Looking back, I really wish I hadn't read that, or at least that there had been more encouragement in What to Expect the First Year. Once I had been doing this blog for a few months, Kaitlyn was coming up on one year old. I had noticed that there were a lot of moms out there who made their own baby food. I asked about it, and so many of you told me how easy it was. I decided when I had my next baby, I would try making baby food.
Let me tell you, it is easy! It is a lot easier than you would ever imagine. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes more time to make babyfood than it does to buy babyfood (unless you live really far from the store...but you go to the store to buy food for your family already). So why would I do it when I have three kids? Here are my reasons (in no order):
- SANITATION: Wait, didn't I just comment about what that book said? Didn't it say your kitchen could never match the sanitary conditions of baby food manufacturers? Yes I did. Things have changed. Or I have changed. I don't necessarily believe that anymore. There have been so many recalls recently in the United States. I am not trying to get political, but when large corporations recall food because people are dying, and they then disclose that there are dead rats in the plant...it makes me skeptical. I am disillusioned. I no longer trust these companies implicitely. Yes, I once did. I can be naive. I am the type to trust until my trust is broken, but then it is hard to earn my trust back. I definitely hope that babyfood manufacturers are more cautious and careful, but I don't know that they are. I know what is in my kitchen. I have full control over it.
- HEALTH: My guess is that babyfood manufacturers make their food as soon as they can after picking it. That is my hope. However, I grow a garden, and I have food right in my backyard. What I don't grow, my husband's grandparents do. I am very fortunate in this way. I know what is done to my vegetables and fruits. I can also make the babyfood as soon after harvesting as possible. Fruits and veggies lose nutrients as they are harvested, so the sooner they are prepared, the better. This is a benefit I have and one compelling reason for me to make babyfood myself.
- MONEY: Along the same lines, money! Since we grow a garden and can get so much for free, it seems silly for me not to make it. It is free babyfood! If you don't grow a garden, it is still a lot less expensive (in most cases) to make it yourself if you buy it from the store. There are times of year that certain things are quite expensive (like fruit around here in the winter months).
- CHALLENGE: Okay, I admit it, I like a challenge. It was something I hadn't done before and I wanted to see if I could.
- REWARD: I find it very rewarding to make the food from scratch. I actually get a bit giddy inside when I make McKenna her food.
- TASTE: I find it tastes good enough I would eat it, which I can't really say for all store bought baby food.
For anyone interested in making babyfood, I encourage you to try. I also want to point out that for me, making babyfood is not an all or nothing situation. McKenna does get store-bought babyfood. I like to keep it on hand for traveling. I also give her store-bought before I can make it. I like to make it in masses, and I have been making it as it has been in season. Thankfully, for me, not everything is in season at the same moment. Also, she has been getting store-bought prunes. Amy, a blog reader, told me she buys prunes and makes them. I have purchased some prunes and intend to make them, but I am making my food that will spoil first.
So my point is, you can make some baby food at home and feed some store bought baby food.
You really don't need much for making babyfood, and you probably have just about everything you will need already.
- Cutting board
- Possibly a pan for cooking if you are making things like peaches before baby can have them raw.
- Cookie sheet/baking pan (if you want to bake things in the oven, like squash).
- Ice cube trays
- Wax paper or cling wrap
- Blender or Food Processor. We have a Cuisinart, but I actually mostly just use at little food processor that looks similar to this: Continental CE22361 Mini Chopper
- This is not a necessity, but I find it invaluable: KidCo Baby Food Maker and Mill. It is so easy to use. It strains the food. I use this more than anything else.
- MAKE IN BULK: I make it all in bulk. It takes about the same amount of time to make one ice cube tray of food as it does one, so it saves more time if you make more at a time.
- MAKE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED: While you want to make in bulk, the food only lasts so long. Try your best to calculate about how much your baby will eat before it goes bad and make that much. For example, peaches last two months in the freezer. You don't want to make 6 months worth at one time and have to throw 4 months worth away.
- MAKE WHAT YOU CAN STORE: You will find baby food quickly starts to take up a lot of space in your freezer. We already owned two refrigerator/freezer combos, and both freezers are stuffed full. Just today, we bought an upright freezer. I jokingly told a friend that I guess making babyfood didn't save us much money after all :). We had actually been planning on buying one anyway. It just moved up the priority list with all of the baby food. So make what you can store in your freezer. If you want a rounded menu (green veggies, orange veggies, and fruits), you won't be able to make so much at one time and fit it in one freezer.
- INVOLVE THE FAMILY: Making babyfood alone isn't hard, but it does take time. If you can involve another member of the family, it can shave a lot of time off. I even have Brayden help me (he loves to help in the kitchen). I have him twist the food mill while I push it down. Doing it a few times by yourself is no problem, but 20 times later, your hands start to hurt! It really is a big help to have Brayden help me.
- FREEZER BAGS: I put my baby food into freezer bags once it is all frozen. Yaron suggests using small freezer bags. I have found this to be a good idea. When you open and close over and over, the food doesn't stay as fresh, so the smaller the bag, the less food to go through while trying to keep it fresh.
- LABEL: Be sure to label it. Peaches and squash look a lot alike when frozen.
- GROUP IT: I put my food in small freezer bags, but then put one of each bag that I am using into a gallon sized freezer bag. This helps in a few ways. One is that it is extra protection for the food being stored. Another is that it is easy to find the food I need each morning when I am getting the food out. Before I started doing this, I would search through the freezer trying to find a particular bag. You might put things back in the same spot, but if more than one person lives in your house who uses the freezer, he (or she) might not.
- GET IT OUT: Each morning, I get out what McKenna will eat for the entire day and put it in bowls with lids on them. I then put the bowls in the refrigerator so the food can start to defrost.
There are two resources I like best.
- Wholesome Babyfood.com: This is a great site, and is really the only resource you would need. Something nice about a website is that it is dynamic and they keep current recipes on the homepage. For example, as I write this post, it is October and they have a quick link to pumpkin recipes for baby. It offers lots of different recipes for each food. If you check out the avocado section, you will see several different ways to prepare avocado for your baby. This isn't really necessary; baby is fine with the same old thing over and over, but you might find it fun.
- Super Baby Food : This is my favorite resource. I am more of a book person than a website person. I like to have books to look through. I keep this book in my kitchen with my recipe books. This book is worth it even just for the section on how to choose, store, prep, make, and keep all fruits and veggies. I use it for the whole family! If you prefer books, I would get this.
If you do not feed your baby homemade baby food, please do not take this post as an attack at you. You do not now need to fret or worry about this. I only intend this to be encouraging for anyone out there who wants to try, not a condemnation for those who don't want to try.
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