Early on in pregnancy, B and I decided that if possible, we would make Spencer's baby food. My mom made all my brother's and my food when we were little, and I thought that it would be nice to know that he's getting food without preservatives or additives. Now that SYT is 9 months old, I'm happy to report we have made pretty much everything that has gone into his cute little mouth! We bought the baby oatmeal and rice cereal, and when we went to FL for Thanksgiving, we brought a few of the pouches to take on the airplane, but other than that, it's all been homemade. I thought I'd share a few of my tips, tricks, and favorite combinations in case any of you out there are looking for ways to make it on your own.
I bought a bunch of 4 and 6 oz glass containers with plastic tops that are microwave/freezer/oven safe for storage. I also have some plastic storage containers from Babies R Us, but I don't really like them- they don't stay closed well but they are perfect for storing smaller portions for daycare, so we use them a lot.
We started with rice cereal and baby oatmeal, just like we were supposed to and we started at 4 months. Some people chose to wait until closer to 6 months, but Spencer sat well in the bumbo, had good head control, and our pedi thought he was ready, so we started at 4 months. After he had masterd the baby cereals, we started with veggies. I've been taught (in my masters program and in numerous everyday experiences with children) that starting with fruit ends up with children not eating their veggies well as they aren't as sweet. Orange veggies were first for us. We did carrots, squash (acorn and butternut), and sweet potato (the definite favorite still to this day). After those we started with green beans and peas.
In making the foods, I would steam them on our stovetop until they were pretty mushy. I would then add a small portion of the filtered water that I had steamed them over to the food processor and then added the veggies. When he was first starting out, I would puree them to a pulp and add quite a bit of water. This would thin it out a lot and make it very soupy with little consistency. As he has gotten older, I decrease the amount of water and the amount of time things are pureed to give them more heft and more texture. When making homemade babyfood, it is virtually impossible to get the veggies down to the consistency that Gerber can so don't expect it to be completely smooth. That's OKAY!!! In fact, our day care provider is amazed at how well Spencer eats and she truly believes it's because we did homemade baby food. The taste is better (in my opinion- but it does taste a lot fresher than the jarred stuff!) and it has a texture from the beginning, so that when you try to introduce other new textures, it's not as shocking to them.
After we had done all the above veggies, we then started with fruits. Buying bananas in a jar is so silly. It's the absolutely easiest baby food to make. Peel the banana and mush it down with a fork, a potato masher or the back of a spoon and you're good to go. Avocados are also that easy! Spence loved bananas, but he really didn't love apples right away. Pears and peaches both went over well at the beginning.
At about 6 months I was getting bored with giving him the same foods over and over again and I wanted him to experience different flavor profiles together. It was at this time that I started making some blends. Frozen mixed veggies were my first blend. Easy peasy. I wasn't really sure what else to do, so I did some google searching and found a few other options like spinach/pear, squash/apples, squash/pear, blueberry/apples and mixed berry/butternut squash. These all went over really well, and I've tried them all and they are all really good. Spinach and pears together are awesome!!
It was about 7 months that he really wanted to start picking up everything with his own fingers and really started getting a hang of the pincer grasp. Cheerios (multi-grain), puffs, and well cooked veggies (diced really small) were a few of his first finger foods. At 10 months he will now eat pretty much anything you put in front of him (chicken, steel cut oats, pita and hummus, minestrone soup, baked potato, cheese, yogurt etc). We haven't done eggs, peanut butter or fish yet, but he's had no reactions to any other foods. He has one little tooth up front, but since you don't chew with your front teeth, it's just his jaw that does all the work! He still gets a few tubs of thickly pureed baby food daily as well as the finger foods. I'm so lucky he's been a good eater all along.
I have really loved doing this and I know it has saved us money this year. I also have tried jarred baby food, and while it's not bad, fresh food tastes better- just like fresh veggies at the farmer's market taste better. I tend to make big batches of baby food on Sunday night so that we have plenty to get us through the week. Do any of you make your own baby food? Did you do anything differently? Do you have any questions for me? I got a lot of my information from Wholesome Baby Food
, and if you also think you'll make your baby food, it's a great reference!