Making baby food
I plan on making my baby's food and am not sure where to begin.
I was going to splurge and buy the expensive Beaba Babycook baby food maker, but I think I may be able to do it with what I have on hand. What do I need to get started? I have a food processor and a hand held blender. Do I need a food mill too? Do I need a special steamer? Or should I just make the splurge?
I want to start out basic - with simple organic fruits and veggies with no salt or sugar added. Any advice on which are best starter foods?
Any other advice?
No do not buy a special purpose device. I mean, our grandmas used a fork, right? As for what to start with I dare say your pediatrician may be a better source than all of us here, who are each going to tell you something different. But there's nothing wrong with what you propose. The usual mantra is one food at a time, waiting a few days between, to detect any possible allergies.
There are PLENTY of websites and books on this subject matter.
I got the beaba as a gift, and I recommend it, because it's super convenient, but really, it's just a steamer and a food processor. Sift through the info at your fingertips, and decide what foods you'll start with. I think we started with cereal, and then sweet potato was the actual first "food" food. I would highly suggest making decent sized batches and freezing the food in ice cube trays, and then storing those cubes in ziplock bags. When it's meal time, grab a few cubes, and microwave them to warm them up. Jr is now 13 months, and pretty much eats anything, but at mealtime, we still grab a meat cube, a veggie cube, and a starch cube for him.
I agree, there is absolutely no need to buy a special appliance -- I didn't know there even was such a thing! You need two things to make baby food: something to cook the stuff in, and something to smash it up with. For "first foods," you want something pretty thin and smooth, so you can pass stuff through a sieve to get any skins or fibrous bits out.
Many of my friends choose avocado as an early food, because it's full of good fats and is nutritionally close to breastmilk. Orange veggies are common first foods -- sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, etc. -- but don't be afraid to start with something a little more unusual like avocado, especially if you've been breastfeeding. Breastfed babies are accustomed to flavors and (in my experience) can be turned off by flavorless stuff like commercial rice cereal and green beans. For fruits, bananas are a good first choice, and stone fruits (peaches, apricots, etc.). You can really skip the "baby food" aisle altogether if you want. There's no need to buy special cereals -- you can even make rice cereal yourself, just by pureeing brown rice until very smooth.
The one thing that surprised me was the no-strawberry rule. I'm sure you know that but it caught me off guard!
You can make baby food from frozen fruit and veg as well, especially when there's not a lot in season.
Oh, and gordeaux's suggestion for freezing stuff in ice cube trays is a great idea.
Good luck! :)
and just another point about it being unnecessary to get a special appliance; I'm in no way against modern conveniences-- but I had my first food processor for 20 some years till it broke; now I've had it's replacement for 5 or 6 and expect to have it another 15 or more. But your baby will be eating "mushed up food" for a few months! I know it seems like a whole new stage and world right now, but when yours are teenagers like mine are, you'll barely remember this "blip" in the grand scheme of things.
Another vote for not buying anything special, if you already have a food processor you're set.
My 1yo started with homemade brown rice cereal, roasted butternut squash, roasted sweet potatoes and what may be his favorite food, avocadoes. I'd fire up the oven and roast up anything I thought he'd like, peel and run through the food processor. I do large batches and freeze in ice cube trays, once frozen transfer to zip lock bags and LABEL them. All those orange cubes start to look alike. This is really not a lot of work when you make large batches and it will keep for a couple of months. If you make a couple of different types once a week for a few weeks, you'll end up with plenty pretty quickly.
I haven't bought any specific baby food, even buying top end organic vegetables comes out cheaper when you make your own. I did splurge and by $10 worth of covered ice cube trays and some small plastic containers to fit in his diaper bag to carry travel meals in.
Other faves - polenta, Trader Joe's plain instant oatmeal (about a 1/3 of a packet), Cheerios Cheerios Cheerios, rotisserie chicken, char siu, tofu, whole wheat pasta, corn, peas, good ham, edamame and practically everything we can get near his mouth. He's had a reaction to some dairy so we're keeping him away form that for awhile although he likes it when he has it. He's got a genetic sensitivity to fava beans, weird but specific, but he likes most others.
This really isn't hard, I bought a book called "Super Baby Food" by Ruth Yaron, full of good guidelines, techniques and recipes. It leans toward vegetarian so you have to allow for that if you're not.
I have a 6 month old.... this site will tell you everything you need to know: http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/
no need for special equipment. especially since you already have a fp! you can steam, boil (and add the boiling liquid to thin out the food) or roast just about anything. avocado and bananas just need to be mashed with a fork.
some people suggest veggies before fruits, some say start with all orange foods (peaches, squash, sweat potatoes), others say start with the p's (peas, peaches, pears). my pedi says you can't make a mistake. as long as you're not giving him shellfish with peanutbutter sauce! just wait 3 days before introducing new foods.... oh, and they say to offer your cherub a food at least 10 times before chalking up his rejection to dislike.... and i've found that carrots can be hated one day and loved another. most of all, have fun!
Another good resource is the book "Super Baby Food" by Ruth Yaron (although it's very anti-meat).
I also did the ice cube tray thing, and steamed or microwaved the fruit or veggies. As eLizard suggested, thin it out with water, and blend it carefully -- even small chunks, or thick purees, can be difficult for beginning eaters. For a baby just starting out, it should have the texture of a thickened soup. You can use less water and have chunkier textures as the baby gets older. I would suggest investing in a food mill or full-size blender -- in my experience, the food processor and hand blender couldn't puree the food finely enough, even though I strained it.
Also, it can be fun to blend foods together -- if you have the ice cubes, it's easy to do this. I often did fruit and oatmeal blended together for breakfast.
Oh, one other thing -- don't feel like a failure if everything your baby eats isn't homemade! It can be really useful to keep a few jars on hand (Earth's Best is my favorite) for times when you have to throw food in a bag for travel or when the baby is rejecting all your carefully prepared homemade purees.
I second the recommendation for Super Baby Food. It came highly recommended to me and was very informative.
My daughter's first foods were mashed banana, and mashed avacado, thinned out with a little water. (I've heard the argument that starting with fruit will give a baby a sweet tooth, but I've found no truth in that. I fed my son based on my pediatricians guidelines, aka starting with rice cereal, then adding veg and other grains, and only after a while, fruit. His sweet tooth is MUCH stronger than my daughters.) After that, I would just steam her food on the stove in a little steamer basket, and then throw it in my blender, adding water as necessary. She went from her first taste of solids to eating completely from the meals I cooked for the rest of the family in about 6 months. For that small timeframe, I definitely don't think it warrants the purchase of a costly appliance. But, if it's worth it to you, it might be.
Congratulations, and best of luck! What a lucky little baby whose mama is already putting so much thought into what to feed the little munchkin. :)
just a warning. variety is key in the first 12 months of solids, that is, 6-18months. My little girl had a LOT of roasted root veggies initially and I think I might have put her off - she is definitely not so hot on them now, at 16 months. But I have always given her a bit of what I'm having unless it's really hot and I think it's made her more adventurous. And take yr kid to restaurants. Give yourself a break from cooking and let them have fun trying everything from the parsley garnish to the lemon in your drink. Kids are fearless and at worst they'll spit it out. Also, I gave her broccoli and cherry tomatoes very regularly from the beginning and she is now pretty good about eating both. Good luck. And prepare to have some low days, feeding kids can be extremely trying but eventually they will surprise you and eat well. Finally, don't be worried if they only eat a little some times, you will hear over and over that they regulate their diet themselves and will make up for it some other time. Enjoy!