Sometime between four and six months, a baby begins supplementing his or her milk feedings with solid foods. If your child is close to this milestone, why not make your own baby food? Here are some tips to get you started.
One food at a time, please
Begin by introducing one taste at a time: puréed carrot, potato, parsnip, turnip, apple, pear, mashed banana or avocado. Later you can mix purées to make new flavours — apple and mango, for example, or carrot and zucchini. As your baby grows, don’t be afraid to make your own concoctions using flavours you know they like. Babies generally love sweet potato, so try mashing sweet potato, salmon and broccoli together to make a delicious and nutritious meal. Just blend it down, using milk or water to get the right consistency, then freeze in meal-size containers.
Baby rice and cereals
These are expensive, but did you know that baby rice is simply ground rice? Use a coffee grinder or a super-efficient blender, pour in the rice grains, grind away and store the powder in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag.
As your baby gets older and you feel more relaxed about what they eat, structure mealtimes to coincide with your own — if you eat a sandwich lunch and a proper dinner, do the same for your baby. That way, your baby can eat a little of the family food instead of you having to buy and prepare different meals at different times of the day.
To save money on store-bought jars, buy a few flexible ice cube trays and make your own purées. Freeze the purée as you would ice cubes, then defrost the exact quantity you need for each meal, eliminating waste.
Recycle any empty store-bought jars of baby food by sterilizing the jar and its lid and then filling it with homemade food. These small jars are ideal for taking out and about with you on picnics in the park, bicycle rides and visits to friends and relatives. They close tightly and securely, and reusing them will help the environment.
Uses for cow’s milk
Reduce the cost of formula by introducing diluted cow’s milk to your baby’s diet from the age of six months. It can’t replace formula, but it can be used on cereal and in cooking.
When using jars, spoon only the required amount into a bowl so you can use the remainder later.
Buy plain juice concentrates (be sure they are marked 100 per cent juice with no added sugar) and reconstitute according to the package directions. When you are filling a bottle or sipping cup, fill the container only one-third, then top up with water. Your baby will consume less fruit sugar, which can contribute to early tooth decay.
If you really want to know what goes into your baby’s first solid food, make it yourself! It may take some extra time at the beginning, but in the long-run, you’ll know your child is getting the freshest food possible — made with love!