My third child turned six months old recently and became fascinated by solid foods. She’ll lock eyes on me as I take every bite, her eyes full of curiosity. I’ve always enjoyed this stage of infancy, particularly because making my own baby food at home is so fun.
I’m not the queen of DIY and have little patience or interest when it comes to upgrading a piece of garage sale furniture or weaving an area rug with old t-shirts. So hear me out when I say making your own baby food is the type of thing anyone can do.
Measuring the Cost
One of the primary benefits of making your own baby food is how much money you will save. I tried to find a statistic that showed how much parents spend on baby food each year, but each piece of data also included formula. So I went a different direction with my research.
At my local Walmart, I discovered one four ounce jar of BeechNut pureed carrots is currently $0.88. Funny enough, so was a one-pound bag of whole carrots.
That’s $0.22 per ounce versus $0.06 per ounce.
After having three children, have I still purchased pre-packaged baby food? Absolutely. But the rule of thumb I kept in my mind was this, “Anytime I can make it from scratch, we save.”
The second important benefit was how healthy the food was. The minute I steamed and pureed food for my baby, I bypassed any preservatives, processing, food dyes, or other additives that might have come from commercial products.
Now that you know my reasons for why I believe so strongly in trying out the DIY route for solids, let’s take a look at some of my favorite baby food hacks.
1. Don’t rush ahead if your baby’s not ready.
I’m not a licensed physician, so take my experience with a grain of sault. This is not medical advice and won’t apply to everyone, but many moms, including myself, have had a baby wait to eat solids past six months old. My son was in the 98th percentile for height and weight, but he wouldn’t touch baby food until he was 11 months old. It made him gag. At first, I felt nervous about his health, but my pediatrician simply recommended I give my son utensils to play with during meals to practice his motor movements and be patient. That worked fine.
If your baby isn’t showing signs of interest in solids or just enjoys making a mess, check with your pediatrician to see if it’s safe to simply wait. If the baby is taking in milk or formula well, you may be fine waiting before you jump onto the busy, baby food train.
2. Freezing for the win.
My favorite baby food hack is to freeze a large batch of cooked and pureed veggies ahead of time in ice cube trays. It’s a simple process that divides the serving sizes into just the right portions for a baby’s meal (one cube = one serving). Two trays of baby food is the same as 14 store bought food pouches, according to this report via BuzzFeed. That’s a significant savings in cost and far less waste.
3. On the go? Mash a superfood.
I’ve written before about the power of a superfood to give you that quick pick-me-up. Now your baby can have it too. If you’re on the go with your hungry baby, you can still give him something homemade without thawing it in the microwave. Just pack a banana, avocado, or papaya and mash it up when the baby is ready.
(Make sure your baby is at a safe age to consume any of those examples.)
4. Multitask with your rice cooker.
I just discovered this great time-saving hack when it comes to prepping your baby’s veggies. By steaming multiple types of chopped veggies at once in your rice cooker, you’re creating multiple batches of meals in one go. I can’t wait to try that this week.
5. Assemble great resources.
Feeding my babies has taught me more about nutrition than I ever knew before. As I researched the various properties of foods and how they affect the body, I came to appreciate natural, home cooked meals all the more.
Along the way, I’ve assembled some great resources I reference frequently. Be sure to pin, bookmark, or even print off the helpful recipes and tips you find too. Here are a few of mine:
Work at Your Pace
Sometimes it’s just as helpful to know when you should bypass the DIY and go for the store bought too. I’ve discovered that with some of the remarkable options they now offer. My kids love eating those snack pouches that have incredible ingredients I simply wouldn’t have at home - like organic amaranth or millet or purple carrots.
As you research and practice and get to know what works for your little one, you’ll find a rhythm. DIY when it makes sense, and don’t feel bad when you hear about your friend who seems to always serve garden grown and makes every meal from scratch. Start where you can, have fun, and remember: Fed is best. It’s as simple as that.
Do you have any baby food hacks you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
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