Once lil R hit the 4 month mark, my pediatrician told me to start giving R semi solids(stage I foods) as he was able to sit with support. And I followed the usual routine of going to the shop and buying bottles and boxes of different kinds of vegetable purees(not fruit) from brands like Gerber, Beechnut, Earths best organic etc etc., Few days later it hit me that I could make this stuff at home. Why? Well, mainly because of these reasons:
1) It is Fresh, my Lil one loves the fresh flavor and taste rather than the processed food taste.
2) It is more economical- Let’s say one sweet potato costs about $1. You can make puree out of it for baby for days! But one small box of the same sweet potato puree will be about $2. And that $2 box will be enough for just one serving. I will leave the Math to you all to calculate how much it would add up for a year.
3) I don’t have to worry about ingredients added to the store bought baby foods or any product recalls.
Say for example, this label from a box of mashed bananas. How tough it is to mash fresh bananas and give it to the baby? That will save us a lot of time going over these ingredients, checking the use by date,figuring out if it is safe or not..Whew!
Am I totally against buying branded baby food? Nope. I find it useful for travel. Like last month when we were literally living out of suitcases, traveling from TX to Seattle to Canada to NY and then back home, I could not pack my pressure cookers and pots and pans and blenders(who likes to pay for extra baggage these days huh??). I used all the boxed baby foods and was glad that such an option is available.
But, there were days when lil R would spit the spoonful of mashed green beans at me and would make faces. Yeah, the 4 month old could realize the taste of fresh green beans and processed beans. So, why don’t we give them an introduction to healthier life style by making their foods at home? We do not eat out all day or live out of canned soups, do we? Then why do it to our precious little ones?
I am actually scared of starting this topic too. I decided to be a stay at home mom by choice. Not many moms out there can do that. Once when I spoke about home made food for babies, one of our friends turned to his wife and casually said, ” If she could do it, why didn’t you?”. I am a big supporter of both working moms and stay at home moms, so this post is not to brag about how I could do stuff. I am writing this so that it could be helpful for somebody somewhere. With a baby rolling all over the place, it is tough to do all chores, so accept what mom’s do for their kids and if you want to make baby food at home, use this post as a starter. Please don’t wave it in front of a new mom and start criticizing her way of bringing up children.
When to start stage I foods:
Better place would be at the pediatrician’s office. The doctor is the best person to recommend when to start stage I baby food. Check with the doctor if there are any vegetables you should avoid for your baby and what meal plan to follow. I did only these single vegetables for 2 months (4-6 months).
What do you need?
Patience. Tons and tons of it.
Time (Double the amount of patience here)
A pressure cooker or a steamer (As an Indian, I cant imagine a kitchen without a pressure cooker)
The recommended vegetables
Starting with single vegetables for 4- 6 month olds:
Assuming that you want to do a sweet potato puree, wash and peel the skin of one 1″ sweet potato(yes, babies eat in little amounts, so not an entire sweet potato, just 1 or 2″ pieces). Chop it into cubes, transfer it to a stainless steel bowl, cover the bowl with a lid, pressure cook. I do not add water to the veggie while cooking.
Once the pressure is released, transfer the cooked sweet potato to a blender(better blend it when the food is warm, not hot or cold) and blend it really smooth. The texture should be really smooth with no chunks. If needed, add 1-2 tbsp of water to get the consistency while blending. If you are in doubt, pass the mash through the stainer for finer texture. You can also check which texture is fit for first foods by using one of the baby food jars from any brands. Then just follow that texture. Never give chunky pieces to babies. It has to be a smooth puree.
If you are using green beans, make sure that there are no strings in the beans. Chop it into 1″ pieces and proceed as above.
One sweet potato can give you a puree to last for atleast 1-2 weeks. Start with a 1″ slice first, see if the baby likes it, then proceed to do in bulk and store in freezer in single serve containers if you like. You can warm it up as needed. If not, you can just slice a piece of the vegetable and cook it and mash it everyday. It is not that tough, is it?
Before feeding the baby:
Always check if it tastes alright(not spoilt). DO check the temperature. If using frozen stored baby food, re-heat sensibly. Microwaves give off irregular heat and can result in serious burns if you give food to the baby without testing the temperature. Always try with one tbsp and check for reactions for a couple of hours before continuing the same food. Follow the food consistency your baby likes. Do give couple of teaspoons of water after each vegetable feeding, especially if your lil one is teething, to prevent particles collecting around the teeth.
Once the baby is hooked on to the taste of fresh vegetables, it will be easier for us moms to feed them vegetables when they can eat on their own. Besides, it is a healthier habit for life.
What’s up next? Preparing Stage II foods for sitters. Stay tuned for more.