Making Your Own Baby Food

Posted by  | Sunday, December 16, 2007  at 3:08 PM  

Anyone can make their baby homemade, fresh baby food. Anyone. You don't have to be a professional health-nut to be qualified to make your baby healthy food. Actually, since my daughter started to eat solids 6 months ago, it was then that I started to become proactive about what we, as a family, were putting in our mouths. And I'm not even close to being "there." You know where "there" is. It's your goal that you have in your mind that you hope one day you can attain, and I hope one day I can feel like I've made some HUGE steps in weeding out the unhealthy habits we have concerning eating by replacing them with wholesome, delicious healthy-eating habits. We are DEFINITELY a work in progress and will continue to be that for years to come. Starting with baby is a great place to start, because you research "slowly" how to eat more healthily as your baby begins to try new foods slowly.

The reason I wanted to make baby food was because I wanted to give Laney the best health I possibly could and that would mean giving her fresh, whole minimally-processed food. I knew that would help build her immune system and fight off illness like a champ! Her first sickness was at eleven months, and I know that the nutrition she received definitely benefited her. I feel that the Lord has given me such a great responsibility to raise my daughter to the best of my ability. I'm trying my hardest to do just that, not just in the area of food, but food definitely falls into that area of accountability. Please note that I'm speaking from personal interest here. I know that everyone does not have the same conviction and/or interest and I respect that choice. Did I ever give Laney jarred baby food? Oh yeah. You better believe I did. I wasn't trying to be Super Mom or anything, but I did want to give her fresh foods when I could. I never had to buy jarred baby food weekly, because I fed her mostly what I froze, but when we were out in town shopping, out of town at the Grandma and Papa's house or we were simply out of frozen homemade cubes, then I'd pop open a jar of baby food. I used Earth's Best brand because they were organic and the cereal is whole grain.

You don't have to use organic foods, but I try to use organic when I am able to do so. I was not an organic person six months ago. In fact, I would playfully joke around upon biting into an organic apple, "Oh my word! This is the best apple I've ever put in my mouth! Why, it's ORGANIC, that's why!! It just tastes SO much better! LOL!" Harmless humor, but that's what my mindset was toward organic foods. I'm a big joke-ster anyways, but after reading a few books and researching, my mind was changed, and I honestly felt that this was a beneficial change our family needed to make, if we could afford to do so. I believe we can make it work, if we value healthy eating enough. (and trust me, our budget is TI-IGHT since I quit working, since my husband is in Seminary and working crazy hours). Maybe we'll do a "Why organic" post soon. (What do you think ladies?) In the meantime, I'm here to tell you HOW to make baby food.

I'm so glad there's a good book out there for you to read concerning homemade baby food called Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron, because trying to tell you all you need to know on this POH blog is a daunting task. What I CAN do is give you the highlights of what I've learned to see if this is something that interests you.

What do you need?

  1. Patience and willingness to learn - you will feel inadequate at times, but that's okay.
  2. A few minutes to read up on your baby's month of foods
  3. Time to go grocery shopping (something you are already doing)
  4. A food processor/chopper ( a blender will work too) - $15.00
  5. Steamer- not a must, but it's nice to have
  6. Microwave-not a must again, but it's nice to have & makes things easier
  7. ice cube trays
  8. foil
  9. freezer bags, large and small
  10. An hour and a half to prepare your baby's meals for months!

If you're starting from your baby's first foods around six months, then you want to start out slow with foods you can mash with a fork, like banana, avocado sweet potatoes, yogurt, peaches, etc... The key to making your own baby food is make meals in BULK. I cannot emphasize that enough. For me, it was tough to get to the grocery store even weekly, so I would buy a bunch of ripe bananas and avocados, puree them in my food processor, spoon out portions to go in the ice-cube tray, cover with foil and freeze them. Once frozen, I'd pop them out, put them in a freezer bag, and label the bag with the contents/expiration date. Yeah, the bananas turned brown, but no nutritional value was lost, and they still tasted the same. (I couldn't had any citrus juices, like lemon juice, to keep them from turning, because babies can't have citrus fruits until they turn a year old. I learned these little important tid-bits from the Super Baby Foods book )

I referenced this book like crazy, for every month there was a list of what foods you could introduce to your baby using the 4-day wait rule(you have to give your baby at least 4 days to try a new food so that you can rule out any allergy with that particular new food.) Every month, their meals get more and more diverse and balanced. I loved that I didn't have to read chapter after chapter when mastering month seven, ten or whatever month. The author knows your time is limited. You do however, have to read the introduction, which is a few chapters, before you begin, so that you can learn how bacteria grows and how to keep your cooking area sterile. That's very important. I absolutely loved the index, because I could look up any food, know at what month I can introduce it, how to choose it, cook it and the time allotted to freezing it. It was awesome!

