Baby food is a great way to safely ease your baby into eating solid food. However, commercially packaged baby foods are expensive and available in a limited variety. Due to safety concerns in different parts of the commercial food industry, many consumers also feel safer preparing as much food at home as possible. In addition, making your own baby food allows you to give your baby gentler versions of the same foods you eat and allows you to utilize any homegrown or locally grown produce you may have.
Basics of baby food
Essentially, all you really need to make your own baby food at home is a blender that has a good puree setting. Some cheaper blenders may leave small lumps or potentially hazardous bits of pulp in your baby food. A blender that's good for baby food will generally start at about $25 to $30 -- which is probably the biggest single expenditure you'll make in order to make your own baby food at home. In the beginning (stage one), baby food consists of nothing more than single fruits or vegetables pureed to an even, applesauce-type consistency. Most doctors recommend adding only one new food about every two weeks, allowing time to ensure your baby doesn't have an allergic reaction to the new addition.
Storing homemade baby food
Any air-tight container works well for storing baby food for several days in your refrigerator. Small plastic storage containers or small jars (such as empty commercial baby food jars) work great for storage. If you'd rather make large batches of baby food ahead of time and freeze them, consider freezing the puree in large ice cube trays first. Once frozen, the baby food cubes can be sealed in freezer bags and labeled with the type and date. Thaw completely before serving. Most babies will eat one or two cubes worth of food for each meal.
Creating baby food for different stages
As your baby grows, so does his or her nutritional and developmental needs. Older babies will need more complex foods, sometimes including two or three ingredients from different parts of the food plate (i.e., a starch, vegetable and meat) and slowly incorporating small chunks into the food. In the beginning, this might just be a matter of adding in mashed pieces of well-cooked pasta or egg. Over time, cooked vegetables, soft fruit or bits of tender meat may be minced or finely diced and added to the food. Consult with your doctor for the best possible food choices for your baby at any given stage.