Why Parents Should Make Their Own Baby Food
By: Michael Chareunsap CMST 245, Summer 2012
As a food-lover and a cook, one thing I have been looking forward to the most as a new father is feeding my beautiful son solid food. He just turned 6 months old and he is now ready for pureed and other foods. My wife has been breastfeeding him until now, and we supplement his diet with some formula What he eats is really important to me and my wife, and after learning more about eating habits and nutrition for children in America, we decided that I would make his baby food and we would start him off in life with a love of fruits and vegetables. As a culinary graduate and a cook, I also have learned a lot about food and ingredients. Today, organic farm-to-table and natural are very important things in the food world. But we also are in a culture that has tons of processed and convenient food everywhere. I have learned that this is leading to childhood obesity, and even though I love chips and soda and McDonald’s French fries, I know that all this processed food is not good for me or my family. As a parent, I also know how important convenience is. I know that buying baby food seems like the simplest way to feed your baby solids. You can just grab it off the shelf, open the lid and feed. Many people hardly cook for themselves at home, so cooking food for their baby may seem even harder. But I encourage any new parent out there to really consider making baby food for their baby. It is healthier, and leads to
better eating habits when they are older. It is easier than you probably think. And it is fun! There are several reasons why I think parents should choose to make their own baby food, but let me start with the scientific reason. Feeding your baby homemade baby food starts that child off on a lifetime of better eating. A study in the United Kingdom found out that babies who were fed homemade fruits and vegetables at age 6 months were more likely to eat fresh fruits and veggies at age 7 than babies who were fed ready-prepared fruits and veggies (Coulthard Harris and Emmett 2047). So, introducing the flavors and textures of homemade fruits and veggies, and being in the habit as a parent of making them at home, means your child would learn to love them later on. The acclaimed parenting experts, Dr. WIlliam and Martha Sears recommend that “before your baby’s impressionate taste buds get spoiled with sugared and salted packaged foods, get your infant used to the natural taste of freshly prepared foods” (Sears and Sears, Pg. 231-232).
Another reason to make your own baby food is that you will know what goes into the food, and you will no longer have to worry about “mystery “ingredients. I made my
son pureed sweet potatoes, and all it took was roasted sweet potatoes and water. But when I compare it to a Gerber jar of baby food, it also has ascorbic acid. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to add any acid to my baby’s food that isn’t already in there! Another reason I think parents should make their own baby food is because it really is a lot of fun, and it is very easy to do. There are a lot of great resources out there. Even though there are cute tools out there just for making
3) Feed your hungry baby! ● ● World’s Easiest Banana ⅛ to ¼ of a ripe banana Breastmilk or formula
1) Mash the banana with a fork 2) Mix in breastmilk or formula
baby food (like the Baby Bullet or the
Banana is an ideal first food because of its
Baby Brezza), many people will find all they need in their kitchen already.
nutrients and texture.
What you need to make your own baby food ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Food processor and/or blender Roasting pan Vegetable steamer Saucepan with lid Cutting board Fork and potato masher Fine-meshed strainer ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Vegetable brush and peeler Measuring cups and spooks Sharp paring knife Ladle Spatula Grater Colander
(Sears and Sears 232)
As you can see, most of this stuff is already in your kitchen. Some of it you might own but never use. You really don’t need to have much experience with the tools above (except maybe the knife), most are pretty easy to learn.
Easy-On-The-Palate Brown Rice Cereal ● ● ½ cup ground brown rice 1 ½ cups of water ● ●
Rigo’s Sweet Potato Puree 1 sweet potato water
1) In a blender, food processor or coffee/ spice grinder, grind the brown rice to a powder 2) Boil the water 3) Add the rice powder to the water 4) Simmer for 15 minutes 5) Let cool to room temp, add breastmilk or formula to reach the desired consistency
1) Peel and cut the sweet potato into cubes 2) Steam the sweet potato for 6 minutes (until tender) 3) Puree the steamed sweet potatoes in a food processor 4) Add water or formula or breast milk to the puree until it is to desired consistency 5) Let cool to room temp, serve it up, and freeze the rest!
Another reason I think parents should make baby food is because it is cheaper. The recipe above made 10 servings of sweet potato puree for less than $1! But 10 jars of baby food would cost $6.90 at Safeway. Think about how much you would need to buy to feed your baby and you can see why cost is an important factor! This mom-blog compared a few homemade foods with store-bought versions.
Get Involved and Get Educated! Now that you know what you need, you’re ready to get cooking! There are great videos out there to help you get started. My wife and I started by buying a cookbook, and then we found online resources that have been helpful too.