I even learned how to make my own yogurt! I'll never forget my Pediatrician's face when I told him that I made Laney's whole-milk yogurt. "You made it?" He asked. "How do you make yogurt?" There was so much involved that I couldn't just rattle off all of the steps, but I just loved how I stumped the doctor! Hee-hee! I wanted to and still want to print off a copy of how to make baby yogurt just so he knows how easy it is and that many, many mothers and fathers are now making their baby's foods. Below, I have a video of how to make baby yogurt. At the time, I didn't have a candy thermometer, but they are so so cheap and you can find them anywhere. I found mine at Walmart for a little over a dollar. You will save so much money by making your own yogurt instead of buying it at the store.

I know that there's so much that I didn't cover and that's great because the authors can fill in the gaps, but this post was mainly about why I chose and how I made homemade baby food. I can only recommend this book for ages 0-12 months, because it was the only one I used. I know there are other great books out there, and I'd love to hear about them in the comments section. I HIGHLY recommend this book. It answered every question I had. Another book that's awesome for once your baby turns a year old is Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld(yes Jerry's wife). I was just given this book for Laney's birthday by a friend who shares the same love of providing for our babies the best food we can give them (Thanks Teesa!). I am so thankful for this book, because I was struggling so much with what to feed Laney now that we're over the 12 month mark. This book, Deceptively Delicious, is in high demand, and Teesa had a hard time finding a copy of it. So, put two books on your Christmas list this year!! You won't regret it! Don't forget to check out the yogurt video below.

p.s. The two books on my Christmas list are: Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I have been highly recommended to get these books. I'm hoping that one of the authors will elaborate on these books when she posts this week.

19 comments:

markandmeg said...

I'm so excited that you guys are doing this post because Ive just started making my own baby food and have so many questions. I will definitely check out the Super Baby Foods book. I have a question for any of you: I told my doc that I was making Karis's food and she said that was great, but that I shouldn't make home-made carrots or spinach because of the nitrates. I wondered if you guys knew anything about that and if I used organic carrots if that would solve the problem. I am definitely using organic produce whenever it is available. But I've also found it hard to find some of the fruits and veggies organic. Where is the best place to get organic produce?
Thanks,
Meagan

Hollie said...

Meagan,
Great questions! Because of the nitrates, carrots should only be given to your baby homemade after 7 months of age if they are cooked, and 10 months if they are raw and finely grated. Nine months for cooked greens and 10 months for finely chopped raw greens. Quote from "Super Baby Food" book by Ruth Yaron:
"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you wait until your baby is between 7-9 months old before you introduce homemade carrots, beets, turnips, spinach, or collard greens. In some parts of the country, these crops contain nitrates, and may cause a type of anemia (methemoglobinemia) in young infants. Nitrates also form cancer-causing nitrosamines. Commercial baby food manufacturers can test for nitrates, but we parents can't. Some health professionals believe that any health risk from high-nitrate vegetables in babies under 7 months is so small that restriction is really not necessary. I recommend that no matter how small the risk, do not take the chance. Wait until your baby is at least 7 months old before feeding her these homemade foods."

Keep up the good work Meagan!!! You can do this!

Leah said...

For moms interested in making yogurt, you can also buy a yogurt maker. I have used the Salton Yogurt Maker, which you can get off of Amazon.com for $18. All you do is add milk and some yogurt and let the machine do all the work for you. I started by buying myself a large container of store-bought yogurt, used all but the last of it, then used that as my starter for the next batch. I just keep my made yogurt in the big container. When I get to the end, I make another batch. Pretty simple and inexpensive. I also like to add pureed fruit to it for flavor - tastes good & no sugar!

KC said...

I have a question about homemade yogurt. I think it is a really great idea, but what is the difference between buying organic whole milk yogurt and making it yourself? Is price alone the only benefit? I also wonder how long you can keep using the same starter batch? For example, you make homemade yogurt and save the last little bit to make the next batch and save the last little bit to make the third batch, and so on. At some point, are you using spoiled yogurt to start another batch?

Hollie said...

kc,
From Super Baby Food:
"Your homemade yogurt will keep in the frig for 1-2 weeks. If you're going to use some of this current batch as a starter for your next batch, make sure that it is no more than 5-7 days old so that the bacteria is still strong. As with store-bought yogurt, the longer you store yogurt, the tarter it becomes."

Leah, great idea!!! I would LOVE one of those and will probably add that to my list of things to get as well!! Thanks!

Shannon said...

HOLLIE - I have several New copies of the Maker's Diet. I'll put one on the mail to you this week!!

I've also been drooling over Deceptively Delicious -it's on my wishlist!

I am SO excited there is such a thing as a yogurt-maker!!!! Does anyone know if you can make goat-milk yogurt? We think Lilly has an allergy to the protein in cow's milk, so I'm having to eliminate it from my diet for now.

Hollie said...

