Parents concerned with the cost and quality of jarred foods for beginning eaters may be considering homemade baby food instead. It really is a great way of saving money, providing quality nutrition and getting that little one on the path to a healthy relationship with food. Making homemade baby food gives you the ability to experiment with different textures for your baby and use a greater variety of ingredients than what can be found in commercial baby food.
Most pediatricians recommend starting kids on solid foods between the ages of 4 to 6 months. Prior to 4 months, nitrates in foods can be toxic to the infant as their digestive system cannot handle them. After four months, it’s best to start with single ingredients and to space new foods about 4 days apart to see how baby reacts to the food. These first foods are highly pureed and strained foods that are lowest on the allergy scale and are more easily digested by those little bellies. Rice and other grain cereals, sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas and carrots are among good choices for the first foods.
Many of these first foods can just be smashed up with a fork such as avocado, banana, cantaloupe and pear. Simple purees from foods that must first be cooked, can be made using a food processor, blender or immersion blender. It’s very difficult to finely puree some vegetables such as peas and green beans and so some parents choose to wait on introducing those later when baby has reached the age of enjoying some texture and can eat them as finger foods.
Another great reason to make homemade baby food is the ability to incorporate herbs and spices to introduce new flavors and build baby’s taste buds. Most pediatricians will recommend waiting until 8 months to incorporate spices and herbs but this has more to do with preventing digestive upset than a concern over allergic reactions. Many cultures begin using spices and herbs in homemade baby food from the very start. As with any new food, just be sure to wait about 4 days before introducing something new. It is never recommended that one add sugar or salt to homemade baby food but several spices and herbs to try include: anise, basil, cinnamon, curry powder, dill, ginger, garlic, mint, nutmeg, oregano, pepper, rosemary and vanilla.
There are so many ideas out there for simple recipes for baby that we’re sure you’ll have no problem finding a wealth of suggestions on the internet. The idea is to give baby a healthy start when it comes to a relationship with food, so we recommend not getting too upset or worried if your child doesn’t take to certain foods right away or at all. Remember that taste buds change throughout the years and it can take several tries of a food before a child decides they like it. It’s best not to force foods on children or make a big deal about being a “picky eater” which can set up an unhealthy relationship with food. There are a wealth of healthy options in the food world and as they grow they are certain to find some nutritious delights that they love. Bon appetit, babies!