If you told me 10 years ago that I would be making my own baby food I wouldn’t have believed you [see My Journey]. I never pictured myself as that person…you know, the make your own everything kind of person? Then I had my first (and second) baby—simultaneously. Yes, twins. I was blessed with healthy identical twin girls in December of 2007. The ultimate Christmas gift! About 4-6 months later I was learning about introducing solid foods [see Infant Food Introduction Schedule]. This is when I really started to ask questions. I embarked on a journey that lead me to places I never imagined I’d go and had me asking questions I never dreamed I’d ask. I questioned everything from vaccines to baby lotion to public school. If you’ve been reading my blog you know my mantra is “baby steps”. That is the best advice I can give you. Take one thing at a time and go from there. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself up at two in the morning reading books and browsing the internet driving yourself crazy!
Step 1: Get the gear. What do you REALLY need to get started making your own baby food?
1. Food processor or a good blender. I used a combination of these. I did go out and buy the food processor that is marketed to Moms as baby food making specific. This is not necessary but it isn’t a total waste of money either. I started out with the Kidco Baby Food Mill and the Oster Blender (see below). I am still using both of these. Do I dream of the big fancy food processor and the Vitamix blender? YES! I just haven’t been able to get myself to shell out the money for them. I’m predicting they are in my kitchen this year though!
2. Steamer and Storage containers. These items are essentials as well. I either steamed the veggies or baked them. I avoided the plastic steamer appliance options available. I try to avoid plastic if I can due to the possibility of any kind of chemical leaching from the plastic even if it says it’s BPA free, I’d just rather avoid it.
I went to several stores trying to figure out what to get to make the freezing process easier. I found the Oxo ice cube tray with lid. They do break my rule on the plastic issue. To make myself feel better I would allow the food to cool before I placed it in the containers. Yes, you can use a regular ice cube tray. However, these allow you to easily stack them in your fridge without making a mess. I think I have at least 6 of them. Baby food making was quite the operation at my house. I made huge batches on Sundays. Once the food was frozen in the ice cube trays I would transfer it to large Ziploc freezer bags for long term storage. Keep in mind that these are reusable. Once empty just wash them out, let dry, and fill them up again! There are fancier containers now for baby food storage. I linked to one below. I like that they are glass and have lids. These are perfect for heating up the baby food in. The night before I would try to remember to take some of the frozen baby food cubes out of the freezer and place them in containers in the fridge for the next day. That way they would defrost and I could just heat them up. We were a little sleep deprived at my house so this didn’t always happen so many times I was warming up the frozen cubes :). Please keep in mind that you can make baby food as you need it as well. You don’t have to freeze it. I would make extra veggies when I cooked meals for my husband and I and just blend them up for the babies.
Step 2: Pick a time. Finding the time to do this isn’t as hard as you might think. We’re NOT talking about hours of time spent mixing pots of food. I’ll give you an example. Sweet potatoes can be prepared a few ways. One of them is to set your oven to 400 degrees F, score the top of the sweet potato, place it a baking dish, and place it in the oven for about an hour. When its nice and soft remove it from the oven, remove the skin, puree it, and then dump it in your ice cube tray. Done. It might take you 2 minutes to get it in the oven and then 5 minutes to peel and puree. One sweet potato goes a long way too! I would make a few of them and I would have enough sweet potatoes for the babies for a month or TWO! Pick a time when you can commit to getting it done. I picked Sunday afternoons. It helped that my husband was home on the weekends to help out with the babies and I would set aside the time to get my head around the idea of whipping up a few veggies for the month. Sometimes I would only add one new veggie to the mix in the freezer or I would get really excited and whip out a few of them. I’ll go into more details on how to prepare the veggies on the Infant Food Introduction Schedule in future posts. Basically, I would either steam or bake them.
Step 3: Buy the fruits or veggies. The critical thing here is to purchase fruits and veggies that are organic or that at a minimum follow the EWG’s Dirty Dozen™. and Clean 15™ [see Shopping Organic on a Budget: The Guide to the Dirtiest Produce]. Please make sure that you have a recommended food introduction schedule from your health care provider. I started visiting a Naturapathic Doctor when my girls were 6 months old and it was life changing for my whole family. When introducing a new food to your baby I wouldn’t make a huge batch initially. Make a smaller batch and watch for allergic reaction symptoms. It has been my experience that your infant not liking the food is not a reason to stop making it. Sometimes it takes them several attempts over a period of time to develop a taste for it. I would mix something they didn’t prefer with something they liked until they developed a taste for it. There were veggies that my girls wouldn’t eat on their own for 6 months or more. You are developing their palates, teach them to like real foods. They only know unhealthy foods exist because you introduce them to them!
Best of luck making your own baby food! Check in as I continue to post tips on food preparation and other tips!