Making your own baby food can be as easy as seeing what is available from the store and finding your own recipe. Remember, breast milk meets all your baby’s needs for about the first 6 months of life. Between 6 and 12 months of age, your baby will learn about new tastes and textures with healthy solid food, but breast milk should still be an important source of nutrition.
It is important to feed your baby slowly, encourage your baby to try new tastes but without force, and watch closely to see if he or she is still hungry. Later on, I will discuss the USDA guidelines to help you determine if your baby is ready for solid foods.
Some baby foods are just food in their natural state. For example, mashed potatoes and applesauce. Yes, mashed potatoes or yet sweet potatoes are available in the baby food aisle. Convenience comes with a cost. Making your own baby food is not only cheaper, but comes without additional ingredients such as concentrated fruit juice as a sweetener.
To begin making your own baby food, you may need to purchase a small eight-cup food processor for under $20.00 along with ice cube trays for quick small portion freezing. Next, it is important to review food safety skills about handwashing. Here are the Center for Disease Control recommendations.
First, wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your finger and under your nails. Scrub your hand for a least 20 seconds or sign “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. Rinse hands well under clean running water. Dry hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.
Remember to check your baby’s cues to see if they are ready for solid food. Here are USDA’s guidelines.
Babies are mature enough to begin learning to eat from a spoon when they can hold their necks steady and sit with supported. Next they should draw in their lower lips as a spoon is removed from their
Mouths, and keep food in their mouths and swallow it rather than push it back out on their chins.
Babies show disinterest or fullness by leaning back, turning away, pushing the food out of their mouths, and playing with the food.
Next, it is important to learn about which foods can cause choking and why it important to not give babies honey, whole milk or home canned foods. In addition, beets, carrots, collard greens, spinach and turnips prepared at home should not be given to babies under six months. When prepared at home, these are high in nitrates and should only be given to babies six months and older. Commercially prepared baby food spinach, beets and carrots contain only traces of nitrate and are not considered a risk.
When the baby is ready, most parents begin with feeding iron fortified rice cereal because it is the least likely to cause an allergy and is easily digested. Mix the dried cereal with breast milk or formula to enrich the protein. Add the liquid to get the desired consistency.
Now , you are ready to begin preparing your very own baby food. Remember do not add salt, sugar, fat and other seasoning to vegetables and fruits. Remove baby’s portion before preparing and seasoning vegetables and fruits for others.
Here is an easy recipe for homemade applesauce.
Peel and core apples. Cut apples into large chunks.
Place apples and 1 cup of water into a medium pot. Bring apples to a boil over high
heat, stirring often. Turn heat to medium and simmer the apples for 30 minutes or until the apples are very soft. Stir often. Mash with a fork to become
smoother. May be served warm or chilled. Refrigerate leftovers.
Makes six servings.
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.