Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Feeding your baby - homemade baby food cubes

Okay, so lets get one thing straight - this post is for anyone interested in how to easily make & store baby food. I'm not here to say that it's a must, I just wanted to share my methods for those who were interested.

Once my first was old enough to start solids, I did a lot of research on what to feed, how to feed, etc. I was so confused by it all. I only knew one thing for sure - peas in a jar were more brown than green.  Gross! I wanted a way to control the things that go into my child's food and a way to make fresher food quickly and save some money along the way.

Enter Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron - my baby and toddler food holy book. It is such a great resource and highly recommend it! I used it for my first and second baby. Making your own baby food can be very simple if you plan ahead, make large batches, and freeze in individual serving sizes. I've prepared and frozen everything from organic peaches and broccoli to avocado and banana (both freeze well and do not brown in freezer). I've even made organic pureed chicken and ham. (Personally, meat in a jar really grosses me out.)
Here's how you do it!

You'll need: a pan and lid to either steam or boil (only boil in limited amounts of water so any water left in pan is used to purée food - no vitamins lost in water), food processor or really good blender, ice cube trays, aluminum foil, freezer quart sized storage bags.

So pick your fruit or veggie, thoroughly wash it, peel it (if necessary), and cut into medium sized chunks. Then place in steamer or pot with water, lid on, and cook until mushy (better to be over cooked than under cooked in this particular case because we are pureeing the food). If boiling, I only put enough water to go half way up or barely covering the food, stirring frequently, and adding more if necessary. Transfer the food and some of the cooking liquid to the food processor or blender. Purée until desired consistency.  If its a young baby, the food should be silky smooth.  Add more water if necessary. You can always add more, but can't take it out. You don't want Popsicles, just smooth food for your growing baby.

Once you have puréed to the consistency your baby prefers (or that is age appropriate) fill your ice cube trays with the purée. Cover with aluminum foil. Place in the freezer for 3-4 hours or until frozen solid. Flip over and empty the trays out, placing the frozen food cubes quickly into pre-labeled freezer bags. I label mine with the food type and date I made the batch of food.

Take the appropriate number of food cubes out as you need them.  For example, baby girl started off eating 1 fruit cube and 1 veggie cube. By 10 months, she was eating 4 fruit/veggie cubes with 1 protein. I was able to purchase fresh, organic produce when in season, and some organic produce from the freezer section, (peas, berries, broccoli, mango, peaches were often more affordable and readily available if I bought them frozen. And the bonus was that there is little prep when making baby food from frozen produce. By the way, it's totally safe to thaw and re-freeze produce. Not so much with meat.)

The best part about this experience was creating my own flavor combinations like banana and avocado, sweet potato and broccoli, apple with carrots and peas. Be creative and let your little one show you his/her favorites.  Please consult your doctor one when to introduce the different types of foods.  Their digestive system is still developing during their first year, so some things are inappropriate for a 6 month old to consume.  There are also several food restrictions recommended during the first year or two of life because they can lead to food allergies.  Again, please consult your doctor. 

I do recommend getting the book mentioned earlier...its awesome and full of toddler finger food ideas too.  Lots of recipes for the older babies and toddlers.  Please comment below if you have any particular questions regarding preparation of food or if you need more detail.

Have fun with this and Happy Cooking!

The only picture I have of my creations:  this is about 15 different kinds of fruits & vegetables along with some pureed organic chicken thighs. 

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