OH Shannon,
I've been there and DONE that! Laney had a milk allergy, as you well know, and still is sensitive to it. She's grown out of most of it, but her system is still sensitive to it. I was thinking the same thing you were. I don't see why you couldn't make goat milk yogurt with it. Just go to Whole Foods or Earth Fare or some place like that to buy a tiny goat milk yogurt and use your goat milk to keep it going, because the temps will be the same to kill bad bacteria and grow the good bacteria. I want a yogurt maker! :)Thanks for sending the Maker's Diet book!! How do you have several copies(email me). I have yet to dive into Deceptively Delicious. Just got it yesterday!

Leah said...

Shannon,
You can definitely use the Yogurt Maker to make Goat's Milk. My answer to kc's question was going to be: Yes, I do it b/c it's cheaper, but also because I can make yogurt from raw milk. I have made yogurt in the yogurt maker from raw goat's milk as well as raw cow's milk. It worked great for both. (I got my starter yogurt from a friend).
Leah

Christina said...

Leah,
I didn't know you were buying raw milk now?? Did you start getting it in CA? Maybe someone should explain what "raw" milk is...(because I know I would have wondered what the heck it was before I met Margaret :)

Leah said...

Okay, so I was trying not to open a big can of "Raw Milk" worms on this thread - it is a little outside the Homemade Baby Food topic. If you are interested in learning more about Raw Milk, please e-mail one of us. As a quick definition to ease curiosity, raw milk is milk straight from the source (cow, goat, sheep, etc) that has not been pasteurized. There are many health benefits to drinking raw milk and raw milk products, but much controversy surrounding the topic as well. Like I said, this is all for a totally different conversation. :) But I'm sure any one of the ladies (especially Krista & Margaret) would be happy to give you more info if you are dying to know more.

Krista said...

Hey ladies! Two more quick comments on raw milk and then I'd be happy to answer any questions about it (we've been drinking it for 4 years now). First, if you make yogurt from raw milk, you want to be careful not to heat the milk above 118 F so as not to "pasteurize" your yogurt. Most yogurt makers will heat the yogurt above 118, although there are easy ways to make raw milk yogurt and not "pasteurize" it. Secondly, here's a good website with information on raw milk for anyone who's curiosity has been piqued and you want to read more: http://www.westonaprice.org/brochures/RealMilkTrifold.pdf. Or, just go to the Weston A. Price website and read through it for very interesting research on food in general (including feeding children) as well as myths and truths of raw milk.

Christy said...

Hi ladies,
I hate to open another can of worms on this thread but I have a question. We will be travelling this weekend for a wedding I'm in. My daughter will have to have at least one, if not two, bottles because I'll be tied up with wedding things. What is the best way to safely store my milk? We're going to my hometown in VA, it's about 4-5 hours away from where I live now. Should I freeze it? Refrigerate it? And then take it in a cooler? Will that stay cold enough?

Christina said...

Christy,

You're not opening another can of worms...I mean breastmilk is "raw" right?? :)

If you visit this link at kellymom.com she tells you storage times for breastmilk...

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/milkstorage.html

I would think that the best bet would be to bring fresh (not previously frozen) milk. It can really last for quite a while. Hope you have a great trip!!

markandmeg said...

Sorry to bring it back to the raw milk topic, but I just wondered if you are breastfeeding and using store-bought milk and then all of a sudden switch to raw, does the baby notice the difference/does the switch bother her at first? And I'm still interested to know where ya'll like to buy your organic produce. Thanks for the info on nitrates!
Thanks,
Meagan

Hollie said...

I haven't taken the "raw milk" plunge, but several other authors have. I first need to join the co-op and then I'll probably head "raw". Krista, Christina, & Leah...can you answer Meagan's questions? Thanks!
Hollie

Christina said...

Sorry - maybe I should clarify...no raw milk for us. We do buy organic though. Doesn't that count for something? :)

Krista said...

We do drink raw (clean) milk but Lydia's never had store-bought milk so I don't know if a child would notice a difference. I can say for Josh and me, though, that it tastes SO much better! I would assume a child would think the same. It's still milk, it's just creamier tasting. I've never met anyone who didn't like the taste of raw milk better.

marymstraits said...

Questions on the raw milk thing.

(1) I ate some goat cheese one time and got REALLY sick. I was told it was because it was unpasteruzed (sp?) and my body couldn't take it. I was wondering if anyone else had that problem.

(2) Are those of you who are pregnant drinking/using raw milk? I know my ob said that anything unpasteruzed was not safe and could cause still birth in some cases. Anyone heard of that?

Just curious . . .

Krista said...

Mary,
There is a HUGE difference between clean and unclean milk. I would never advocate drinking unclean unpastuerized milk - this will cause many problems and illnesses. I did drink raw milk while pregnant, along with eating raw cheese, etc. It is VERY healthy and beneficial for your body and the baby IF the source is good. It is easy to determine if the milk is clean. I'd recommend reading The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid. It gives an excellent discussion of the benefits of raw milk, why we ever began to pasturize milk, etc. Please don't hesitate to ask if you have other questions!

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