Once your baby reaches six months old, they'll soon be ready for more solid foods instead of just formula or breast milk. This is a wonderful time to introduce them to a variety of nutritious foods to keep their diet on the right track.
But buying pre-packaged baby food can be expensive -- you may also want more control over what goes into your baby's food. Not to worry, making your own is easier than you think, and a great money saver on top of it! So head to your local farmer's market and stock up, because with just five easy steps, you'll have healthy and natural food to keep your baby full and happy.
Step No. 1: Choose Your Ingredients
A diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables is ideal to help your little one get the vitamins and minerals they need. Truly "eating the rainbow" is the best way to do this. Shop organic and non-GMO (non-genetically modified organisms) whenever possible. It's important to avoid foods that can cause digestive discomfort (i.e. gas) such as cruciferous vegetables as well as common allergens like soy, milk, eggs, shellfish, fish and tree nuts.
Keeping it simple is best, especially for children just over six months in age. Start with just one fruit or vegetable and then start making combinations as your child gets older. Some of our favorite fresh picks are butternut squash, carrots, apples, beets, bananas, blueberries, prunes, peas and peaches. As your child gets older, you can also add meats (chicken is most common) -- just make sure they're also high quality. Lastly, grains like quinoa and steel-cut oats can be added to the blender for heartier meals.
Step No. 2: Cook
The method you choose varies on the type of ingredient, but steaming, boiling or baking are the best options for produce that needs to be softened and for meat. This way, you avoid adding any fats to the food while making it soft enough for your child to eat easily. Be careful not to overcook produce -- if it becomes dull in color, it's losing vital nutrients, so only cook them as long as you need to.
Step No. 3: Puree
Grinding and blending up the ingredients is the next step so your baby can eat them easily off a spoon without risk of choking. As you blend up your ingredients in either a traditional blender, food processor, food mill or even a baby food maker, check the texture. You can add water if needed to thin the food out further. Some foods, if they're high in water content, won't need anything else added to them.
Step No. 4: Choose Your Seasonings
When your child is just starting to eat solid foods, adding spices or other flavorings isn't necessary so you can determine which foods your child likes as well as identify any allergies. Once you've identified the foods that work, you can make your recipes more exciting by adding seasonings like cinnamon, nutmeg, mint (fresh) or curry powder to change up the flavor of your baby food. Honey, however, should be avoided before the age of one.
Step No. 5: Store Properly
When serving the food to your child, keeping it at room temperature is best. Either put the amount they're going to finish in a separate dish or make sure to discard what's left to avoid bacteria growth from your child's saliva. Store your baby food in an airtight container or jar and in individual servings whenever possible. Baby food will keep in the fridge for a few days but you can also make it ahead of time and freeze it.
Your little one is sure to love your homemade baby food, so don't be afraid to try it. Check back tomorrow for more healthy living suggestions from eVitamins.
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