby (and then toddler) eats only whole foods, picky eating won’t EVER become a problem.

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For a synopsis of Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater,
Click Here.

2 thoughts on “Affordable Healthy Baby Food

  1. Tara says:

    Thank you for always sending me these interesting arrticles! Recently we started feeding Macie baby food and I love the idea of making our own! I already bought organic carrots, peas and sweet potatoes! I was wondering about the order of food though, her Dr. recomended feeding her all orange veggies first then green, then meats and then fruit last.. So, I was wondering why you suggest feeding meats last? Well, thanks for all the great ideas! Tara

    Tara, Produce is easier to digest than meats. That’s the reason I placed meat last. I can understand why your pediatrician wants to introduce fruit last. We have a natural disposition to sweet tasting foods and fruit is the sweetest. I would think oatmeal and brown rice should be introduced before veggies, then sweet potatoes and carrots. Green veggies, like green beans, and then meat. Perhaps, you might want to introduce pumpkin as the first fruit as not as sweet as bananas and it’s a super food. You might want to alternate the introduction of meat with fruit. First, chicken, then applesauce, then beef, then peaches, etc. For sure you have options as to the order new foods are introduced. Be sure to wait about a week to make sure your baby doesn’t have a reaction to any new food.
    A big Nonna Hug, Joann Bruso

  2. Libby says:

    Nonna, great idea on the grating of foods – my girls only eat WHOLE/REAL foods and I’m always looking for ways to make interesting food small enough for my 10 month old to eat wtihout choking.
    Thanks!
    Libby

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