Having a baby is exciting until you realize you have another hungry mouth to feed. As you begin to wean your little one and transition to solid foods, you’ll likely begin making your own baby food. While you could go the store-bought route, pureeing their food yourself is much more affordable, albeit a bit more work.
Here’s how to simplify the prep, storage and even feeding process. With these tips, making your own baby food will be a breeze.
Food accounts for more than half of all choking episodes, with infants being among those most at risk. Because babies’ airways are so small, you must thoroughly puree or mash up any food you prepare for them. Stocking up on a few pieces of kitchen equipment can make this process easier and ensure no small seeds or bits of food end up in their mouths.
Make sure you have a blender or food processor on hand as well as a hand masher and vegetable peeler for foods with a more fibrous outer layer. After boiling, steaming or microwaving the food, mash or blend with water or breast milk until the consistency is a bit runny. Strain foods with seeds through a sieve to further minimize choking hazards.
Making baby food isn’t quite like making a breakfast smoothie. Instead of blending five or six different ingredients, you’ll want to begin with just one. Choose mild foods like sweet potatoes or avocados and blend them individually. Then, once they reach the desired consistency, you can feed them to your little one.
This one-ingredient strategy is important as your baby transitions to solid foods. Introduce each food one at a time with two to four days between each to help detect any allergies. Once they’ve tried a few different foods and seem to tolerate them — or even enjoy them — you can begin mixing them to create new flavor combinations.
You might also try adding herbs to your baby food purees to nurture their growing palate. Introducing different flavors in this way will also teach your little one to expect change with food. Regardless of how much they love sweet potatoes, they can’t eat them their entire lives.
Stir in mild herbs and spices like chives, sage and cinnamon and base them on combinations you like. Hard-boiled egg yolk with chive, sage and butternut squash and cinnamon with sweet potatoes are just a few tasty options.
Depending on your budget, fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to prepare and nutritious. Plus, you can rest easy knowing they don’t contain any added salt or sugars. However, you can use frozen foods, too as long as they don’t contain any additional ingredients or preservatives.
Likewise, you’ll also want to cook all frozen food first and mash or puree it just as you would with fresh ingredients. Doing so makes the food easier for your baby to digest and obviously easier to puree.
One of the easiest ways to save time when making food is to bulk prep meals. Otherwise, you’ll be in the kitchen chopping, boiling and blending before every meal. Make your life easier by preparing a few days worth of baby food at a time. Then, store it in mason jars in the fridge, labeling each jar with the type of food and the date.
You may also choose to freeze the food to store for up to one month. Simply pour the pureed food into ice cube trays and freeze. Then, just pop them out and store in an airtight container or ziploc bag until you’re ready to thaw them and feed them to your baby. Just don’t refreeze foods that contain breast milk as it may spoil or lose vital nutrients in the process.
If ice cubes seem like too much work, consider using a squeeze station. This handy device has three syringe-like tubes that you can squeeze directly into plastic pouches. When you’re done, all you have to do is take the contraption apart and stick it in the dishwasher.
Like the cubed baby food, you can store these pouches in the freezer for up to a month. Plus, you’ll save a ton of money purchasing and making your own pouches instead of buying individual packs from the supermarket.
You could also skip the pouches altogether and use a refillable feeding spoon. This option is especially wise if your budget is tight or you’re more eco-conscious. The ergonomic spoon and squeezable bottle make feeding a breeze. Plus, a removable cap allows for easy refills and cleaning.
A refillable feeding spoon will also help your child transition from sucking on a pouch to using utensils. Since your baby won’t be pouch feeding for very long, it’s smart to have this helpful spoon on hand to help them develop more sophisticated movements of the lips, tongue and palate.
When it comes to feeding your baby, their nutrition isn’t the only thing to consider. While feeding them the proper nutrients is essential, being able to do so affordably and effectively is also important. As you transition your little one from a liquid to a solid diet, keep looking for creative ways to cut costs and save time. Hopefully, the tips above will help you to do just that.