Once your baby is ready, around four to seven months of age, you can begin to help your little one explore new tastes and textures in their diet. This allows you a lot more freedom in the kitchen than with breast milk or formula! So, what can you feed your baby? Well, it depends on the goals you set for your baby’s nutrition and lifestyle. Store-bought baby food, convenient for grab-and go, is a tempting option. However, during this pivotal time of growth and development for your baby, the healthiest option is making baby food at home. Keep reading for the many reasons you might want to start your baby-led weaning with homemade, organic baby food.
If you make your baby’s food in bulk, you can actually save money! The commercial products are costly and include packaging and other manufacturing costs that you have to pay extra for. While purchasing ready-made baby food is very convenient for grab-and-go feeding, you can make meal prep in bulk and it will be just as convenient when you need it, but for a lower cost. Yes, you can totally meal prep for your baby.
There are some very helpful hacks for packing your own, homemade baby food! To get on board with the convenience of commercial products, try saving your homemade goodies in small, single-serving containers like tupperware or even ice cube trays! You can pop them in the fridge or freezer to warm up for your baby whenever you need it. But what about when you are really on the go and don’t have access to the kitchen? You can just grab an extra banana or avocado and take it with you to mash up whenever you need it, for a fresh and tasty homemade meal — no cook time whatsoever!
Some of the foods you already buy for yourself can often be healthy for your baby, too! While you are cooking up something spectacular, you can use the baby-safe whole foods that you are preparing for your own meals and lightly steam and puree them for your baby! Things you might be pairing with your own dinner, like sweet potatoes, squash, or peas can be blended for your little one to join in on the fun! Now, the whole family can get in on (almost) the same meal.
Undoubtedly, one of the most valuable pros of homemade baby food is that you are in full control of what you are feeding your baby. You can choose organic, natural, whole foods with no extra ingredients. Commercial baby food often contains unhealthy ingredients like additives, preservatives, and even food coloring. By making your own organic baby food from scratch you can avoid pesticides and GMOs to keep your little one as healthy as possible.
At Coastal Kids, we believe the nutritional value of homemade baby food is paramount. Which is why you should consider making as many of your baby’s meals from scratch as possible! Store-bought baby food is made with a sterilization process that reduces the nutrients your baby gets. Using fresh ingredients can boost your baby’s immune system by providing essential nutrients like the vitamins and minerals they need to grow big and strong. To retain these nutrients, be sure to carefully steam the food yourself instead of harshly boiling it.
A great bonus of homemade baby food is that you can also start offering your baby variety so they learn to like healthy foods when they are young. Helping your baby be adventurous with foods now will likely pay off later in their willingness to eat with variety in their diet, a trait that can often carry over into adulthood. Set your child up for success by getting them used to fruits and vegetables now!
Guess what? Homemade baby food actually tastes better to your baby! Store-bought baby food is quite often bland and has little texture. Easy for you, but not quite so exciting for your baby. The less tasty food might actually make baby-led weaning more difficult! When you make delicious, homemade, healthy food from scratch your baby is more likely to reach for it—they’ll like what they are eating. This starts off a gradual and consistent process for your baby to get used to new foods until they are ready to graduate to table foods.
Making homemade baby food can actually be fun, because it allows you to be creative. Research which spices, herbs, and other flavorings are safe for your baby before adding them to your baby food. You can also get gourmet and make something that maybe you will even want to eat yourself! Play around with colors, textures, and thickness; and add water based on your baby’s developmental stage to accommodate what they can handle. Experiment, it might be as exciting for you as it is for your baby!
At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, your child’s health and wellbeing are our prerogative. That’s why we recommend making your own homemade baby food—the benefits are clear and numerous. So, try making baby food from home, you might find it easier and more fun than you think! For more detailed nutritional information, give us a call to set up an appointment to talk to your pediatrician about the best way to approach baby-led weaning foods for your little one.