Diy Baby Food

By Chandra Orr

August 3, 2011 7 min read

Do-it-yourself baby food is back in vogue. With an eye on all-natural, organic, eco-conscious eating, an increasing number of modern mothers are forgoing store-bought baby food in favor of do-it-yourself meals.

"Mothers want the best for their babies' growth and development. They have realized that commercial-bought baby food does not fit the bill and that they can actually prepare their own organic baby food cheaply and easily," says Ruth Yaron, author of "Super Baby Food."

Making your own baby food isn't a complicated process. It's simple to get started, and you don't need any fancy gadgets or equipment -- just a blender, utensils and a healthy selection of fresh foods. The results are more nutritious, more delicious and easier on the wallet than stocking your pantry with all those tiny jars.

"There's nothing like the taste of fresh, homemade baby food, and there's no doubt it is more nutritious than the commercially prepared varieties," says Tina Ruggiero, registered dietician and co-author of "The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet."

The ingredients in ready-made baby foods are heated to high temperatures to sterilize the food and extend its shelf life, which makes for less tasty, less nutritious meals, Ruggiero says. Store-bought foods also may contain thickening agents, such as flour or chemically modified starches.

"This makes the food safe for baby and convenient for you, but it also destroys most of the natural flavors, aromas and some key nutrients in the process, so the meal is not as nutritiously rich as it could be," Ruggiero explains.

For the most part, baby can eat what you eat. It just needs to be pureed to a consistency that matches your little one's ability to eat. For example, food for a 6-month-old should be smoother and more pureed than that served to a baby who is 9 months old.

To streamline the process, consider a one-step baby food maker, such as the Baby Brezza or the Beaba Babycook. These compact countertop appliances make mealtime a snap for do-it-yourself moms. In as little as 15 minutes, the all-in-one makers steam and blend fruits, vegetables and meats. Just add the ingredients and set the timer; the machine does the rest.

If the one-step processors are out of your price range, batch cooking is the way to go.

"Prepare several recipes on Sunday. Freeze them, and defrost the items you need throughout the week," Ruggiero says.

Freeze meal-sized portions in covered ice-cube trays or small BPA-free plastic containers. Because it has no preservatives, homemade baby food will only store for two or three days in the refrigerator, but it will keep for four to six weeks in the freezer. Thaw frozen portions in the fridge.

Prepare a range of foods, from meats and proteins to grains and produce. When shopping, look for in-season fruits and vegetables for peak flavor, freshness and nutrition. The more colorful the assortment the more well-rounded your baby's diet will be, ensuring he gets plenty of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

"Offering baby an assortment of tastes and textures has more than just nutritional benefits," Ruggiero says. "It means baby will be more willing to like these foods later on."

When preparing baby food at home, keep an eye on food safety, as salmonella, E. coli and other common bacteria can be quite dangerous for infants.

"Infants are vulnerable to food-borne illnesses, so it's important you take precautionary measures when preparing homemade baby food," Ruggiero says. "A little knowledge of food safety will go a long way to keeping your baby healthy."

According to Ruggiero, DIY moms always should:

--Wash hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water before cooking and after handling raw foods.

--Wash countertops and cooking implements thoroughly, taking care to fully disassemble grinders, blenders and baby food cookers for scrubbing.

--Store baby food in clean containers at the correct refrigerator temperature -- no higher than 38 degrees.

--Wash all raw foods before cooking. Scrub produce thoroughly, and then peel and remove seeds or pits. Rinse fish, poultry and other meat. Remove skin, bones, gristle, fat and connective tissue, and cook to the proper temperature.

--Discard leftover food in the baby's dish. Do not save it for later.

--Introduce one new food at a time. If your child has a food allergy, it will be easier to pick up on.


YUMMY APPLE-PEAR PUREE (for 6-month-olds)

Seckels are delicious, miniature-sized pears that are in season between August and January. Given their size, they're ideal for making baby food purees, and because they are naturally sweet, babies love them! Pears are also a rich source of nutrients.

1 ripe Seckel or 1_2 pear of another variety

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice

Peel, core and chop the pear. Put it into a small saucepan with the applesauce, and cook covered on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until mixture is soft. Allow mixture to cool slightly, and then add to blender with juice and whip into a smooth puree. This recipe, covered tightly, will last for 2 days in the refrigerator.

Yield: 4 baby servings, 2 tablespoons each

(Recipe from Tina Ruggiero and Karin Knight's "The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet," Fair Winds Press, 2010)


Baby carrots can be cut into thin strips (julienned) and microwaved, steamed or simmered until very soft and served as finger food. When cooked or served with a little unsalted butter, the fat helps the body absorb the carrots' vitamin A.

4 baby carrots

1/4 cup peeled, cubed and cooked sweet potato

3 tablespoons water

Cut the carrots lengthwise and then in half, and place in a small glass bowl with the cooked sweet potato and water. Cover, and microwave on high 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, and then puree in a blender or mash with a fork. Use apple juice, breast milk or formula if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Yield: 4 baby servings, 2 tablespoons each

(Recipe from Tina Ruggiero and Karin Knight's "The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet," Fair Winds Press, 2010)

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