Make Your Own Baby Food: Easy Freezer Method Make Your Own Baby Food: Easy Freezer Method
Commercially prepared baby fruits and vegetables contain many artificial ingredients that are unnecessary in your child’s diet. Added colors and fillers like starches are common in commercial baby food preparations, but fill baby’s bellies with nutritionally empty calories. Additionally, commercial baby foods often have high levels of preservatives to help them maintain their shelf life. By making your own baby food, you can avoid all these unnecessary mystery ingredients. What’s more, if you have a home garden or source of fresh, local fruits and vegetables you gain the added comfort of knowing exactly where your baby’s food comes from, a level of trust and food safety that is becoming an increasing uncertainty in today’s mass marketplace.
Nearly any fruit or vegetable can be used to make large amounts of fresh, preservative free baby food. Used thoroughly washed fruits and vegetables from the produce aisle, local vendor or your garden. Frozen vegetables, such as bags of frozen foods bought at the grocery store work equally well.
Preparing Fruits and Vegetables
Preparing fruits and vegetables for baby food is a simple process of cooking - boiling or steaming, mashing, and straining if necessary. For vegetables like peas or beans, simply cook until soft enough to be mashed. Avoid overcooking as nutrients and vitamins are broken down with extended cooking times, but cook long enough so the mashed vegetable is of a smooth enough consistency that your baby will readily eat it.
Squashes and sweet potatoes cook easily into a smooth, mash-able consistency that is easy on an infant’s inexperienced palate. Fruits like apples, pears and peaches are easy to prepare and common first infant foods, too. (Don’t bother with preparing bananas as it is easier to simply mash a fresh fruit with a fork at each feeding.) Cut vegetables into chunks, cover with water and cook until soft. Avoid adding butters and sugars, salts or spices; added seasonings such as these are tastes you have grown accustomed to because you have eaten foods this way for as long as you remember. Babies readily accept fruits and vegetables in their natural, unadulterated forms.
Processing Fruits and Vegetables
Once the fruit or vegetable for your home made baby food is cooked, it needs to be mashed, processed or strained into a smooth mixture your baby can eat. Young infants do not like the feel of chunks and peels on their tongues and will often spit out or refuse a food altogether. If liquid is needed for consistency, add some water or 100% fruit juice. At the time of feeding, add a little formula or breast milk if need be, or cow’s milk if dairy has been cleared by your pediatrician. Combining two foods - potatoes and beans or peas for instance - can also solve the problem of creating a welcomed texture for baby. Mixing with an infant’s cereal works equally well.
Use a food mill or strainer to remove unwelcome textures and seed coats. Depending on the food mill you use, fruits like apples can be cut into quick chunks and cooked peels and all. When done, the food mill mashes out the meat, straining and leaving behind all the unwanted pieces. Shop online and in infant catalogs for mills and for hand strainers designed to process baby foods into mashes and small pieces. For large batches, a kitchen food processor is very handy. Continue to process the produce until the desired consistency is reached. Small versions of food processors are available anywhere large processors are sold. These are very useful for small batches, or to have on hand to chop and mash individual servings of vegetables prepared at family meal times.
When processing the baby food is complete, there is a simple way to store your home made baby food that requires no jars, sealing with a water bath, or vacuum sealing. Baby food stored in your freezer will last for weeks in freezer bags or resealable containers. To do this, the easiest way is to spoon prepared baby food into clean ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, remove the baby food from the trays and separate by variety into bags or containers. Mark the packages with contents and dates made. This method gives you meal size portions that you can prepare in large batches ahead of time. Remove one or two cubes at each feeding, thaw and heat just until warm. Previously frozen portions can be sent to daycare or travel in a Tupperware container in a thermal bag with an ice pack. Keep well iced or refrigerate when you arrive, and the thawed food will be ready for a quick reheat. (Discard unused portions - never refreeze thawed foods for your baby!) Your baby will have all the advantages of wholesome, fresh food even when you are away!
Providing quality food for your infant is of optimal concern to you as a parent. Questions about where a food came from and what is really in it make parents skeptical when buying commercially prepared baby foods. Spend an afternoon preparing your own baby food and freezing it for future use and you can rest assured you are giving your child fresh, quality food without unnecessary fillers, colors or additives.