After the first feeding decision a new mom makes-mother's milk
or formula?-comes another one: homemade baby food or
Nikolina Gubernat of Bartlett decided early on. "My mom raised
my siblings and me on homemade baby food, so I wanted to do it,
too," she says. "Also, I decided that it would be healthier for my
baby since I knew exactly what I would be putting in the food."
"In addition to better nutrition, homemade baby food also tastes
better and you can modify the texture to suit every stage of baby's
development," says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson
Karen Ansel, a registered dietitian.
You can experiment with more interesting ingredients, helping to
shape baby's palate so he or she will grow to be a more adventurous
eater. Store-bought baby food is blander, which may train baby to
prefer bland food.
Often overlooked are the social and emotional benefits to
feeding babies the same foods you eat. When all family members eat
the same meals, often the pattern of eating together continues even
when children are older.
It's environmentally friendly, too. Making your own can be
considered a "green" alternative with very little material to throw
into landfills or even to recycle.
"Making baby food from scratch does involve a little advance
planning, but the benefits far outweigh the small time investment.
Making food for baby in big batches, and then freezing them in
single servings, can be a huge time saver," according to Ansel, a
mother of two and author of The Baby & Toddler Cookbook.
Gubernat also discovered making her own baby food was a big
Gubernat, whose son is 1, uses the batch cooking method. "I
peeled any skin, chopped up the produce, boiled it until it was
softened, then blended it up in a blender or food processor (with
some liquid that it was boiled in), let it cool down, poured into
little 2-ounce plastic containers, and froze everything," she
Start with single ingredient foods. Introduce them slowly to see
if baby has a reaction, such as an allergy or upset stomach. "We
were once told that cereals should be baby's first food, but now we
know that babies can also start with sweet fruits like apples or
pears or mild vegetables like butternut squash," Ansel says.
Does baby show a fondness for a certain fruit or vegetable?
Gradually combine it with other similar foods to create a new
flavor favorite. For example, if he enjoys peaches, combine that
with mangoes or strawberries.
Use your freezer. Cook and puree fruits and vegetables and
freeze portions in ice cube trays. Once they are frozen, transfer
them into a quart-sized freezer bag that you label and date. When
you're ready to serve, thaw in the microwave or refrigerator. Use
within six weeks of freezing.
All in all, Gubernat is satisfied with her decision to make her
own. "It really was very easy and made me feel good that I did this
for my son."
Christine M. Palumbo, RD, is a nutritionist living in Naperville.
See more of Christine's stories here.
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