A great starter video on Babycenter.com Tools needed for making food from Weelicious
Read about It The Baby Book is a well-known resource for parents, and covers everything about parenting a baby from newborn care, to breastfeeding, to babywearing, and care for childhood illnesses. It also has a chapter about introducing solids to your child for the first time. I like this book because it gives advice from a medical doctor’s perspective. Sears & Sears point out the importance of knowing what goes into the food your baby begins eating, but also stresses the importance of food safety when making, storing, handling and serving homemade baby food. There are important considerations when making baby food, for example, food should be stored in the freezer and not the refrigerator, and that once saliva is introduced to a bowl of baby food, it must be thrown away when your baby is finished to avoid the development of bacteria (Sears & Sears, Pg, 232-233). The Best Homemade Baby Food On the Planet is a fun book I picked out at the local bookstore. I liked the recipes inside, my wife liked it for the helpful tips throughout and the informational graphics. Knight and Ruggiero are also medical experts,. one being a registered nurse and the other a licensed dietician. They also feel that it is
crucial to choose homemade over store-bought baby food because the ingredients used to make ready-made baby foods are heated to very high temperatures to sterilize them and to extend their shelf life...(making) food safe for baby and convenient for you, the process also destroys most of the natural flavors and aromas and even worse, some of the key nutrients. Knight & Ruggiero, Pg. 12) You should also consult your parent friends (not your parent’s friends) to find out what books or cookbooks they have used. My wife and I have found lots of great resources by asking around. Google It There are many great websites about homemade baby food as well. The internet makes making baby food so much easier because of this. The only thing you have to worry about is getting pureed peas on your keyboard. Weelicious.com is a fun website that was started by a mom and has lots of homemade recipes. This site also has helpful video tips like the one cited above. This is the type of site where you can get the perspective of another parent like you, and browse recipes and view comments from other users to help you choose or
3. Serve. ● ● ● ● Quinoa Banana Mash 1/2 banana pinch cinnamon 3 tablespoons cooked quinoa 1 tablespoon whole milk yogurt
1. Place all the banana in a bowl and mash. 2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
learn more about new foods and recipes.
The expertise on this site comes from
the many other users who validate the recipes
and tips offered by the site’s author, Catherine. I like the creative and unique recipes here, like Quinoa Banana Mash, that give me inspiration to try different flavor combinations at home. Wholesomebabyfood is another mom-to-mom/dad website that is useful. I have referred to the section on “How Much Your Baby WIll Eat” to get an idea of how much my son might start out with, and eventually work up to. I plan to refer to the section about meat preparation when the time comes to graduate my baby to the proteins. Though not as slick as Weelicious, and though it does not have the comment and community properties that Weelicious does, it is still full of information for all stages of baby feeding. Talk and Post About It Another great way to get involved in home made babyfood is to join an online community. My wife is a member of the “Homemade Baby Food Makers” community on the Babycenter.com website. People post and ask questions about recipes, techniques , tools and cooking methods, storage
guidelines, and their experiences. Some of the recent topics of discussion include “Questions about organic carrots,” “F ood mills,” and even “Dehydrated baby food”! For baby food making and other parenting issues, we have found this site to be really helpful.
Make the food! Now that you know what you need and how to do it, all there's left for you to do is to get cooking and get messy! You and your baby will have lots of fun exploring new flavors and textures together, and you will be helping him or her to develop healthier eating habits that will be a benefit all the way to adulthood. I guarantee that making your own baby food will be puree fun!
About the Author Michael is passionate cook, a devoted husband with a beautiful wife, and a very, VERY proud new papa. He is completing his bachelor of applied science degree in Hospitality Management, and looks forward to many more meals with his son and his family in the years to come.
Babycenter. “How to Make Baby Food at Home.” n.d. Video. 1 August, 2012. Babycenter Community. Screen shot. 30 July 2012 Chareunsap, Michael. Rigo and the Peas. Digital Image. 23 July 2012. Chareunsap, Michael. Safeway Baby Aisle. Digital Image. 28 July 2012. Chareunsap, Michael. Rigo and Rosie. Digital Image. 23 July 2012. Coulthard, Helen, Gillian Harris and Pauline Emmet. “Long-term consequences of early fruit and vegetable feeding practices in the United Kingdom.” Public Health Nutrition 13.12 (2010): 2044-2051. Web. 12 July 2012. “Homemade Baby Food Makers.” Babycenter. Web community. 7 August, 2012. “How to make your own baby food.” Babycenter. Babycenter, L.L.C., n.d. Web. 12 July 2012. Knight, Karin, and Tina Ruggiero. The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet. Beverly, Massachusetts: Fair Winds Press, 2010. Print. MonkeeSeeVideos. “How to Use a Paring Knife.” 2 August, 2010. YouTube. 6 August, 2012. Rosenthal, Ianna. “Homemade vs. Store-Bought (a fight to the death).” Straddling the Grid. Blog. 31 July 2012. Sears, William and Martha Sears. The Baby Book. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2003. Print. Weelicious. weelicious, 2012. Web. 12 July 2012. Weelicious. “Basic Baby Food Equipment” 26 September, 2008. Video. 3 August, 2012.
Wholesome Baby Food. wholesomebabyfood.com, n.d. Web. 12 July 2012.